August 10, 2009

A 19-year-old guy throws his pit bull off a 6-story building, and the dog survives.

What should happen to the man (Fabian Henderson) and what should happen to the dog? The dog has "multiple fractures in her front legs as well as ligament damage, bruised lungs, a fractured rib, liver injury and internal bleeding." Treating the dog's injuries will require extensive surgery, reconstruction of both front legs with plates and screws, long hospitalization, and uncertainty as to whether it will ever be suitable for adoption.

I'd like to discuss this seriously, as the poll below indicates. That is, I have left out "man gets euthanized" options in the poll. But feel free to say what you want in the comments.

What should happen to the man and what should happen to the dog?
Man gets harsh criminal penalty and dog gets much medical treatment.
Man gets harsh criminal penalty and dog is euthanized.
Man gets minimal penalty and dog gets much medical treatment.
Man gets minimal penalty and dog is euthanized.
Man gets mental health treatment and dog is euthanized.
Man gets mental health treatment and dog gets much medical treatment.
pollcode.com free polls

62 comments:

rhodamine said...

Ann, there is "throw Fabian off the roof" choice.

that would be mine.

traditionalguy said...

Put lipstick on the dog and let the dog attack the 19 year old. We can just say that the 19 year old is a Foetus, or an old widow in need of counseling, to be sure no one will want to save him.

Jeremy said...

If the owner wanted to kill the dog, he could have done so (they shoot horses, don't they). But to throw it off a building ought to be considered animal cruelty. The county authorities have no obligation to rehabilitate the animal, only to dispose of it quickly and relatively painlessly (just like it does with the hundreds of other unclaimed animals in its shelters).

-The Other Jeremy

Darcy said...

You forgot death by mauling.

Jennifer said...

Absent more information that makes it clear he suffers from some serious mental illness and isn't just a dickhead, option #2 seems the only logical one.

NKVD said...

He should play in the NFL - he is immoral enough and has the killer instincts, so sign him up. He is probably as smart as Michael Vick, too.

Bissage said...

Little Known Facts #41: A pit bull and a Chihuahua, falling six stories in a vacuum, will sustain exactly the same injuries.

David Walser said...

Animal cruelty is often a "warning sign" of violence against humans; society should prohibit animal cruelty to hedge up protection around the members of society. On that basis, I believe the man should be severely punished.

The dog should be euthanized. I know it's not the dog's fault. That doesn't matter. Society should not spend more on animal care than the utility the animal will bring.

I know that sounds harsh, but I grew up on a farm. We cared for and knew the value of our animals. I'd never have done anything to hurt an animal and would go out of my way to ensure an animal was comfortable and content. (I don't think in terms of animals being "happy". I do think of them as being comfortable or content, is that a contradiction?) But my parents never would have spent more on a pet's vet bill than it would cost to replace the pet. Note: I married into a family that raises and shows dogs. We've spent far more on our pet's vet bills than my parents ever would have. I still think my parents' approach right, but marital harmony has its price...

Original Mike said...

The man should get tossed in jail. The dog should be given the blue pill (or is it the red pill? I lose track).

Florida said...

Minimal jail time, then reinstatement to the NFL for a new multi-million contract would seem to be going punishment.

al said...

There needs to be a option for "The man gets euthanized".

rdkraus said...

NOTA

The man attempted to destroy a piece of his property. The dog should be put to death humanely.

His neighbors and society should shun and shame him and treat him like the A hole he is.

Ralph L said...

I assume he was trying to kill the dog and not just trying to see it fly. Is this more cruel than what shelters do only because it was unsuccessful? The NYT doesn't report what, if anything, the pitbull did before to warrant being killed.

Methadras said...

Give me 10 minutes with this sub-human piece of shit. After I'm done with him, then I'll show him how to fly.

Big Mike said...

I see that 80% of us agree that the dog should be euthanized. I'm one of them. My views about rescuing pit bulls is mostly driven by this article written by noted dog author Jon Katz.

