Sunday, February 6, 2011

Beware of Irresponsible Dog Owners

News10 reports that, on Friday night, a Pit Bull belonging to a young man attacked his girlfriend's toddler and then attacked the mother when she tried to intervene. The mother got herself and her son locked into a bathroom, away from the dog.

The most important part of this story is that the toddler, while seriously injured, will make a full recovery, but of course he may bear some psychological scars from the attack.

Let's take a look at the factors involved in this attack. First, the child was left alone, unsupervised, with a dog. Secondly, the dog was not neutered (apparent in a photo of the dog displayed by News10). Of course, intact dogs do not, by merely being unneutered, present a danger to people. However, people who are not showing or working to obtain titles on their dogs and who nevertheless leave their dogs intact generally are not the most responsible dog owners. Of course, a dog might have a specific health issue that makes it dangerous to place the dog under general anesthesia, but it's a rare dog that cannot be put under for surgery.

The owner of the dog, who did not want to be identified, allegedly stated the dog showed no prior signs of aggression. Unfortunately, owners of dogs that end up causing serious injury almost always claim their dogs never showed any prior signs. Who wants to admit, when facing potentially serious criminal and civil liability, that their dog did show prior signs of aggression, and they ignored those signs or, heaven forbid, encouraged them? Of course, we don't know what happened in this particular situation. We don't know much about the dog or the dog owner, since the dog owner has not been identified.
Since Will Frampton, the reporter in this case, came to interview Chako volunteers, we did have a chance to find out a bit more about the incident. Frankly, no one is truly clear about what happened. The reporter told us a few things that we wish we could publish (let's just say he smelled something specific in the house when he visited it to report on the incident), but many facts are "unverified" at this time.

The only facts that seem clear are (1) the child was left alone unsupervised with the dog, and (2) the dog was not neutered. We don't know where the boyfriend was (since she was visiting his home with her child and apparently had to get the dog off the boy herself and then lock herself in the bathroom). Firefighters had to come to rescue her.

So, where was the boyfriend? Why did he keep an intact dog? Was he showing the dog? Working it toward obedience titles? Had he even attended obedience classes with the dog? How well socialized was the dog, and where did he get the dog? We can be pretty sure, since the dog was intact, that he did not get the dog from a shelter or rescue that screens their dogs. Shelters and rescues in the Sacramento region (and throughout most of California) almost always spay and neuter dogs before sending them off to their new homes.

So, let's drill down a bit deeper on the set of facts here:
  1. Child left alone unsupervised with a dog
  2. Dog likely is not being shown or worked toward obtaining titles, yet is unneutered. (Why?)
  3. Dog not adopted from a shelter or rescue that neuters them before placing them
  4. Dog highly likely to be a product of indiscriminate back yard breeding (was not bred by someone who obtains show and/or working titles on the dog, performs full health testing -- including hips, thyroid, cardiac, and ataxia--and breeds only the dogs that have demonstrated the best temperament).
And, of course, this person just had to own a Pit Bull. We love Pit Bulls. Of course, we do. We're a Pit Bull rescue. We love them so much, we really wish these woefully irresponsible owners would just never be allowed to own a dog of any breed, period, until they fully wised up on the harm they cause, not just to the human victims of their irresponsibility, but to the canine victims, as well.

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