Seattle’s dog fight

Yesterday the Seattle P-I reported on efforts to ban pit bulls in the city. The council declined to pursue the matter for the moment, but dog owners are getting organized and gearing up for what they see as a likely battle down the road. The odds just turned further against them. As if on cue, two pits attacked a 71-year-old Seattle woman the same day the article ran. Fortunately, she’s recovering.

With high-profile attacks like this one, it’s tempting to run the pit bulls out of town. A similar overreaction a few years ago led to Denver killing 1,600 dogs and banning ownership within the city. But there’s not much evidence in favor of breed-specific legislation. It penalizes innocent dogs and owners instead of directly addressing negligence. It also misses the point that the breed that seems most dangerous at a given time depends a lot on how popular it is. A few decades ago, Huskies, German Shepherds, and Saint Bernards would have been bearing the brunt of these laws — all breeds that owners desiring aggressive dogs can still legally purchase under a ban on pits. Lots of details are in my earlier post on the subject.

And as always, don’t panic. As animal behaviorist Temple Grandin reminds us:

…it’s really not necessary to be hyper-vigilant about the genetics of dog bites when you’re choosing a pet. Serious dog bites are so rare that from 1979-1994 only .3 percent of the U.S. population got bitten badly enough to seek medical care. When you consider the fact that just about everyone in America who isn’t living in a prison or a nursing home has fairly regular exposure to dogs, that’s a very small number.

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Sunday dog blogging

Richard Posner makes an interesting point about a court’s refusal to honor Leona Helmsley’s bequest of a full $12 million* to her dog, Trouble:

As I said, a bequest for a specified animal that greatly exceeds any conceivable estimate of what the animal needs to be as happy as it can be cannot be rationally altruistic, so perhaps the authority that the Uniform Trust Act confers on trustees to cut back such bequests to reasonable limits is justifiable–and for the additional reason that excessive wealth actually endangers an animal, since once it dies the money will go to residuary legatees; and killing an animal is not considered murder (though it can be a lesser crime) and is easier to arrange and conceal than killing a human being. Expensive security precautions have in fact been taken for the protection of Mrs. Helmsley’s dog. These concerns do not attend a bequest for a large class of animals.

On that note, here’s a few photos for Sunday dog blogging, an event I rarely get to participate in. The first two were taken by my sister, Casey, of our tennis ball-loving dog, Peekay, both of whom left Michigan just before I got here:

Peekay
The approach…

Peekay
… and the leap!

And here’s Chance the golden retriever entreating for less blogging, more playtime.
Chance the golden retriever

* $12 million. Not $12. Thanks, Ben!

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