Owning A Dog Is A Responsibility

This sort of thing drives me up a wall.

It’s a shame and a waste. In nearby Barstow, a woman died because some assholes were irresponsible pet owners. The dogs that killed her did what they had been taught to do by the owners, or maybe the breeders who cater to such owners by raising the dogs in an abusive environment.

This pisses me off like a responsible gun owner is pissed off when a kid accidentally shoots a friend or sibling while playing with a loaded weapon. Obviously, the huge, overwhelming sadness comes from the meaningless loss of human life. The anger comes from knowing how easy it would have been to have prevented it had someone taken seriously the responsibility of what they were doing.

And just like it’s wrong to blame the gun for the child’s death, it’s wrong to blame the dog for the woman’s death. The blame rests, for both the gun and the dog deaths, with the owner. You’re responsible to store your gun in a way that your kids won’t find it and play with it. You’re responsible to control your dog and train it to not bite humans. That’s what it is to own a dog.

A pit bull can be a sweet, loving dog; a loyal companion and a pleasure to be with. I’ve known some very nice pit bulls who I would happily play with — even play a little bit rough, like tug-of-war — because I knew they were brought up right, in a loving home, and trained to respect the dominance of a human (as any domesticated dog must, whether it’s a pit bull or a poodle). The biggest danger I was ever in around those dogs was of being licked.

But the breed is, no doubt, powerful and aggressive, and it has some of the strongest jaw strength out there. So that’s why pit bulls are bred as guard dogs. Some people think they want the aggression and strength, and the easy way to get a dog to behave aggressively is to mistreat it. This destroys the dog, whose only fault is being the breed it was born as, and makes it a very dangerous creature to be around.

I don’t know if it’s just this little corner of the world where breeding pit bulls to be aggressive is popular. Somehow I doubt it. But it needs to stop. It gets people suggesting that the breed should be eradicated, that people should need special permits or have to pay special taxes to own a dog like this. And that’s really unnecessary — because any dog will behave aggressively if it’s taught to do so or if it’s taught to fear humans. And eventually, after the dog really does hurt someone, or someone else’s dog or cat (I’ve heard rumors of a pack of wild pitties taking down a horse, but I must allow for the possibility that’s an urban legend) then the dog will eventually be caught and literally destroyed, like some of the dogs in the linked story.

This is one of the reasons why we should care about animal abuse. Abused animals can be dangerous. And dogs get out. They find a way. (Mine did.) Animal abusers are unlikely to take the kind of care that responsible animal owners do to secure their pets and keep them where they belong. And those abused animals have been made to be dangerous to people.

The owners of these pit bulls — I’m pretty sure the cops in Barstow will have a good idea of who they are — need to be tracked down and charged with manslaughter, and then this woman’s family needs to sue them into bankruptcy. I wouldn’t mind if these people lost their rights to own animals ever again, as they’ve demonstrated they cannot be trusted with them. Sadly, the animals themselves will need to be destroyed; they probably cannot be rehabilitated to the point that they could be trusted again.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.