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Call off the dogs

The stories about dogs inflicting serious injuries and even killing small children keep coming. As they do, the standard argument that “breed has nothing to do with it” rings hollow. Almost always they are Rottweilers or pit bulls, or some mix of those breeds.
Here’s some of the latest attacks, reported during the last few weeks in the Carolinas.
A fourth grader helped saved the life of a her five-year old neighbor when a 40-pound pit bull attacked the child at a bus stop a few miles northeast of Knighdale. The dog was loose and had no identifying tags.
A Lexington, S.C. woman and her two children were briefly hospitalized after two Rottweilers jumped a fence and attacked them. The woman was treated for head injuries and her 16-month-old daughter was treated for bites on her legs and abdomen. The woman’s five-year old son was treated for a bite on his heel at the scene. The dogs’ owner came out of her home as the attack occurred and shot and killed one of the dogs.
A one-year old was attacked by a Rottweiler at a residence near Walterboro, S.C. The child was taken by helicopter to the Medical University Hospital in Charleston, where he was listed in fair condition. The dog apparently broke loose from its chain and grabbed the boy, punctured a lung and broke several ribs.
A jogger in Greenville, S.C., and her own pet dogs who were running with her, were attacked by a Rottweiler. She was treated at Greenville Memorial Hospital for injuries to her leg, arms and shoulder, as well as a broken finger on her left hand.
We’ve always lived with dog bites, but these days they seem to be more vicious than ever. Of course, Rottweilers and pit bulls are going to do more damage than a cocker spaniel or a beagle because of their sheer size and strength. That makes it all the more important for owners of these breeds to take extra precautions. Chaining them is not the answer. Many canine experts point out that pet owners who chain their dogs to a tree or doghouse to make them more aggressive.
Devoted owners of these breeds will brag about how well-behaved they are and how they never attack anyone. That may be true in their home setting. Sooner or later, these dogs are going to slip out of their fence or find an open door. They will roam the streets without their owner and that’s when a transformation often occurs in the temperament of the animal. Small children who often react aggressively with dogs are at risk as they go to the bus stop or simply play in their own yard.
These attacks will continue until local jurisdictions take action, at least in populated communities where small children should not have to fear for their lives. At the very least strong penalties should be imposed on the “public nuisance” caused by unleashed dogs.

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