I saw a dog-bit victim in the ER recently. She was about seven years old, and a truly beautiful child. While her family was visiting another, the host family Pit-Bull escaped his pen and immediately attacked her. She was bitten on the face, head and ear. Fortunately, the dog was immunized for rabies and the bites were relatively minor. A few stitches and some skin adhesive, and she was right as rain.

She was very brave, but her family was shaken. And rightly. A few more seconds and the dog might have reached for her trachea and carotid arteries, as aggressive dogs do. I might have been struggling for an airway in a crushed trachea, rather than closing a simple laceration from a bite. I might have been consoling a family rather than laughing and joking with a little girl about her bravery.

Folks, there are some dangerous dogs out there! I never understand the fascination with dogs like Pit-Bulls. I know, I know, it’s how they’re trained. But lets face it, no one is buying Labs or Golden Retrievers, Beagles or Collies because of their inherently aggressive nature. Some dogs are born for the hunt, or are naturally good guard animals. And if that’s their job, well I guess it’s OK as long as everyone is very attentive and diligent. Owners of those animals need to train them for obedience as well as aggression. Problem is, those owners aren’t doing that. And every year, people die; especially children.

I was reminded of the danger when I saw a news report about Michael Vick’s dogs, the ones that had been used in dog-fighting for sport. The persons involved were hoping to rehabilitate the dogs so that they could one day have families. All I could think was ‘you’ve got to be kidding!’ Those are deadly, dangerous animals. Anyone who would have one around their family is asking for tragedy. You’d be better off rehabilitating a live RPG round or fragmentation grenade.

What happens with fighting dogs like that is cruel and horrible. Animals should not be subjected to that sort of life. But once they have been, I submit that they should be put down, in order that no person has to suffer from their violent power.

The dog that bit my patient was going to be put to sleep. It may be that the dog was taught to attack. It may be that it was naturally defensive and aggressive. But however sad it may be, putting the dog down is the right thing.

These are animals, not humans, and we need to remember that. It’s best to realize and accept that reality and the unfortunate necessity of killing the animals, rather than to be reminded of it while standing by a dead child, listening to the mourning of grief-stricken parents.

Edwin