First, let's be clear: Not all pit bulls are killers. They're not all blood-thirsty. And they don't hunt for human flesh.
That being said, pit bulls have fostered a reputation as being one of the most aggressive breed of dog, and because of that, have become a beacon of social tension throughout neighborhoods in the United States. Bullies don't get reputations because they're misunderstood, they get them because of their actions.
On Monday night in Marshall, a woman's 14-year-old mixed-breed female dog was attacked by a pair of pit bulls and had to be put to sleep shortly thereafter because of its extensive injuries. The owner of the pit bulls was also injured, along with the owner of the other dog. Both pit bulls were quarantined.
Dog attacks like Monday's beg the question: Should the city of Marshall consider following the lead of Council Bluffs, Iowa, which banned pit bulls in 2005?
The answer: Yes, it should. Marshall does have a dangerous dog ordinance in place that is not breed specific, but that does little to prevent attacks.
Discussion on the topic might not lead to a complete ban, and maybe it doesn't have to, but it could inspire other ideas, other laws that will work to lessen the probability of an attack. The intent wouldn't be to punish pit bull owners, but to educate them and make sure their dog never gets the chance to attack. Is common ground possible? Can there be a compromise? Good questions. That's why it should at the very least be talked about. By ignoring it, a community is doing nothing more than leaving itself open to a future incident that might have even more tragic consequences.
Pit bull stats
32 U.S. fatal dog attacks occurred in 2009. Pit bulls accounted for 44 percent of them.
In 2009, the combination of put bulls (14) and rottweilers (4) accounted for 56 percent of all fatal attacks.
From 2005-09, pit bulls killed 82 Americans, about one person every 22 days, while rottweilers killed 21 Americans, or about one citizen every 87 days.
We can't know what was going through the minds of the pit bulls in Monday's incident - what caused them to attack another dog. This isn't an animated movie where dogs have the ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings. All we know is that pit bulls, more than any other breed, are dangerous. Some will say it's not the dog, it's the owner, and if a pit bull is brought up right, it won't attack other dogs or humans. That, as they say, is well, bull. All dogs have the propensity to attack another dog, even a human. The difference is with pit bulls, you're dealing with a dog - part bulldog, part terrier thanks to selective breeding - that has shark-like jaw strength to go along with a "hold and shake" bite style designed to inflict the maximum damage possible on their victims - canine or human. (From 2006-2008 pit bulls killed 52 Americans, the Web site DogsBite.org said). It's that strength, that style, combined with their breeding and a high tolerance to pain that make pit bulls the best fighters. You don't have to be Michael Vick to figure that out.
There are two sides to the pit bull issue. One, from pit bull owners who say THEIR dog would never attack a human. The other, from humans who have been stitched up after they've been bit by one. If dogs could indeed communicate with us, there might be a third side - that pit bulls are easy targets for criticism and we humans shouldn't judge the breed based on past attacks and maulings.
Maybe we wouldn't if there weren't so many of them.