The Solesky Trial
So I spent my birthday in court of all places! Not because I had done anything wrong, but because I have been following the Solesky trial which led to a ruling that all pit bulls and pit bull types are inherently dangerous dogs.
This has become a very personal case for me, not only because I work in animal welfare in a shelter that houses and adopts out pit bulls. But also because I have a pit bull. And I have an almost one-year-old son, who means the world to me.
I have long understood the human animal bond. I have had dogs my entire life and they have always been a huge part of it. But I would be heartbroken if anything ever happened to my child because of a dangerous dog. I would be just as upset if someone ever told me I couldn’t have my dog because of her breed. My dog has never hurt anyone but she is “dangerous” in Maryland because of what she is. I am so sad for what happened to this family, I can’t imagine going through what this family has gone through. I feel for the family… but also for all the families losing their dogs.
I think we should have laws requiring pit bulls to be vaccinated and spayed and neutered. I think the Maryland-DC-Virginia area has a pit bull overpopulation problem, as do many urban areas, that needs to be aggressively addressed. But not by calling them “dangerous” when many of them are loving family pets. This is a fact: the majority of dogs bites occur with unneutered male dogs, chained or tethered dogs, or unsocialized dogs, regardless of their breed…. not necessarily pit bulls.
The other aspect of this case that is extremely difficult to deal with is trying to identify what a “pit bull” is. I also have a personal experience with this. I adopted a dog in 2003; she was labeled a “pit bull mix” at the shelter. This was the breed I researched and thought I was adopting. Everyone agreed she looked like a pit bull (a very pretty one!) Out of curiosity I did a DNA test on her and she came back — to my surprise–as a Rottweiler!! Who would of thought?! How could I ever identify a pit bull if I couldn’t even identify my own dog! Either way, she is now 12 years old living her life out with a new baby brother and her pit bull (I think) sister. Whatever breed she is, I love her and my pit bull. They are my family.
What happened to the child in the Solesky case was a nightmare that no family should have to go through. As horrific as this was, should we condemn an entire breed based on this incident?
In my opinion, no.
Maureen Sosa is the Shelter Director for the Washington Animal Rescue League where she oversees all shelter operations. She joined the League in 2003.