Phil Innes publishes Vermont Views, a web magazine devoted to exploring the issues of “quality of life and spirit of place” of Windham County and the region.
Originally published in The Commons issue #156 (Wednesday, June 13, 2012).
A big fuss emerged in both local newspapers recently about a police shooting of a pit bull.
What constitutes identifying a pit bull? Was it dangerous? Was the dog out of it? How come in the reported instance it was in a children’s playground off its leash with no owner around? Lots of questions.
So are pit bulls actually dangerous as a breed?
I like dogs, and recently I encountered a handsome pit bull in our neighborhood, one who was well-behaved with me and my dog — and intelligent, too.
Then again, some years ago, while going to the vet, I passed a pit bull in the line of those waiting to go in. The dog jumped up at me and bit my arm.
I continued walking, then asked the vet who was performing surgery at the time to pour antiseptic over my arm and then stuff back in bits of flesh that were protruding. She did so and bandaged it.
Ten minutes later, she asked the owner of the dog if she should put it down right away or if she should keep the dog overnight so that her husband could consult before she would put it down in the morning.
The couple, which had a 3-year-old child, didn’t do anything about it except email me a note about their regret, hoping, I suppose, that I wouldn’t sue them, and ignoring any wider potential danger that this dog exhibited, even to their own child, and ignoring the vet in the process.
At the time, I protested to the vet. Maybe the dog had smelled my dog, I said, or my three cats on my clothes.
My appeal did not change the vet’s opinion a whit. No excuse for unprovoked attacks, she said. And if they start, they continue.
* * *
More recently, a neighbor’s dog was attacked on the Town Common by a pit bull that would not release its neck bite until kicked and jumped on. The dog it attacked almost bled out and died.
My neighbor, whose dog was attacked there, said that the strangest thing of all was that the unleashed pit bull wagged its tail the whole time.
The walker of the pit bull eventually grabbed the dog and ran away, neither of them ever to be seen again.
These dogs can be wonderful loving animals until they snap, which is not predictable. And after they do, they will kill.
This is the real issue about pit bull pets, for owners, for the general public, and for the police officers who have to deal with the problems.
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