Whether pit bulls or health care, it’s about personal responsibility

Two pit bulls killed a horse in in Morgan Hill last month.

Let that sink in: Two dogs that likely weigh between 40 and 70 pounds so severely injured a 1,000-pound horse that it had to be euthanized.

Sadly, pit bull attacks are not unusual.

A few years ago, my daughter was walking our dog when a neighbor’s pit bull came tearing after them. The pit bull’s owner gave chase and caught his dog. We were very lucky that he was home, noticed that the dog escaped, and able to catch his dog. I shudder to think what might have happened if circumstances had been even slightly different. On another occasion, a pit bull visiting a neighbor broke through the wood fence between our yards and menaced our 23-pound cockapoo; animal services had to capture the pit bull.

A 9-year-old Hollister girl was attacked by a pit bull when she walked to her mailbox last month. Her father was bitten when he tried to save her. KSBW reports that the girl and her father were lucky: They only suffered “moderate” injuries.

When Gilroyan Yvonne Hyatt and her dog were attacked by a pit bull, they weren’t as fortunate. The Dispatch reported that “the pit bull came extremely close to biting into a main artery in Hyatt’s hand, a scenario that could have proved fatal.” The pit bull nearly killed Hyatt’s dog and severely injured Hyatt’s arm. Neighbors who rushed to help couldn’t deter the pit bull with broomstick whacks to the dog’s head or with punches to the dog’s face. The attack continued until someone beat the pit bull in the head with a hammer. Hyatt required 68 stitches and a stay in the intensive care unit.

Two-year-old Morgan Hill resident James Soto’s injuries were untreatable: A pit bull mauled him to death.

These are just a few dog attack stories about one dangerous breed from one tiny corner of the world. Don’t tell me that treating some dog breeds differently than others is akin to racism. Dog breeds have been specifically selected for certain traits that make some breeds more lethal than others.

Don’t tell me that irresponsible dog owners are the “real” problem. Just as you cannot keep a big cat like a lion or tiger that’s capable of maiming or killing without special licenses and extreme precautions, so too you shouldn’t be able to keep dogs that carry similar risk without special licenses and extreme precautions. Pit bulls and Rottweilers accounted for 73 percent of fatal dog attacks in the US from 2006 to 2008.

Let’s enact severe restrictions aimed at breeds that are capable of inflicting serious injury or death. Want to own a pit bull or Rottweiler? You must reduce the dog’s aggressive tendencies by spaying or neutering it and by taking owner and dog training; use highly reliable containment systems; and carry large amounts of insurance in case the dog’s aggression overcomes these precautions.

Moreover, people who flout these personal responsibility basics ought to lose their dogs and pay severe financial penalties for putting the rest of us at unreasonable risk.

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Speaking of personal responsibility, the Affordable Care Act addresses that conservative ideal by requiring everyone to carry health insurance. After the Supreme Court ruled that the ACA is constitutional, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney parroted many right-wing lies about health-care reform.

No, Mitt, the ACA is not a tax increase. Instead, it imposes a penalty on irresponsible freeloaders who refuse to buy health insurance and instead impose their medical costs on the rest of us if they suffer an illness or accident that requires treatment that they can’t afford.

No, Mitt, the ACA doesn’t increase the deficit. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that it reduces deficits by $143 billion from 2010 to 2019 and that the Republicans’ plan to repeal the ACA will increase deficits.

If you like your current health insurance, congratulations, despite what Mitt wants you to think, you can keep it under the ACA. If, however, you don’t have insurance because you can’t afford it, your employer doesn’t offer it, or you can’t get it due to pre-existing conditions, the ACA offers assistance. Romney knows all these things; he enacted the blueprint for the ACA as governor of Massachusetts.

The Affordable Care Act is constitutional and reduces the deficit; it will reduce bankruptcies, eliminate irresponsible medical freeloaders, and save lives. These are all good outcomes that we need to protect. Your votes in presidential, Senate and U.S. House races will help determine if the ACA stands.

Lisa Pampuch is a technical editor. She lives in Morgan Hill with her husband and two children. Reach her at lisapampuch@iname.com.


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