We live in a society today where people not only refuse to take responsibility for their wrongdoing, they are hurriedly trying to pass the buck to someone else. What happened to the days when people like Harry Truman used to say, “The buck stops here”?
Perhaps Angela Rutledge of Georgia isn’t familiar with Harry Truman’s famous quote. Perhaps Ms. Rutledge hasn’t heard of negligence and child endangerment either. In fact, I wonder if Ms. Rutledge feels she bears any personal responsibility at all for the attack by the “family” “pit bull” that left her 2-year-old son Beau Rutledge mauled to death on April 24, 2013, while she just stepped out of the room to use the bathroom.
Yet Ms. Rutledge is eager to push a ban in the state of Georgia for what she calls “vicious breeds.” Ms. Rutledge told CBS Atlanta that,
“My focus is humanity. That is my number one focus . . . This is a public safety issue rather than a poor choice of dog issue . . . “
If Ms. Rutledge’s number one focus is humanity, then why doesn’t she push for legislation, like dangerous dog (owner) laws, that police all dogs and all dog owners the same, instead of myopically focusing on one or a handful of dog breeds? Dangerous dog (owner) laws have proven efficacy; breed-specific legislation (BSL) in any form has historically been inefficacious and has not kept communities safer.
Indeed, breed-specific legislation (BSL) by any other name — even “vicious breeds ban” — would smell just as rotten and dirty as it always does, which is why I marvel at the ingenuity of the radical animal rightists (and yes, BSL is the brain child of radical animal rights groups as a means to end domestic animal ownership) who continue to use the dead, and their relatives apparently, to push for their impotent, rights-negating legislation. They are nothing if not ingeniously wicked . . . and elitist and racist.
Do these radicals care that the breed-specific legislation they push via their proxies doesn’t make communities safer? No, of course not! They don’t care about humans. They don’t even care about domesticated animals given that they’re trying to legislate their extermination, BSL being only one of many ways they go about it.
Regardless, we, as in those with an Internet connection, have ample evidence that BSL in any form doesn’t work. For instance, Denver and Miami-Dade County, both of which have had “pit bull” bans for decades, have only seen dog bite-related hospitalizations shoot up since passing BSL, and an article came out just last week illustrating how easy it is to purchase a “pit bull” in Miami-Dade despite their being outlawed.
In fact, breed-specific legislation not only doesn’t make communities safer, it actually puts communities at worse risk for dog attacks because while a typically understaffed Animal Control is trying to enforce an unenforceable breed ban or breed restrictions, other irresponsible dog owners of different breeds can fall through the cracks. And as cities like Winnipeg have shown, when a city passes BSL ostensibly to crack down on crime, criminals either ignore the BSL or simply switch to owning and abusing other breeds of dog.
And while Ms. Rutledge may believe that only so-called “vicious breeds” maul infants to death, little Harry Harper, an 8-day old infant, was fatally mauled by a Jack Russell Terrier in the U.K. at around the same time as Beau Rutledge. Neglect is neglect. It doesn’t matter what breed of dog a negligent parent, guardian, or caretaker owns.
Undoubtedly breed is not the x-factor in fatal dog maulings of children. Negligence often is the real x-factor in fatal dog maulings, and BSL isn’t going to change that as evidenced by the fact that a little boy, a toddler, was bitten just last month by an abused, and constantly-chained so-called “pit bull” in Springfield, Missouri where they’ve had a breed-specific law since 2006. Not so surprisingly, the dog that bit the Springfield toddler was not registered with the city as required by their breed-specific law.
In November 2013 in Chicago, an adorable little toddler, JahNiyah White (pictured below),
was fatally mauled, just like Beau Rutledge, because the little girl’s grandfather wasn’t watching her. Did authorities call for a “vicious breeds ban”? No, they sent the Department of Child and Family Services to investigate the little girl’s grandfather for negligence.
One blogger precisely summed up the dog lobby’s feelings about the totally avoidable fatal mauling of little Jah’Niyah when she wrote,
I have said before that whenever I hear of these incidents, I find it totally gut-wrenching, not only because they are without exception most horrendous events, but also because I know as a dog trainer that the risks were well-known and predictable, and the situation was totally avoidable.
After noting how accounts of JahNiyahs attack varied, she concluded,
. . . inconsistencies in reports are one reason that we need these events to be thoroughly investigated . . . It is time that we investigated the whole context of serious dog attacks and fatalities, in order to take strong preventative action, based on a sound knowledge of the whole context of dog behaviour and the responsibilities of dog ownership.
In the meantime, keep dogs and toddlers securely separated.
She is spot on to argue that dog maulings, particularly of children, need to be investigated so that instead of incorrectly focusing on breed, we focus instead on the human who was responsible. But because it’s easier and because it helps them escape scrutiny, people, particularly those who were there and could’ve prevented the tragedy, point to the dog or the breed as if its to blame, especially if that dog can pass as a “pit bull” (though “pit bull” isn’t even a breed).
Yet how preposterous it is to put the onus on a mere animal, who is ruled by instinct over higher thought, when law enforcement and lawmakers should instead take a hard look at the human who was responsible for the care and protection of a child. Yes, accidents happen, but when you leave a child alone with a dog of any breed, there is a reasonable expectation that that parent, guardian, or caretaker knew or should have known that the child was at risk.
There are of course risks beyond leaving a child unattended with a dog. For instance, if a caretaker leaves the room for even a moment, a toddler, who can crawl great distances in a short amount of time, can stick their finger in an electrical outlet, can fall down the stairs, can choke on something they put in their mouth, etc.
If a child electrocutes themselves, do we ban electricity? No, that would be absurd. Instead, we use child safety plugs in electrical outlets, put child proof locks on cabinets and toilets, put baby gates across stairways, and ensure that there is nothing a child has within his or her reach that they can choke on. So if parents know all these safety measures and a responsible parent employs these safety measures, why should the responsibility fall to a dog to not hurt a child, when it is the caretaker’s responsibility to ensure that child’s safety?
So if you wonder why the dog lobby is losing patience with parents, et al, who push BSL merely to escape scrutiny for the dog mauling/neglect of their child, it’s because they’ve obliterated our ability to feel any sort of sympathy for them by refusing to take responsibility for their actions, passing the buck instead to responsible dog owners and their innocent dogs.