Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Colorado - The Tribune Newspaper Opinion Page: Two dog attacks in recent weeks have raised the question of whether bans on specific breeds of dogs should be pursued by city officials in Weld County. The first occurred on the Poudre Trail in Greeley, when three pit bulls attacked a woman's two dogs as she walked them. One dog sustained serious injuries, while the other got away with minor injuries. The second attack occurred a week later when an Eaton police officer shot the dog as it charged him.
Attacks by a few bad dogs should not condemn an entire breed. Dog owners should be held accountable for their dog's actions, and there should be a "zero-tolerance" policy among cities. First strike and they're out. Dogs that have attacked once should be euthanized and the owners should face a penalty stiff enough to deter them from ownership in the future.
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| 1/29/2008 3:09 PM |
A "zero tolerance" policy sounds good, but it's of little help to the victims. It's an overly simplistic solution...just punish the owners of dangerous dogs. The problem is, what constitutes punishment?
In many cases, the owner won't come forward to claim the dog, once the dog has done something...they don't want the liability. It's often hard to prove who actually owns the dog, even if the victims identify it as a neighbors dog. The owners can claim the dog belongs to their child, a minor, or another relative and that they were just "watching" the dog.
While I agree that owners of dogs that hurt humans should face criminal liability, that still does not address the fact that the victims are often stuck with the exorbitant costs of medical treatment, lost wages, etc. Many owners of dangerous dogs are judgement proof...they have no assets or insurance. Jail time for the owner of a dog that disfigures a child is certainly the direction our legislators should move toward, but, ultimately, it's too late to help the child who will live the rest of his or her life coping with the physical and emotional scars and, often, permanent disability.
That is why regulation of these breeds should be considered. Mandatory microchipping so that owners can be identified, and non-chipped dogs can be removed immediately from owners if found wandering. Mandatory spay and neuter of non show-dogs, to remove the current financial incentive for back yard breeders to produce more poorly-bred, unstable animals. And liability insurance requirements that would ensure victims of these dogs won't face financial ruin while the dog owner walks away scott free.
This article seems to argue that we need to wait until a dog hurts someone, then we can "banish it" or euthanize it. What the public needs are laws that focus on prevention.