I'm with David -- the person who did this needs an evaluation and some counseling. Just locking him up is meaningless. Sooner or later he'll be out and the next animal he chooses to hurt could be a member of h. sapiens.

@David, there are great ruminations on pets versus livestock in some of Jon Katz's books about Bedlam Farm. You should be able to find them on amazon.com or at your local library. Based on what Katz writes, both your parents and your wife are right.

Methadras said...

I don't know how any can mistreat an animal in this way. It befuddles the mind. The effort it takes to even commit this kind of cruelty on a dog like this. Give it away to someone you know, send it to a shelter. Anything but trying to abuse it to the point of death only to see your idiotic actions fail and inject pain and suffering on an innocent creature like this. It defies all logic and whenever I see stories like this I become incensed because dogs are truly mans best friend. You can beat a dog to within an inch of it's life and it will still try to crawl to your side and lick your hand to show you that it loves you. GOD DAMMIT I'M SO MAD RIGHT NOW!!!

paul a'barge said...

Is it true this Fabian guy is black?

Kev said...

(the other kev)

Put him down as quickly as painlessly as possible.

The dog too.

Chip Ahoy said...

I do not know how to answer this profoundly troubling question.

Here's Tina, my second Belgian Groenendale at Red Rocks amphitheater when it was still legal to climb around on them. She wasn't that great of a rock climber, but she would have leapt off a roof to follow me.

Richard Dolan said...

This may be one of those cases where the result will be sensible all around.

The guy has been indicted on a minor felony, and (unless he has a prior record) is unlikely to do jail time. That strikes me as the right balance in treating cruelty to animals as a criminal matter, particularly in Kings County (where it is pending). It's possible that the criminal case could result in a fine, and that the fine could be fixed in the amount of the cost of the dog's care. But criminal cases tend to take some time before they get to the disposition stage, and the decision about whether anyone will fund medical treatment for the dog will have to be made on a shorter time scale.

The dog doesn't qualify for Medicare/Medicaid (at least not yet, but I haven't kept up with all the latest twists in the plans to revamp the American health care system), and so any medical treatment will have to be funded by a Good Samaritan type (individual or organization). If that's how such a person wants to spend his money, I don't see any basis on which anyone else could object. If no one steps forward to fund the treatment, the dog is likely to be euthanized.

Thinking about that reminded me of Coetzee's last scene in Disgraced, where the act of euthanizing a dog turns into a form of redemption for the protagonist. But I suspect that animal euthanizations are handled more impersonally in Brooklyn.

Roger J. said...

David Walser raises an excellent point: animal cruelty is often a precursor to human to human violence.

this isnt a hard question: throw the dickhead off a six story building and let obamacare respond.

Justin said...

Man gets harsh criminal penalty, and dog gets much medical treatment, which man is forced to pay for as part of his sentence. Man also gets several years of post-release supervision, so if he does this again or commits some other similarly violent act, man goes to jail for a long, long time.

traditionalguy said...

Query: What should be done to a political party that throws a health care system based on private insurance off a six story roof on the theory that there would be no changes to it at all?

Synova said...

You know, the article had no information about the throwing... no interviewed witnesses or anything. I suppose my "innocent until proven guilty" nerve just fired off but I'd feel a lot more secure in launching into a rant of self-righteous indignation if there'd been a line that said "Fabian and four of his friends were having a beer party on the roof when witnesses say he picked up his dog and heaved her over the edge."

And people talk like there are ways to get rid of an animal that you find you can't care for or that has become a problem and that *of course* he could have *easily* had the dog euthanized or at least got the pound or a rescue organization to take her... but that may not be at all true.

The animal rights do-gooders, as far as I can tell, do their best to punish anyone who finds they can't care for an animal that seemed like a good idea at the time. It's easier to leave off a child in Nebraska than get rid of a dog or cat. (Okay, so Nebraska had to cancel that program right off, but what's so hard about letting people drop an animal at the pound if they have to without either refusing the animal (most "no-kill" shelters are full and so won't take the animal at all for nothing) or want to charge you for dropping it off, and don't try claiming it's a stay and not yours, either.

