Monday, February 2, 2009
Pit bulls should be banned because the dog is strong, unpredictable and dangerous.
No matter how caring dog owners are, pit bulls are aggressive by nature.
"They should be banned," said the Rev. Gregory Wyatt, minister of Victoria's Palestine Baptist Church. "They're bred for fighting."
Wyatt fought for months last year for animal control to grab loose pit bulls from his church's neighborhood, near the corner of Convent and Depot streets.
The dogs chased churchgoers, young and old.
"They are a community hazard, as far as I'm concerned," he said. "They brought quite a deal of hysteria among community people, especially of children. That creates a great threat."
U.S. dog attacks from 1979 to 1998 killed 300 Americans and half were children, according to the most recent survey by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
One-third of those attacks were by pit bulls.
Ladell Hogan, a 77-year-old Hallettsville woman, almost became a pit bull statistic. While Hogan walked her neighborhood last year, a loose pit bull charged her.
The dog rammed her, knocking her backward to the ground. A passing motorist swerved to scare the dog. Hogan jumped in.
Marilyn Rice is Hogan's 56-year-old daughter.
"I have nieces and nephews who like to ride their bikes in the streets," Rice said. "Those dogs should be banned. The dogs can get loose, attack someone and kill someone like they almost did. They don't know any better. They've been trained to do that."
Gregory, meanwhile, said caring pet owners can't change a dog's pedigree. The dog is too unpredictable, he said.
"I think that's a fair assessment of the dog and the danger to the community," he said.
Pit bulls are no more dangerous than any other dog. They are loving and loyal animals.
Don't ban pit bulls. Ban abusive owners.
"There's a chance for any dog, even a good dog, to bite someone," said Larry Green, a chaplain for Hospice of South Texas. "The aggression comes from how people raise them."
Green owns Buster Brown, an 8-month-old pit bull who loves to sunbathe on his doghouse.
"He's like a human. He gets up there, lays up there, sits up there," Green said. "If you go outside, he jumps like a jackrabbit. There's no aggression in him."
Owners should properly care for pit bulls - love, train and keep them humanely enclosed. Besides, banning a breed is ineffective.
"It's the deed and not the breed," said David Kirkpatrick, spokesman for the American Veterinarian Medical Association. "There's quite a bit of science that says banning a particular breed of dog has not proven to reduce dog bites. Breed-specific legislation is stereotyping certain breeds as being vicious. We oppose this."
A dog's tendency to bite depends on several factors. Chain any dog to a tree for lengthy periods and the dog will become angry and aggressive, Kirkpatrick said.
"If the dog is trained, socialized, kept in an environment that doesn't increase its aggressiveness, than you will have a happy, healthy dog. Dog bites are preventable," he said. "If you have a brother and a sister, their DNA is similar, but they're not both going to behave or act in the same ways. Just because a pit bull is involved in a biting incident, that doesn't mean a properly socialized, trained, well-cared for pit bull is any more prone to biting than the one that already did."
"Look at my puppy. He's good hearted," he said. "What changes them from how they are now to what they can become? It's how people make them to be aggressive."
Three weeks ago, police shot a dog described as a large, aggressive pit bull near Juan Linn Elementary School. The dog, which paired with another, chased adults and tried to enter a woman's yard. Officer Jason Smetters shot and killed one dog when it tried to attack him, he said. The debate about banning pit bulls is not new. But given recent events, experts and locals weighed in.