Friday, May 15, 2009

Mother of mauled toddler indicted

I really don't know how many more times we need to see stories like this before people understand.

I do not know what the stats are on how many maulings are pit bulls versus Rottweilers, Dobermans, Collies, or other breeds. But it is shocking how much anecdotal evidence I find that pit bulls are the worst offenders.

We used to have a pit bull mutt, when I was six years old, waaaaaaay before they got the type of publicity they get now. Tiger (his name) was playful, and never hurt us; but I did see him turn on a dime once. The neighbors brought over a 4-foot tall Great Dane with an attitude. Tiger was happy to meet him, wanted to play. The Dane barked and tried to back Tiger down. Tiger immediately went nuts, and would have ripped the other dog's throat out, had there not been a chain link fence separating them. Not too long after that, we left the gate open, and Tiger ran away, never to be heard from again. In retrospect, much as I liked Tiger, I consider us lucky never to have been a victim of Pit Bull Schizophrenia (PBS), where they go from trusted companion to chewing your face off.

To be fair, the number of fatal dog attacks in the U.S. is pretty low. But even non-fatal attacks can be traumatic and life-altering. Children, especially, can suffer both physical and emotional scarring from facial wounds inflicted in such attacks. I'm not saying that having a dog guarantees an attack; I'm just saying that it's a risk you have to consider, like driving without a seat belt.

I wonder if the "security" of having an attack dog to ward off burglars offers any comfort when your best friend swallows your nose? Personally, I'd rather the crooks steal my TV, and keep my face, and my child.

There are common-sense things that parents and dog owners can do to help prevent such incidents, but the most important one is to recognize that certain breeds, and pit bulls in particular, are not suited for domestic life.