Updated: 6:47 p.m. Monday, May 12, 2014 | Posted: 9:51 a.m. Monday, May 12, 2014

Pit bulls: Bad dogs? Or bad owners?

Animal control officials around metro Atlanta confirmed pit bull attacks are up this year.
 
Channel 2 Action News started looking into it after months of constant reports about pit bulls running loose around neighborhoods and attacking.
         
The purpose of Craig Lucie's investigation was not to debate whether pit bulls and pit bull mixes are evil, or misunderstood.  That is a story that has been done over and over again, and people already have their opinions.  




 What Lucie wanted to find out is why have there been so many pit bull stories on the news this year.

Today on Channel 2 Action News at 5, Lucie digs into recent pit bull-related fatalities and talks to animal experts about why they think pit bull incidents are on the rise.
 
Eleven-year-old Hall County resident Amber Bergin is one of the people who was attacked this year.
 
"My top lip was hanging down to about my chin. I left a trail of blood down the road all the way to the house," Bergin said.
 
A quick search of the WSB-TV archives produced more than a dozen stories about pit bulls running loose around neighborhoods, attacking other animals and people.   
 
Four people have died.
 
Katie Morrison of Smiths Station, Alabama, died this month at Grady Hospital after a friend's pit bull attacked her.
 
In April, 17-year-old Davon Jiggets was running from a pit bull in Riverdale when a car hit and killed him.
 
"My son is dead because of this," said his mom, Alicia Jiggets.  "My son is dead and there's no replacing him."
 
Recently, while working another story, Lucie and his photographer had a close call when a pit bull mix, who was tethered to a tree, got loose.  They had to jump on the top of a car while the owner struggled to catch it.
 
Henry County Rabies Control Officer Vince Farah said his office has reported up to 30 cases involving pit bulls or pit bull mixes this year alone.  
He used an analogy when talking about different dog breeds.
 
"The other breed versus the bully breed, which pertains to pits, is the difference between a BB gun and an AK-47," Farah said. "When pit bulls attack, they do serious damage because of their nature.  They latch on and they shake, twist and turn without letting go."
 
Still, Farah, dog trainers and pit bull rescue groups all agreed, it's how the dog is raised.
         
Susie Aga from Atlanta Dog Trainer & Pet Resort in Milton told Lucie pit bulls were once regarded as the all-American dog.  She said, today, the dogs are overbred and owners don't interact with them enough.
 
"If you are going to use a dog to scare people away, then that's the mentality (of dog) you have," Aga said.
 
She also blamed too many owners for tethering their dogs, which can make them more aggressive, especially if they get loose.
 
"It causes a constant frustration build up.  They can't get to what they want," Aga added.
 
Rick Carpenter of the Friends to the Forlorn Pit Bull Rescue Group stressed it comes down to socialization.
 
"That's why these dogs are hurting people, because they have incredible frustration, they've been cooped. They are not socialized.  They are there because they look good," Carpenter said.
 
Lucie and WSB-TV photographer Jason Solowski drove around metro Atlanta and found pit bull and pit bull mixes chained up in many neighborhoods.  Some of the dogs appeared aggressive, some terrified, and some were running loose.
 
"If a dog is loose and unattended, then absolutely, you've left a weapon out," Carpenter said.  "You left a weapon out for someone to pick up."
 
Amber Bergin told Lucie she is still afraid of big dogs, but she doesn't blame the dog that attacked her.
 
"I had bad dreams because I was afraid something would happen to the dog.  And of course, they killed it anyway,” Bergin said.

 

 

 

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