Digging up pit bull story vicious and unfair to a sweet breed of dog

Dear Editor,
We were reading the Gilroy Dispatch on
Jan. 13 and were thoroughly appalled by the article about the
woman who was attacked and mauled by an uncontrollable pit
bull.
Dear Editor,

We were reading the Gilroy Dispatch on

Jan. 13 and were thoroughly appalled by the article about the woman who was attacked and mauled by an uncontrollable pit bull. One of the reasons we were so upset was the fact that the date of the attack was 2001! Was this a slow news day, we wondered, or was a different agenda afoot? It’s clear that an excellent argument can be made for the case that the article raised people’s awareness of the potential for disaster when irresponsible owners leave their pet unsupervised.

Another possible explanation is that space needed to be filled, so an article exhibiting the worst sort of stereotyping was plugged in without any consideration of the consequences. Whereas we have all the sympathy in the world for the woman and her dog that were attacked, we fail to see how a four-year-old article couldn’t have been updated with something a bit fresher.

Of course, perhaps there weren’t any current pit bull atrocity articles handy, and somehow, the horrible scene of a cocker spaniel (the breed which is statistically involved in the majority of human biting attacks) terrorizing a playground was too much trouble to locate.

Granted, the larger the dog, the more potential for damage, and a vicious shih-tzu prepared to rend one limb from limb is not a scenario that threatens most people’s sleep. But there are some issues raised by this article which are of much concern: 1. By stereotyping pit bulls as aggressive, uncontrollable monsters, people are urged to view them with fear. A fear reaction is something which can trigger an aggressive response from any dog; far better to react to a dog’s presence with calm and authority. 2. Stories like these are increasing the occurrence of pit bulls being instantly euthanized without question or attempt to determine whether the animal has aggressive tendencies.

If the editor(s) would take a brief tour of Gilroy, it could be demonstrated quite handily that there are many happy, friendly and well-behaved pit bulls owed by quite a few families, who drive them to soccer games, take them for walks, and share public space with other dogs. How many pit bull attacks have occurred in Gilroy in 2004? How many attacks have there been by other breeds?

In short, we urge all dog owners to train their pets and keep them under control. We also urge people to behave rationally around loose and roaming dogs and do nothing to provoke aggression by them. But we also urge the editors of The Dispatch to refrain from foisting old, prejudicial articles as news.

If you wish to have an editorial calling for the demonizing of a breed based solely on anecdotal evidence, please have the honesty to do so.

John and Janet Braslin, Gilroy

Editor’s note: Clearly the Braslin’s didn’t understand the context of the feature story. Our “Everybody Has a Story” feature is a story about someone randomly selected from the phone book. This woman and her dog, sadly, had been attacked by a pit bull. That, and her recovery from that incident, was her story.

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