Pit bulls are in the news again, and for the worst reason. A pit bull mauled its disabled owner to death -- the same dog that the city took away when it bit wheelchair-bound Terry Douglass and her nephew, and the same dog she fought to get back. Earlier this year, "Boosie" bit Douglass' nephew when he bent down to pick up some fallen food from the floor. The dog also bit Douglass. The city of Baltimore removed Boosie, but they gave the dog back to Douglass after vaccinating it for rabies because Douglass "was adamant in getting the dog back." But keep in mind, Douglass is wheelchair-bound because she has cerebral palsy. So whose fault is it that she was mauled to death by her dog?
Pit bulls already have a bad reputation -- and it's not entirely deserved. Pit bull owners will tell you that if you raise the dog right, it can be a gentle, loving companion. But when pit bulls attack, their sheer physical strength makes them especially dangerous.
I wish the city had considered the dangers when they gave Boosie back to Douglass. Vaccinating against rabies was apparently the least of their concerns. Some of Douglass' family members tried to convince the city not to return the Boosie. But Douglass had raised Boosie herself and trusted their bond -- even though he'd already violated that trust. And when she fell off her wheelchair, Boosie attacked her.
Boosie may have loved Douglass back, but there must have been some sort of trigger that made the dog want to attack whenever it saw a human being on the ground.
In retrospect it seems like the city health department should have anticipated this. They should have known better than to let a physically disabled woman keep a dog with a violent history. But maybe they just don't know enough about animal behavior to know that this tragedy was a real possibility.
Do you think the health department should have refused to give Douglass back her dog?
Image via ABC News