Friday, November 04, 2005

Puppy Dog Tales

Okay, someone tell me why, because I just don't get it. Why don't all states have stricter 'dangerous dog' laws? Why are people still allowed to keep not just one of these so-called 'dangerous dogs' but PACKS of the bloody things?

Another child got mauled yesterday. He came home and his front door was locked, so he went around to the back yard...and that's all she wrote. He was greeted by 3...count 'em 3 pitbulls, who packed up against him and put him in the hospital with grievous wounds. Luckily he was 10 years old, and not 4 or 5. He'll probably survive, with scars that won't disappear. Authorities aren't sure at present who owns the dogs. Hell, they could even belong to the family for all I know, as I've heard way too many cases of the family pack turning on one of the children. And why? Why on earth would anyone want a PACK of these dominant and difficult to train dogs?

Yeah, like I can talk, right? Me of the 5 dogs? And let me tell you something. If you were to walk up my driveway, the dogs would go completely apeshit. They'd bark at you, snarl at you, hurl themselves against the fence.

But there's the thing. The issue of the fence. My dogs are enclosed not in the front yard, but in the back, behind a six-foot chainlink fence and a gate which is not only latched, but tied closed.
And hey, if you were dumb enough to mistake their warnings for affectionate greetings, open the gate and enter the backyard, you would run the very real possibility of getting bitten.

But here's the thing. A bite from a pekingese would be annoying, but not life-threatening. And even if all three of the older ones packed up against you - which is doubtful, but possible, if you can't fend off a cocker spaniel and two dogs which are a foot off the ground, frankly you're a bit of a pussy then, aren't you?

Pit bulls and others like them are an entirely different kind of dog. No one who's seen film of these dogs latching onto something and being pulled off the ground, and still refusing to let go would argue that they have the potential to kill.

And I'm so tired of hearing that there are no bad dogs...only bad owners. Yeah, but how is it that bad owners never seem to pick chihuahuas or yorkies? They go for these macho muscle dogs with the capability to tear a human being limb from limb. I'm sure they're probably compensating for something, but still...

And I'm also sure that there are some absolutely great dogs of this ilk out there, who are blessed with wonderful owners who take the time and trouble to train them, microchip them, and most importantly recognize how territorial they are. They monitor them when people come to the house and they don't let them run loose in the neighborhood.

Does anyone remember the Diane Whipple case out of San Francisco? The lady who was torn apart by the two massive Presa Canario dogs who lived on her floor, when she was doing nothing more offensive than trying to get from the elevator into her own apartment. Who can honestly say this scenario wasn't an accident waiting to happen? Two huge dogs with heads the size of the steering wheel of your car. Two dogs who were of a breed which is the personification of dominance and territorial.

And let's examine the idea of territory. A dog's territory is where he lives. In the case of my dogs, that would be the house and the backyard, or the car if they happen to be with us on a trip. Don't try sticking your fingers through my car window to pet one of them if you don't want to get them nipped at. Let me bring them out of the car first. Out into a place which they don't feel responsible for. They're much more likely to be amenable to your attention out there.
In the case of the San Francisco Presas, they went out for walks in the neighborhood daily. They used the elevator, and walked in the hallway. So they figured the entire apartment complex was their territory. Diane Whipple was on their territory when they attacked her. She wasn't family. She wasn't part of their human 'pack' and therefore was a threat to them. So she died.

And worse yet, the owners who bought these pit bull puppies who were cute and small and manageable, and found out that they grow, and they're bigger now and they knock things over and chew things and get into mischief when their owners aren't around. So these owners turn them out of the house when they leave for work.

What happens then? What do these dogs perceive as their territory? Right. Their territory becomes the area they live in. The outdoors. They may roam and patrol an area which stretches for several blocks. And guess what? These people who own them may be telling the gospel truth when they say that the dogs are sweethearts and wouldn't hurt a fly and have never bitten anyone. Of course not. Because their human family are part of their pack. Unfortunately the little kid who lives down the street is not.

So what's the answer? Beats me. You can't wave a magic wand and turn all pit bull owners into responsible people. Maybe there should be an ordinance preventing people from owning multiples of these breeds - and yes, I'm just using pit bulls as an example. I do know that Rottweilers and Chow Chows and others can be every bit as vicious and unpredictable. And maybe if you want to own one of these potentially dangerous dogs, you should have to get a special license, and get them microchipped so that in the event of a mauling, you can be held responsible for the actions of your dog. And yeah...I do think that people who own one of these dogs - or multiples of these dogs - and allow them to run loose and cause harm to a person or someone else's pet should be punished severely. The judge in the Whipple case was well on the right track. Owning dogs you know have the capacity to hurt someone and not exercising proper control and dominion over them at ALL times isn't just negligence. It's manslaughter waiting to happen, and should be punished accordingly.

*Bows to the crowd and steps down from her soapbox*


Blogger Jensgalore said...

I have to agree. The dogs that chased Arielle on Halloween - there are three of them in that yard, two German Shepherds and another that I don't know what breed he is, but he's bigger than the Sheperds. They are VERY territorial and aggressive. We had German Shepherds when I was a kid and I love that breed. Wonderful, intelligent, sweet-natured dogs - to their pack. The dogs across the street scare the heck out of me. What kind of idiot leaves them out with only an invisible fence on Halloween?!

9:56 PM  

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