How and why the dog-human relationship can go wrong and end in a dog attack will come under the spotlight at a symposium next month.
The morning session is called “Beyond the Dangerous Dogs Act – working together to inform and prevent dog bite injury”, and will be taken by vet Kendal Shepherd and maxillofacial consultant surgeon Chris Mannion.
They will address concerns regarding dog-related injuries and explore how the veterinary and medical professions can work together to help prevent attacks.
They believe vets and doctors should collect data on any incidents they see, including the social history of the dog and its family and the context of the bite.
Mrs Shepherd said: “These data will be collated with the medical treatment required for the victim and the automatic post-injury involvement of human social services and canine behavioural experts is advocated to properly treat both the physical and psychological aftermath and address welfare of all parties.”
Veterinary staff have an important role in collecting data regarding any dog they see following a dog bite incident, often for euthanasia, as well as spreading preventive advice.
Mrs Shepherd said: “A considerable amount is however already known regarding the features and contexts common to dog bite injury, including severe mauling and death, implying prevention is possible.
“An overview of such features from worldwide studies, legal cases, personal experience and anecdote will be presented and opened up for debate as to how best our professions can begin to protect the public.”
Two veterinary nurses, Trudi Atkinson and Vicky Halls, will lead the symposium’s afternoon presentation called “Life and Cat Cafés through a cat’s eyes”.
They will address the importance of recognising cats are “not small dogs” and Ms Atkinson will explain how their social patterns and behavioural needs are different.
“Having an understanding of ‘life through a cat’s eyes’ raises the question if this should influence our interactions with them and our expectations of their role as companions in human society?” she said. “Also what are the potential problems that can arise if the cat’s perspective is ignored or misunderstood?”
With the opening of London’s first cat café earlier this year, Mrs Halls will explore this relatively new craze for combining cat petting and café culture.
Her presentation covers the origins of the café and its current worldwide appeal, but asks the questions: is this beneficial for the cats involved?
“What are the challenges that may be encountered?” said Mrs Halls. “How can the safety of cats and humans be safeguarded? Is this a positive step for the future of the human/cat relationship?
Tickets for the symposium cost £60 including lunch. For full details and to book, visit https://onehealthsymposium.eventbrite.co.uk