Gurney's Inn
July 18, 2007

Shelter Stories

Last week I was happy to read a heartwarming story about a Pit Bull in the New York Post. The dog saved his young mistress from a child molester who was trying to drag her into an alley to rape her. The picture told it all. This dog knew he did his job and the picture showed it.

These are the Pit Bulls I know and that RSVP promotes. Then I returned to Southampton to read about "three American Bulldogs" that mauled a Montauk man, seriously injuring him. My thoughts go out to the victim and his family. But as Animal Control Supervisor Betsy Bambrick sagely said, the dogs are considered "innocent until proven guilty," just like people. I hope some serious fact checking is done on this awful case before the dogs are killed.

I have no inside information, but it seems the dogs' owner was not liked in the community. Signs, reportedly, had been posted saying, "Demand to have all Pit Bulls Removed." How fair is that to this breed that can be wonderful as their owners will tell you? I'm sure the owner of the Pit Bull that saved a child from being raped or worse doesn't feel that way.

Now let's talk about canine good citizenship. Barking dogs. Breeding without proper permits. Animals allegedly chasing pedestrians. The three dogs in custody lacking up-to-date shots. If what was reported is true, who's guilty here: the animals or the owner? They were born innocent. We all must take canine good citizenship seriously.

This case must be investigated very carefully and the dogs' behavior tested. I'm not making excuses for what happened here, but some of the neighborhood comments sounded like the cries of a witch hunt against the dogs' owner. Because the neighbors disliked him, do you kill all the dogs and the puppies that were just born? Again, I'm not excusing what happened how can you? But investigate this case and the owner carefully before you put down the dogs in a rush to judgment.

I've seen too many dogs punished because of bad owners. Spay, neuter and behavior test these dogs before you kill them. See who's to blame. That's a positive thing to do. I wish there were serious laws to protect the public from irresponsible owners and a punishment to fit the crime for them. It's easy to kill the dogs. That's not the answer. Have a good behaviorist find out what's happened to these dogs who, as Ms. Bambrick said, are "innocent until proven guilty." And, if there is nothing that can be done for them, so be it.

I wish Caesar Milan, the "Dog Whisperer," who has a famous and well-respected program on the National Geographic Channel, could come here and examine these dogs before their fates are decided by a mob mentality.

What I do think should be mandatory is electric fences and a fence around that fence to protect the public, if the dogs have gone bad because of a bad owner. But first, GET THE FACTS BEFORE YOU KILL THE DOGS. You might find they're victims, too.

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