NKVD said...

I lost a 14 year old dog last year - she was brave, loyal, strong, fast, smart, and when my girlfriend moved out and left the dog with me, I knew I got the best part of that deal. I can understand not liking dogs, or being afraid of them, but intentionally harming them is beyond the pale.

People who are cruel to animals are not worth spitting on. But they should be put down. Even with the cost of ammo going up, thanks to our facist overlords, I would donate a round to end that fool's misery.

Smilin' Jack said...

They should both be put down. Neither is worth the expense of saving.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Where's the option for 'Mental Health Treatment' for the dog? I mean, why was he staying in this abusive relationship? Where's Dr. Phil when you need him?

Synova said...

You know... for all any of you knows the dog bit someone and the guy thought that this was the fastest and most painless way to kill an animal he loved. If so, he was horribly wrong about that, but there is not word one in the article about why he thought this was a good thing to do.

That there even was a six story building handy sort of precludes the possibility of taking the dog out behind the barn and putting a bullet in her brain, burying her and planting a rose bush on her grave.

David Walser said...

Based on what Katz writes, both your parents and your wife are right. - Big Mike

Thanks for the pointer to Katz. I'll try to read it when I have the time.

But, of course, both my wife and my parents' views are right. Circumstances change. What's possible influences what's "right".

Very loosely related to the topic at hand, my wife's attitude about the treatment of pets and my own came into stark contrast not long after we were married. We were visiting my parents and were standing in their front yard when the neighbor's cat was hit by a car. The cat, nothing more than a kitten, was retrieved by my youngest sister and laid on the ground before my wife for her to examine. At the time, my wife was a veterinarian's assistant and was given the status of "expert" on such matters within the family. She quickly said the cat would surely die and the only thing to do was to make it as comfortable as possible. (My wife didn't need her professional experience to make the diagnosis. The poor animal had almost been decapitated in the accident.)

My wife and I then both leapt into action. She ran for the house while I went for the tool shed. She came back with a shoe box lined with tissue in time to see her new husband use a shovel to finish the decapitation began by the car. You should have seen the shock in her eyes! Whom had she married?! Then, after a few seconds, she said, "You were right. That was quicker than driving to the vet to have her put down. The poor thing would have suffered on the drive."

LarsPorsena said...

The only thing we can be certain of is that if he tossed his girlfriend off the building top, it wouldn't rate a thread.

bagoh20 said...

Most of my spare time and cash goes to dog rescue and specifically Pit Bulls. This experience has completely turned me around on the breed. I was convinced that they were very different and dangerous as dogs go.

My understanding now is that they are not innately more dangerous than others. Even in our "pit bull" rescue the majority of attacks are by other breeds in our care. In fact, no one in our rescue has ever been injured by a pit bull attack, but most of us have been hurt repeatedly by other breeds.

Pits are a very powerful and tenacious breed. I analogize it to being married to a female gymnast or a black belt. They both can be sweet or dangerous, a sweet black belt is much safer than a bitch gymnast.

Pits make excellent family dogs and were the most common breed among the pioneers who settle the country. Unfortunately, they are the most over-bred, abused and abandoned of all breeds in the U.S. They are especially less HUMAN aggressive than many other breeds. They were never bred for controlling humans, while many other breeds were.

My opinion on the disposition of this case is that the 19 year old get severe punishment and education. I would be fine with euthanasia for the dog, but would attempt to save it through donations now that it's a big story.

You just do what you can - there are no perfect solutions.

John Lynch said...

Make the man pay the dog's vet bill, then put him in jail.

It's animal cruelty, it's clearly illegal, but it's something the dog can survive. Dogs are tough, and he should be able to have a mostly normal doggy life afterward. As a result of the publicity, he'll probably get a home. I'm not a fan of pit bulls, but the dog exists and needs a home.

If the dog had cancer or was just too old, that's different, but this is just trauma.

If you take on a pet, it's your responsibility. That's why I avoid getting pets. I still have two dogs and two cats, darn it.

bagoh20 said...

