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Mastiffs thought to have killed caretakerPosted Saturday, August 4, 2007, at 9:11 AM
Is this the summer for dangerous dogs, or am I just noticing it?
The results aren't in yet, as of Saturday morning, August 4, but news reports seem to indicate that two bull mastiffs owned by Mission Impossible actor Ving Rhames may have killed the caretaker of Rhames' estate while the actor was on location for another film.
This news follows closely on the previous dogfighting stories involving Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vic. The dogs involved in the Vic scandal were pit bulls, a breed which is being increasingly banned in cities across the United States, despite opposition by groups such as the Humane Society of the United States, which warns that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is not an effective way of dealing with the problem of dangerous dogs.
"Protecting residents from dangerous dogs is a noble goal and one that communities across the country are wrestling with," says Stephanie Shain, director of outreach for HSUS's Companion Animal Section. "But communities that have banned specific breeds have discovered that it has not been the easy answer they thought it would be. Dangerous dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and breed bans just don't effectively address the issue."
Shain points out that breed bans punish responsible pet owners, while having no effect on irresponsible owners, who will just move onto another dangerous breed.
Many communities have found that "dog bite" legislation and public education have been more successful in combating the problem of dangerous dogs.
"Legislation aimed at punishing the owner of the dog rather than punishing the dog is far more effective in reducing the number of dog bites and attacks," says Shain.
Meanwhile, an autopsy is being scheduled on the dead caretaker, whose name has not yet been revealed, to see if he died of the dog bites - or if he had a heart attack.
As for myself, I have no doubt that if two 135-pound bull mastiffs came at me, I would probably have a heart attack before they even established contact.
Right or wrong, Saturday morning's horrific news report will undoubtedly spur more communities to enact breed-specific legislation.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.
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