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06:11 PM CST on Monday, December 4, 2006
By Brad Woodard / 11 News
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The recent death of a little boy attacked by pit bulls has reignited the debate over the often dangerous dogs. Now Harris County commissioners are trying to come up with a plan to keep the public safe.
Should pit bulls be banned?
Yes, they are bred to be mean
No, it's a people problem not a dog problem
The pit bulls are arriving at Harris County animal control in record numbers.
Some appear timid, others aggressive -- their temperaments as varied as their former owners.
"We see them in low-income neighborhoods, high-income neighborhoods," said Colleen Hodges with Harris County Animal Control. "We see them as general pets. We see them as guard dogs."
To put the scope of the dilemma in perspective consider this: Last year, Harris County saw a 1.5 percent increase in the number of dogs it took in, but a 30-percent increase in the number of pit bulls taken in.
Of the 1300 dog bite cases in Harris County last year, pit bulls were responsible for roughly 200.
But it's high-profile cases -- like the fatal attack of a four-year-old boy last month -- that have prompted a county task force to study a variety of measures, including the possibility of banning the breed which many see as unrealistic.
The task force will also consider adding more animal control officers to the street, which would require more space to hold strays. Animal control says it outgrew its existing space ten years ago.
"You'd be taking peoples' pets away. who's going to decide what's a pit and what's not?" said Hodges. "Is it a pit-like dog?"
For obvious reasons, neither the Houston SPCA or Humane Society will adopt out pit bulls. And those ending up in animal control are euthanized within three days.
Which made it that much more difficult for Jane Maiers to bring in this stray she found on the streets.
"I've been crying all the way down here, because she's such a good dog," said Maiers.
A good dog from a breed that has a bad reputation.