Yesterday morning while reading my local newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, I was greeted with yet another local headline only six days hence of a similar headline noting yet another dog attack by a pit bull. This time it was a 6-year old with serious injuries while just six days ago a 36-year old man was mauled to death by some eight pit bulls. Here’s a look a those subject headlines and just click on them to enlarge….
This subject has been at the forefront of my mind and has been for some time now given the number of serious to deadly attacks which have occurred in my home state over the past year and a half. The first of these fairly recent occurrences that comes to mind was in November of 2013 when a 75-year old woman in Hot Springs Village out walking one morning was attacked by a pit bull/mastiff mix named ‘Patrone’ and died the next day after being taken to the hospital. Here is a brief excerpt of that news release….
Quote from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – by Emily Walkenhorst
On Nov. 21, Patrone attacked Joan Kappen as she walked by the 11 Ornado Lane property where the Coys live, according to an affidavit. Brande Coy heard screams and walked outside to see the dog biting Kappen in the street.
Brande Coy told investigators it took her 30 minutes to get control of the dog and take it back inside, after which she then called 911 and stayed inside while Kappen lay in a ditch by the road with injuries all over her body, the affidavit states. Brande Coy went outside once emergency responders arrived.
Emergency responders treated Kappen and took her to a hospital, where she died the next day.
The dog was impounded by Hot Springs Village Animal Control and later euthanized with Emily Coy’s consent. It was from the same litter as another dog that attacked and killed a 5-year-old Jessieville boy in June 2013. That dog belonged to the child’s family and was shot after the attack.
This past October the case came to trial and the following results and sentences are noted….
Quote from Arkansas Democrat-Gazette – by Emily Walkenhorst
Brande Michelle Coy, 50, was convicted late Wednesday of negligent homicide and sentenced to 60 days in jail after investigators said she released a bull mastiff-pit bull mix dog with a history of violent attacks into an unsecured front yard and then left. Coy was also fined $2,500 and given a year of probation.
She was originally charged with manslaughter, a felony, but the jury convicted Coy of a lesser negligent homicide charge, a Class A misdemeanor.
Coy was also originally charged with unlawful dog attack, but deputy prosecutor Rebecca Bush said her team did not pursue the charge because it would not have added jail time to a felony conviction of manslaughter. “It was superfluous,” she said Thursday.
Emily Ann Coy, 25, was convicted of unlawful dog attack, sentenced to 120 days in jail, fined $2,500 and given a year of probation. The dog — named Patrone — belonged to Emily Coy.
From a personal viewpoint I strongly disagree with the sentences handed down and think that indeed, the felony charges should have easily held up given the events surrounding the attack and in particularly given the fact that the dog was known to have been aggressive in the past. It is also of considerable importance in my opinion to note that another dog from the same litter as the subject dog had attacked and killed a 5-year old boy just 5 months prior to this occurrence.
Within the world of dogs and pets, perhaps the more commonly known pit bull (American Staffordshire Terrier) is the most controversial of all the canines. Whether prone to just a nasty disposition or simply a part of the generic makeup of the breed, it seems they are constantly in the forefront of news reports involving attacks on other dogs and/or people. And a fierce debate continues to rage between those who love and own the breed verses those who consider the breed dangerous and prone to vicious attacks and calling for the breed to be outlawed.
Cities and towns across America are increasingly passing more and more local laws directed at the breed and their owners. Some towns even banning the dogs from ownership by their local citizens. And not unlike the gun control debate where proponents claim that it is not guns that kill, it’s the people who own them. So it is that a similar response comes from those who are owners and lovers of the pit bull who contend that it is not the nature of the breed that is at issue with these dog attacks but rather the lack of care and training my the dog owner.
A favorite dog person of mine who has his own television series is the well-known Cesar Millan, known as “The Dog Whisperer” and featured on the National Geographic Channel. His programs and his talents in addressing the many issues facing dog owners with regard to their dog’s behaviors almost always come down to short-comings regarding the dog’s owners. Much of his time is spent teaching the dog owners how they need to interact with their dogs in lieu of some direct issue with their dog.
Of course if you are familiar with Cesar’s television show then you know that one of his dogs which is featured time and time again in his training exercises is his beloved pit bull named “Daddy”. Although the answer to my question surely would be quite obvious with regard to his opinion on the plight of the pit bull, I was nevertheless curious as to what he might have to say on the subject. And then I happened to stumble across a video clip of him addressing pit bull aggression when approached on the subject after the death of a young boy recently attacked and killed by a pit bull. Click on this link to hear what he had to say – “Cesar Millan Comments on Pit Bull Aggression“
Another item I ran across of exceptional interest on the subject of aggressive dogs was a chart published by “DogsBite.org” charting all the human deaths caused by dogs for the period 2005 – 2014.
Another important statistic that is missing of course are those attacks against other animals where they are seriously injured or killed by these same breeds.
So… it is that the debate continues to rage as opinions continue to clash and no doubt will for a long time to come. Being a dog lover myself, I find it very difficult to condemn any breed to obscurity because every fiber within me screams that the majority of the fault in these cases does indeed rest with the individual dog owners. There is in fact a serious responsibility that goes along with owning any dog who can be aggressive and harmful to other people or animals and those owners need to step up and meet those responsibilities. If an aggressive breed owner does not in fact fulfill their requirements as owners of these type dogs, they should be fully responsible under the law for any adverse actions by their dogs and and subject to the full measure of penalties allowed under the law. And, if there is in fact a death incurred due to such an attack, nothing less than a ‘felony’ charge should ever prevail.
I personally would never own an aggressive breed of dog because I take that responsibility very seriously. I’m an “Irish Setter” person and intend to remain so but while on the subject of responsibility, all dogs whether an aggressive breed or not require responsible owners sensitive to the needs of their dogs and caring enough for those animals to meet both their physical as well as their mental needs.