Pit Bulls a Problem in North Minneapolis

Be glad I used this image and not something yielded from a search of "pit bull attack" on Google Images.

I grew up with cats. One, a vicious old Calico who expressed displeasure by peeing on things and the other, Sadie, a grey cat with a history of violence to which she adds new incidents every day. Caring for cats means keeping them fed and changing the litter box now and then. It’s a different ball game dogs — one I’m not sure I’m ready for.

Our good friend Kacy, who lives right above us, owns a Pomeranian-Pampillion mix, aptly named Gizmo. I like Gizmo because he’s not a lumbering, drooling, clumsy dog like a Retriever or Labrador. I’m sure Kacy would argue he’s got plenty of bad habits, but we’d agree Gizmo isn’t threatening. My girlfriend has taken him on walks around a lake the past few days and aside from drawing the attention of 50-something dog lovers, he poses little threat in public.

That’s the kind of dog I want. Small. Manageable. Portable. Obedient. Not a pit bull.

Interesting story in this week’s City Pages — North Minneapolis is overrun with pit bulls. (Read it here.) We’ve got anecdotal evidence from our neighborhood in Northeast, where we see pit bulls taking their owners for a walk on a day-to-day basis. True that it’s the ultimate alpha dog, but consider these frightening facts (from the article):

  • “Dogs in North Minneapolis are morelikely to be killed by police than canines from any other part of the city. In the past five years, Minneapolis cops have killed at least 113 dogs; 81 of them—72 percent—were killed in North.”
  • “Dogs from north Minneapolis face a greater risk of being shot than people. If they live in the North neighborhoods, dogs are more likely to be killed by police than their owners are to be murdered.”
  • Minneapolis cops are trained to kill dogs in two circumstances: if a dog is severely hurt and Animal Control isn’t there to help, or if the dog is a threat to the officer or others. According to Sgt. William Palmer of the Minneapolis Police, 99.9 percent of the time it’s the latter. “When I was on SWAT one year, we killed 12 in one month.”

The story — a home run by writer Erin Carlyle — also features a 300-pound postal worker who was mauled by two pit bulls on his daily route; a family with three young girls in Jordan who are terrified by their neighborhood full of pit bulls and two dog owners who’ve continually failed to keep their dogs from harming people.

Beth wants a dog, so the other night, she browsed through several websites to see photo after photo of pit bulls available for adoption. One site — 4 Luv of Dog Rescue — inexplicably writes its adoption ads from the dog’s perspective. Please adopt me! I’m great with children. I might be a little rough around the edges, but the past is the past, right? I’m hoping that’s not a sales strategy. With pit bulls, I don’t think you want owners who would fall for sentimental doggy prose. That’s going to cost someone a toddler.

I’m not ready for a dog. Someday, but not yet. I don’t want to coordinate caretakers whenever Beth and I leave town. I’m not ready to pick up poop when it’s (-23) degrees out. Shots, pet insurance, obedience school — you can’t mess that stuff up and it doesn’t pay for itself.

I do know this: When I’m ready to own a dog, it won’t be a pit bull. Furthermore, when I’m ready to start a family, it won’t be in a neighborhood where pit bulls roam. It’s not that I don’t trust pit bulls. I realize we live in a world where people are coaxed by online ads with clever dog literature, believe themselves to be humanitarians for rescuing a dog, and before you know it, they’re getting yanked down the block by their pit bull, who is clearly running the show.

I think I’ll pass on that for now.