Hold people responsible for dog attacks [Letter]

November 18, 2013

When you have a dog, you also have to have some common sense. If a dog bites someone who was approaching his or her food bowl and you decide not do anything about it, chances are the biting will escalate because you didn't take steps to address the food-guarding issues. Dog ownership is a privilege and a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Everyone needs to take a dog biting seriously. It can't be ignored.

Many dogs have food-guarding issues. It is up to us to take dog ownership seriously and know what we are doing. You can love a dog all you want but you should not set it up to fail by ignoring biting or putting it in situations with strange dogs or people unsupervised.

In dog fighting, the dog is tortured into fighting other dogs. Tortured. If the dog becomes aggressive, it is "culled," which is a nice word for being killed. The dog fighter can't have dogs that attack the dog fighter.

The pit bull is not a breed. A woman was killed by her own German Shepherd a few months ago, and five lab/husky mixes attacked a girl in Orlando. Dog breeds are determined by sight and not by DNA testing and identifications are often inaccurate. So when that pit/lab mix attacks, what part of the dog attacked? All of it. Police dogs are trained to attack people.

They are not tortured. I understand Tony Solesky had a terrible incident with one horrible dog owner, and he is making every dog and responsible dog owner pay ("An unnatural selection," Nov. 15). When you have at least 72 million dogs in this country, there will be bites and deaths. Dogs are carnivores and predators. The fact that millions of the "pit bull" type dogs go on with their lives bothering no one is testament to the dog and its amazing restraint. On average, there are 30 to 33 dog-related fatalities each year, and that's with 72 million dogs and 300 million people. Extraordinarily rare. When people talk about pit bulls in the news or anywhere else, we can't even agree from town to town or shelter to shelter which dogs are pit bull and which are mixed breeds.

I fully support stiffer penalties for the criminally negligent dog owner, making sure dog owners carry insurance coverage, outreach for dog bite prevention and actually enforcing leash laws, but targeting dogs that no one can even agree on what they are and not understanding what dogs are all about is wrong. You don't blame the whole for the actions of a few. Don't have leash laws if you don't plan to enforce them.

All dogs are individuals, as are people, and you never truly know the personality of a dog until you have it for a while and know what issues it has you need to work on. It is the dog owner's responsibility to take dog ownership seriously and manage any dog to make sure it does not bite unprovoked and if they don't, they should be made accountable.

Joan Cornett

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