Saturday, May 3, 2008

Tooele, Utah Woman Seriously Injured, Required 60 Staples On Her Leg After Neighbor's Pit Bull Gets Out Of Its Yard And Attacks Her

On May 2nd, 2008, KSL Channel 5 reported that a 21-year-old woman in Tooele, Utah was seriously injured when a neighbor's pit bull got out of its yard and attacked her. Sgt. Robert Benson of the Tooele Police Department said, "Fairly serious condition, nothing life-threatening as far as I know, but pretty significant injuries to both her leg and arm."

It appears the dog got out through a hole in the fence. The owners weren't home at the time. The dog was subsequently taken to an animal shelter, where it will be quarantined for 10 days pending a hearing to determine if the dog should be classified as "vicious". Depending on the outcome, the dog will be either put down or allowed to go back home.

As of this post, 103 public comments have been posted to the KSL story. One of those comments was posted by the victim, as follows:

I was the person attacked
by Megan T. @ 8:17am - Sat May 3rd, 2008

I was the person who was attacked. I don't know if the breed is bad or my neighbor. All I know is I run a day care and four of my little kids were in that yard. The reason I was attacked was because I yanked my two year old son out from under this dog when he knocked him down. HE WAS AFTER MY CHILD. My son was screaming and crying and the dog was after the kill. It doesn't matter what type of dog it was- the story was on the news because it took 60 staples to pull me back together last night. I had to be sedated for the pain. I have four bites on my good arm. My leg is so tore apart I can't walk. It's not the news framing the dog. This dog attacked my fence and literally rammmed it until it broke. Don't blame the news for the story- it's the truth.


Unfortunately, no formal statistics on dog bites stratified by breed are continuously maintained in regards to non-fatal dog bites. However, the DogBiteLaw website references a data set submitted by a group called Animal People back in 2001. Animal People was asked for data on serial and rampage dog attacks at the 2001 No-Kill Conference in Hartford, Connecticut, after presenting an abstract of information from a breed-specific log of life-threatening and fatal dog attacks committed since September 1982 within the U.S. and Canada by dogs who were kept as pets.

Attacks by guard dogs, fighting dogs, and police dogs are excluded from that log, but attacks by eight trained Rottweiler guard dogs were included in the analysis of rampage attacks because six of the dogs were specifically trained to guard family homes, in which they were also household pets, and two were trained to work at places of business in constant contact with the public.

The log totals showed that through January 20, 2002, pit bulls had committed 592 (45%) of the 1,301 total attacks qualifying for inclusion, including 280 (21%) of the attacks on children, 222 (60%) of the attacks on adults, 51 (34%) of the fatal attacks, and 321 (45%) of the maimings and disfigurements.

Rottweilers had committed 291 (22%) of the attacks, including 24% of the attacks on children, 63 (17%) of the attacks on adults, 36 (24%) of the fatalities, and 159 (22%) of the maimings and disfigurements.

Combined, pit bulls and Rottweilers had committed 72% of all the attacks, 45% of the attacks on children, 77% of the attacks on adults, 58% of the fatalities, and 67% of the maimings and disfigurements.

In response to the situations portrayed above, many jurisdictions have embraced the extreme of imposing outright bans upon ownership of certain breeds considered most dangerous. The DivorceProblem blog has focused upon such bans in the Denver Metro Area, where results have been mixed. A pit bull ban in Denver resulted in the number of dog bites dropping from 39 in 2005 to 9 in 2007. However, a similar ban on ownership of pit bulls AND eight other dangerous breeds in the adjacent suburb of Aurora had no effect; to the contrary, dog bites actually increased in Aurora between 2006 and 2007.

So while Animal Control can provide a short-term solution, only Owner Control can produce a long-term solution. A mixed strategy of variable licensing requirements and fees, with the lowest licensing fees assessed to dog owners who show their voluntary compliance with a wide range of educational and protection measures above and beyond statutory requirements. Conversely, those owners who choose merely to comply with the law alone would pay the highest licensing fees. It would not be out of line to require that a dog owner owning a dangerous breed of dog pay up to $1,000 annually for a license; this would provide a powerful financial incentive towards responsible dog ownership.

In addition, a zero tolerance leash law should be in effect. In this case, I envision that Aninal Control reps would make periodic irregular sweeps of a community. Any dog found running loose, licensed or not, if its owner is not within sight, would be taken into custody and put down straightaway. No exceptions, no exclusions.

But let's not embrace the hysteria of banning breeds. Realistically, there are no "bad" dogs, just irresponsible owners. Banning pit bulls just because they disproportionately bite would make about as much sense as banning blacks just because they commit a disproportionate amount of crime.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My dog did not ram through the fence she was removing a piece of wood from the fence my dog stuck his nose there and shr started kicking at him. A piece of wood was on my side of the fence. I guess the dog took his paw turned it upside down n pulled it in our yard. No! She kicked it while kicking at him. The news and police was lying all of it was false. Everything was against me anyway. Being black, having a pit n being in an married to a white woman. Dont believe everything u hear especially if it come from the news.