At Least This Time They Didn’t Blame Pitbulls…

This is such a horrible Christmas story that even my fecund imagination couldn’t devise an appropriate graphic for it, yet attention should be paid.

On December 23 in Cave Spring, Arkansas, a family’s dog attacked and killed a four-day old infant girl. The dog bit the baby’s head, fatally injuring  the infant’s skull. When I read the story, my second thought after the obvious first one was “Now watch: this will be called another pit bull attack.” Amazingly, it wasn’t: the dog was a Siberian Husky. That didn’t stop the news media from attaching alleged pit bull horror stories to this one, like the attack by two Staffordshire terriers, one of several breeds called pit bulls, that killed two small children and injured their mother in October. I did learn something from the various articles: 32% of all fatalities from dog bites in the U.S. are children 4 years-old and under.And there, as a Danish prince would say, is the rub. It is gross parental negligence to allow any dog, of any disposition, breed or size, access to small child. Why a dog was the vicinity of a four day old infant boggles the mind. What the hell were these parents thinking?

Naturally the Husky was killed by authorities after the attack, though the tragedy revealed nothing about the pet’s proclivities other than that it was a dog. The incident  revealed a lot about the parents, however. Nonetheless, Benton County prosecutor Nathan Smith says that it is unlikely that any charges will be filed against the parents. I presume this is because, like the cases where children or infants are left to die in hot cars by forgetful parents, the crime is considered to carry its own punishment using the logic of Rationalization #38 B: Excessive Accountability, or “They’ve Suffered Enough.”

Good luck to any future children this couple might have.

4 thoughts on “At Least This Time They Didn’t Blame Pitbulls…

  1. Perhaps I’m being harsh but I do think the parents and every parent or guardian this happens to, should be charged.

    We have an incredibly irresponsible ethos going on in the world of dog ownership. People who willingly choose to have a dog, of any size dog, around small children, without educating themselves on danger behavior signals, is complicit in spreading such violence.

    The killings of children is just a part of it. 50% of kids under 12 have been bitten by dogs. Most dog bites children experience happen over 70% of the time on the face and neck.

    Part of the problem is the cuteness factor of dogs and a culture that values cute photos of kids with their arms around a dog’s neck (terribly dangerous in some circumstances) more than being able to discern if the dog is tolerating it well.

    Another problem is loneliness. Many use their dogs as comfort tools rather than focus on the dogs enrichment. This can lead to poor physical boundaries which can lead to bites. Just recently, I had a client who undid all our training because of admitted loneliness. I see this a lot.

    Then there’s just boundaries in general that dog owners should learn. I had a client whose small dog wouldn’t let her leave the house without biting her feet. Another one kept letting his large dog jump up on him.
    I gave both clients the tools. One took my advice & could finally leave the house in peace. The other had an additional bruise and broken stitch on his belly after a surgery.

    If your dog jumps on you constantly, and if it tries to do the same with passers by for *any* reason, then you don’t have enough control for safety.

    If your dog has nipped at a hand, especially a child’s, you don’t have enough control for safety.

    If your dog gets loose, growls, has their ears back a lot, has separation anxiety, barks all the time, or is skittish, your dog may not be safe.

    If any of the above resonates, please consider training your dog. Find a trainer who focuses on safety.

    If you live in a city, even a small one, find a program that focuses on urban safety. I recommend Cis Frankel’s book Urban Dog.

    If you have a kid, find a program that focuses on kids safety and learning to read dog body language.

    Link for free downloads on basic dog behavior.

    The AKC Good Citizen Test is a good way to see where your dog is at on a functional level in general society.

    Family Paws has some helpful free info sheets for new parents with babies.

    If you work with kids, consider learning and teaching the Be a Tree dog bite prevention program.

    If you really love dogs and wish to see them kept out of rescue shelters (where often behavior issues worsen, leading to euthanasia, even in no kill shelters), consider learning more about how dogs use their bodies to speak, and take the knowledge out into your community. From greeting dogs to preparing your dog for emergencies like severe weather, riots, and even war – it can never hurt to show others how to be a responsible and safe dog friend.

    Until people face the consequences of their choices, we will continue to see babies killed, kids scarred, and parents traumatized by the natural result of
    reckless dog ownership. If there are better ways of encouraging more mindful dog guardianship, I’d be happy to listen.

    Even in the most skilled hands, a dog can attack. I live with them every day as a guardian and professional. It’s my honor to be a voice for canine safety and ethics in the community. But I can’t force people to make the optimal choices. They have to be willing to transcend a fantasy and treat their dogs like wonderful companions who may have the capacity to kill.

  2. The problem is how dogs are viewed and handled by society as a whole. Dogs are called “fur babies” and considered nearly on par with humans. Dogs are treated as an unquestionable good – don’t like dogs that jump up on you and lick you, or dogs that bark at you every time you’re in your own yard? You are the problem, not the dog. Don’t like someone walking their husky through the aisles of Walmart? You’re a cold hearted hater, borderline evil.

    People need to realize that not everyone loves their dog they way they do, or even like dogs in general. People also need to realize that dogs are animals – they don’t have ethics and can still act dangerously on instinct without thinking twice.

  3. The only dog I “owned” as an adult – having a dog again being one of many reasons for moving from NYC to Colorado Springs in the first place – was a Canadian Husky, Preston (named after the radio show) . Lived to 16, exercised by bicycle or visiting friends – his (best, a couple of rough-raised, working, standard poodles) and ours – at their ranches or mountain homes. My landlady, raised on a Wisconsin farm, the youngest of 13 sibs, trained him on her double-lot backyard to help care for the emotionally war-wounded, retired canines she took in and later released as companions to war-wounded humans. I never thought of moving elsewhere until after we buried Preston and he’s the one I miss most.

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