County takes on dangerous dogs; city might follow

The Robeson County Board of Health last week took action that might — just might — take a modest bite out of what we see as the problem of pit bulls and pit bull mixes that have in recent years left some people dead and others maimed in our county.

By the time you read this, the Lumberton City Council might have taken a much more aggressive approach in dealing with these animals.

The Health Board adopted a policy that forbids the adoption of any pit bull or pit bull mix — an eye test will have to suffice — that is deemed to be 4 months old or younger, meaning they are too young to be spayed or neutered and vaccinated against rabies, therefore precluding the possibility that a new owner doesn’t meet those responsibilities. Those animals will still be adopted to out-of-state rescue groups, but absent that lifeline, will almost certainly be euthanized.

We find that sad, but necessary.

We don’t believe it will put a big dent in the population of these animals that, despite protestations of their owners, are the most likely canines to cause carnage if you believe black-and-white numbers, which we do.

We think that a policy expected to be discussed by the Lumberton City Council during a policy meeting today that could be approved on Monday holds much more promise when it comes to protecting the public. The policy is modeled after one in Edenton that requires that all dogs be registered with the city, and that owners of dogs that are deemed dangerous— American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American bulldogs, under Edenton’s ordinance — would have to show proof of liability insurance and adhere to stringent standards in terms of keeping the animals confined.

We know there would be dog owners who would skirt the law, but at least a law would be in place to deal with them. Such a policy, when given time, would mean fewer dangerous dogs in the community.

As with guns, we blame the owner, and not the dog. But there is ample reason to target pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

According to, during 2015 there were 34 people killed by a dog in the United States, and 28 times — 82 percent — the animal was a pit bull or pit bull mix, the the result of their powerful jaws and ability to cause damage. But pit bulls make up only about 6 percent of the dog population.

The next deadliest dog, rottweilers, killed just three people in this country last year.

In Robeson County, pit bulls or mixes have been responsible for two deaths in recent years, and a woman lost an arm to one of the animals during an attack last month.

We are glad to seek the Health Board take some action to limit the number of these animals among us, and hope the City Council today and Monday night follows with action that we believe is necessary to protect people not only from these dogs, but from owners who are irresponsible.