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Pit bulls in trouble again

May 10, 2013|By Carla Hall
  • A pit bull seized by Los Angeles County law enforcement authorities to determine whether it was among those that killed a woman in Littlerock. The dogs are being held at a Los Angeles County animal shelter in Lancaster.
A pit bull seized by Los Angeles County law enforcement authorities to determine… (Los Angeles Times )

It’s tragic that a woman was mauled to death by four pit bulls Thursday morning as she went for a walk in the Antelope Valley community of Littlerock. And if the circumstances around her attack prove to be as police suspect, it’s a reminder not that pit bulls are necessarily dangerous — they are not — but that irresponsible people train them in ways that make them dangerous.

Police found and seized eight dogs — six of them pit bulls — that they suspect may have been among the ones that killed the woman. They found the dogs on a property where they also discovered a marijuana-growing operation, and they arrested a man in connection with that.

Was he using the animals as vicious watchdogs guarding an illegal business? Police will continue to investigate. He certainly wouldn’t be the first or the last to do so. In December, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies went to an Adelanto warehouse looking for two pit bulls that had reportedly tried to attack people and found more than 1,800 marijuana plants growing in cargo containers.

For decades, pit bulls have been used not just for dogfighting — a felony in all 50 states — but as guard dogs trained to be aggressive toward people. Sometimes pit bulls are chained outside for hours on end to encourage their anger and aggression. It’s a horrible and inhumane way to treat pit bulls, and they are not watchdogs by nature. 

Pit bulls can be challenging dogs to own as pets. And not all can be pets. They should be temperament-tested, carefully raised and trained, and often kept away from other dogs or not taken to dog parks. With their powerful bites, when they do attack hard, they can cause severe or fatal injuries.

That said, there are thousands of pit bulls that are kept as loyal and loving pets without incident. I have reported on some of these animals, played with them and watched them interact with people and romp with other dogs in parks. (A friend and her husband have a 50-some-pound pit bull that thinks it's a lap dog and insists on jumping onto their dinner guests’ laps.)

Just as not all pit bulls should be pets, not all people should keep pit bulls as pets. Unfortunately, the Los Angeles County and city shelters overflow with pit bulls, the result of indifferent owners who don’t spay or neuter their dogs or keep them on a leash or in their houses or in secure yards.

As we come into the summer months, when more puppies and kittens tend to be born, no matter what kind of dog or cat you have, it should be neutered or spayed. In fact, that’s the law in the city of Los Angeles and in the county.

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