On July 20, 2010, two pit bulls killed 71-year-old Wiliam Parker of Memphis, Tennessee, and injured 4 other people. Sherry Wooten, 23, has been charged with negligent homicide and four counts of felony reckless endangerment for the four others injured by the dogs. (Read the story by The Commercial Appeal.)
On July 22, 2010, Jacob Bisbee, a two-year-old boy, was killed by his step-grandfather’s pit bulls in Concord, California. The dog owner has been arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and owning a mischievous animal that caused great bodily injury or death, both felonies. (Video of this story by NBC.)
These are the 18th and 19th fatal dog attacks in the USA during 2010. Pit bulls have been responsible for most of the deaths. These arrests underscore the fact that pit bull owners are at risk for criminal prosecution when their dogs injure or kill other people.
Just 48 hours later, a 2-year-old boy (name not released as of this writing) was killed by his parents’ three pit bulls in Concord, California. The death toll by dogs is 19 in the USA so far this year. Pit bulls killed between 11 and 13 of the victims, Rottweilers 4, and Huskys one.
For details about fatalities through June 2010, see Dangerous and Vicious Dogs on www.dogbitelaw.com, particularly the section entitled “Canine Homicides.” For July 2010′s three deaths so far, see the home page of dogbitelaw.com.
This year so far, the most common victim of a fatal dog attack is a child, and her killer is her parents’ pet dog. During the first 6 months of 2010, 11 canine homicide victims were young children. Of these, 9 were killed by the family dog. One was killed by dogs running at large, and the other by chained dogs.
Family dogs killed 14 of the 16 dog bite fatalities from January through June 2010. In addition to the 9 children, there were 5 adult victims who were killed by pets living in the decedent’s home or being kept there for some reason.
Pit bulls were identified as the killers in 9 cases, and as the probable killers in two more. Rottweilers were identified in 4 fatalities. A Siberian Husky was identified in one case, and might have been involved in one other. More details are given at Dog Bite Law: Dangerous and Vicious Dogs (http://www.dogbitelaw.com/PAGES/danger.htm).
So what’s the lesson from these grim statistics? Clearly, it is that parents must choose an appropriate dog for the household, as well as train and maintain it adequately. Additionally, kids must be closely supervised around dogs.
Housewives have started shooting at the vicious dogs that our animal control agencies (aided by public confusion) have failed to control. In the past month, the news media have reported two such instances. In one, a mother fired a single shot at a pit bull that was mauling her child. In another, a woman shot a pit bull that was killing her dog. (Read the article.)
As the public becomes more fed up at dangerous dogs and their irresponsible owners, and as more people and pets are killed by vicious dogs, we will see more stories like these unless our animal control departments take control of the situation. By far, it is preferable for trained animal control officers to do this job, rather than housewives with guns.
The authorities need to hear a clear message from the public: get rid of the dangerous dogs, the ones that demonstrate viciousness toward people, not by being a member of a breed but by displaying viciousness toward people. That means go find them, take them to the shelter and euthanize them. It does not mean train them, allow them to be adopted, allow them to breed freely. Kill the vicious dogs.
To send this clear message, the public needs to see that the animal control departments have adequate personnel and equipment. Enough officers, enough facilities, enough trucks, enough radios. They are part of law enforcement and they deserve and require the same kind of support. Furthermore, they need to know that we don’t want vicious dogs released, rescued, adopted, re-homed, but killed, not because they are from a breed we might fear but because they have demonstrated viciousness toward people.
We have the right to safe streets. We have the right to defend our lives and our spouses and our children. But when we have to draw our guns to do so, we need to let the authorities know that this is their job, not ours, and that we want them to do it, and will pay what it costs. This means money and clarity of purpose: get the vicious dogs off our streets and kill them, meaning the dogs that have demonstrated violent tendencies against people.
As in the Jennifer Lowe case, here is a video of dogs attacking a police car and “getting away with it.” Quite literally, because first they ripped off the bumper cover, and later were returned to their owner. (Click here to see the video.)
Attorney Wayne Ritchie Jr. and I made Knox County pay for the horrific death of Jennifer Lowe, because the county animal control department failed to impound her killers before they mauled Jennifer to death. In that case, the pack of pit bulls had attacked a police car, attacked police officers, and generally terrorized the neighborhood – much like the dogs in this video.
So if the dogs in this video harm anyone, and Wayne or I get the call, another county will pay for its conscious disregard of its residents’ safety. Is there any other remedy for this? Yes: at the ballot box. Being soft on dangerous dogs is as bad as being soft on any other crime.
Jose Lopez Gonzalez, 49, and Judith Mendez Lopez, 55, face 7 felony counts each, and bail at $250,000 each, as a result of failing to control 5 oftheir dogs. The dogs attacked a family that was walking in the neighborhood. Among other things, 5-year-old Destiny Colon was injured so badly that she was put on a ventilator in the hospital for days and needed more than 230 stitches. (Read more.)
The victim isn’t the only one who survives a dog attack: so does the vicious dog, in most cases. Animal control departments too often lack the resources, the legal authority, and/or the willpower to rid our communities of killer dogs.
For example, the Knox County, Tennessee animal control department failed to take away a gang of pit bulls that the department had declared to be vicious after the dogs attacked a police car, threatened an animal control officer, and routinely were allowed to run free. As a result of the department’s inaction (as well as the dog owner’s refusal to comply with the department’s order), 21-year-old Jennifer Lowe was savagely mauled to death. Her community members suffered from the department’s negligence, not only because they had to endure the dogs as well as the memories of her horrific killing, but because Knox County had to pay wrongful death compensation to her family, after Attorney Wayne Ritchie Jr. and I filed a wrongful death case on their behalf.
That’s only one example. WPXI (Target 11) Investigator Rick Earle now has released data showing that:
- Of the 165 dogs declared dangerous in Pennsylvania in 2008, 70 were euthanized.
- But in 2009, only 50 of the 163 dangerous dogs were put down.
In other words, dangerous dogs and their dangerous owners are winning the battle for the streets in that state. The WPXI article quotes a Pennsylvania dog owner saying, “I have a Chow/Ridgeback mix I brought back from New Orleans who mauled 5 to 6 people. Most would euthanize a dog like that, but I’m not your average pet owner.”
As these dogs mate and proliferate, those of us who are “average” pet owners will see greater risk to our children, greater prejudice against our “average pet,” and rising insurance costs. All to protect dogs that bite, that maul “5 to 6 people.” One must wonder why the rest of us must continue to endure dangerous dogs in our communities.
How long — how many lives like Jennifer’s — how many court cases and news reports will it take before citizens demand stricter laws and zero-tolerance enforcement?