Saturday, August 22, 2009

What to do about pit bulls?

It's happened again. A pit bull has attacked someone. I can't say I'm surprised. Here in Florida, we hear of a least one or two attacks by a pit bull every week, sometimes even more.

I have always been a dog lover. I have a pet-relate online business. I love dogs, all dogs, except the dangerous ones. I don't believe pit bulls are inherently dangerous, but I do think many of the people that have them want them to be dangerous. And that's what makes them dangerous. The breed is routinely mistreated in a quest to turn it into a snarling watch dog. And they are frequently physically and emotionally abused when pressed into illegal service as fighting machines. Such horrific experiences would turn most any breed dangerous.

Do I think pit bulls are so dangerous they should be banned? People ask me this a lot. Some municipalities, such as Miami-Dade County, have enacted such legislation. Officials say the jury is still out on whether it's helping. I've heard the plea to, "punish the deed, not the breed." I agree with that. In theory. I don't want to see families have to give up their pets, regardless of the breed, but I do know we've got to start doing something about all these attacks that are leaving other dogs, adults and children maimed or dead.

This week's report was of an attack on a 10-year-old St. Johns County boy. The pit bull bit him in the face, neck and arms and his injuries were so life threatening he had to be airlifted to the nearest trauma hospital. Doctors say he will need extensive reconstructive surgery on his little face. The dog attacked without provocation, according to witnesses. Police officers said the dog "bit through the youngster's mouth, punctured his neck, just missing his jugular, and tore into his
right bicep." They said the dog finally stopped attacking "once the boy was able to fight his fear and just lie still."

Earlier in the day, in another part of the same county, a woman was walking her small dog when another dog - yes, another pit bull - broke its leash and began to attack her dog. While trying to protect her dog, the woman was bitten by the pit bull.

It's hard to not demonize any breed of dog that routinely inflicts such horror on people's lives.

Animal control now has both dogs and news reports say the county is trying to decide "whether or not to return the dogs to their owners." Destroying the dogs involved will prevent future attacks - by those two dogs. But how do they punish the "deeds"? Do they fine the owners? Or do they outlaw the breed?

Perhaps pit bull owners should be required to register their dogs, much like a gun owner must register his weapon. After all, the pit bulls involved in the above attacks were someone's pets, not dogs like Michael Vick trained for his profit. I'm told most of the pits in Florida breed with other pit bulls in Florida; the genes are merely passed along. If that's the case, the aggressive genes are going to be inherent and the dogs are merely time bombs waiting to explode. There needs to be some extra effort required when someone chooses to have dogs with such potential.

We can't ignore these attacks. We can't "fight the fear and just lie still." Lives depend on taking action - now, before the next attack.

No comments: