Just Sayin…

Today my attention was drawn to a letter to the editor in today's Star Tribune.

Dangerous dogs

Latest pit bull attack highlights policy issue

Dogs are supposed to be household pets -- not attack animals. The vicious attack on a Minneapolis postal carrier by two pit bulls once again emphasizes the need for legislation regarding dangerous dog breeds ("I had no fight left in me,'' July 29).

The postal carrier was fortunate to be a strong adult who was able to ward off these vicious animals until help arrived, even though he suffered numerous bite wounds. Fortunately, another defenseless child wasn't brutally and viciously killed by one of these dogs. Enough already. I will be writing my representatives and supporting any legislation that forces training and licensing for owners before ownership of these breeds or, hopefully, a full ban in Minnesota on dog breeds that are potentially dangerous to the community as a whole.

(name intentionally omitted),  BROOKLYN PARK

So I guess this is what I have to say 'bout that:

Response to Dangerous Dogs: Latest pit bull attack highlights policy issue

I can more than understand concerns about dangerous dogs. It is a valid point: Dangerous dogs are a public safety issue. However, I would like to point out that there really is no such thing as dangerous “breeds” of dogs. A dog is either dangerous or not and that is more evident by its behavior and actions than by its breed. A dangerous dog’s breed will vary just as we humans vary in so many ways - nationality, personality, intelligence, and so forth. Additionally, we, as rational beings, must consider the petri dish of this argument. There are many dog attacks in this country but the only attacks we hear about are the “sexy” attacks. And unfortunately for the pit bull they are by far the sexiest. Matter of fact animal control officers across the country have told the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that when they alert the media to a dog attack, news outlets respond that they have no interest in reporting on the incident unless it involved a pit bull.

Consider what the National Canine Research Council found:

August 18, 2007 — A Labrador mix attacked a 70-year-old man, sending him to the hospital in critical condition. Police officers arrived at the scene and the dog was shot after charging the officers. This incident was reported in one article in the local paper.  August 19, 2007 — A 16-month-old child received fatal head and neck injuries after being attacked by a mixed-breed dog. This attack was reported on twice by the local paper.  August 20, 2007 — A six-year-old boy was hospitalized after having his ear torn off and receiving a severe bite to the head by a medium-sized, mixed-breed dog. This incident was reported in one article in the local paper.  August 21, 2007 — A 59-year-old woman was attacked in her home by two pit bulls and was hospitalized with severe, but not fatal, injuries. This attack was reported in over 230 articles in national and international newspapers, as well as major television news networks including CNN, MSNBC and Fox.

If the only dog attacks we hear about are those involving pit bulls then of course it would appear pit bulls are doing the majority (if not most) of the attacking. No wonder people are afraid them. A popular “study” breed ban proponents always drag out is the Merritt Clifton study. Mr. Clifton’s data sources are media reports; press clippings – so to speak. If only certain attacks are brought to the public’s attention via the media than surely we can all see how a report based on this data is unsound, unfounded, unacceptable. It is sadly disappointing that this kind of work is so widely used to target a specific breed.

If we begin to narrow the scope of our concern to select breeds we will miss a lot of dangerous dogs. We will also give our communities a false sense of safety. The CDC’s Dr. Julie Gilchrist, regarding dog attacks, argues “the breeds involved are going to vary. The more encompassing way is to deal with dangerous dogs so that every dog and every owner is covered all the time”.

Now I will confess that I love “pit bulls” (a generalization much like, say – nurse). They are by far the most comedic and forgiving of the abuses of humans than any other breed of dog I have met and/ or worked with. No other breed has caused me to question more the compassion of humans. They are by far the most abused breed of dog on the planet. They are worthy of our stewardship not our hatred. I like to say – when children run amok the first thing we ask ourselves is “where are those parents?”. We call into question the upbringing of the children and save our disdain for the humans responsible for bringing them into this world and not caring to raise decent human beings. Tell me, why we cannot afford that same courtesy to a dog whose only shortcoming is being at the mercy of humans?

Minnesota has more than adequate statutes and laws in place to deal with people who create dogs who have the potential to harm or have harmed another dog or person. What Minnesota does not have is the adequate funding and community support to staff our animal control facilities as they should be. Instead, animal control facilities across the state are cutting their hours and staff. How does that help anyone?

It’s a messy job placing blame. Let’s make sure we do it responsibly.

Humans are responsible for dangerous dogs. Period. And those dangerous dogs come in all shapes and sizes just as the humans who create them do.

Lara Peterson, Minneapolis, MN

Will they publish me too? I don't know. But if this individual in Brooklyn Park is going to be writing their legislators that means all of you who know better need to do the same. Drop your representative a line too, our pit bulls need you!


6 thoughts on “Just Sayin…


    I have worked with dogs of all breeds all my life. Police dogs, warehouse gaurd dogs, hunting dogs, sheep herders, you name it. Some of the least agressive dogs I have worked with have always been the rotties and the pitties, labradors, and newfies.
    I have seen mixed breed dogs attack without provocation on numerous occasions. I truly believe we are at fault, as we are ignorant, disrespectful, and abusive, about and to these noble animals. Any animal can and will turn under certain circumstances. This animal may be injured, frightened, feel threatened or be actually sick. Their only defense is an offense and is a most often a reaction, not a state of being. Education is key. I hope that we can get that education out there. Is it a weapon or a tool? Depends on who’s weilding it doesnt it?

  2. Jessica

    I sent an email to my representatives too! Great response Lara, let us know if it gets posted!

  3. Becky Cherry

    I have to agree. I have 2 German Shepherd dogs and have worked very hard to make sure that they are respectful and not frightening. I can’t count the times my dogs have been attacked by little dogs whose owners are completely helpless to control their dogs. If my dogs acted like that they would have long since been reported to the police and I would have been forced to destroy them. OWNERS are responsible for the behavior of their dogs. To blame this on the breed is unjust and unaccountable. In an aside, the only dog bite I have ever received (and I have many friends with Shepherds and Bulldog breeds) was from a small, mixed breed dog.

  4. Yasmin Morales

    I am undecided about pit bulls because my mom doesn’t like them because she says that they are unexpected to attack and there have been a lot of that reports of them eating children and attacking old people as you said that they come up a lot but they are UNEXPECTED to ATTACK even when you have had them since they were 2 weeks old they still attack and will be trade you. But if what your saying is true that other dogs attack as well as pit bulls but at the same time I don’t think that because dogs like a Golden Retriever, Basset Hounds, German Shepeard, Poodles they do not attack as bad as pit bulls but as Jessica said that some people are careless with their dogs and may attack but it is like 25% of 100% of pit bulls. I am undecided about pi bulls.

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