Should pit bull owners go to jail if their dogs maul someone?

I say “yes,” without hesitation.

Kyleen Waltman, 38, of Columbia, South Carolina, was attacked near her home by pit bulls. She looks like the victim of an artillery shell or bomb blast.

She was bitten all over her body. Her face is disfigured, she lost both arms and her colon, may lose a leg and her esophagus, has a hole “the size of a coffee cup” in the back of her head, and is on a ventilator. After waking from a coma, she didn’t want to live, and doctors sedated her again.

The dogs’ owner, Justin Minor, is charged with owning dangerous animals, allowing them to roam off his premises, and a rabies control violation. If convicted, he could get 3 years in prison.

He’s currently out of jail on $15,000 bail. He’s being sued, but I would guess he doesn’t have much, maybe not even insurance.

He cried in court (photo below). For who isn’t clear.

The Daily Mail says, “More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States, with 800,000 of the victims requiring medical attention, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.” (Read story here.)

I have no problem with responsible dog owners. But I have no patience with irresponsible dog owners. I’ve had my own run-ins with them. I won’t go into details.

Pit bulls have their fans. People who own them are defensive. Not all pit bills are dangerous, but this breed is responsible for many attacks on humans and neighborhood pets, so is deservedly met with suspicion. To be honest, if I see a pit bull I assume it’s dangerous, and if it’s not on a leash, I’m scared. There are too many stories like this one.

I support laws against dangerous dog breeds, leash laws, and strict enforcement of dog laws. If someone owns a dog they know (or should know) is potentially dangerous, they negligently let the dog run loose, and it seriously injures someone, they deserve to go to jail and be sued for everything they own.

Justin Minor, like everyone else in our criminal justice system, is presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law. If he can’t afford an attorney, he’s entitled to be represented by a public defender or appointed attorney. But even if the dogs got loose without negligence on his part, he knew they were dangerous, he choose to keep them in the neighborhood, and if they’re his dogs — as they appear to be — he has some culpability here.

If she dies, I think he should be charged with murder, or at least reckless homicide. If she survives, and has to live a life of severe disability, three years in prison isn’t enough and no amount of money can compensate her.

I don’t want dogs like this, or their owners, in my neighborhood. I want strict dog laws, strictly enforced, so authorities and the legal system are preventing incidents like this instead of reacting to them after they occur. If pit bull fanciers don’t like it, too bad, let them move with their dogs to a deserted island.

I want those laws to include an insurance requirement. And if you can’t afford the insurance, or no company will insure your dogs, then no dogs. Requiring dog owners to be financially responsible is, in my book, essential and a deal-breaker.

Keeping dangerous dogs is another perverted version of “freedom” invariably is the excuse selfish and people always seem to use to justify their lack of consideration for others. I’m sorry, but their “freedom” has to give way to others’ safety; there is no logic under which anyone can legitimately claim a “right” to put other people at this kind of risk.

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