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Mastiffs thought to have killed caretaker

Posted 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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I think that the owner is part of the problem in most cases, however there are some breed specific dogs that are quite capable of killing a human and others that more than likely can inflict damage but not likely fatal damage. There are some dogs that when they bite their jaws lock and you can't pry them off. This would not be good on ones neck. Why would you want or need a dog with those kind of traits?

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sun, Aug 19, 2007, at 7:34 PM

It was on the net news yesterday that the caretaker did NOT die from dog bites. They were too superficial & they weren't any on his head and neck which I read is quite common in fatal dog maulings.Of course he may have had an underlying heart ailment that caused him to infarct.They are now waiting for tox results(no CSI or Law & Order labs were available to expedite the results).

Thank goodness Ving didn't own yellow labs,with their ninja like stealth and voracious appetites,there wouldn't been anything left to identify of the poor soul.

-- Posted by Yellow Rose of Essex on Sun, Aug 19, 2007, at 3:09 PM

Too true, FJGuy. I once had a German Shepard that road with me in the car. He was the friendliest of dogs. However, when I stopped at the gas station I always made sure his window was rolled all the way up because he would have taken a bite out of the attendant. He was very protective of me when I was alone. Back then it made me feel safe. Now I'd still feel safe, but I'd worry about a law suit. My dogs now couldn't reach an open window without a ladder.

I think it's the owners rather than the dogs. I've known dobies and rottweilers that were big sissies and pekingese and toy poodles that were man-killers. I much prefer the idea of legislation on dogs that bite rather than breed specific laws. Make the owners more responsible for the dog's actions. After all, I did roll up the car window.

That raises another point - what idiot sticks his hand in a car to a strange dog? People need to be at least a little bit educated about animals and animal behavior. Don't automatically let your kid go walking up to an unfamiliar dog (or cat or bird or horse, etc.) assuming it will react pleasantly. Even a pretty parrot in a cage can give a nasty bite. Don't automatically assume that the dog was responsible for every bite case. It might have been like the fool that climbed into the bear's cage at the zoo and then complained because the bear mauled him. Was that the bear's fault?

-- Posted by Ducky on Wed, Aug 8, 2007, at 2:00 PM

Hahaha! They'll just think you're making it up, FJGuy!

In fact, I find it hard to believe myself!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Aug 6, 2007, at 9:42 PM

My folks had a Pekingese that weighed only a few pounds. He looked oh so cute and cuddly. But when a person would go to pet the little critter he would secure their hand in a Vulcan Death Grip! His teeth were like a vampires fangs so he left scars!

Once I saw an oblivious gas station attendant put his hand through the partially opened window to pet what he called the "cute little dog." His fleshy fingers were just to inviting. The danged dog clamped down on his hand and wouldn't let go! The guy was screaming and the window wasn't rolled down enough for him to pull his hand and the dog through! After what probably seemed like an eternity to the attendant, the little devil must have figured it had proved its point and let go.

I have no doubt the dog could have killed a young child without even breathing hard! I'll let other people worry about Mastiffs and Pit Bulls, what I want to know is when are the flesh eating Pekingese going to be outlawed!

(P.S. To any young people unfamiliar with the term "gas station attendant," there was a time, long long ago, before the days of the Blackberry and text messaging, when a person would come up to your window at a gas station and ask you: "Fill er' up?" The person would then proceed to put gas in your car. That isn't all. I know this is somewhat hard to believe, but they would also wash your windshield and check your oil. And you didn't even have to tip them!)

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Aug 6, 2007, at 9:07 PM

I know that a lot of people like dogs, my daughter for one she has 3, but one never knows how they will act, a friend had a doverman raised if from a pup but one day he came home and the dog attacked mim. I was a mail man and I never trusted any of them not even the so called friendly ones, not even my daughters.

-- Posted by rusty nail on Sat, Aug 4, 2007, at 3:32 PM

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Madeline DeJournett
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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 advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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