We currently have a small poodle in our rescue that the rescuer witnessed being thrown out of a moving car on the highway by a woman.

It's a wonderful little dog with no issues at all.

Some of our species us are just huge maggots with shoes.

NKVD said...

I live in a town where most dogs are chow, pitbull, or a mix of the two.

Pits are widely variable in size and temperment. Some are as sweet as can be, others, I wouldn't approach, and I like dogs a lot. One woman I know has a pitbull that has to be 75 pounds, quite long legged, but it is very gentle. You never know what you are going to get...

Big Mike said...

@David, based on this article I think Katz would agree with you.

According to Katz, the vets in his area ask whether the animal in question is named (a pet) or numbered (livestock). As you can read in the article, the lambs in question were numbered. Meanwhile Katz owns a huge steer named Elvis. It's a pretty safe bet Elvis won't be loaded on truck to go to market.

David Walser said...

My understanding now is that [pit bulls] are not innately more dangerous than others. ...

Pits are a very powerful and tenacious breed.


Don't you see the potential contradiction in these two statements? Are pit bulls "just like other dogs" or do they "run true to breed"? If they are more "powerful and tenacious" than most other dogs, might these qualities also cause them to be, at times, more dangerous?

Pits make excellent family dogs and were the most common breed among the pioneers who settle the country. ...

What makes pit bulls "excellent family dogs" is their very strong instinct to protect their "master". This can make them very territorial and can cause huge problems if the dog perceives a child as having crossed some hidden line. These may have been a very desirable trait back in pioneer days, not so in most of parts of the country today. Can pits overcome these inbred traits? With training, maybe.

ricpic said...

Give the dog counseling followed by a pain pill.

Oh...and shoot the man.

Synova said...

"As you can read in the article, the lambs in question were numbered. Meanwhile Katz owns a huge steer named Elvis. It's a pretty safe bet Elvis won't be loaded on truck to go to market."

We named and loved all of our livestock. (Not the chickens because there were too many.)

And then we ate them and discussed whom we were eating.

My father thought it was obscene to treat animals that would eventually be eaten with less affection and less care than "pet" animals for fear of forming an attachment.

I think he was right.

I think that the ones destined to be eaten deserve MORE pampering, if it came down to that.

bagoh20 said...

"Don't you see the potential contradiction in these two statements? Are pit bulls "just like other dogs" or do they "run true to breed"? If they are more "powerful and tenacious" than most other dogs, might these qualities also cause them to be, at times, more dangerous?"

What I mean was that their natural disposition was not more dangerous. What you are suggesting is true, but is also true of any large dog compared to a small one. Large people can do more damage, than petite ones, but we don't generally consider big people dangerous by nature, or treat them differently.


"What makes pit bulls "excellent family dogs" is their very strong instinct to protect their "master"."

This is just not true, as in a special trait of Pits. They are very loyal, but so are many other breeds. I say they are great family dogs based on the experience of hundreds of placements in families, which is how we prefer to place them. If out of control loyalty was a problem, we would know of it. I can't ignore my eyes.

When children get bitten by dogs is is usually some other breed. Unfortunately, when pits do it, it can be serious, but this is true of any large dog. Pits are essentially a very large dog in a compact package, that's all.

I held very strong anti-pit attitudes and still have a few. I know that when you believe they are especially dangerous it is deep seated and based on the endless media reports that inform us that way. Most of us get little exculpatory information or experience.

It is virtually impossible to change someone's mind without intimate experience with the breed. The cultural and information bias is just to powerful. I know, because I thought the same, but I was wrong.

I'm not saying they are harmless and safe, I'm am saying that they are not special in that regard. They are just dogs like most others. They all have teeth, they all bite and like us they don't always behave right.

As I said, I handle them every day, and although I have been bitten plenty, never by a Pit. Maybe that's just luck, but it's my experience and those I work with, nothing more.

rhodamine said...

Pits and similar dogs are more human-centered than other breeds, certainly moreso than the Spitz breeds I tend to favor.

I do not believe that they are more dangerous simply because of their breed. They are often ill-used, however, and since they are so terribly loyal, they can be turned into fighters (anything to please a person).

