March 25, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
Last month, Kevin Vicente, a 4 year-old boy was playing outside. His babysitter was close by. So was a pit-bull named Mickey. Kevin may have strayed too close to the pit-bull. His punishment? The dog attacked the boy. Kevin was lucky to come out of the attack alive. He suffered a broken jaw, a broken right eye-socket and bone as well as multiple abrasions, wounds and bleeding. He had to have multiple stitches and will now face years of reconstructive surgery to repair his still young and developing body and face. His mother has since had to quit her job to take care of him full-time.
Their insurance (of course) does not fully cover such injuries. They will be in debt for years to come. The attack has caused a national outrage. But not for the reason you may be thinking.
Following the attack, Maricopa County, Arizona animal control officials took the pit-bull captive. As is usual and lawful procedure after such an incident, the dog was to be “put down.” Yet, an employee at the Control Center, apparently showing sympathy for the pit-bull, posted that “Mickey” (the dog) was going to go “night-night.”
Dog lovers quickly unleashed their energy and determination to save the dog. They started a Facebook Page named “Save Mickey,” and poured money into a legal defense fund. For the dog’s attorney fees.
Now, after weeks of legal wrangling and injunctions to at least temporarily stop the “putting-down” of the dog the fate of this pit-bull is now in the hands of the Arizona Court system.
On the one side, you have the family of Kevin as well as an eye-witness (Guadalupe Villa) who claims it is pretty clear-cut. The dog without provocation attacked the little boy and once its incredibly powerful jaws got hold of him there wasn’t much anyone, including the owner could do.
On the other side, you have dog advocates who claim that it was the babysitter who was negligent. Allowing Kevin to stray too close to the naturally “protective” dog. They also assert that because he had been leashed up too long prior to the incident, he (the pit-bull) was overly aggressive.
In short, the folks who want to save the pit-bull say both the boy and the dog are victims. Ironically, both are struggling to get and stay healthy at this point.
There’s an old saying in the news world. When a dog bites a man that’s not news. If a man bites a dog, that’s news.
But what happens when a pit-bull bites a little boy? Who is to blame?
Well, here’s what we know for sure. Between 2005 and 2013, 285 Americans were killed as a result of reported attacks from dogs. Of these fatal attacks, 176 were caused by pit-bulls. Nearly all the rest were caused by Rotweilers.
Many states have breed specific laws or ordinances. The top breeds that are declared “dangerous” or “dangerously aggressive” and must be restricted by various means include; pit-bulls, Rotweilers and Doberman-Pinschers.
Of all of these breeds, pit-bulls are often considered the most dangerous due to their astounding jaw strength and ability to tear through bone and flesh with ease.
Yet, in many areas dog-lovers have fought back, seeking to ease or rescind any such restrictions or banning of these specific breeds. They claim that such dogs are misunderstood and are only “bad” if their owner is “bad” or trains these dogs to be true attack dogs.
Still. I’ve encountered a few aggressive, nasty, foul-tempered Chihuahuas in my day. And other than being annoyed I came away with no other long-term damage.
A few years back I was sitting on my porch with friends and family. No party. No noise. No red capes being flouted in any animal or (pit) bull’s face. Yet a neighboring pit-bull came bounding across the lawn and started to growl and lunge at us. He bore down in particular to a baby in a crib. We grabbed the baby and held it aloft. After a few very frightening seconds, its owner came to the porch. he grabbed the dog and apologized, saying he didn’t know “what came over” the dog and that “he never did this before.”
Of course, it only takes one time, doesn’t it?
Yet, is the dog to blame? Does the dog deserve to go “night-night?”
Look, I have very little sympathy for adults who should know better and who do things like jump into the area or cage of a tiger or a bear at a zoo. This was the case not too long ago at the San Diego Zoo. Teens thought it would be a “hoot” to rile up a bear. So they climbed above a protecting wall and jumped in the area. So, the bear being, you know, a bear, attacked the predator. The idiot was lucky to survive, albeit with serious injuries. The bear though was “put-down.” This didn’t make sense to me. The bear was just reacting instinctively to provocation. It just so happens that when a bear reacts its power is incredibly dangerous to humans, especially those humans armed only with a t-shirt that says “I’m with stupid” and flip-flops.
But then wasn’t the pit-bull just doing what it does instinctively?
And if so, can we run the risk that it will happen again?
Finally, this story has also taken a racial tone as it seems so many stories do in our country. Many are wondering if there wouldn’t be more outrage over poor Kevin’s injuries if the family wasn’t Hispanic and from a less than wealthy family. Some wonder why we seem to often place a higher value on animal life than on our fellow humans.
I have mixed feelings about the fate of Mickey the pit-bull. I am still mystified as to why anyone feels the need to have naturally aggressive animals around kids and babies. And if they do why they aren’t properly leashed and restrained. But I also don’t assume the dog knows human-style right from wrong.
But mostly I am outraged. Kevin didn’t deserve to get attacked the way he did. And he deserves at the very least to have people outraged enough to start up his own Facebook page to help with his medical costs.
Below the Tiger are some links for more information about dangerous breeds of dogs and how best to ensure safety with proper care for your dog.
Cat-lovers, don’t even get me started.