Dear Diamond to Concerned about Pit Bulls

Jun 16, 2016

Dear Diamond,

The recent report of a boy killed by a dog has rekindled a concern I have had for a number of years. A family member has two pit bulls, and often brings these dogs to family events even at other people's homes. I have never been comfortable around these dogs, especially because I am concerned about them being around my children. Yet I am forced to have them around my children and myself at major holidays.

The family member in question views questions about these dogs to be offensive and feels that these dogs are as much a part of the family as my children. I don't want to create a major rift as family is very important to me, but I feel it would be an acceptable compromise to have these dogs left at home at the holidays or with other relatives who do not seem to mind them.

-Concerned about Pit Bulls

Dear Concerned about Pit Bulls,

Lots of pit bulls are lovable and absolutely wonderful and protective of children, but with the ones who have not had a stable home, there is a disproportionate number of horrible attacks that have come without warning. There are statistics showing that pit bulls and Rottweilers have the highest incidents of attacking people. However, all dog breeds are capable of biting someone. Children are particularly vulnerable because their faces are so close to the dog’s mouth.

Diamond’s family member was bitten by dogs twice. The first time was a vicious attack by an Afghan hound at a family cookout when he was a child. His arm looks like he was stabbed multiple times. The second time was by a Rottweiler who was roaming loose in the neighborhood. I know of two people bitten on the face by dogs, both requiring plastic surgery — one was by a pit bull and one was by a small terrier. Getting bitten by a dog is traumatic and can create a life-long fear. However, lots of breeds of dogs are capable of attack, though, not just pit bulls.

Did you know that in Maine there are laws prohibiting ordinances, laws and regulations on "breed specific" dogs? Years ago Diamond remembers when Doberman pinschers were considered a menace on Main Street in Rockland. Consequently all dogs were banned from the street.

With lots of unfamiliar people around at a gathering, dogs can react in ways that are not typical for them. If other dogs come into their territory, it’s not unusual for a fight to break out. Sometimes there are subtle warning signs that a dog is about to attack; other times there are not.

If you are the host of these gatherings, then it is completely up to you to make the request that no dogs come to your home. That is your prerogative. But be prepared for the dog owners not to visit. If it’s at someone else’s home, you can only mention your concerns to the hosts of the party and they make the decision of whether or not to make that call. No one has to say, “No pit bulls”; they can say ’”No dogs this year, please.” I suppose you could say that someone in the family has developed an allergy to dogs, but that’s up to you.

You have a choice here. You can keep the kids close to you at the party and tell them not to go near the dogs — or don’t attend. Just like when you arrive at the dog park and there are pit bulls there, you can decide whether or not you want to go in.

With grace and peace,

Diamond

Advice appearing in Dear Diamond is for entertainment only and does not reflect the views of Courier Publications or its editorial boards. This column is not intended to replace the services of medical, financial or legal professionals.

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