Now, my Chow - if I asked her to do something unseemly, she would just scoff at me. If a Chow is mistreated, they will never forget and never forgive, and simply turn their backs on humans forever.

Incidentally Chows were tried at fighting when they first arrived on these shores and failed utterly - they have no interest in being compelled to do anything, and are too self-preserving to be good fighters. Plus all that hair. No fun for the viewers.

Dan said...

Ann, you didn't have the option I would vote for, but here are my thoughts.

In terms of the dog's treatment, it would have to come from a rescue group or similar organization. In that case, it is hard to say the dog should be put down if someone is willing to provide the medical treatment. In some cases it is indeed more humane to put the dog down and humans who love animals can sometimes not see that. Forcing the animal through countless medical procedures with no hope of a normal life would not be the correct choice but hopefully the vets involved would be able to make that determination.

In terms of his punishment, I think you raise an interesting legal question. I am very much in favor (as has happened in some states) of classifying humans who own dogs as "guardians" and not "owners". Dogs are not property like a dishwasher. If someone destroys my bike, it is reasonable they be required to buy me a replacement bike. If someone hurts my dog, the maximum they should be liable for should be much much more than just the cost of acquiring another dog.

If someone threw _my_ dog off a 6 story building, I would want and be in favor of huge penalties, both criminal and civil. Of course, were it to actually happen, the discussion would quickly turn to what criminal charges _I_ should face, because I would no doubt deliver my own justice in a state of rage.

The fact that it was he own dog is an interesting twist. I look at it very similarly to child abuse. Turning your question around, what punishment would you see fit if he had thrown his child off the roof and not his dog?

And I will add that it is indeed interesting to note that cruelty to animals for cruelty's sake is indeed warning sign for human behavior. (I'm not talking about "cruelty" like eating meat. I'm talking about hurting animals with the explicit purpose of inflicting pain and enjoying it.)

Eli Blake said...

bagoh20:

I have to disagree STRONGLY with you given what happened here in town about two weeks ago:

A family friend of ours (we've been friends of the family for over a decade and she baby sat my children when they were little) was almost killed a couple of weeks ago by two pit bulls

(story:

is here.) It says a pit bull and a boxer but the boxer was also part pit bull.

Besides biting her ear off, the pit bull had locking jaws that were so powerful that they bit all the way through her forearms and crushed part of the bone. Most dogs would be unable to bite that hard even if they tried. She had several surgeries to repair the bones and tendons in her forearms.

Candi lives about a block from my house in one direction and the attack happened about a block from my house in the other direction (and these are small town blocks.)

The dogs attacked her children (the oldest is five) while she was out taking a walk with them and she took the attack herself and was ripped apart by them and had to be helicoptered to the hospital in Flagstaff, where she had multiple surgeries and spent a whole week in the hospital. I don't want this to be a health care debate but the whole town is holding a fundraiser tomorrow night which might pay part of what she is going to owe.

I've known many loving dogs in my life but pit bulls were bread to maim and kill, and they do so very effectively. They also can be a bit psychotic to where something just clicks and even a docile pit can uexpectedly turn on its owner.

So whatever happens to the man, I hope they euthanize the dog. A pit bull, especially one which has been grievously abused is just too dangerous an animal to allow it to remain alive.

Eli Blake said...

I might add that I saw Candi earlier today at Speedy's (she is up and walking around, which is good) and she told me that they wer trying to find a psychologist for her children. They were terrified both by the original attack on them and then by watching what these animals did to their mother. She told me that her oldest (the five year old) has nightmares and wakes up screaming every night.

It's worth noting too, that the guy who finally beat them off with a two by four is about 6'4", a former police officer and a really big guy. So like any predator, the pit bulls chose their victims to be those they could kill the easiest: first the little children, then their mother when she volunteered herself in the kids' place, then they ran off when a big man with a club started fighting them.

Big Mike said...

@Synova, I'm imagining a dinner table conversation that goes something like "is this steak a piece of Elvis, or did you cook up Lulabelle" and I'm turning faintly green.

