MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., June 11, 2012 — Several recent court cases have found that some breeds of dogs are inherently dangerous. At least one county in my home state of Maryland bans the ownership of pit bulls. Even more importantly, several court cases have expanded liability in cases of bites or other attacks by pit bulls.
On April 28, 2012, a judge found that landlords of tenants that own pit bulls or pit bull mix dogs (pb/pbmd) are liable even if they didn’t have knowledge that the dogs were dangerous. All they had to know or reasonably expected to know was that the tenant owned a pit bull or a pit bull mix.
The result is that anyone that owns a pb/pbmd, will find it very difficult to find a place to rent. A logical conclusion is that many of these types of dogs will be either abandoned or turned in at pounds and eventually destroyed.
Ever since this verdict, there has been an outcry by power dog owners and others. The main opposition to bans and court case decisions is framed as “blame the bad owner (dog fighter) and not the dog.” I have seen several bumper stickers and Internet campaigns that voice this idea. I have a lot of sympathy for those that support that way of thinking. Some of them are dedicated dog rescuers that have given their lives to protect tortured and mistreated animals.
While we do own a power breed (Rottweiler and Doberman mixed mutt), he walks wearing a prong collar and a basket muzzle. He is young and impulsive and, probably because he is a rescue animal, has some recall of people doing nasty things to him. We make sure that the person walking the dog is strong and that the proper leash is used. By the way, if you have a retractable leash, throw it away. It is not adequate for anything bigger than a gerbil.
On the other hand I have also seen how irresponsible dog owners have asked for extreme solutions. Many dog owners use inadequate collars and leashes to walk their dogs. Others don’t pay attention to their dogs and either talk on their phones or to a companion. I have also seen small persons walking a large dog that they could not control. One episode a couple of days ago brought these things to mind.
As my dog and I were walking along a path around a lake, we came near a kiosk that is used by fishermen and others to rest from their walks. I noticed that there was a pit bull running around without a leash. Its owner was sitting down talking on her cell phone. I immediately called the attention of the dog owner and asked her to put a leash on her dog. As we approached the pit bull ran to meet us and after smelling my dog, started to growl. In a question of seconds, the dogs were engaged in a fight.
The pit bull owner ran out, still with her phone stuck to her ear. She was able to calm the dog and hook a leash to its collar. The leash and the collar would not have been enough to control the dog by themselves. The collar was the kind that the dog would have been able to slip out of if she wanted.
As we walked away the lady was still on the phone. Her oral message didn’t include an apology related to the dog encounter. She was happily continuing her conversation on the phone.
Another episode several months ago included a very large Rottweiler being walked by a small man. They were in a trail above where I was walking my dog. All of a sudden I see this growling monster come down the slope between the two trails with its owner being on his tail end, being dragged by the dog. Somehow he dug his heels in the dirt and was able to redirect the dog away from us.
I don’t know how he was able to hold on to the leash. In this case the collar type that the dog had on was not one that should have been used. As we walked away a lady I met down the trail told me that the same dog had terrified her and her family several days prior.
We are a country of animal lovers. Maybe some of our pets need some tough (or at least smarter) love.
It is obvious that again we may be causing damage to those pets that we love with our irresponsible behavior. Having been the victim of a dog attack, I can see why persons and more importantly courts are overreacting.
Just as it is with having children, unfortunately there are no requirements to having pets. Also as with badly raised children, the pets are the ones that end up suffering the consequences.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, Environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist <http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/21st-century-pacifist/> at The Washington Times Communities. Follow Mario on Twitter @chibcharus #TWTC and Facebook at Mario Salazar.
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