Scrolling through the Internet, it isn’t too hard to find something that could elicit an “Aww!” from even the most hard-hearted people. One of the more popular causes of this reaction is, without a doubt, children and animals. Whether it’s a puppy getting its tail pulled by a giggling toddler, or a kitten napping with a baby, people love seeing babies and their animal equivalents interacting.
Recently, however, a video starring a young girl and her family pets received a lot of negative feedback.
This video, posted in early January, shows a 4-year-old girl orchestrating feeding time for six full-grown pit bulls. She first orders them to sit and stay, and the dogs form a semicircle around her. She then pours a bucket of kibble on the floor for them. The dogs don’t make a move toward the food until she counts to three and gives them permission. At her word, the dogs leap forward and start eating.
This video has understandably sparked a huge Internet debate over the safety of the situation. Was the girl in danger? Was this irresponsible on the part of her parents? Or are these family dogs trustworthy and safe to be around?
“There were dogs and a little girl, so it was really cute,” junior Sarah Dwyer said. “They listened to her really well, and it was pit bulls, so it was [even] cuter.”
Like Dwyer, some Internet users saw this video as an adorable display of the loyalty of well-trained and loving dogs. Others are hesitant to agree. Lisa Matthews, a licensed dog trainer, is one of these people.
“Sharing our homes with animals creates a huge responsibility for parents to monitor all that goes on and to set everyone up for success,” Matthews told dogster.com. “Behavior, trained or not, is never 100-percent reliable.”
Meghan Lodge pointed out in her article for dogster.com that, regardless of breed or temperament, being surrounded by hungry dogs who are eyeing the food in the hands of a girl only slightly taller than them is risky simply because of the dogs’ size and number. Even the most loving and easy-going dog can have a misplaced paw or be a little too excited every now and then. The large dogs could have stepped on the girl or even knocked her over.
This video is only one of many which sparked debate. Another, posted in April 2013, depicts a baby rolling around on the floor with a large snake. At times, the snake is draped around the baby’s back and stomach, and, of course, the curious baby pats and prods the reptile.
“Who had the bright idea to put a boa constrictor with a baby?” asked Dwyer. “That just seems dangerous. That could go badly really easily.”
While videos like these can certainly be cute, pet owners should be responsible and make careful decisions about the safety of their pets and children.