David Walser said...

What I mean was that their natural disposition was not more dangerous....

We're going to disagree. First a little background:

As I mentioned above, my wife's family raises and shows dogs. In addition, she worked for several years at an animal hospital. She's very knowledgeable about various breeds. What I'm about to say is based on things I've learned from her. One of those things is that breeds not only have physical traits, they have personality traits as well. A hunting breed is going to be interested in "game". A working breed is going to be interested in sheep, goats, cattle, and the other herd animals. Our dog, a Portuguese water dog, was historically used on fishing boats. The dog is simply not interested in birds, rabbits, or even cats; but let the dog see a fish in the water of the local pond and she'll be in the water before you can react. These personality traits are as much of the breed as the dog's physical characteristics.

The second important thing is that these traits are not fixed. When my wife's family first started showing dogs in the 1950s, cocker spaniels were considered to be great family dogs. They were extremely docile around small children. That's changed. Now, a significant portion of cockers are snippy around children. (They'll bite if they think they can get away with it.) Not all cockers are snippy, but an increasing percentage of them are. Why? Breeders focused on the physical appearance of the dogs they were breeding and ignored the dogs' personality.

What does this have to do with whether pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs of a similar size? Pits, just like other breeds, have a distinctive personality. Pits were bred to be fighters and they have the necessary physical and emotional traits for that role.

In this respect they are far different than another breed of dog that people often consider dangerous: the Doberman Pincer. Dobermans (Dobermen?)were bred to be police and army dogs. They are very intelligent, obedient dogs. Dobermans still make great family dogs. Yes, they can be very vicious. But a Doberman has to be trained to bite a human. Pit bulls need to be trained NOT to bite a human. That's not mere semantics; it's a huge difference! When a Doberman acts true to breed, it protects its home and family. It does not attack random people. When a pit bull acts true to breed, we get the kind of story linked to above.

Does this mean all pit bulls are dangerous? No. The breed is relatively young. Some pit bull lines are not nearly as aggressive as are others.

With proper training, most pit bulls will never cause any problem. The same's true for large cats. How many years did Sigfried and Roy live and work with their cats before one of them "acted true to breed"? They had dozens of cats over the years. On a percentage basis, you'd have to say most of them were "safe", wouldn't you?

No, you wouldn't. We don't measure the safety of animals in that way. Wild animals are dangerous. Period. Training does not domesticate them. A wolf is different from a dog and no amount of training would make a wolf a "safe" pet. Unfortunately, for the lovers of pit bulls, the breed is closer to "wild" than are other breeds. For a pit to be "safe" you must depend on its responding to training, not instinct. That's not (always) a safe practice.

bagoh20 said...

That story is powerful and anyone who reads it will naturally hate the breed. That's to be expected. There are a number of misconception stated there, but the I have no doubt about the basic facts of the attack.

I've seen statistics that show Pits to be the majority of the problem and some refuting this. Most statistics back up that they are a more dangerous breed.

All I can say is that there is disconnect between my experience which is extensive and the public perception of the breed.

We had a similar attack recently near here, but it was a German Shepard. It did not make the news, except in one small paper. If it had been a Pit, it would have been covered by every local paper and probably would have gone slightly viral. I see that all the time.

Dogs of all kinds are attacking people everyday, but like I said Pits are big strong dogs, which people often chose because of their compact size. If you understand that, then they are definitely the most common very large dog by a wide margin. That plus the tendency for their owners to train them to be aggressive may account for much of the statistics. For this reason, I also fear unfamiliar Pits that I see on the street, which I encounter every day.

I don't know the whole truth, but I guess it is somewhere in between: I have certainly heard of how dangerous they can be but my experience is very different. What can I do in that situation. They would not be the first population unfairly attributed to have terrible traits. I need to be fair and follow the truth wherever it leads.

I know people who are fanatics about both sides of the argument. I am basically agnostic at this point. A few years ago I hated the breed and would never consider having one. After knowing many of them personally, I would have no problem having one. I also accept some peoples desire to ban them. The statistics are pretty damming and hard to refute.

