On October 24, 2014, 7year-old Logan Meyer of Hustisford, Wisconsin, was mauled to death by his parents’ Rottweiler. They had been training the animal to be a protection dog. The case resembles the killing of a boy in 1997 which led to second-degree murder charges. A woman named Sabine Davidson owned two Rottweilers that she was training in Schutzhund (German for “protection dog”), which includes protection dog training as well as other types of training. Her Rottweilers killed an 11-year-old boy as he was waiting for the school bus. She was convicted of second-degree murder. (Read the case at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/ks-supreme-court/1459039.html.)
At this point, prior to a trial, we do not know whether Logan’s parents were as irresponsible and callous as Sabine Davidson. The news reports have told us, however, that the boy was able to let himself and the dog outside the house where he was quickly killed. In other words, the child and the dog were left alone under circumstances where the boy was “in control” of the dog. This was worse than negligent. A child cannot control a Rottweiler, a pit bull, or any of the other large, powerful breeds that have killed in the recent past; furthermore, a child must not be left alone with a dog being trained for protection. The people who brought the dog into the household, trained it in protection work, and left the boy alone with it need to be held accountable. It seems clear that this was worse than negligence — their conduct seems to have demonstrated a conscious disregard for the safety of this child.
In recent years, family dogs which were bred, trained or known to fight have killed many of their owners, and the children and parents of their owners, as well as innocent neighbors. The number of deaths by fatal dog maulings has reached record highs. Pit bulls are the Number 1 canine killer of humans. The fatalities and maimings by pit bull type dogs and other fighting dogs are always the result of two factors: bad dog and irresponsible dog owner. “Irresponsible” includes denying the violent propensities of these dogs.
The time has come to enact breed specific laws AND people specific laws. A breed specific law is one that applies to certain breeds and not others. Pit bull type dogs and other fighting breeds require legislation that protects not only the community but the owners of these animals. Among other things, these dogs should not be bred freely. People specific laws are laws that prevent certain people from owning a pit bull or any similar breed (i.e., minors, convicted drug dealers, convicted felons, convicted dog fighters, people convicted of violating the leash laws, people whose dogs have been adjudicated as being dangerous on a dog-by-dog basis, and people whose dogs have bitten children).
Let us hope there will be a trial for the parents of Logan. They will need to be cleared if there are extenuating circumstances; the public needs to see convictions if there are not. Convictions hopefully would put some fear into the hearts of those who want the kind of animals that are intended to make the rest of us feel afraid.