OUR VIEW: Confront the issue of dangerous dogs

June 15, 2012
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A dog attack is a terrifying, painful experience. Depending on the dog’s size and strength, an attack can be fatal. A simple stroll through a neighborhood or park can change one’s life or worse. As long as man has lived with his ‘best friends,’ there have been occasional disfiguring or deadly consequences.

Those of us who love animals fault the dogs’ owners. Any dog will bite and owning one of the so-called aggressive breeds dictates greater vigilance and requires certain precautions.

Those who fear aggressive dogs such as pit bulls, Rottweilers, chows, etc. also place the blame on the dogs. Some cities such as Denver have banned pits, a powerful dog with an incredibly bad reputation.

In the past few months, Colorado Springs has had its share of pit bull attacks. Pit bulls or pit mixes have attacked babies, children and recently a man walking his dog.

All of the incidents have resulted in some asking why we don’t have an ordinance similar to Denver’s or stronger. Denver has one of the older, strongest pit bull laws in the U.S. The language of their ordinance is very clear: “It shall be unlawful for any person to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport, or sell within the city any pit bull.”

Pit bulls that are identified as such can be impounded and eventually expelled from the Denver city limits or destroyed. It should be noted that Denver’s ban has only resulted in a lot of dogs being euthanized and the rest going underground. There are still pit bulls in Denver. Like any law, the ban is violated by those who still favor the breed or those who just do not observe the law.

Personal accountability is obviously the key to a resolution, not a ban.

If Colorado Springs enacts its own ordinance, it should focus on the owners. They should be held responsible for their dogs’ behavior.

Some of the infrastructure for enforcement exists. In Colorado Springs, owners can be cited if a dog (any dog) attacks or bites someone without provocation.

The city shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Several areas such as Milwaukee have dangerous dog ordinances that could be customized for use in the Springs. Specific licenses, precautions and consequences for violators are the basics most cities employ.

The city simply needs to address the issue, sooner rather than later. — Pula Davis, for the editorial board. You can find Davis on Twitter, @puladavis or Facebook, facebook.com/pula.davis

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