Society presumes that pet owners are able to keep their animals under control and that the pets can be trusted out in public.
That's the case for the overwhelming majority of local pet owners. However, examples of dog attacks with tragic results continue to occur. And it's beginning to be difficult to ignore that a certain breed has often been the attacker in many of the cases that have been reported over the past few years in the local area.
Late last month, a stray pit bull attacked a small dog while it was on its owners' front porch. The Maltese was killed. It's the latest such incident on a growing list.
A couple months earlier, a Waterloo woman was walking her poodle when it was attacked by three pit bulls. The poodle was killed.
Also last year, two pit bulls escaped from their yard, attacking a Labrador that was being walked past their home. The woman walking the dog was also pushing a baby stroller, which was overturned during the attack. An infant was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.
Many communities nationwide have implemented breed-specific ordinances in hopes of decreasing such incidents. We would be wary of going that far. Many types of dogs have protective natures and can be prone to aggression. Nearly any domestic animal is capable of attack.
Responsible ownership - through training, and taking measures to prevent an aggressive animal's opportunity to become a nuisance in public - are key. It is indeed unfortunate that many of these types of dogs are trained to fight or intimidate. Some are severely mistreated or neglected.
In 2008, (Waterloo) council members had discussed the possibility of banning certain breeds of dogs. Such a plan was dropped before coming up for a vote.
Most of us realize that it's the actions or the inactions of the owner that is at the root of the problem.
It may be time to consider more severe penalties for dog owners who fail to prevent unprovoked attacks.
- Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Feb. 8