Frankly, like many people I work with, I wouldn't mind if Pit Bulls disappeared as a breed, but right now they are here. We sterilize them all, but feel compassion requires us to help those abandoned on our streets. Nearly all of them will never hurt anyone and did nothing personally to deserve their bad rep.

I truly hope that those poor people fully recover mentally and physically from that horrific attack. The incident scares and angers me as much as anyone else. Maybe more.

bagoh20 said...

David,

I hear you. In fact a few years ago, I could have written your comment nearly exactly the same with all the same points. I truly believed that stuff. What would you do if you spent everyday with them and never saw much of this in actual practice? Would you question your thinking? I have and I am.

It's not exactly the same, but there was a time when people thought really awful things about people different than them based on anecdotes and near truths.

You may change your thinking and I may change mine back. I'm still learning.

RightGirl said...

Interesting. The article, and the bulk of these comments save those of Synova, don't mention whether the man's life was threatened.

A little over a decade ago, when I was living on the 14th floor of a highrise, my (new) dog (an adult Dalmation) turned on me.She mauled me badly, and a kick to the throat subdued her. I could have done what Fabian did, and I admit it crossed my mind.

If I had done it, I don't think I would have lost too much sleep over it. Two weeks later, she attacked my father. She was put down.

Not every dog can be salvaged.

RG

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"It's worth noting too, that the guy who finally beat them off with a two by four is about 6'4", a former police officer and a really big guy."

In Memphis, Betty Lou Stidham, 6 ft tall and 200 pounds, was killed by her neighbor's pit bulls while the police were trying to shoot them.

RLB_IV said...

The answer to the most complicated question is simple. Send the guy to Iran and tell them that he threw a Mullah off the building. They will know what to do with him.

John Lynch said...

Just to spam some more, I'll add a few comments.

One, a dog's genetics matters a lot in terms of behavior. Yes, looks tell you about behavior. As mentioned, it's not fixed over all time, but a Pug and a Shih Tzu are clearly different animals. They are both toy breeds but have vastly different personalities. That's just between two small dogs.

Dogs are not people. It's not racist to categorize breeds instead of individuals. Applying the standards of human behavior to dogs is not appropriate.

The other thing is about aking dogs something other than property. I would be extremely reluctant to own an animal under those conditions. It would be hard to know what an animal's legal position was, and what would constitute a violation of their new rights. For a lot of people, it would make adoption of a pet more trouble than it would be worth.

If my dog got run over by a car, could I be charged with negligence? If I chose not to spend several thousand dollars on life saving veterinary care, could I be liable? See the problems? No, I sympathize with people who want to help animals by changing their status, but this isn't the way to do it.

Gabriel Hanna said...

You know, most people don't seem to have any problem with banning outright the possession of venomous snakes or large constrictors.

Snakes, like dogs, vary widely in temperament and "dangerousness". Rubber boas are relatively small, timid and have never even been known to bite a human (they curl up into a ball when threatened). Rattlesnakes are mean and poisonous. Large boas and pythons are much more dangerous for their bites, since they do not see people as food, but if you put one around your neck it may suffocate you without even knowing it.

Pit bulls are bread for meanness and the ability to bite and crush. They ARE more dangerous than other types of dog, that's whole point of the breed.

Of course other breeds can bite. But I don't think restrictions on a breed intentionally developed for aggression and fighting ability are unreasonable.

Revenant said...

Minor punishment for the guy, rehabilitation or euthanasia for the dog (whichever is more feasible). But sending a human being to prison for two years for attempting to kill his *dog* seems unjust to me.

Synova said...

"@Synova, I'm imagining a dinner table conversation that goes something like "is this steak a piece of Elvis, or did you cook up Lulabelle" and I'm turning faintly green."

No "Elvis". We tended to name our cattle after relatives.

