Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Pitbull attacks columnist's dog


In a discussion on Sun-TV a while back on the ban of pit bull types of dogs, I reluctantly supported the ban because it's just not right to have an animal that threatens other animals and children.

I didn't blame the dog --bred for excessive loyalty and courage -- but facetiously (I thought) suggested that a ban on pit bull owners might be more appropriate -- even "putting them down" instead of the dog.

This touched off a rash of responses from pit bull owners testifying to the gentleness of their dogs "who wouldn't hurt a fly." Well, it wasn't flies I was concerned about, but kids and other small dogs. One lady piously wondered why I wanted to "put her down" (murder) when she'd never harmed me. That sort of stuff.

One Dianne Singer, describing herself as a proud member of the Dog Legislation Council of Canada and a proud supporter of the Banned Aid Coalition, sent a nasty letter: "Should I conclude that all your writing is as poorly researched and irresponsible as that infamous column" (on Ontario's pit bull ban). Well, stand by Ms. Singer for some first hand "research!"

When it comes to issues between people and animals, I tend to side with animals. But pit bulls are dogs with big heads, huge jaws, fearless, and are dangerous to anything that irritates them.
Even minimal research indicates their prime targets, when they go berserk, are small children and small dogs -- toy poodles, Lhasa Apsos and the like. Rarely does one hear of pit bulls attacking German shepherds, Rottweillers, Doberman pinschers.

Last summer, a couple of young guys moved into a house next to where we have a house in Wellington, west of Picton in Prince Edward County.

We had grandkids of various ages (youngest 3) running around, and an oft-publicized Jack Russell terrier (Murphy), who once got a bravery medal from the Toronto Humane Society for alerting us to a burglar breaking in one night.

With us, too, was a King Charles Spaniel (Jumble), whose sexual orientation we often debate, and a lumbering yellow Lab, (Cobber) who'd qualify for sainthood if he didn't insist on eating things like Warfrin, kitty litter and corn on the cob that sometimes require costly surgery to correct.

The new tenants had a pit bull with the menacing name of "Sniper" who frequently got loose and headed for our place. The owner was alarmingly indifferent, but when my wife, Yvonne, and daughter warned them to keep their dog away, he agreed.

I reinforced the admonition by visiting him and warning that if the dog menaced us, our grandkids or Murphy, "Sniper" would be in big trouble.

"He's not dangerous, just playful," I was assured.

"Plays with kids, don't worry, we keep him tied up." I insisted it wasn't me who had to worry, but him and his dog if it got loose.

Well, of course it got loose. Often. Once we saw it swimming in Lake Ontario near our place and diving to the bottom and fetching rocks the size of bread loaves.

A nice couple from Toronto who have the lot next to us are worried for their little girl because the pit bull has come onto their property. They'd already alerted Animal Control.

Last Thursday, as I was about to leave Toronto to go to Wellington for Canada Day, I got an alarmed phone call from Yvonne.

"Don't worry," she said, "She's going to be all right, but there was an incident."

"Who's all right?" I said, instantly alert. "Dani, Mandy, Buzzy? Are they okay? What happened?"

"No, it's Murphy -- the pit bull attacked her but the vet has stitched her up, and she'll be okay."

It seems that Yvonne was walking up our dirt road, and turned back when she saw the pit bull loose in its yard. Unfortunately, the dog saw her, and immediately charged and attacked Murphy, bowling her over and ripping a chunk from her ribs. As it wheeled to re-attack, Yvonne screamed. A young guy ran from the house yelling "Snipe, stop it!"

The pit bull paused. Yvonne scooped up the bloody Murphy, and drove frantically to the vet near Picton.

When the vet, who's owned Jack Russells, heard the story he said Prince Edward County takes dog attacks seriously "and that pit bull is history."

After half a dozen stitches, a sedated Murphy came home and Yvonne phoned Animal Control -- which knew all about the pit bull and its owner from past complaints.

A couple of animal control officers -- Shannon and supervisor Garry Davis -- came out impressively fast to get details. Another, Jim, called the next day. They took photographs of Murphy's wound and said the pit bull would be seized the minute the owner could be found.
Meanwhile the OPP were notified in Belleville and surrounding towns in case the owner and dog decided to go on the lam -- which was the case. By the time Animal Control arrived with a warrant to seize the dog, it and its handler were gone The animal control people said while they took dog attacks seriously, ever since Toronto lawyer Clayton Ruby started defending pit bull owners, convictions have become a lengthy process.

It took four months to get a conviction of an owner whose pit bull bit a cop. During the interim, the dog has to be kept at taxpayers' expense, then euthanized.

Personally, I don't blame the dog. Like pedophiles, they simply can't resist attacking what they see as weak, defenceless, easy or vulnerable. It's just the way they are -- bred that way by people who've done the breed a disservice.

Yesterday, they nabbed Sniper. "The OPP really pulled out all stops," said Garry Davis. "They knew the guy, visited his friends, and he just ran out of places to hide and turned himself and the dog into the OPP."

It turned out that the pit bull was registered to someone else, who has tentatively agreed that the dog should be euthanized.

Michael Laird is due in court on Friday to face five charges involving endangerment, mishandling the dog, improper care, etc. If convicted he'll likely be forbidden to ever own a pit bull type dog.

"I'm sorry about Murphy," said Davis, "but it was only a matter of time before that dog attacked a child, and that would have been tragic."

One wonders why people want a dog that by law must be muzzled and leashed - something "Sniper" seems rarely to have endured.

"Often people want them as a secondary defence against police," said Gary Davis. "They are owner-specific, unpredictable and often dangerous."

As for Clayton Ruby, a skilled lawyer, I'll bet his personal experience with pit bull-type dogs is limited; I doubt he's ever been victimized by one.

If this had happened in the "bad" old days, the issue of "Sniper" would have been resolved with a shotgun.

Instead, he's a victim of his breeding.


Post a Comment

<< Home