Public Comment

Commentary; When Dog Attacks Become Personal Attacks

By Jill Posener
Friday June 01, 2007

Sally Tarver’s commentary “People Injured in Pit Bull Attack” is an example of a justifiable emotional response to a distressing situation, transforming into a nasty personal attack.  

When a dog is mauled or killed by another dog it is one of the most disturbing acts to witness. We have, especially in America, so anthropomorphized our dogs, so prettied them up, so created them in the image of “family members” that we forget where they came from. And that they do not have “human” responses.  

When my small 10-pound mutt, Roo, was badly mauled a year ago by a dog she knew and had been around with no previous incident, I blamed myself, of course.  

It’s natural when our child or animal is hurt to feel we could have done more to protect them. The dog that attacked was a shepherd mix. Roo, a year later, acts as if nothing ever happened, and I hold out the hope to the Tarver’s that Floy’s emotional recovery will be the miracle out of this trauma.  

The dog this time, Buster, is a dog with no previous history of attack. He was in a foster home, whose experience with dogs and with pitbulls (a loose definition of a certain breed and cross breed type) in particular, is exemplary. He was on leash on the sidewalk. With no prior history, why would a dog be forced to wear a muzzle? He served a 10-day quarantine at the animal shelter, the foster home contributed $2,000 towards Floy’s medical expenses. Could they have done more? Perhaps. Are the pages of the local paper the place to discuss that? I don’t think so. 

Nothing diminishes the anguish felt by everyone concerned. But surely it is unnecessary to generate such unbridled hostility towards good people. Or to heighten the sense of fear we, as a community, feel towards this group of dogs. Buster was a shelter dog, one of millions abandoned in our shelters every year across the United States. The type of dog most abandoned in America? The pit bull cross. The type of dog most frequently killed in shelters? You guessed it. 

Encouraging education around dog ownership issues, funding and providing easy access to vaccine and spay/neuter programs, and bringing new ideas to the table about how to raise a new generation of children who are neither afraid of dogs, nor treat them as disposable, will ensure a future more secure for everyone—Floy, Roo, the Tarver’s, Buster, shelter dogs and the amazing people who look after them.  



Berkeley resident Jill Posener is an artist and photgrapher.