Thursday, May 14, 2009

I believe these dogs were bred for fighting

Those are the words of a woman whose son was wounded by three large dogs running loose. The dogs had been loose for several days, possibly becoming more aggressive due to lack of nourishment. All three dogs were shot and killed by police. One dog was a bull mastiff, one a pit bull mix, and the other a german shepherd mix. In conclusion, they were all mutts.

I'm sorry, but how on earth does one conclude, based on this attack, that these dogs were bred for fighting? The reality is less felonious - the dogs were probably abandoned and no one bothered to call animal control to catch them. It's as likely they were being bred for bear-baiting as dog fighting. That is to say they weren't being bred for either.

But an article about a dog mauling isn't complete without a pit bull reference or dog fighting innuendo (or outright assertion). These types of stories are even less complete without a supposed expert discussing fighting dogs:

Barb Busko, a worker with the Trumbull County Animal Welfare League, hasn't seen the dogs but said fighting dogs can have scars and may have their ears trimmed down, which is to prevent another dog from biting down on them in a fight.
To be fair, the key words are "can" and "may" which are very different than "do" and "always". So, there's me giving credit where credit is due. Still I can't help but cringe at this statement. Lots of dogs have scars, mine has one from a cyst removal. Lots of dogs have cropped ears, they cannot all be fighting dogs. Countless dogs confiscated from actual pits have happy, floppy, rose-pricked ears.

But what does scarring and ear cropping have to do with these dogs? It doesn't sound like they were fighting each other or that they had cropped ears. It sounds like they were loose, packed up, aggressive dogs who were "confident" enough to bite a guy from behind and attack a small sized child. These weren't tough dogs, they were fearful dogs driven by a pack mentality that can often cause individual dogs to act like complete idiots. They had been loose for days and not shown an ounce of aggression towards this child or other people. Something happened to change that. I don't know what.

Here's my advice, people. If you see a loose dog or group of dogs, do yourself, the dogs, and your neighborhood a favor and call animal control. Keep calling and be annoying about getting the dogs picked up. As street-savvy as dogs can be, most are ill-equipped to thrive or survive well on their own. Many cities/counties have leash laws and most have at least one animal control officer. I don't think we need a felony-level dangerous dog law to prevent this type of attack.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I think this tragedy could have been prevented had folks in this neighborhood* been a bit more persistent in getting animal control or police out. Maybe the dogs would have still been shot (though their lack of aggression when first loose seems to indicate maybe not) but it probably would not have been in response to an attack that required 250-stitches and nearly scalped a boy.

*Yes, the owner is a douche-bag. Yes it is the owner's fault for abandoning the dogs. Yes, s/he should have been more responsible. No, that does not excuse the lack of community support in removing these abandoned dogs from the streets and into a shelter or new home.

All the laws in the world won't prevent these bites from happening. In this case, someone picking up a phone and calling animal control very well may have. We'll never know. And that sucks, because a kid is seriously injured and three dogs are dead.


YesBiscuit! said...

It's possible the dogs were reported to AC and AC was non-responsive. I have reported loose dogs in my area a few times and AC either comes by way too long after the call (like 6 hours later) and can't find the dogs or they come but won't get out the truck because there are loose dogs in the area. Which makes sense to them, somehow.

Rinalia said...

I'm sure it is possible. Still, the fact they have been loose for several days and the victim's mother and others claimed the dogs were not aggressive and, as such, not a problem leads me to believe no one called. Could certainly be wrong.

I've lived in four different counties (one urban, three urban/rural mix) and haven't had a problem with AC taking too long for loose dogs (dead dogs, yes). So I suppose it does depend on where you live.

Our Pack said...

Yes, dogs packed up without guidance and leadership rely on pack facilitated behavior that would not happen if contained.