Councilmember Jim Graham was unwittingly correct when he said, “It’s time to end this breed in this city,” with regard to legislation outlawing pit bull ownership in D.C. (“Shoved Into the Doghouse,” 10/15). Of course, Graham was referring to the dogs, but the real breed that needs to be eliminated from D.C. are human beings who abuse animals—specifically, the young men who stage pit bull fights.
By now, most people know that pit bulls are turned into killers through abuse, both of themselves and of smaller, weaker animals, which they are encouraged to attack. The young men who stage dogfights—let’s call them “garbage”—have been known to sic their dogs on peoples’ pets, or even to steal pets for use in their bloody training. Make no mistake about it, garbage who would abuse animals would also abuse people; you can eliminate every pit bull in the city, but the same cruel, sadistic garbage will still be there, ready to find a new target to hurt.
Finally, if the D.C. Council does somehow push through Graham’s misguided bill, what is to stop the garbage from finding a new kind of dog to turn into killers? Rottweilers, German shepherds, even large mutts: any dog can be turned vicious through sustained abuse. Will the council then outlaw all dog ownership?
The solution, as writer Ta-Nehisi Coates suggests, is to go after the human abusers, not the victimized animals. Anti-cruelty laws need to be strengthened; at the very least, dog fighting must be made a felony and prosecuted vigorously. D.C. doesn’t need fewer dogs, just less garbage.
Silver Spring, Md.