Banning pit bulls isn't the way to stop vicious dog...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 23, 2001

Banning pit bulls isn't the way to stop vicious dog attacks

The recent attack on a 7-year-old girl by a vicious dog is indeed a cause for public outcry. The solution put forward by Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the city's health commissioner, for this too-common story, is, however, ineffective and unjust ("Official calls for microchip tags for dogs," Jan. 17).

Baltimore already has laws requiring rabies vaccinations and licensing of dogs and cats. Laws also requiring pet owners to properly restrain and confine their pets, provide food and shelter and strong laws prohibit dogfighting and make it illegal to own a vicious dog.

But breed-specific legislation does not work. Vicious dogs come in all shapes, sizes and breeds.

What is the solution? The City Council needs to provide adequate funding to Baltimore City Animal Control to enforce the laws on the books.

Manpower is needed to respond to complaints and issue citations to lawbreakers before an innocent child is mauled, not after the fact.

More laws won't work; enforcement of the existing laws will.

Janet Boss

Ellicott City

The writer is a board member of the Maryland SPCA.

I was deeply saddened by the latest attack involving a pit bull and my heart goes out to the injured child and her family ("Escaped pit bull attacks 7-year-old," Jan. 13).

I am also disheartened to see the public outcry to ban pit bulls from Baltimore. This response will not deal with the real problem -- irresponsible pet owners.

Pit bulls are not the problem here. The truth is any dog can bite. But behind nearly every "vicious dog" is an owner who has not properly trained or cared for his or her animal.

Let's work to develop policies that will not only protect our citizens but educate pet owners and benefit their animals.

Brian Daugherty

Baltimore

I will never deny that there are some incredibly vicious dogs out there and some happen to be pit bull terriers.

However, as an owner of a pit bull, I can honestly say that if a dog is well treated and loved, the threat of it turning vicious is slim at best. My dog happens to be one of the sweetest dogs I have ever owned.

Any breed of dog can be trained to be ferocious, but it is not inherent in the pit bull breed to be a fighter. Maltreatment, starving, beating and other cruelties from humans make the dogs savage.

Hold the owners of vicious dogs accountable and bar them from owning dogs. Please do not discriminate against an entire breed of dog because of several heinous owners.

Alison Webb

Baltimore

Enforcing immoral laws is not an honorable act

John Ashcroft is the current personification of this myth that a man who does not allow his deeply held religious beliefs interfere with his public life is honorable.

As a Christian, Mr. Ashcroft rightly condemns abortion. And he now seeks a position, U.S. attorney general, which will require him to enforce the laws of the land, including the one which gives a woman the so-called right to abort her child.

Yet, if confirmed, Mr. Ashcroft says he will enforce all the laws.

To go against that which you claim to hold dear is not honorable; it is despicable.

An honorable man is one who lives his private and public life according to the principles and values he professes.

Anna Anderson

Berlin

Defense of Ashcroft was insulting to Jews ...

Reading Cal Thomas' column "Liberals afraid of John Ashcroft" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 17) I was struck that he is guilty of the same sin he imputes to others.

Mr. Thomas is entitled to his opinions and I am entitled to disagree. But he is not entitled to trash my religious heritage. His "hypocritical" Pharisees are my spiritual ancestors -- the rabbis of the Talmud.

I am sick and tired of pundits using offensive metaphors to describe their adversaries as Jews -- as if Jews are a legitimate representative of all things negative.

Steven M. Feldman

Pikesville

... and criticism of Graziano was insensitive to alcoholics

Michael Olesker's column calling for city Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano's resignation freely uses such words as civility and sensitivity, but seems terribly averse to showing the same to another minority group -- alcoholics ("Resignation would aid Graziano above all," Jan. 16).

There is no excuse for Mr. Graziano's comments during a drunken rage. Too bad Mr. Olesker can't even use that excuse.

David L. Rigotti

Bel Air

Science teachers need to be more creative

Obvious production errors such as mislabeling a photograph are hardly reason for despair over American science education ("Popular science texts error-filled, panel says," Jan. 15). A far greater problem is the lack of insight science teachers bring to their material.

Science is often taught with rote memorization taking the place of understanding. Basic atomic physics, for instance, is presented as a list of names and theories to memorize, with barely a hint of why the theories were developed.

Experimental projects often are presented in ways which aren't even remotely meaningful.

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