Alpha, a one-year old Rottweiler, is back with his delighted owner after a rush of news stories on Monday labelled him aggressive, without giving the context of his so-called attack.
Alpha bit a woman on the arm as she and her partner forced their way into a restaurant closed for rebuilding work on Galapos beach, in Setúbal.
Initial stories, repeated throughout the media, suggested the dog had attacked the woman for no reason, and was found to have shown “aggressive tendencies”.
But a follow-up story – not anything like as widely publicised – has put the incident into perspective, explaining that not only was the restaurant closed (thus Alpha was not wearing the muzzle that the law demands he should use when out in public) but he was also “provoked by the woman’s companion with an umbrella”.
According to Jornal de Notícias, Alpha had been playing inside the restaurant with some balls as a member of staff who knows him well, and has experience with ‘dangerous breeds’, worked on a stepladder.
The couple entered “even though the doors were closed”, and the staff member – aware that Alpha was loose – advised them to leave.
They didn’t – and that is when everything started to go wrong.
Alpha went up to the couple, started to sniff at the woman and her companion tried to ward him off with his umbrella. It was at this point that the dog ‘attacked’, biting the woman on the arm.
Mário Martins, the staff member, was by now off the stepladder
He “immediately removed the dog from the couple and affirms that even in separating them, the man continued to poke at Alpha with the umbrella”.
Alpha’s owner Vanessa Ribeiro arrived at the restaurant as all this was going on, in the company of her mother, the business’ owner.
Alpha was taken outside, the injured woman’s arm dealt with while the victim’s companion called the authorities.
Alpha was not removed at the time. It was only later in the evening that the victim, after being treated in hospital, filed an official complaint.
As anyone who has had to seek medical attention following a dog bite will know, it is not covered by the SNS national health service. Either people have to settle their own bills, or get them paid by the owner of the dog. This may have been one of the reasons for the woman’s official complaint.
As it is, Alpha was ‘detained’ on Monday morning, taken for observation to the local pound and released back to Vanessa Ribeiro shortly afterwards.
She has told JN that he will have to be “observed” again in two weeks time, and that for now she has not been called by police to make any kind of statement.
Image: one of the images on the internet that show Rottweilers at their best, not their worst. This is not a photo of Alpha whose picture has appeared in Jornal de Notícias, licking his owner’s face.