Tuesday, September 6, 2011
By Paul Carpenter, from The Morning Call
With the Philadelphia Eagles' glorious regular season upon us, there already is a scent of victory in the air.
The Eagles' $100 million quarterback, Michael Vick, will forever be associated with a breed of dog that has recently enjoyed a series of triumphs over adversaries. They range from a pit bull attack on a carriage horse in the historic Old City section of Philadelphia to a splendid display of teamwork in which five pit bulls ripped a Philadelphia woman's face and head to shreds, killing her inside her home.
Other recent pit bull targets included a 10-year-old girl in Philadelphia; a suburban Delaware County woman who was attacked, along with two people who tried to help her, as she retreated into her own car; and a little Chihuahua, killed by a pit bull on a New Jersey beach set aside for people with pet dogs.
Last month, an Alburtis man pleaded guilty after siccing his monster on a stranger in Upper Milford Township while yelling, "My mom is Satan."
In Lancaster County, the owner of a pit bull was let off with probation and a $150 fine after her dog attacked and injured a 5-year-old boy in a park.
One gruesome incident occurred recently up in Schenectady, N.Y., where three pit bulls teamed up to blitz a woman as she walked down a street, tearing off her ears and much of her face, although she survived. The Mohawk Hudson Humane Society responded to that attack by announcing it was seeking a $25,000 grant to work on reversing the "bad rep" of pit bulls.
Similarly, when a pit bull attacked the carriage horse, Melissa Levy, executive director of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, said the dog is "actually a sweetheart." It must be that the horse was asking for it by cheering for the St. Louis Rams.
In any case, it seems the animal rights crowd holds some animals — Chihuahuas and horses, for example — in lower regard than pit bulls, and humans don't count at all, especially not the small children who seem to be a favorite target of the sweethearts.
The rash of recent pit bull attacks coincides with the football frenzy swirling around Vick, who has been elevated to heroic role-model status by Eagles owner Jeff Lurie. The only thing that matters to Lurie and Eagles fans is whether Vick can help bring victory over the Rams on Sunday.
Vick spent nearly two years in prison for running an illegal dogfighting ring. He has been more successful dodging other glitches, from his presence at a saloon shoot-em-up involving one of his dogfighting cohorts, to accusations in court that he knowingly infected a woman with genital herpes, to failure to pay child support. In the herpes lawsuit, settled for an undisclosed sum, Vick was accused of hiding his ailment by getting treatment under the alias "Ron Mexico," a name that shows up on number 7 jerseys worn by some fans. Boy, what class!
The message the Vick/Lurie team want to send young people: Don't worry, being a lowlife criminal and engaging in other reprehensible conduct is an excellent way to achieve fame and fortune. (Lurie, by the way, is a former Hollywood wheeler-dealer and educator who taught young people — are you ready for this? — social policy.)
Meanwhile, Vick and other pit bull fans can celebrate another form of victory. Nearly all suggestions for "breed specific" legislation to protect human beings, or for tougher controls on dogs that are obviously dangerous, have been crushed by the politically powerful animal rights lobby.
Any problem with pit bulls or similar breeds, the lobby keeps yelping, is not because of the innate traits of savagery bred into these dogs for centuries. It's only because bad owners force the lovable dogs to be nasty, or because the victims did something wrong to provoke the attacks.
Still, some of us fret over statistics.
The http://www.dogbites.org website says 71 percent of dog attacks that injure people are by pit bulls or similar breeds, even though such breeds represent only 5 percent of the American dog population. There are 100 times as many cases of bodily harm caused by those breeds as by big bad Dobermans.
The federal Centers for Disease Control says there are 800,000 dog attacks on people each year, and a half of the victims are children. The CDC says the biggest share of fatal attacks, by an overwhelming margin, involve pit bulls and Rottweilers.
So it's rah-rah for the home team, for that team's thuggish role-model quarterback, and for the savage breed of dog with which he is associated and which continues to roll up victory after victory over horses, Chihuahuas, little children and other villains.