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Archive for Saturday, August 25, 2007

If pit bulls are scary, we can thank Vick

August 25, 2007

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I was driving home from dropping my daughter off at daycare the other day when I noticed a man with his pit bull on a leash.

A little farther, I passed a woman with her two smaller dogs on the same walking trail.

I did a quick U-turn and warned her about the man and the pit bull ahead.

It probably was an overreaction, but I felt compelled to do it. I kept imagining the woman trying to fight off the pit bull as it mauled her two little yip-yip dogs to death.

Then I thought about my 2 1/2-year-old daughter and the attacks on children by pit bulls during the years. Several live in my neighborhood.

I don't blame Michael Vick exclusively for my leeriness concerning the American Pit Bull Terrier. But the Atlanta Falcons quarterback's decision to plead guilty to federal charges related to dogfighting brought a lot of my longstanding discomfort with that particular breed to the surface.

This week was the deadline to claim the more than 50 pit bulls seized from Vick's property in Virginia that served as the training ground for his "Bad Newz Kennels." If no one came forward, the dogs likely would be euthanized. I think their tragic fates are sealed.

Only an idiot would claim ownership, because he would have to explain his role in Bad Newz Kennels' operation.

It's also not likely that any of these dogs will be adopted.

"Free to a Good Home: Vicious Pit Bull trained to fight to the death in amoral and brutal combat. Caution: Keep away from anything or anyone you don't want maimed or mutilated."

Frankly, anyone who steps up to adopt one of these programmed killing machines would have his intentions viewed with a skeptical eye.

For the good of society, each of those dogs must be destroyed. They will be the most innocent victims of Vick and his associates' criminal activities.

For the good of society, perhaps it's also time for the American Pit Bull Terrier breed to be allowed to disappear.

I know that is cold-hearted and harsh. I'm sure humane organizations, as well as pit-bull owners, will jump all over me.

I don't care. Too many pit bulls are ticking time bombs, freely roaming around our kids in our communities.

I'm fully aware that it is not the breed's fault that it has became the dog of choice for an unsavory element of society that likes to prove its machismo by having the meanest and baddest dog on the block.

I know that when treated well, pit bulls generally are considered to have a sunny disposition and to be outgoing, affectionate, eager to please and loyal.

But let's face it, there are way too many people out there like Vick and his cronies - who could not care less about the pit bull's admirable qualities.

They want pit bulls only for their capacity for violent mayhem, and, as too many stories have shown, this dog has an off-the-chart capacity for violence and mayhem.

In the hands of sick individuals, the bad side of the pit bull can easily be exploited to deadly consequences.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that any dog treated badly and trained poorly will act aggressively, but the American Pit Bull Terrier was derived from fighting dogs in England and Ireland and brought here in the 1800s because of the popular sport of dogfighting.

Even those early dogfighters feared potential harm from pit bulls. Dogs that showed any aggression toward humans were culled so as not to infect the bloodline with that aggression.

There is a viciousness that has been built into the breed. Too often it has resulted in tragedy.

Even owners who have only loving intentions for pit bulls can represent a threat if they don't know how to handle and raise them properly.

Wednesday night, a 69-year-old woman in Philadelphia was sent to the hospital after her family's three pit bulls inexplicably attacked her in her home.

Because we don't know the circumstances of how it's been raised and because the consequences can be so drastic, every pit bull must be viewed cautiously.

I warned that woman just as a precaution, because I was afraid of what could happen if I didn't.

Internationally, the American pit bull has been banned in Ontario and been severely limited in the United Kingdom because of its potential danger.

Many states in this country have breed-specific legislation, ranging from muzzling to a ban on ownership.

Still, it seems as if every other month there is a story from somewhere that a pit bull has mauled a child, attacked an adult or mutilated a pet.

Pit-bull lovers use the same argument as gun enthusiasts - it's not the dog or the gun, it's the person behind the dog or the dog.

I still prefer that all handguns be banned. Too many knuckleheads have easy access to guns.

It really it disturbs me that I feel the same way about pit bulls. They are living creatures, not inanimate tools.

I'd like to thank Michael Vick for making me feel that way.

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