Time to ban pit bulls

City-suburb woe: The City Council should show it has the guts to rid Baltimore of dangerous dogs.

May 07, 2001

THEY'RE VERITABLE assault weapons, often meant to inflict serious injury or death. But these bullying animals don't need a reason to attack. They do it by nature and by inhumane training.

We're talking about pit bulls, of course, vicious dogs that increasingly make city and suburban neighborhoods dangerous and scary places to live or play. The dogs are a menace and so are many of their owners. One ought to be eliminated; the other policed.

In Harford County recently, a gun battle ensued over a dog deal gone bad. It happened outside a motel. Two people were injured by gunshots. A car struck a third.

In Southwest Baltimore, a pit bull mauled 7-year-old Kasey Eyring in January while she was playing. The dog jumped through a hole in a fence, attacked Kasey and would not let go -- a familiar tale -- although family members and neighbors beat the animal with sticks and rocks.

The child will need extensive treatment to reconstruct her face. She has suffered significant nerve damage.

Kasey's injury inspired Baltimore City Councilwoman Agnes B. Welch to introduce legislation banning pit bulls.

Doubters find lots of reasons to oppose pit bull bans: Property issues. Enforcement costs. Discouraging results elsewhere, including Prince George's County, which has outlawed pit bulls.

Robert Anderson, Baltimore's head of animal control, complained to a City Council committee that a ban would be too expensive and require too many officers.

Tell that to Kasey and her family, who will struggle with medical costs and incalculable emotional and physical tolls.

The big reason for bans outweighs all the reasons against: safer streets and cul-de-sacs for children like Kasey. Besides, pit bull bans will work in communities committed to enforcing them, even cash-strapped Baltimore.

The City Council Housing, Health and Environment Committee reported Ms. Welch's bill with an unfavorable recommendation but will bring it before the full council today. The council meanwhile is considering other bills that encourage responsible pet ownership. That should be a given.

If council members dare to make the streets more pleasant places for kids like Kelly Eyring, they will vote in a heartbeat to rid Baltimore of pit bulls. The rest of the region should, too.

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