The Politically Incorrect Mom


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Fatal Dog Attacks: When will People Learn?

I read today, in disbelief, another story of a toddler mauled to death by a Rottweiler in California. As I sat and pondered what must have been a most horrifying and painful death for little 16-month old Cassandra Garcia, I couldn’t help saying out loud, “what the heck is wrong with people who own these dogs?”.

Now, before you get your panties in a wad over what I’m saying here, I’m not suggesting that we exterminate an entire breed or breeds of dog. I just don’t understand why people would purchase an animal that was bred – yes, that’s right – brought into existence for the purpose of fighting, and expect these animals to co-exist with people/children without ever having a moment of trouble. I’m trying to figure out if the people who own these dogs and keep them around their children and grandchildren are just stupid or if they are so arrogant as to think they are superior animal trainers and can change the utter nature of an animal.

While I thought about this I did a little research on dog attack statistics and the first site I came to was an advertisement for the book “Fatal Dog Attacks: The Facts Behind The Statistics”. Here, author Karen Delise suggests that hers are the only statistics that are accurately depicting the real contributors to fatal dog attacks, as well as suggesting that there is no one breed more likely to attack a human than another. Additionally, Ms. Delise claims

“The result of sensationalizing individual incidents of severe or fatal dog attacks, included with the use of unexamined statistical "evidence" has created an unfortunate and inaccurate public and political perception as to the dangerousness and predictability of certain breeds of dogs.”

I am a statistic person. The majority of the job I work every day that “brings home the bacon” involves the collection, calculation and constructive use of statistical data. So, it is by my nature that I immediately look for statistics when I am researching a subject. However, I am also a news junkie. I am constantly reading every piece of useless information I can get my hands on and I must say, the last time I read an article or heard a news report about a Cocker Spaniel mauling a child to death was…hmmmm…let’s see…..NEVER! Ditto for Bassett Hounds, Collies, Irish Setters….you get my point. When we pick up the news and read a story about a person being mauled by a dog it is almost always a Rottweiler or Pitt Bull and the occasional German Shepherd. Ironically, when I looked up the U.S. Government statistics on this subject, those were the three breeds that stood at the top of the list for most dog bite related fatalities in the United States. Here are some actual statistics to warm your heart:

"Studies indicate that pit bull-type dogs were involved in approximately a third of human DBRF (i.e., dog bite related fatalities) reported during the 12-year period from 1981 through1992, and Rottweilers were responsible for about half of human DBRF reported during the 4
years from 1993 through 1996....[T]he data indicate that Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human DBRF in the United States between 1997 and 1998. It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities." (Sacks JJ, Sinclair L, Gilchrist J, Golab GC, Lockwood R.
Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998. JAVMA 2000;217:836-840.)

The website which lists all sorts of “facts” regarding any breed you can imagine also has a “reliability with children” grading system. Evidently, a lot of people rely on this website for factual information when making a decision regarding which breed of dog to purchase. According to this website, Rottweilers received a “green” grade, which indicates that the dog is “good” with children when raised with them from the time of puppy-hood. The American Pitt Bull received a “blue” grade, which is the highest a breed can earn, for being “excellent” with children. This information blows my mind and unfortunately, there will always be stupid people who don’t use common sense and research things out for themselves and will rely on idiotic/irresponsible grading systems like the one on Out of more than 300 breeds listed on this website, only 4 fell into the “red” grade which indicates they are not good with children. Two of those breeds were wild dogs, the Dingo and the New Guinea Singing Dog (no kidding!), one in the “bull” category, the Perro De Presna Mallorquin, and one that was bred to be a sheep herder and is basically unsociable and wont’ do anything but herd sheep, the Sar Planinac. Am I the only person who finds it odd that a few more dogs haven’t fallen into that category?

Maybe I’m overprotective. I doubt it – but I suppose that could be the case. I was raised with dogs and most of my family members have dogs today. As I said, it’s not that I don’t like dogs, because I really do. The last dog I owned was a Sheltie named Stonewall Jackson. My former husband, my daughter (8 years old at the time) and I absolutely loved that dog. Stonewall wasn’t exactly the most docile of pets. He jumped on everyone and everything and often times left a scratch or two on your arm when he excitedly greeted you at the door…or in the kitchen…..or the laundry room….or wherever he happened to get excited, which was EVERYWHERE. This, of course, was not a big deal until I learned I was expecting my second child. The thought of Stonewall, innocent as his jumping may have been, hopping up onto the side of a baby bed or seat or swing and knocking the new baby across the room was absolutely not an option. We had tried to train him from the time he was a pup to knock off the jumping, but he wanted no part of it. As much as we loved Stonewall, as a family we knew he had to go. We found a good home for Stonewall before the baby came and although we missed him, we never regretted the decision because it was the right thing to do!

I am well aware that I no longer live in a world where common sense prevails. I also know I am surrounded by idiots 90% of the time, but I would no sooner buy my child a Rottweiler than hand her a loaded gun and tell her to go out and play. I am not against dogs – I love dogs! I am not against guns, either. I’m actually guilty of using that worn out slogan, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. But housing an animal in your home that could, at any moment, act according to its nature (which is to fight) and maim or kill a human being is more than irresponsible. Dogs are not domestic beings. If they were, they would be leading us around on leashes and going to the bathroom in the toilet. Even the most docile animal can be unpredictable, why roll the dice with your children/grandchildren’s lives with an animal whose very nature is to destroy?

These days, people are arrested for leaving their children in the car unattended – and they should be. People are arrested for leaving weapons within reach of their children – and they should be. Why aren’t more people arrested when their children or grandchildren suffer horribly painful and terrifying deaths like little Cassandra Garcia? This was absolutely, 100 % preventable. Fortunately, in California it can be a felony for a person to possess a dog trained to fight, attack or kill that, because of the owner's lack of ordinary care, bites two people or seriously injures one person. I really do hope this case is treated as a felony. Perhaps more people would think a bit longer about their options when purchasing a dog they plan to raise around their children or grandchildren.


  • At 8:01 PM, August 11, 2006, Blogger Kris said…

    "A 10 Lbs Pomeranian killed a baby a few years ago... Obviously a problem with that particular dog, not the breed. 'The baby's uncle left the infant and the dog on a bed while the uncle prepared her bottle in the kitchen. Upon his return, the dog was mauling the baby, who died shortly afterwards. ("Baby Girl Killed by Family Dog," Los Angeles Times, Monday, October 9, 2000, Home Edition, Metro Section, Page B-5.)'"

  • At 11:41 PM, August 11, 2006, Blogger P.I. Mom said…

    Dogs are animals. Humans are entrusted by God to protect our baby humans from things that don't have human intelligence. You wouldn't leave an infant out in the rain. You wouldn't leave an infant in a hot car (at least not if you had a brain in your head) and you shouldn't leave an infant at the mercy of a dog, cat, ferret...I don't care. Specific breeds have higher incidents of mauling/injuring humans, but PEOPLE are ultimately responsible to NOT trust animals the way we do humans. It's just common sense.


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