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EDITORIAL: It's the pits, all right

They’re always sweet, until they kill August 8, 2020 at 7:59 a.m.

The dates, and datelines, keep coming: Over the years they've come from Akron, Ohio, and Joliet, Ill., and Pasco County, Fla., and Oro Grande, Calif., and East Providence, R.I.

And even Prescott, Ark., and Springdale, Ark. To name just two of the more local datelines.

Dog attacks--specifically by the non-specific breed we call pit bulls--keep making their way into the papers. This month, a story came out of Georgia about a girl who had her scalp and one ear torn from her head in such an attack. She faces months, maybe years, in recovery. With no telling how many surgeries ahead of her.

This past week the dateline featured an Arkansas town again. It was little Hope, of watermelon and presidential speech fame. Deputies were dispatched to a dog bite call on Friday evening, and found a 61-year-old man in a ditch "suffering from numerous dog bites to his body."

According to the Texarkana Gazette, a person walking by saw two pits attacking the man, and bystanders were able to pull the dogs off him. The victim had to be airlifted to a hospital for his injuries. The man told authorities the dogs came up from behind.

It comes as no surprise that the dogs in this case were classified as pit bulls. Many cities and rural small towns in Arkansas have banned the breed. Some places, at the least, require owners to have insurance on the creatures.

The appeal of the whole pit bull culture escapes some of us. Pit bulls are supposed to be some kind of expression of the owner's manhood. We think. As if real manhood needs vicious dogs to sustain it.

Many of these dogs are meant to fight. That is, they've been bred to fight over generations. And if not in a dog-fighting ring, then in your backyard. Or a neighbor's backyard if the animal can eat through the fence. Which many can, because they've been bred to have powerful jaws.

Why more communities don't ban these animals also escapes us. They're like loaded guns, except placed in yards with all kinds of chances to escape.

At this point, we'll no doubt hear from all those pit bull apologists who will say that their dog is sweet and kind. Certainly. And that's the first comment made by all those owners who talk to the papers after their pit bulls have killed somebody: "He was such a sweet dog. Never hurt a thing. Until, of course, he killed that child."

Other pit bull fans will say that other dogs bite, too. Again, certainly. But few people die when a Dachshund bites. Whenever you see a "dog bite" headline in the paper, invariably it's a pit bull. And not even another large breed such as a Great Pyrenees or a mastiff or an Irish wolfhound. Not even the famed guard dog breeds such as German shepherds or Doberman pinschers. When dogs kill, the killer always seems to be a pit bull or pit bull mix.

Anybody who owns these animals should be required to have insurance on them, in case they escape their owner's property and, say, maim or kill the neighbors. About a community's decision to ban them outright, that decision boils down to whether the community is willing to take a chance that somebody's lovable puppy will one day become a family's worst nightmare.

And when Dachshunds start killing people, we can have that discussion then.

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