Day 4: Two tethered pit bulls broke from their chains and attacked a woman walking her small dog. The woman was hospitalized. Her dog was uninjured. The attack was reported in 232 articles in national and international newspapers, as well as on the major cable news networks.
Still not wanting to be accused of joining the “pit bull mafia," I decided to try an experiment of my own. I scanned a list of children killed by dogs, looking for uncommon names that would be easy for Google to find. I wanted to see for myself if pit bull attacks were truly reported more often.
On July 25, 2008, 14-month-old Addison Sonney was killed by an English Sheepdog mix. A Google search of her name produced 28,900 hits. Several weeks prior, 7-year-old Tanner Monk was killed by two off-leash pit bulls. A Google search of his name produced an astounding 1,960,000 hits. That's One MILLION, nine hundred and sixty thousand.
Are we to infer that the loss of one child is greater than the loss of another? Was Tanner’s life somehow more valuable, or his death more tragic than baby Addison’s? Was it somehow less agonizing for Addison’s parents to bury their child? Why do we as a species, as a breed, if you will, have such a lust for gorey pit bull stories that we beg our media outlets to feed us more?
It’s a rhetorical question that some have been gracious enough to answer anyway.
“The public has a right to know,” I’ve been told. “We have a right to know if a breed is dangerous.” This just might be the most dangerous statement of them all. When certain breeds are labeled as “dangerous," the public assumes that, by default, all other breeds are “safe." One only needs to scan the list where I read about Addison and Tanner to see the flaws in this thinking.
The list serves as a chilling testimony to the dangers of complacency, and the folly of a false sense of security:
Aiden McGrew, 8 weeks old, killed by a Golden Retriever.
Trey Paeth, 11 months old, killed by a Siberian Husky.
Justin Mozer, 6 weeks old, killed by a Jack Russell Terrier.
Zane Earles, 2 months old, killed by a Labrador Retriever.
Liam Perk, 2 years old, killed by a Weimaraner.
None of these children were killed by “dangerous breeds." This is likely to offer little consolation to the parents who must now endure a life without them.
A favorite rallying cry of pit bull advocates is “Punish the deed, not the breed.” I prefer this one: Any dog, of any breed, can, and occasionally will, bite.
Any dog. Any breed. It’s not as catchy, but this is what I know.
So, back to the original question. Why am I doing this? Because I’ve studied the evidence, and I’ve reached a verdict. Because I know the facts, and therefore the truth. Because pit bulls are just dogs. Because in fifteen years of poking them, palpating them, and sticking my fingers in their mouths, I’ve never met a pit that didn’t lick my face or plonk its goofy head in my lap. Most importantly, because it’s the right thing to do.
Professional suicide? Like Miami’s pit bull ban, I’m still here.
As for those who have accused me of joining the so-called “pit bull mafia”, I’ll leave these folks with one final question:
You got a problem with that?