According to a recent news report, American actor Ving Rhames’ caretaker died after being mauled by Rhames’ pet bull mastiffs at the former’s Los Angeles home.
A similarly tragic incident in Marikina City a week or so ago failed to elicit much ink in the dailies or airtime in TV but brings into sharper focus recent concerns on the purported aggression of the increasingly-popular bulldog breeds.
Kane, a four-year old pit bull terrier, without warning and apparent cause, attacked Stephany, a small child and daughter of the dog’s owner. Mrs. Zenaida Sebastian came to her granddaughter’s rescue and was fatally mauled by the dog. When help came, the dog’s jaws were still locked on the fatally-wounded victim, per an eyewitness radio report.
Pit bull owners claim that the breed is not intentionally bred for aggression. However, pit bulls have a deserved reputation for being fierce and tenacious fighters, highly tolerant of pain, and with a legendary “locking jaw” mechanism which supposedly allows it latch on to their victims and wear them down.
Animal rights advocates maintain that killer dog attacks are directly attributable to irresponsible owners, rather than any inherent defect in the dog or its breed. Pit bulls are said to be particularly popular with irresponsible owners, who see these dogs as a symbol of status or machismo. Pits have recently been associated with the “hip-hop” or “gangster” subculture in the U.S., and this has made them even more attractive to Filipino youngsters longing to copy their American counterparts. For good or ill, they are specially attuned to their owners, are known to be intelligent, friendly and easily trained. However, once the novelty of owning a pit bull wears off, they may be subject to neglect and lack of adequate supervision. Pit bulls are unsuitable for lazy or indifferent owners. Even worse, those few who see them as an extension of their machismo may move on to dog fighting.
Some U.S. pet groups paint this as a societal problem, and blame rap and hip-hop music and the internet for glamorizing the pit bull as the ultimate macho accessory. Thus, defenders of Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback who was recently indicted for being part of a dog fighting ring, claims that it was popular American culture that made him to do the things he did. Bullshit. Ultimately, it is the owner’s responsibility to be in total control of his dogs and to provide the love and care they deserve.
As for Kane, he is now in the custody of the city vet and, under the Animal Welfare Act, may well be put to sleep for being a menace to humans and other animals.