In 2013, there have been 18 canine homicides of which 17 were committed by pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Our dogs are not killing us. Pit bulls are killing us. And although pit bulls attack and kill strangers like Claudia Gallardo, 38 (killed by a pit bull in the front yard of its owner's house in Stockton, California) and Pamela Devitt, 63 (killed by 4 pit bulls running at large as she took a walk in Antelope Valley, California), the usual victims are our children, parents and guests.
I have come to believe that the modern pit bull should not be thought of as a dog at all. A dog is man’s best friend, but this is an animal that will kill the man, his wife, his children, his parents and the guests in his home. Clearly this is not man’s best friend; clearly it is not a “dog” in the sense that we think of a dog. Charles Manson was anatomically a man, sociologically a neighbor, and legally a citizen, but he is spending his life behind bars because he was a deranged individual who orchestrated mayhem and murder. Just because pit bulls look like dogs, they do not have to be thought of like we think about dogs such as golden retrievers and Yorkshire terriers.
In almost all homicides carried out by pit bulls, the owners and neighbors express shock and disbelief because the animal never gave a sign that it wanted to kill anyone. But to me, this is like a drunk driver expressing shock and disbelief that his car could kill. In both types of cases, a person made a choice to do something incredibly reckless, either by getting drunk or by getting the animal that makes headlines because of the frequency and brutality of its killing. We need to stop people from doing these reckless things.
Lawmakers have to stop listening to the nonsense about breed specific laws which is spouted by the owners of bully dogs like pit bulls. Since 2006 there have been 3 psychological studies which focused on the personality and behavioral traits of the owners of pit bulls and other high-risk breeds of dog. A study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence showed a link between ownership of high-risk dog breeds and deviant behaviors, crimes against children and domestic violence. Another study concluded that "vicious dog ownership may be a simple marker of broader social deviance." A third study established that the owners of high-risk breeds of dog displayed more antisocial thinking styles, have an arrest history significantly higher than owners of other dogs, and engage in fighting to a significantly greater degree than other dog owners. They also had higher levels of overall criminal thinking patterns to go with the actual criminal behavior. These people, who are fixated on the animals that kill, maim and terrorize, are not the people that a lawmaker needs in his camp. Reasonable people want fair laws that provide a solution to the obvious problems caused by pit bulls.
Kenneth M. Phillips
Attorney at Law