The victim isn't the only one who survives a dog attack: so does the vicious dog, in most cases. Animal control departments too often lack the resources, the legal authority, and/or the willpower to rid our communities of killer dogs.
For example, the Knox County, Tennessee animal control department failed to take away a gang of pit bulls that the department had declared to be vicious after the dogs attacked a police car, threatened an animal control officer, and routinely were allowed to run free. As a result of the department's inaction (as well as the dog owner's refusal to comply with the department's order), 21-year-old Jennifer Lowe was savagely mauled to death. Her community members suffered from the department's negligence, not only because they had to endure the dogs as well as the memories of her horrific killing, but because Knox County had to pay wrongful death compensation to her family, after Attorney Wayne Ritchie Jr. and I filed a wrongful death case on their behalf.
That's only one example. WPXI (Target 11) Investigator Rick Earle now has released data showing that:
- Of the 165 dogs declared dangerous in Pennsylvania in 2008, 70 were euthanized.
- But in 2009, only 50 of the 163 dangerous dogs were put down.
In other words, dangerous dogs and their dangerous owners are winning the battle for the streets in that state. The WPXI article quotes a Pennsylvania dog owner saying, "I have a Chow/Ridgeback mix I brought back from New Orleans who mauled 5 to 6 people. Most would euthanize a dog like that, but I'm not your average pet owner."
As these dogs mate and proliferate, those of us who are "average" pet owners will see greater risk to our children, greater prejudice against our "average pet," and rising insurance costs. All to protect dogs that bite, that maul "5 to 6 people." One must wonder why the rest of us must continue to endure dangerous dogs in our communities.
How long — how many lives like Jennifer's — how many court cases and news reports will it take before citizens demand stricter laws and zero-tolerance enforcement?