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What must be learned from Mickey the Pitbull's case

Mickey the Pitbull waits for death.
Mickey the Pitbull waits for death.
Michael Schennum, AP

By now, you have probably heard about Mickey the Pitbull, an Arizona dog that attacked four-year-old Kevin Vicente on February 20, 2014. Mickey was due to be euthanized for his behavior, but a campaign to save his life delayed his death sentence.

Instead of focusing on what should or should not be done in this case, and what it means about the people who want to save Mickey (some accusing them of regarding animal life higher than human life), for now let us pinpoint how exactly this came to be.

This unfortunate and sad situation could have been prevented, quite easily, as most dog attacks could. There are two factors involved here:

1) Lack of owner responsibility. As Cesar Millan says, “There is no such thing as a problem breed. However, there is no shortage of problem owners.” Dogs are not inherently aggressive or “bad”; they are animals with thousands of years of instinct in their blood. They must have owners who take responsibility. If you dig deeper into Mickey’s background, instead of immediately judging him because he is a Pitbull, you will find that Mickey was a neglected, untrained dog. His ignorant, callous owners left him permanently tied up outside. Viewing pictures of Mickey, you can tell that this dog was not treated properly. So whose fault is it that Mickey has behavior issues? When you get a dog, you take on the responsibility – a word that many people today do not understand the meaning of or care for – of training that animal. If you cannot properly care for and provide for that animal, including training him, then you don’t need to own one.

2) Lack of parental responsibility. Parents must teach their children how to respect and interact with animals, especially if they’re going to be around them. A child must learn that it is not okay to approach an unknown dog, in its own yard, and take its bone away – which is what happened in this case. A child must learn that they need to ask permission before petting a dog. And parents have to know the importance of being present when an animal and a child are in the same vicinity. You must never leave a child alone with an animal. Children are curious and push boundaries, and even the most well trained dog isn’t going to appreciate a child coming into his doghouse and getting in his face.

Those who are fighting to keep Mickey from being euthanized understand the above two points; they aren’t depraved, as they’ve been accused of being, and they certainly don’t lack regard for human life. They are, however, frustrated and fed up with how humans have come to care so little.

Little Kevin’s injuries are horrific and he will be healing for a long time. The owner of this dog should be held accountable for Mickey’s actions, because here’s the rub – and the very sad truth: When a dog has been neglected and abused and left untrained for so long, there’s often times little possibility of that dog coming back from the brink. When fighting dogs are found by rescues or humane societies, in almost every instance those dogs have to be euthanized, because they are no longer safe. But whose fault is that? Do you see how unfair it is to these creatures to be labeled violent, when it is actually the people that are supposed to be caring for them that are violent?

Furthermore, the breed discrimination going on must end. Educate yourself before making statements and judgments about which breed is “bad”. Did you know Pitbulls used to be termed the “nanny dog,” and reports of their supposed "inherent aggressiveness" only started in the past couple decades? Did you know, despite what you are hearing in the news everyday, that what is considered the friendliest dog – the Labrador Retriever – has the highest record of dog bites? If we were to ban every dog that had the potential to maul a child, we would have to ban every single breed of dog. Any dog could and would attack given the right (or wrong) circumstances – even your lovable little fluffy that you trust completely to not harm a fly.

Have mercy. Show compassion, to all living things. We were meant to tend this creation, to cherish it and nurture it. We were not meant to take innocents and turn them into monsters.

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