In Memphis, Tennessee, law enforcement officials have decided to do nothing about a five-year-old boy who was horribly injured after being attacked and dragged down the street by a pit bull. The dog had jumped over or squeezed past its owner’s inadequate fence. (To see the fence and the video of the TV news story, click here.)
Rather than prosecute the dog owner, authorities responded by giving the press misleading information which was repeated without scrutiny. The truth of the matter is that City of Memphis Ordinance § 5-60 makes it illegal for dog owners to allow dogs to be loose on the property of the dog owners unless the dogs are confined by a fence.
If the authorities so choose, they are entitled to prosecute this dog owner and all others whose dogs get loose because of inadequate fences. Any dog can squeeze through the gap in the fence shown in the TV news footage, linked above. Pit bulls can scale fences that are six to eight feet high, a fact that is well known to pit bull owners, evidenced by the high number of Internet posts about such instances. So this incident should result in a prosecution if authorities are interested in keeping the streets of Memphis safe.
Switching to the big picture, it is unacceptable for law enforcement authorities to shirk their duty to eliminate dangerous dogs. In 2007 Tennessee had the second highest number of dog attacks that resulted in the death of a human being. (Click here for more.) Most of the victims of dog maulings are children and elders. (Click here to download the 18-page article, and then refer to p. 1733.)
The brutality will not be curbed unless the authorities become more aggressive against the owners of vicious dogs.