Mayor, who banned Paco the dog, inundated with criticism

In Aartselaar (Antwerp) the local mayor, Sophie De Wit, has become a major target of criticism on social media after she banned a dog called Paco from her municipality.

Paco bit a neighbour last May.  The poor woman sustained injuries to her head and ear and filed a complaint with the police.  Mayor De Wit was eager to learn more about the case and heard that this wasn’t the first incident involving the canine. The mayor speaks with Paco’s owner, but also hears that there have been more incidents in the past.

Mayor De Wit: “I could have had the animal seized or put to sleep, but I wanted to give him a second chance.  He could probably function well as a guard dog on a farm in the Ardennes, but not in a densely populated area.”

The mayor’s decision has been widely criticised on social media.  An online petition has been initiated and this has attracted 5,000 signatures. Quizzed about the reaction Mayor De Wit said: “I’ve been inundated with messages, from people who live outside Aartselaar too.  They have heard part of the story.  It is hard to defend yourself in cases like this.”