We were glad to see recently that a 10-year-old girl from Batesburg-Leesville near Columbia is making progress in recovering from an attack by a vicious pit bull in which the dog almost tore her right arm off. She has undergone a series of operations, according to news reports, and could have been killed on the day of the attack if a deputy had not responded quickly and killed the dog. According to that same report, since November there have been six separate violent incidents in South Carolina involving pit bulls, including two in which the victims died and four others in which they were seriously mauled.
We have noted before that we don’t understand why people want to keep dogs that have a history of physical violence. We hear some dog lovers say that temperament is due to the way the dogs are kept, but such breeds, especially pit bulls, have a history of violence, and in many cases it has been bred into them for generations. “He (she) had never done anything like this before” is a common response from owners of vicious breeds who attack people.
Under current South Carolina law, owners of dangerous animals which attack and injure a human being can be found guilty of a misdemeanor upon a first offense and can be fined up to $5,000 or imprisoned for up to three years. A second offense can bring a felony conviction and imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of $10,000. We’d like to see those statutes toughened. After all, a child who is killed by a pit bull is just as dead as a child who is run over by a drunk driver or one who is shot by an armed robber during a home invasion, and the penalties for those crimes are far more stringent.
Dogs can be wonderful companions, and most are. But some are unpredictable and can become vicious without provocation. If people want to own such animals, they must pay a stiff price if those dogs injure or kill people.