Require Owners To Control Dogs

Too many dog owners understand they need to take good care of their canine friends – but forget other responsibilities that go with pet ownership. One is preventing dogs from attacking human beings or other animals.

During the past few weeks, three dog attacks, all involving animals police identified as pit bulls, have occurred in Wheeling. In one, a 10-year-old girl was injured badly. She required surgery on her face and body Thursday.

In at least two of the cases, the animals’ owners were in violation of a city ordinance requiring that certain breeds of dogs, including pit bulls, be registered with the city and kept under control by their owners.

While we do not necessarily agree with ordinances that target specific breeds of dogs rather than pets’ behavior, the law is the law. In Wheeling, the ordinance was enacted in response to dog attacks in the past, in the hope of reducing the number of such incidents.

The dog that mauled the 10-year-old girl was euthanized. Its owner was issued a citation for disobeying the vicious dog ordinance. Police said he was cited previously, on May 26, for allowing the animal to run unleashed on a public street.

Clearly, some owners of dogs covered under the city ordinance are aware of the rules – and have chosen not to follow them. Worse, they are not keeping under control dogs they have reason to believe may be dangerous.

That is not acceptable.

Again, we believe it is a mistake to automatically label dogs of certain breeds as vicious. But requiring owners of any animals that may be dangerous to keep them under control is simple common sense – and in Wheeling, it’s the law.

Violators should be punished severely, to deter others from placing neighbors and friends at risk of attack.