Carol Forsloff – Pit bull owners become defensive when there is news or discussion about attacks described in the press, which brings outrage from citizens at the same time who worry about these dogs in neighborhoods where there are children.
Pit bulls are hanging around in rural areas of Waianae, not too far from its pristine beaches and on streets with young children. In fact some local folk think it’s tough there to have a dog that can be fierce enough to attack on sight. Owners consider the dogs protection.
While some cultures and some people are tolerant about pit bulls and consider them just like other dogs, there is still plenty of news from time to time about them to indicate concerns that come about these dogs.
At the Christmas holiday in 2008, a 21-year-old man, Christopher Friesen, was attacked and injured by a pit bull in Molalla, Washington. The local television channel provided the news about it. There were two pit bulls involved in the attack, and they were quarantined for 10 days following the attack. They had been found inside an empty lumber mill building foundation and were reported to be very aggressive. Friesen was initially hospitalized at Silverton Hospital with injuries that included what was described as ” serious puncture, abrasion and crushing injuries” He was out on a walk on Christmas day when the dogs attacked him.
Right before the holidays that same year another pair of pit bulls mauled to death a 60-year-old man in California. The man was the grandfather of the dogs’ owner. He was outside taking a cigarette break when he was attacked by what the sheriff called very aggressive pit bulls. It was said by the County Animal Services spokesperson about it that since the dogs had not been spayed they were particularly aggressive. They were also both good-sized dogs with the male weighing 107 pounds and the female 52 pounds. The name of the victim was not released at the time of the media report.
Three other attacks by pit bulls were reported in the United States in the last two months of that year. In Camarilo, California a man and woman were both treated for hand injuries resulting from an attack by a pit bull, according to newspaper accounts. . In New Orleans a man shot and killed two pit bulls that attacked him.
The New Orleans news online considered the problem of pit bulls material for a serious article about them. Two pit bulls seriously mauled a six-year-old boy and were put down as a result. The television stationthat broke the news in September said the child was in serious condition at a local hospital.
In Cleveland, Ohio The Metro reported nearly a thousand pit bulls had to be killed because their owners disobeyed the law that required them to be muzzled and kept in a fenced area. So it appears that in many places pit bulls are out and about without supervision.
Pit bulls have not only their friends as apologists, but others as well. There are a number ofwebsites that plead the case for these animals, talking about the abuse they suffer. These people are quite protective of pit bulls.
It isn’t difficult to find a recent case of a pit bull attack in the United States. OregonLive reported an incident in November of a 7-year-old who had been attacked badly by a 90-pound pit bull that took several people to subdue.
Dogs most involved in violent attacks are Rottweilers and pit bulls, according to statistical reports. Although some people claim it is the owner as opposed to the breed of dog that is responsible for the problems caused by dogs like pit bulls who attack and often severely injure or kill their victims, the question continues to arise: why are they kept as pets in ordinary neighborhoods? But there are those who continue to say pit bulls are fine as pets.
The dog debate has a history. That debate has raged for centuries. If 2009 mirrors 2008 and previous years, it’s likely the argument will continue.
Some pit bull advocates defend the breed by declaring that there is a form of profiling done with pit bulls that targets them in the media and the neighborhood. A journal article by David A. Harris reviews a book about racial profiling by Frederick Schauer, (Profiles, Probabilities, and Stereotypes Cambridge, MA: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2003. xiii 359 pp.). Harris discusses Schauer’s argument about profiling and his example of pit bulls as part of his examination of the controversial nature of profiling.
ell Schauer wrote many contemporary laws about dogs were in response to public panic and profiling that were put on the books in the 1980’s from spurious or isolated cases that neglected information about the overwhelming numbers of docile pit bulls.
Another author determines that pit bull owners are treated like owners of guns and with similar arguments on both sides. In this case the “weapon” is the pit bull. Owners maintain that it is the owner of the dog who should be held liable for the dog’s behavior. This is similar, according to the author cited here, to the argument that it is the owner who uses the gun that is culpable and not the gun itself.
So are pit bulls “mean, dangerous and uncontrollable beasts” as one author discusses? The question allows a look at history to examine this issue. Animal trials have been part of history since the medieval period, with the animals cited as dangerous, and some of then executed in much the same ways as humans found guilty of crimes. The fact that there have been animal trials shows the tendency of some to ascribe legal person hood characteristics to entities that are actually property. These days some animals get “hung” and some persons do, depending upon the circumstance.
An example of dogs being declared guilty and sentenced to death in 1998 shows the controversy. A young man with a criminal history owned several dogs that allegedly had terrorized the neighborhood. The dogs had attacked a 74-year-old man. The neighbors asked for the dogs to be killed. It was acknowledged by the spouse of one of the claimants that it would be impossible to pass a law barring people with criminal records from owning certain types of dogs but mentioned that owners should be responsible. The article summary noted that there had been 90 dog bites in the fiscal year in Montgomery with pit bulls accounting for only 10% of them.
A review of the literature on Questia found no reliable statistics on the rate of pit bull attacks vs other dogs. The one site commonly cited on the Internet, on dog bite laws used in my previous article, has been seriously questioned by dog owners and their defenders.
So incident by incident the issue becomes part of newspaper literature, with the full story continuing to unfold.
Fox 5 in Douglasville Georgiareported on July 8, 2010, “Douglas County spokesman Wes Tallon says the city cited Akmad Rahim Coleman for 20 violations after three of his dogs jumped on 56-year-old Frankie Forsh. Forsh suffered injuries to her arms, legs and face as she took a morning walk Monday.
Coleman also faces several misdemeanor charges related to the dogs.”