A young man walking his dogs in the Harbison area hears whimpering. He investigates and finds a man burning a puppy. This young pit bull puppy was burned over 90 percent of her body; her collar had melted into her skin with no tags and no microchip.
Fortunately, we have a very supportive sheriff, Leon Lott, who vowed to find the person who committed this horrible crime, and his team achieved this goal within 48 hours.
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We have got to do something as a state to protect our animals against abuse. Many people start with animals and move to abusing and torturing humans. There should be zero tolerance for such cruel and inhumane acts against animals and children. One strike of abuse resulting in the death of a child or animal should result in a 25-year sentence.
While we don’t want any animal abused, pit bulls are preyed upon and victimized more than other breeds. They are the preferred breed for dog fighters, they are the hardest breed to adopt because many families are afraid to place them with their children and small animals, so they are dying at a higher percentage than any other breed of dog in shelters across the nation. These dogs are products of their environment, and if raised properly, they are exceptional companion pets and family members.
Every time we mention breed-specific legislation, pit-bull lovers get outraged. Yet no one seems to have a good solution for protecting this breed. Pawmetto Lifeline certainly doesn’t have bully breed lovers knocking our doors down to foster or adopt. Why? Because they already have several in their home.
There has to be a way to protect this innocent breed that man created. Yes, I said protect — not discriminate.
One way to do this would be to require spaying and neutering for all pit bulls unless the owner is a professional breeder with a kennel license and the dogs compete professionally on the show circuit at least twice a year. (No dog fighter or backyard breeder wants an altered pit.) If pit bull advocates worry that criminals will simply adapt another breed, we could extend the requirement to all aggressive breeds. Another idea: Law enforcement should consider using pit bulls as canine officers; they are loyal, strong and very obedient — to the point of risking their lives fighting until the death in a dog ring.
What happened to this innocent puppy was a heartless, calloused crime and deeply disturbing. Addressing this grotesque criminal act must be a stepping stone to protecting all animals against abuse. To that end, we need our legislators and city and county council members to enact strong laws that can and will be enforced.
We are not asking that pit bulls be banned or further marginalized. We are asking that laws be put in place to protect this breed until qualified pet advocates can agree on proper sanctions to protect them.
We have special laws and government-funded programs for children who are at higher risk than other children. Why are we not willing to protect this breed?
We must act on behalf of all innocent animals who have suffered due to the touch of a cruel hand, but specifically the nameless pit bull puppy who endured that tragic and painful death in our own community?
Ms. Wilkinson is CEO of Pawmetto Lifeline; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.