Monday, March 29, 2010

Owners of Mauling Dogs Face 7 Years in Prison

The owners of five dogs who mauled three children in California face felony charges and up to seven years in prison. One dog was shot during the attack and the other four have all been killed at the shelter.

The article makes a note of the breeds: "The remaining animals she described as a mastiff-pit bull mix, a pit-bull-Labrador retriever mix, and two pit bull-Australian shepherd mixes."

Here's my take on why I think these dogs attacked - The Tragedy of Inaction. You can see photos of the dogs as well. It is true, none of them are Pit Bulls (American Pit Bull/Staffordshire Terriers). They are mixed breeds.

Of course, Pit Bull is out there. If you read this article (What to do when a pit bull attacks), you'll notice the author mentions this particular case as evidence of Pit Bulls' awfulness. It does not matter that the dogs are not Pit Bulls.

I do not think the owners should face prison time. We have enough people in prison. I do think they should face punitive damages for the injuries their dogs caused. But I do not believe the owners of most dogs who bite should be in prison. Rarely is a dog's aggression the result of malicious and cruel intent on the part of the owner.

But I do want to repeat what I wrote originally:

People, if you want a dog in your world - want that dog in your world. Do not create a world for them that is outside the scope of our own. Do not leave them alone and isolated, even with other dogs, in a backyard with a chain link fence as their only meaningful connection to humanity (and what a sad, pathetic one it is). Invite them in and out. Teach them control and allow them the full expression of all that dog-ness. You cannot be an inactive participant in a dog's life. It may not end horribly, as it did in this case for those children and dogs, but it can end in sadness nevertheless. You owe your dog so much more.