WTVM Editorial 6/3/16: Owners must control powerful pets

WTVM Editorial 6/3/16: Owners must control powerful pets
Published: Jun. 3, 2016 at 2:48 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2016 at 1:33 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - When a pit bull broke from his chain and attacked a 9-year-old Columbus boy last week, his alarming ordeal was enough to scare anyone.

And because it was a pit bull, the attack was a top story on the news for days. Little Nigiel Garland bravely told News Leader 9 how the attack unfolded and how he never wants anything to do with dogs of any kind.

A neighbor's pit bull got loose and bit Nigiel in the thigh. As bad as his injuries are, it could have been much worse.

Websites like dogsbite.org say pit bulls caused 82 percent of dog bite fatalities in 2015, even though pit bulls are only about 7 percent of the total U.S. dog population.

Other sources claim pit bulls are no more dangerous than other breeds. When it comes to the controversy over pit bulls, you can always find dueling statistics.

What is clear is that when powerful animals are not properly controlled, they present a true danger to the public.

Unfortunately, too many dog owners are not responsible: letting their dogs roam free or, if they do attempt to restrain them in a yard or inside a home, failing to supervise them.

That's when chaos can happen.

Despite laws that require owners of known dangerous dogs to have insurance and keep their pets contained, most other dog laws meant to prevent attacks are not very strong, and the penalties usually amount to only a few hundred dollars in fines.

What’s left then is personal responsibility.

Nigiel says it best: “All people that have dogs make sure they put them on a strong leash in the back yard not the front.”

A 9-year-old knows the right thing to do, but irresponsible pet owners clearly do not.

That's why animal control must focus on them, with more patrols to identify potential problems and stricter enforcement, to prevent the kind of attack that Nigiel Garland and his family will never forget.


General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road 
Columbus, GA 31906

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