Local laws aimed at pit bulls unfortunate, but necessary

How many more serious injuries and deaths involving pit bulls
must we tolerate before we take meaningful action to curb these
frequently dangerous animals?
How many more serious injuries and deaths involving pit bulls must we tolerate before we take meaningful action to curb these frequently dangerous animals?

Though it’s really not about the dogs, it is about the owners. And the only way, unfortunately, to control the stupidity of the owners is to place limits on the breed.

That’s happening in Gilroy and its happening in unincorporated parts of Santa Clara County.

The proposals before the Gilroy City Council and the idea floated by opportunistic Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, that the county require that all pit bulls be spayed or neutered, are cut from the same cloth.

Yeager’s proposal, which would only affect unincorporated parts of the county, is an understandable reaction to yet another fatal mauling in the Bay Area involving this breed. In the most recent case, a 2-year-old Concord boy was mauled to death last month by his step-grandfather’s unaltered pit bulls.

Spaying and neutering is a proven method for reducing aggression in dogs. The Humane Society of the United States advises, “Intact dogs are more likely to display dominance, territorial, and protective aggressive behavior.”

Were there another way to accomplish what needs to be done, that would earn our support. But the Gilroy Council and the County Board of Supervisors should move forward on the dangerous dog ordinances.

There are simply far too many local examples of the danger that pit bulls present:

n In Gilroy in 2001, a pit bull attacked a woman walking her dog, inflicting life-threatening injuries. It took three neighbors – one armed with a broom handle and another armed with a hammer – to get the dog to release her. The woman’s dog also received extensive injuries.

n In Gilroy in May, a pit bull killed a neighbor’s pug after breaking through a fence.

n In Morgan Hill in 1987, a 2-year-old boy was mauled to death by a neighbor’s pit bull.

While pit bulls might not have the highest bite rate among dogs – that honor goes to dachshunds, according to University of Pennsylvania researchers – they are a breed that can be exploited by idiotic owners who bring out their aggressive tendencies. Unfortunately, pit bulls, unlike dachshunds, have the jaw and body strength to seriously injure and kill humans. A 1996 Centers for Disease Control study found that pit bulls are the breed most likely to be involved in fatal attacks on humans.

Idiotic owners combined with the strength of a pit bull can create a dangerous combination. That’s the unfortunate reality.

It makes sense to require that pit bull owners take the responsible step of reducing their dogs’ aggressive tendencies by having them spayed or neutered.

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