Baltimore’s first fatal dog attack since 1994 has prompted some City Council members to consider new restrictions on vicious canines, says the Baltimore Sun. Two-week-old Terry Allen Jr. died Friday when his mother’s pet pit bull knocked over his swing seat and attacked him. On Aug. 1, a 10-year-old boy survived a pit bull mauling in an East Baltimore alley.
Two years ago, the City Council defeated a ban on pit bulls by two votes. to Dixon. About two dozen places ban pit bulls, despite arguments from owners that the breed is not naturally vicious and becomes aggressive only when mistreated or poorly trained. A pit bull ban in Prince George’s County, Md., has resulted in reported bites by the animals dropping from 108 in 1996 to 30 so far this year.
Baltimore health commissioner Peter L. Beilenson, citing the proposed ban’s failure in 2001, said, “There are plenty of very nice pit bulls that will lap your face. Every time we had a pit bull hearing we had millions of people come out and talk about how their pit bull had saved their lives.”
A pit bull ban would not prevent attacks by other breeds. Health department statistics show mixed breeds were most often to blame in the 788 dog attacks reported in Baltimore last year, followed by pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds and chows.
One Baltimore lawmaker will propose making it illegal for adults to leave children age 5 and younger alone with an animal. “I wouldn’t leave a kid [alone] with a dog anywhere, even a 3- or 4-year-old,” Beilenson said. “I know there are millions of people who have family pets and they’ll read that and say, ‘What is he talking about?’ … I just think it’s courting danger.”