Pit bulls have gained an inaccurate reputation

By By Liz Carlston

By Liz Carlston

Michael Vick recently signed with the Philadelphia Eagles after serving a prison sentence for dog fighting. The deadly gambling ring was organized to see who will be “the last dog standing.” The Vick incident fanned animal torture flames in the media just as Utah’s senate pushed for stricter laws against torturing domestic animals.

Pit bulls, the breed Vick used for dog fighting, have a bad rap and it didn’t improve during the weekend, when two pit bulls attacked a man in South Salt Lake. The man reacted to the approaching dogs by kicking at them. They responded by biting his arm and face. This is the fourth such attack in Utah this summer.

In March 2008, the Utah Senate passed Senate Bill 297, which makes animal torture a felony. They didn’t touch on what should happen when an animal tortures a person. Typically, police will either quarantine the dog or put it to sleep.

According to a 20-year study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pit bull attacks have accounted for nearly a third of the 238 fatal dog attacks in the United States. According to the study, pit bulls were the most deadly dog, with 32 percent of fatal attacks. South Jordan, for one, is apparently afraid of pit bulls, having banned their sale, residence or breeding within city limits.

Please keep in mind, your odds of being hit by a bus are better than being killed by a dog, all variables considered. In the United States, less than 5 million people are bitten every year, resulting in only 12 fatalities a year, according to federal statistics.

When Vick’s case hit, PETA and the Humane Society said the pit bulls, like all dogs saved from similar fight rings, were beyond rehabilitation and they should be put down. Ultimately, thanks to a letter-writing campaign, 47 of the dogs were saved and effectively rehabilitated; 10 were even relocated to Utah.

Veterinarian Frank McMillan, the director of Best Friends Animal Society in Southern Utah, said that of all dogs, pit bulls possess the single greatest ability to bond with people.

The bottom line is that dogs bite for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to, fear, pain or just plain surprise. Any dog can bite, not just pit bulls. People should take care when they are around unfamiliar animals, even if they don’t do anything to provoke an attack. Should a “tame” dog start biting, it is the owner’s fault for not properly training the animal. Rather than condemning a breed, maybe the answer is to just spay and neuter bad pit bull owners.

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Liz Carlston