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Our Opinion: Dealing with killer dogs

March 27, 2002

It is only a matter of time before we have a fatal or near fatal dog-mauling in our county.

Imperial Valley residents seem to have a particular affection for "tough" dogs. Drive around residential blocks in the Valley and you will see pit bulls, rottweilers and other dogs with a propensity toward aggression behind fences, sometimes flimsy fences, sometimes flimsy fences on streets on which children walk to school.

If dogs such as these ever get out and kill or maim someone, we won't blame the dogs. While some dogs may have a predisposition to be fighters, killer dogs are made, not born. We would bet even presa canarios, if brought up in the hands of loving and knowledgeable dog owners, could be sweet pooches, not the "monster dogs" that killed a woman in San Francisco last year. Although, experts in that trial have said some dogs have to be trained not to fight. Still, we know plenty of pit bulls and rotties and other "guard dogs" who will protect their property and their human friends but are sweethearts otherwise.

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The owners of the dogs who killed the woman in San Francisco were convicted last week of charges in connection with the death of their neighbor, and rightly so. We hope that our local dog owners learn a lesson from that. They will be held responsible if the dogs they have trained to be mean go after innocent people. It has happened here before. Kids and others have been mauled in our valley and we are lucky no one has been killed in recent years.

If your dog gets out and kills someone, jail time might follow, but a lifetime of guilt definitely will follow.

We see too many people, particularly young men, in this community who train their dogs to be mean. We even witnessed a staged dog fight recently on a busy street in El Centro.

What these people don't realize is that having a tough dog doesn't make the owner tough. Having a dog trained to fight is a danger to the neighborhood in which it lives, particularly because many large, young dogs can, if they really want to, scale the 6-foot fences behind which they are kept.

Dogs should be our friends and, if need be, our protectors. They shouldn't be trained killers. That is a lesson many of us need to learn.

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