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Let's put some bite in our pit bull control
Saturday, August 19, 2006
A week ago, a pregnant Syracusan was hit in the abdomen by a stray bullet after she leaned out a window of a home on South Avenue.
We're told Laquon Radcliff and her unborn child are OK; Syracuse isn't.
Three days after that Aug. 11 shootout in Elmwood, another blow to our sense of well-being: A Syracusan walking with his 3-year-old daughter near Le Moyne College was attacked by a neighbor's pit bulls. The child escaped injury, the dad's nursing the bites, and the owner of the dogs he says he's a breeder is in trouble with the law.
Four of the attackers were shot by police. Three died on the battlefield, one later. Two more of Omari Anderson's city pities are locked up at the pound.
The attack was a horror for Robert Walts and his little girl: Who can image how bad it was? It was a horror in absentia for the rest of us.
My dislike and fear of pit bulls is documented. If I were mayor, I'd get them banned, either by execution or exile, whenever they ran loose, bit or otherwise didn't act like pets. Maybe in time we'd be pitless.
That's not fair, is it? We must observe due process. Omari Anderson will be duly processed for charges that include reckless endangerment and having four attack biter dogs. If convicted, he ought to be sentenced to 60 days in a bull pit with only a stepladder and a squirt gun.
Yes, I know some pits are loving pets, docile and sweet. Still, they live with a gene that goes for the neck if provoked by another animal or the animal who's
dog control supervisor, with 12 years on the job this fall.
"Some are more aggressive than others," he says.
Shane's rounded up hundreds of pathetic strays and angry mutts; he was in the thick of it Monday. Yes, it was that scary. Fortunately, Shane and his crew had their snare poles to hold off the dogs.
"We got lucky," our dog controller says. "If those DPW workers hadn't come along . . . ."
Randy Kreis and Jim Collette saw the attack and stopped to help before a police officer got there.
Shane and his 10 helpers will pick up about 1,300 dogs in our town this year. That's 200 less than past years, yet the number of dangerous dogs increases. No records are kept by breed, but pit bulls are in the top 10 bad actors, along with Rottweilers, chows and Akitas.
Some of those end up dead, if adoptions aren't arranged or unless the owner returns and buys a license. By law, the city can't keep an unlicensed dog more than a week.
Every time there's an outrage like the one this week, count on our political leaders to step to the mikes and promise a crackdown. That seldom happens. In 2000, one councilor promised the pits would be muzzled. Are they?
Shane Climber tells me he's pleased that state legislators have a law in the works that would make him and some of his crew peace officers, like the SPCA's cruelty investigators. That would mean they could make arrests when they see violations of cruelty laws, rather than calling police or writing a ticket.
Meanwhile, Shane says a heavy pole, like the one he carries, helps in a dog attack: "A pole is your best friend. Keep it in front of you, and the dog, and you'll never get bit."
When our reporter interviewed Robert Walts, the victim in Monday's attack, he shared the comment from his daughter, who watched the ambush. She asked her dad, "Why do dogs go bad?"
In a week when we've seen our neighbors mauled by dogs and shot by errant bullets, what do we say to the child?
That it's not guns that kill; it's the shooters? That it's not the dogs; it's their keepers?
[Article about smoking ban was included in this online article -- I deleted due to irrelevance to pit bull topic.]
Dick Case writes Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 470-2254.