We were very sick people. ;-)

No, seriously. It's what you grow up with and for truth, my parents were exceptionally kind hearted about animals and we treated all our animals like the proverbial family members we named many of them after. (A person runs out of names after a while and besides, it pissed off my aunt, or would have if we'd ever told her!) I'm very serious when I said that my father felt that it was *immoral* to treat animals that would be eaten with less care and compassion than those that would not... that it was moral cowardice to treat any livestock less well in order to make it easier to butcher them later. When we had dairy cattle he would go on about those farmers who kept them in their stalls all of the time (pre milking parlor era) because he'd say, look at those old cows out there kicking up their hooves like a baby calf, you can't tell me that they don't love the sunshine. What needed to be done was done, and no squeamish vapours allowed, but that was part of it, too, taking responsibility.

My mom once said that she admired the Native American tradition of thanking the animal before eating it. It seemed better to her to be thankful and understand rather than try to distance yourself from, I suppose for lack of a better term "the circle of life" though *she* would never have expressed it that way.

We kids, growing up like this, thought that Charlotte's Web was the stupidest story we'd ever heard of. ;-)

Kev said...

(the original Kev)

I have a question for Althouse regarding the poll. The last option reads as follows:

Man gets mental health treatment and gets much medical treatment.

Was the dog left out of this one? It seems as if it would make more sense if it said "Man gets mental health treatment and the dog gets much medical treatment." I didn't vote for that option, because I wasn't sure if that was the original intent or not.

@Eli Blake: What happened to your neighbor was chilling, but I also noted that the pit bulls belonged to a guy who's currently in prison. I wonder if perhaps this attack didn't happen not just because the dogs were pits, but because nurture (or lack thereof, in this case) trumped nature.

Ann Althouse said...

@Kev Just a cut-and-paste error. I'm going to fix it.

CassavaLeaf.com said...

many people would vote to euthanize the dog ONLY because it is a pit bull

should have kept that part of the story or embellish and say it's a golden lab and the responses would be different

Jay said...

I'm left to wonder why there is not the option to euthanize the man.

Methadras said...

With Pits, and I know the breed very well, I have to say I totally understand the apprehension many people have about them. I have two boxers, Bucky is 5 and Tink (Tinkerbell) is 12 and they are sweet, gentle dogs, but protective. Bucky moreso than Tink. Protective in the way that in our presence he barks to warn us and depending on the situation will insert himself in-between what he thinks is the problem and us. Sometimes he will back away and defer to us. But that is his nature, gentle and sweet yet alert and willing to defend, but knows from command when to stop and back down or I, my wife, or my daughter will back him down. Tink is just gentle, not a mean bone in her body. I just wanted to say that because I love them dearly.

With pits, they require a strong presence. male or female, but strong must be the descriptor here. Otherwise they will take over, sometimes to the point that they might go after you if they sense weakness. This is extremely rare. Extremely. Someone here said that you need to train a pit to not bite people or other things. This is true, but that requires lots of work of socialization. Much more so than many other dogs. Socializing Pits is where the money is at. The more they understand what is expected of them as dogs and they are constantly around other animals and people, then a very high probability that they will be no different than any other breed. Diligence is required for certain breeds and Pits especially so, but they have been so exploited as a breed that at this point I don't think their image can be rehabilitated and that is a shame. I hope that isn't the case and I hope I am wrong. I love the breed personally. They are excellent dogs.

JAL said...

Eli -So like any predator, the pit bulls chose their victims to be those they could kill the easiest: first the little children, then their mother when she volunteered herself in the kids' place, then they ran off when a big man with a club started fighting them.

Sort of like why some of us think reacting strongly and physically to terrorists, and taking the fight to them is a good idea?

JAL said...

How about some jail time AND mental health treatment / care?

As for the dog -- if someone wanted to pay for his care and treatment, let them. Other than that the kindest thing was to literally put him out of his misery.

As for the history -- it would have been interesting if the fdog had attacked.

As for the kind of people who keep pit bulls -- some of them raise the dog to reflect how they feel about the world. And pit bulls are good at acting on that hostility more than golden retrievers or beagles.

Regis said...

This is interesting. My question is, are CATS covered under Obama family health care plan?