I normally look forward to phone calls from reporters; any chance to speak positively about the work I do with the American Pit Bull Foundation is a chance that my words will fall on the right ears and benefit our cause to a safer, more responsible environment for our dogs and our children.
Today my heart sank as I listened to the gentleman on the phone from the Charlotte Observer describe what happened to an innocent 5 year old girl when an irresponsible neighbor’s dogs attacked her in her own yard. This sweet child, just beginning life, only to have it ended so abruptly; preventable and horridly tragic.
This sort of news is crippling, even to those of us who do not know this family. This sort of news will also hurt owners who have wonderful dogs and/or are responsible about the training and environment they provide for their dogs. This sort of news is what fuels the “quick-fix” knee-jerk response of breed bans which do not protect families, but make criminals out of common folk and not a difference to the owners already involved in illegal activities.
This family will never be right again. This family will struggle through birthdays, holidays, and normal every-days because of one owner and a deadly mistake.
Dog owners have a responsibility not only to their dogs, but to their family, and to anyone who comes into contact with their pets. To show no concern for any one of these is not only selfish, but dangerous. Simply put, if you can’t demonstrate responsibility with your dogs and your family, why should you be allotted the luxury, the blessing, or the ability to possess either? As a dog owner, as a parent, you are their safe-keeper, their guardian.
Take this to heart. If you are a dog owner, you should know that these are companion animals who either need to be a part of your everyday family activities, or they need to be a part of someone else’s family if you cannot provide the right environment for them. Dogs are intelligent, social creatures who thrive on being man’s best friend, not chained up in the backyard breeding aggression and becoming the next statistic.
We can contribute to eliminating disastrous scenarios such as this in the future by our efforts today.
· Struggling dog owners who are open to guidance need compassionate education before they too become the cause behind unfortunate headlines.
· Push for stricter action against those who cause this sort of irreversible pain. Examples need to be made of these cases so that owners are reminded of the consequences of irresponsible actions. Talk to your city officials.
· Regulate breeders by licensing them and enforce healthy, environmental circumstances around breeding; if they are a reputable breeder, chances are they will not argue this, for the best interest of their dogs and to preserve the integrity of their breed. This will help weed out those who believe hocking puppies from the back of a trunk at Wal-mart is ideal. It will also help keep back-yard breeders from inline breeding and selecting for aggressive tendencies.
· Continue to educate children on safety around dogs; petting, bite-safety, when a strange dog approaches, learning basic behaviors, etc.
Please join me in a pledge to be a responsible dog owner. Visit: http://www.americanpitbullfoundation.com/Pledge.html and add your name to show your promise to your dogs, your family, and your neighbors.
My heart goes out to the victim’s family tonight. May your conscience allow you to erase this nightmare and one day replace it with nothing but your fondest memories of the time you shared with her.