WFSB reported today that police shot and killed a pitbull for attacking another dog in New Haven on Sunday, May 20.
It seems like every time I turn around, the media is reporting about another pitbull attack. In March, an 88 year old Waterbury woman was attacked when her neighbor's pitbulls broke loose.
Seven months ago, a 20-month-old little girl was killed when she was attacked by three pitbulls in her home. No charges were filed and no arrests were made in any of those cases.
It's interesting to note that 10 months ago, four Newfoundland dogs attacked and killed a labrador in Jackson Cove Park in Oxford. In that case, the owner and breeder of the dogs was arrested.
Incidentally, the term "pitbull" is used to refer to about 25 different breeds of dogs including American Pitbull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and any other animal that dog that has the appearance of any of those breeds. That means that a half American Staffordshire Terrier Chow mix can be responsible for an attack and the media will still report it as a "pitbull attack."
According to a 2000 study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on dog bite related fatalities there were 238 people killed by dogs over a 24 year period. During this period pit bull terriers or pit bull terrier mixes were said to be responsible for 76, or 32 percent of these deaths. The CDC does state that breed specific attack information is only recorded when there is a fatal bite. These bites represent only .0002 percent of the 4.7 million dog bites that occur each year. Other research shows that fatalities caused by pit bull-type dogs have decreased nearly every year since 2005.
Yet if you were to watch the news, you'd think two things: it's only pitbulls who bite and the attacks are getting worse. The media has done a tremendous job of sensationalizing these attacks. They know the word "pitbull" will get people fired up on both sides of the pitbull wars: those who think they should be outlawed and those who advocate for the breed.
As an owner of a pitbull it's hard not to be biased on this issue. Our two year old, full blood Pit is the embodiment of joy and affection so it's really hard for me to see her as cold-blooded killer. Do I think she has the potential to snap and bite? I'd be crazy to think that she couldn't. The truth is, any dog has the potential to bite and be dangerous, no matter the breed.
They are animals which is why it is so important to be a responsible owner. When people come to our house, we always have our dog on a leash. In this way we wield the control and responsibility for her. We have steadfast rules that include petting the dog on her back instead of her head and never touching her when she's eating or chewing on a bone. We've taken painstaking measures to train her and socialize her. Those things should be expectations for any pet owner, not just one of a pitbull.
I'm tired of the media reporting on only "pitbull attacks" but failing to report that most of the attacks are not by actual pitbulls. I'm tired of owners of these "pitbulls" not being held accountable for their actions.
I don't believe that pitbulls should be banned but I do think that an owner of any dog who is not securely on a leash, properly fenced, trained and socialized, should be accountable for their failure to regard the safety of everyone around them, whether it be by fine or removal of the animal from the home. In every single case of an attack, there has been a failure on the part of the owner.
It's a shame that so many animals are killed due to the iresponsibility of their owners. I don't see how it's the animal's fault for being an animal. Blaming the dog for being a dog is like blaming a gun for being a gun.
The headlines shouldn't read, "Pitbull Attacks Child", they should be "Dog Owner Fails To Be Responsible For Pet And As A Result A Child Was Hurt."