As I sit and write this I have several deadlines whooshing towards me; however, I feel this is something that has to be written and must be written now.
On Feb. 20 I was working in my home office when I heard a woman screaming. I live a block from an elementary school so I thought it was kids fooling around. Then I heard it again and when I stepped out my front door I realized the screams were coming from my next-door neighbour. Then I saw her tenant run across the yard with something in his hand, trying to strike something I couldn't see.
Then they came into view. Two pit bulls ran past me, one of them carrying little Jack, the neighbour's Silky Shih Tzu, in its mouth. Neighbours appeared from everywhere trying to get the dogs to drop Jack; but the dogs were too fast. They raced past the back entrance of the elementary school and were gone.
I called 911, as did several of my neighbours, and within minutes police were on the scene. I got into my car to look for Jack and the other dogs but couldn't find them. I was worried the dogs would still be roaming around as children spilled out of the school and onto the streets.
Fortunately someone did spot them, and told the police he knew where the dogs lived, about five blocks away. Little Jack's body was found next to the home where the dogs that killed him lived. The dogs were locked in the owner's home. A few hours later it was all over. Three dogs were dead and several hearts were broken.
In the hours that followed this attack I had one person ask me to join the ban on pit bulls and another asked me to admit I loved 'bullies'. The fact is, I'm an animal lover, straight and simple. It's humans and their behaviors that annoy me the most.
Asking for a ban on a particular breed is like asking to make an entire type of animal extinct. I do; however, understand why they ask for the ban. It's easier to ban ownership of a breed than it is to regulate the people that own them.
Can pit bulls be dangerous? Of course they are - I witnessed that first hand. In the past year in the Okanagan approximately 88 people have been bit by dogs. The majority of them were attacked by Shepherds, then Collies, Collie crosses, then Labs, Lab crosses, Pit Bulls and Pit Bull crosses. Small breed dogs also bite and some roam the streets unattended and they also attack other animals and people. And yes, I know bigger dogs can do a lot more damage than the small ones. My point is that any dog(s) left to wander around alone can become dangerous.
As for "pit bulls," they are not a specific breed; they are a classification put on any of several breeds and cross breeds of dogs. They all share a similar history, and come from bulldogs and terriers, now known as bull terriers. Because some people decided to use these dogs as entertainment by having them fight in a pit, does not make them bad dogs. I once owned an English Staffordshire Terrier that we rescued from the pound and she was a sweetheart. She had been abandoned and was found on a back road, still lactating, her paws bloody from running. I hate to imagine what happened to her pups. She was a good dog because we were good guardians.
In my opinion - and I know many will disagree with me - it is not specific dog breeds that need to be banned. Regulated yes, banned no. Regulations surrounding dog ownership need to be changed as well.
Dog ownership is a right in our country. Perhaps it should be a privilege. Perhaps we should have to prove we are worthy of being our dogs guardians, to adopt them into our families.
I own two dogs, and it would not bother me if dog training were required to own a dog. I would be more than happy to have an examiner ensure I was able to handle my dogs - no matter what their size. A trained dog is a happier dog, knowing it has a strong pack leader to show them the way. That being said, every situation is different. Dogs get scared. They dig holes and escape from yards and they slip off their leashes.
I don't believe I have the answers, or any answer for that matter. Situations like this upset everyone. Most affected is the family whose dog was killed right on their doorstep. There are the neighbours who witnessed the scene, the ones who chased after and searched for the dogs, and the one who found them. Then there are the children who came out of school to see police vehicles and cameras and reporters. There's the owner of the dogs who did the killing, who surrendered the dogs to be put down. There are the police; the animal control staff, the vet who had to put the dogs down. Everybody if affected. All in all it is a very sad situation.
Dogs are part of our culture, our society and our family. They are like furry children that never grow up and we must remember, at all times, that we are responsible for their safety and the safety of those around them.