http://www.democratandchronicle.com/art ... ssive-dogs
City to crack down on aggressive dogs
Bloody and shaking with fear after a brutal fight, a white pit bull was pulled away from another dog by an animal control officer Monday at a home on Tubman Way in Corn Hill.
The wounds the two pit bulls suffered were not life-threatening, but the blood covering the canines' fur and staining the snow was unmistakable. In frigid weather, the dogs had been left outside in plastic carriers. Neighbors heard the fight and called police.
The dogs, one chained and one loose, were fighting over a piece of pumpkin.
"It's not acceptable housing for the dogs," said Fred Parkinson, the animal control officer on the scene Monday.
Following five reported pit bull attacks on people since November, all in northeast Rochester, city police say they are cracking down on dog owners. Last week, the department issued a statement that police and Animal Control "will be assertive in holding city dog owners accountable for the behavior of their dogs." If a dog bites someone, the owner faces a fine of up to $1,000, misdemeanor charges and possible imprisonment as well as a confinement order or humane euthanasia for the dog.
A sixth attack occurred in Scottsville on Jan. 8. Animal control officers in several suburbs said they hadn't seen an influx of dog attacks or fighting, with the majority of recent incidents occurring in the city. "We don't know if this is a city problem," said Rochester police Officer Stephen Scott.
In addition to the spate of attacks on humans, police are often called to scenes such as Monday's fight, Scott said.
But Scott said Monday's fight might not result in criminal charges for the owners, who were not home at the time of the incident and were not identified because no charges were filed.
"It's up to the owners to deal with that," Scott said of the fight. "Fines and arrests come into play when the dog is involved in an attack with another person."
Parkinson said most of the dog fights and attacks he responds to involve pit bulls, with fights happening three or four times per year. Aggressive behavior from pit bulls — and any other breed — can be triggered by neglect or improper breeding, he said. "There's a high level of responsibility if you own a pit bull," Parkinson said. "People are breeding (pit bulls) to fight until they die."
Both dogs were taken to Rochester Animal Services on Verona Street and placed in separate cages with five other pit bulls — all deemed dangerous because of biting and aggressive behavior.
But many experts say the breed is getting a bad reputation. Singling out a breed based on its notoriety even has a name — canine profiling. "People are twisting some of the natures this dog has for the wrong reasons," said Adrienne McHargue, director of community affairs at Lollypop Farm. "It's truly a comment about how these dogs are mistreated."
Known for their intelligence and strength, pit bulls were originally bred to be companion dogs. But because of poor ownership and breeding pit bulls strictly for their inherent aggressiveness, the breed has become the subject of controversy, with some national groups even pushing to have the breed banned. But that's not fair to the breed, said McHargue. "It's more of a people problem and whether they're being responsible pet owners," McHargue said. "Any dog — no matter what the size, breed or age — will bite if it feels in trouble."
Jennifer Fedele, president of Pitty Love Rescue, a local organization that rescues pit bulls, agrees it's the responsibility of the owners to raise the dogs correctly. "Their tenacity and propensity to be dog-aggressive make them much more attractive for some very unsavory people," she said. "This breed is prone to dog aggression, but this never equates to human aggression."
The aggression, Fedele said, is caused more by poor conditions. "We get calls almost every day about pit bulls being chained up in frigid or too hot weather without adequate shelter, food or water, living in abusive conditions, being starved, neglected, abandoned, you name it," she said. "I wish the general public were more aware of the abuse this breed suffers to get a more complete picture."
Meanwhile, Parkinson, who has owned a pit bull himself, said he's considering bringing Monday's case to the Humane Society for possible animal cruelty charges. The Humane Society of Greater Rochester investigates cases of animal cruelty.
"It has the potential to happen again," he said. "Pit bulls need to be cared for and loved just like a basic poodle. They're great dogs if you treat and raise them right."