Fatal maulings by pit bulls – including the grisly death of a 12-year-old boy in San Francisco – have raised calls in California for breed-specific legislation to get the muscular, broad-jawed animals off the streets, reports USA Today. On June 3, Nicholas Faibish’s mother shut the sixth-grader in the basement to keep him away from the family’s two pit bulls while she ran errands. She returned to find her son dead, mauled when he came upstairs. The female dog was shot and killed by a police officer when she blocked access to the home; the male was led away by animal control officers.
Angry state legislators introduced a bill that would have allowed cities and counties to pass breed-specific legislation allowing an outright ban on the dogs, a distinction that is now illegal under state law. But dog owners and organizations quickly rallied. The proposed legislation was subsequently amended to impose breeding restrictions – but no ban. The bill is still under consideration. The California debate has been played out in communities across the country reacting to attacks by dogs that are sometimes fatal. Every year 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 800,000 seek medical attention and 386,000 require treatment in a hospital emergency room. About 12 people are killed each year, a number that has been constant in recent years. Denver, Miami and Cincinnati all ban pit bulls, the largest number of dogs involved in fatal attacks.