An article in the news responds to the the tragic death of a 23-month-old boy mauled by a pit bull last weekend and the debate over whether pit bull breeds should be banned altogether.
Child safety means protecting our children from animal attacks. I really don’t think pit bulls as a breed are the problem. It’s irresponsible owners that need to be put on a leash.
Recent example. I was getting ready for my morning run last week, when I came across a young female pit bull on the street in front of my house. She had a collar, no tags. As sweet as sweet could be. Very unhappy not being with her people.
I turned around and she followed me into my yard. My wife took her in, we gave her some food and water and I went out for my run. When I got home, I asked where the dog was. My wife told me she had crawled into bed with my college-aged son and was fast asleep. (My wife and I live on a small horse ranch, we know good animals and troubled animals from long experience. Don’t recommend you try this at home.)
Anyhow, we took the pit bull to the shelter as that was the best way to reconnect her with her people. But then there is the question, what was that dog doing running loose in the first place? Also, why no tag or chip for identification? All our dogs carry both, plus we’re double gated.
I support spaying and neutering except for legitimate breeding operations and better enforcement of licensing laws. It’s not just any breed that is the problem. It’s people who don’t respect the rights of other people or their own pets.
California led the nation in 2010 dog bite claims, at 369, representing a total payout of $11.3 million, according to a State Farm Insurance Co. report that lists the top ten states for dog bite claims
This works out to an average $30,623.31 paid out per claim, which says something about the problem of dogs not kept under control by their owners.
If you love dogs, which I do (three Labs at home plus cats, etc.) then you know that there are pet owners who refuse to keep their dogs properly fenced on their property, or keep overly aggressive animals (in Los Angeles, pit bulls are a big problem) or just don’t understand that pet ownership is a responsibility as well as a privilege.
And, by the way, in California, there is no “every dog gets one free bite” standard when it comes to injury claims.
The standard jury instruction (CACI 463) says that there is liability when an injured plaintiff proves:
1. That the defendant owned the dog;
2. That the dog bit the plaintiff while he/she was in a public place or lawfully on private property;
3. That the plaintiff was injured;
4. That the defendant’s dog was a substantial factor causing plaintiff’s harm.
Irresponsible owners should be held liable for the injuries their animals cause. Of course, it’s always better to head off the harm in the first place.