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Old April 21st, 2003, 10:30 AM
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Banning breeds isn't the answer

Banning breeds isn't the answer
By KENNETH PHILLIPS

It is tempting to blame certain breeds of dogs when we repeatedly hear about the suffering of little children.

Ten-year-old Alicia Clark of Wisconsin went to her girlfriend's house to play. Six rottweilers lived there, too. There were no adults present when the dogs attacked and killed Alicia in front of her best friend.

Shawn Jones of California, also 10, rode his new bicycle to the playground. Four pit bulls lived in a house next to the play area. Three of them ran from the house, pulled Sean off his bike and dragged him into a field, ripping off both his ears, a cheek and parts of both arms.

Can we prevent horrific attacks like these by simply banning rottweilers and pit bulls?

The American Veterinary Medical Association says that banning breeds is a "knee-jerk reaction" to the dog-bite problem because breed is just one of the five factors involved in dog attacks. Simply banning breeds won't stop dog attacks.

In my view, however, restricting some breeds of dogs from certain places is indeed a necessary step in reducing canine attacks. Crowded cities should restrict rottweilers, pit bulls, mastiffs, akitas and chows.

On the street, all larger dogs should be muzzled to prevent them from biting people and other dogs. Male dogs should be neutered: Unneutered males usually are the biters.

All dogs should be licensed, and, as a condition of licensing, owners should provide proof of insurance for canine-inflicted injuries. This would protect not only dog-bite victims, but dog owners, too. The insurance industry would help weed out dogs with a history of biting, because such dogs would become uninsurable.

Every community should have laws authorizing animal control officers to get dangerous dogs off the street and equip those officers to do their jobs safely and properly.

While we need to restrict certain breeds of dogs from some places, we also must address the other major causes of dog attacks. A broad approach, taking into account the five factors involved in dog bites, would be the best way to take a "bite" out of the dog bite epidemic.

Heredity is the first factor in dog bites: It means more than the breed of dog and takes into account a dog's lineage.

The second factor is a dog's early experience. As puppies, were the dogs taught to respect people, or were they given the freedom to do as they please? The third factor is later socialization and training. The rottweilers that killed Alicia were the "rulers of the roost." Because these dogs did not respect people, eventually they killed one.

The fourth element is health: Sick or injured dogs are more dangerous to people.

The fifth factor is the victim's behaviour. Before she was killed, Alicia was playing with the puppies of the older rottweilers.

Children must be educated about dog safety. They must be taught not to put their faces near the faces of any dogs -- even the family dog. They must also learn not to pet any dog on the street, even if the owner says it's safe. Dog owners must choose the right dogs for their lifestyles, train and socialize their dogs and keep them healthy.

If this broad approach to the dog-bite epidemic fails, then perhaps we should ban entire breeds. First, though, let's address all the elements involved in dog attacks, not just the breed factor.
Los Angeles attorney Kenneth Phillips represents victims in dog-bite cases.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 10:49 AM
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Do you have a link to this news article? I would like to email the author.

They also failed to mention that according to the Humane Society of America, there has NEVER been a fatal dog attack by an altered (spayed or neutered) dog.
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Old May 14th, 2003, 05:10 PM
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Angry

it isnt the dogs fault its agreesive.Its the owners fault that she or he tained their dog to be that way
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