Human behavior complicates making laws governing dangerous dogs

By: Bill Smith - Contributing columnist

As the county continues to develop an ordinance dealing with dangerous breeds and specific dogs, I think a couple recent examples underscore the real problem area.

A babysitter in Salisbury strapped a 4-month-old baby into a car seat, placed the seat on the floor in the living room and ran outside to clear the car so she could install the seat. While doing this task she heard her mother yell out and returned to find her 4-year-old pit bull/boxer mix dog had mauled the child. The child subsequently died and the dog was euthanized. The dog had no history of violent behavior and no reason has been found for the attack.

In High Springs, Fla., a woman left her 2-year-old grandson in the backyard with two dogs belonging to another family member and went into the house to get food for the animals. She heard a commotion behind a building in the yard and went out and found the boy had been attacked. He subsequently died. The dogs were an American Staffordshire mix and a Lab mix. After the 10-day observation period, they will be euthanized. The dogs ordinarily stayed in the house, and no reason for the attack was identified.

So you get the common theme here? It’s the actions of the adult humans that is in question not the breed of the dog or the history of the animal’s behavior. That’s what makes a blanket rule so difficult.

In a similar vein, a visitor to a zoo in Arizona wanted to get a selfie with a black jaguar in the background. Doing what any normal person would do, she climbed over the restraining wall, got up against the fence and then just as she took the picture, the animal reached through the pen and grabbed her arm. The animal released the arm after being distracted. This is the second event involving this animal. After being questioned as to whether the animal was going to be euthanized, the zoo responded by saying it would never harm an animal based on human behavior.

There it is — neatly summed up. Animal attacks almost always have some human behavior or lack of human behavior at the crux.

Speaking of selfies, more people die from them than from shark attacks. Since 2011, 259 people have died while taking that self picture — most from drowning.

And on the state legislative front, not happy with having stuck in the Farm Aid Bill the right to purchase part of a cow so you can access raw milk, the legislature is now considering allowing raw milk to be sold commercially just like pasteurized milk. For many this may not seem like a big deal, but talk to the kids who went to Prospect School in 2001, or their families, and you will find out firsthand the effects of unpasteurized milk on children in particular. Hundreds were sick and some have permanent kidney destruction. Today’s society does not have the immunity that other generations had.

Hopefully, our local legislators will remember the largest e. Coli outbreak in the state and will vote to prevent it for the health reasons noted.


Bill Smith

Contributing columnist

Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Department of Health.

Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Department of Health.