In last week's Femail, a mother said her puppy was more adorable than her children. But, it seems, not everyone agrees. Here Rosemary Behan explains why she thinks dog owners are 'smug, deluded, hypocritical and selfish':
As I write this, next door's Jack Russell is relieving itself on my lawn. Having been kept awake all night by its yapping and howling, I will have to pick it up and put it back over the fence, before cleaning up the mess.
I will complain to the owner, who will simply say: 'Oh! She'll get through anything, she will!' I live under this tyranny of my neighbour's dog because, like millions across Britain, I have no choice. Scroll down for more...
Dog owners - smug, deluded, hypocritical and selfish - are one of society's greatest burdens. But we're not supposed to say that.
We're constantly told we're a nation of dog lovers.
In last week's Femail, Lowri Turner even said that if she'd known how much fun dogs were, she'd have thought twice about having children.
I know this may make me one of the most vilified people in Britain, but I want no part of this conspiracy. To be fair, it's not the animals I can't stand; it's their owners. Impervious to complaints and blind to the annoyance they cause, they are a nuisance.
'Dog owner' is a misnomer - to all intents and purposes, the dogs own them.
In my terrace house in East London, I can hear the barking of two dogs through the walls. When I have complained, the owners become defensive. 'Don't tell me I can't look after my dogs! F*** off!' There is no recognition that they have any responsibility to keep their pets quiet.
These are 6.8 million pet dogs in Britain. The misery caused to nondog owners is mind-boggling. Little wonder when there are no laws to compel owners to train their dogs.
Dog mess blights pavements, parks, beaches and playing fields. Local byelaws forbidding the soiling of footpaths have little effect. Has anyone heard of them being enforced? Outings with small children are a health hazard, not just from the mess, but because so many pets are out of control.
As a large dog rushes up to a terrified child in the park, the owner is usually 100 yards away shouting pointlessly to their pet, which ignores them.
The smug owner - to whom it would never occur to train their dog - pompously assures the crying youngster and angry parent that their animal 'loves children'.
A friend was horrified when a visit with her two-year-old daughter to a relative's house began with the owner's dog being allowed to jump up and lick the little girl's face.
'He was only trying to give her a kiss!' was the bizarre retort. Why on earth would anyone think that a young child being 'kissed' by an animal is a desirable thing?
But we are supposed to enjoy being barked at, jumped on or having our crotch sniffed.
If you do or say anything, people imply you are 'antidog' or even that you don't like animals.
They seem to share the same attitude to their dogs and their children - they are above criticism.
If you complain about youngsters running riot on a bus, the parents scream at you. So it is with dogs. Their needs over-ride those of humans.
In a park in Brighton, I watched as a woman allowed her dog to stand on its hind legs to use a drinking fountain.
Most incongruously, people seem to think that owning a pet gives them the title of animal lover, which makes them superior. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dog owners who say they love animals are more than happy to eat meat - and feed their dogs meat. And by owning a dog, people aren't helping animals at all.
In fact, by perpetuating the bizarre fetish for dog ownership, they are contributing to the problem of poorly bred, badly behaved and abandoned pets.
According to the Dogs Trust, the largest canine welfare charity in Britain, more than 105,000 stray and abandoned dogs were picked up last year, of which 7,892 had to be destroyed. So much for animal-loving dog owners.
By jettisoning dog licences in 1987, MPs simply encouraged the problem. At least if all pets were registered and microchipped, problem animals - and their owners - would be traced easily.
People who are incapable of looking after animals would be prevented from having dogs in the first place.
Of course, you have to ask why people need dogs at all? In the past, they were used for hunting, but nowadays, with the exception of guide dogs and farm dogs, they serve no purpose.
So why do people own them? Sadly, it is nearly always a reflection of their own vanity and narcissism.
Clarissa Baldwin, chief executive of the Dogs Trust, said the fashion for 'designer' dogs such as the Labradoodle (a cross between a Labrador and a poodle) or Cockerpoo (a cocker spaniel and poodle cross) shows we are living in a 'throwaway society'.
Can the people who breed such mutants really consider themselves to be animal lovers? 'People should consider fully the responsibility of owning a dog - they are not a fad or fashion statement to be disposed of when the novelty wears off,' says Ms Baldwin.
Of course for some, as Lowri Turner conceded, the acquisition of a dog is a substitute for the love of a child or partner.
People who can't maintain an adult relationship get a dog.
Dogs can't answer back, which gives their owners the warm glow of self-satisfaction.
Owning a dog is a selfish act - the animals are bought for their undying adoration while the owner's responsibilities are blithely ignored.
Apart from the elderly or infirm, who need companionship and may gain genuine help from a pet, nothing can justify dog ownership in cities, where there are too many people living closely together, without the thoughtless addition of animals.
Indeed, there is something unhealthy about people's relationship with their pets. Many expect to be able to take their dogs on holiday, dress them up and have them groomed at ridiculous expense.
People who shudder at the thought of uncleanliness freely allow their dogs to lick their faces. No wonder, then, they have no problem sharing their beds with them.
We live in a time where antisocial behaviour of all kinds - smoking, drinking in the street, hoodies, litter louts, loud music, to name but a few - are the subject of new laws. So isn't it time dog owners (and let us not forget they are a minority) were prevented from exercising this tyranny of selfishness over the rest of us?
Love dogs? You must be barking! | the Daily Mail