Pit Bulls. Grrrrr.
If there’s one thing I learned in two decades of writing about pit bull attacks, it’s that the only thing meaner than an aggressive pit bull is a pit bull owner.
Don’t doubt me. I have years worth of vile letters and emails to prove it.
Note, I did not say every pit bull was mean or that every owner was spoiling for a fight. But many are. Trust me.
Fact is, there’s just one breed responsible for most deaths-by-dog in this country: pit bulls and pit bull mixes. Yet, despite a mountain of evidence, pit bull owners insist their animals are gentle. Absolute pussycats.
Until they aren’t, of course.
While most dog lovers acknowledge that certain breeds have temperament and behaviors associated with their DNA - border collies instinctively herd, for instance, and greyhounds were born to run - pit bull owners stubbornly insist that the instinct to fight and kill is not ingrained in their beloved beasts.
When a pit bull does attack - be it a smaller animal or a person - they are quick to blame the breeder, the owner or even the victim. Never the dog.
Why talk about this today? A 22 year-old woman, Bethany Stephens, was killed last week in Goochland, VA by two pit bulls. Not a random pair of vicious dogs on a rampage, either. These were her pets. It appears she was walking them in the woods when something set the duo off. Authorities working the scene found about “60 pieces of evidence”.
Use your imagination.
Immediately after the discovery, Goochland County Sheriff James Agnew said “It was an absolute grisly mauling. In my 40 years of law enforcement, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Hope I never see anything like it again.”
The Richmond-Times Dispatch reports that the dogs were euthanized Saturday morning.
Last week’s death brings the 2017 Virginia toll of pit bull fatalities to two. It could be higher. I seem to be the only one keeping track. In case you’ve forgotten, the other victim was a 90-year-old woman in Virginia Beach who was attacked on May 31. The pit bull that savaged her had been adopted earlier that same day by her daughter from a local rescue group. By the time the dog finished with his victim, the elderly woman had been disemboweled and her arm had to be amputated. She lived just a few hours before dying in the hospital.
Look, with all the dog breeds in the world - the AKC recognizes 190 varieties, and shelters are filled with lovable mutts - why would anyone risk bringing one of these canine time bombs home?
As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “Pit bulls are just like Pomeranians. With hand grenades around their necks.”
And yes, I’m aware that every dog breed bites. Last time I checked, cocker spaniels were the breed that nips most often. They rarely kill, though.
Pit bulls are considered so dangerous they’re banned in U.S. military housing. They’re also prohibited in Great Britain. And they’re outlawed in many American cities and counties including Denver, Council Bluffs, Iowa and Prince George’s County, MD.
As a matter of public safety, pit bulls ought to be kept out of most residential areas, yet the mere suggestion sends pit bull owners into a frenzy.
But even they know there was a reason Michael Vick was raising pit bulls - and not poodles - for dog fighting a decade ago in Surry County, VA.