What’s to be done about the pit bull men­ace?

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS -

Pit bulls are back in the news, as they of­ten are. Two pit bulls, roam­ing with­out a leash, have at­tacked a woman walk­ing in Ti­tahi Bay. They are now in the pound while their fu­ture is de­cided.

There have been other sto­ries of vi­cious dog at­tacks in Porirua re­cently.

There’s been a spate of pit bull at­tacks around New Zealand. A 2-year-old Christchurch boy was mauled by a pit bull on April 8 and the fol­low­ing day a 7-year-old boy from South Auck­land was badly wounded, again by a pit bull. Those and other cases this month have led to re­newed calls for dan­ger­ous dogs, es­pe­cially pit bulls, to be banned.

Of course, it’s not that sim­ple. For one thing: what is a pit bull? Does a pit bull cross count? Amer­i­can pit bull ter­rier, Amer­i­can stafford­shire ter­rier, stafford­shire bull ter­rier and Amer­i­can bull­dog are all of­ten lumped in un­der the ‘‘pit bull’’ la­bel.

And would a ban be fea­si­ble? Would the own­ers of pit bulls be forced by leg­is­la­tion to have their dogs de­stroyed, a sort of mass ex­ter­mi­na­tion? Be­fore pit bulls en­tered New Zealand, the Govern­ment was im­plored to pro­hibit them be­ing bred here. The sus­pi­cion re­mains now that the ge­nie is out of the bot­tle on that one.

Be­sides, some own­ers will tell you their pit bulls are lovely an­i­mals and not dan­ger­ous. It is per­haps a pity that such dot­ing own­ers are not show­er­ing other dogs, with­out the same at­tack­ing in­stincts, with their love. How­ever, that’s the way it is and un­less dra­co­nian steps are taken at govern­ment level, that’s how it will re­main.

Yet we keep com­ing back to the haunt­ing images of tod­dlers’ faces be­ing ripped apart by pit bulls. The dogs can be so fiercely de­ter­mined that they sim­ply can­not be prised away from their vic­tim.

It’s a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion and po­lice and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties strug­gle with it.

How much onus should fall on coun­cils to en­sure their streets are not be­ing made more dan­ger­ous by packs of dogs? That vig­i­lance could be ex­tremely time­con­sum­ing and costly.

As it is, Porirua City Coun­cil does not do call­outs about wan­der­ing dogs af­ter 4.30pm. Is it time for that pol­icy to change? But would res­i­dents be happy to foot the bill for yet more costs, per­haps in the way of an­other rates rise?

There’s no sim­ple so­lu­tion, but one thing is cer­tain: it’s grim news when yet an­other pedes­trian mind­ing their own busi­ness is sav­aged by a pit bull.

* What do you think? Should pit bulls be banned? Write to ed­i­tor@kmananews. co.nz.

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