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Felix Adamo/ The Californian

Columnist Sherry Davis.

What do pit bulls and Justin Bieber have in common? A shared propensity for making ugly headlines.

And whether you're a pittie-lover or "Belieber," nowadays what people associate most with the object of your affection is their bad behavior.

The news last week that a Lancaster man may face second-degree murder charges in the mauling of a 63-year-old woman by his dogs is extremely disturbing on several levels.

And although I was seriously bitten by a client's dog several years ago, I can't even begin to imagine the horror Pamela Devitt went through in the last seconds of her life, realizing she was going to die.

It's a horrific tragedy that appears to be a direct result of reckless disregard by the owner of the dogs who created circumstances that resulted in a human death.

Although I suspect the dogs' owner's attorney will seek to have the charges reduced to involuntary manslaughter based on a lack of intent or knowledge of his dog's dangerous nature, a statement released last week by Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County Attorney's office, tells a different story, indicating that authorities had received three previous reports of these dogs attacking people since January. If these reports are used in court to show the owner was aware that the dogs were inherently dangerous, it could indicate implied malice on his part.

But whatever the charges are, there will be no winners here. A woman is dead, a man is facing prison time for this, as well as an associated drug charge, and six to eight dogs will probably be euthanized.

And the pit bull breed in general? They'll take a hit too as this incident will continue to boost their status as the poster dogs for aggression.

Yes, I hear you pit bull lovers out there crying foul; "It's the deed, not the breed," and "these incidents are the fault of people who don't take responsibility for their dogs."

But that rhetoric is wearing pretty thin, and it won't be enough to stop the people who have already written this breed off as dangerous from supporting a breed ban in California if it is proposed. And with more and more companies refusing to insure owners of certain breeds and many home owners refusing to rent to people who own them, the writing on the wall couldn't be clearer.

Once legislation is passed to have one breed banned, others labeled as dangerous will soon follow.

If pit bull owners sincerely want to repair their breed's image they will have to start doing some serious damage control and demonstrate that these dogs can be well-socialized and obedient members of their communities, and attacks on humans and other animals are an exception, not everyday news.


Did you know?

When the outside air temperature is 87 degrees, the asphalt temperature can be 143 degrees (the metal surface of a pick-up truck, even hotter!), and skin destruction to a dog's pads can occur in 60 seconds.

-- Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at csi4k9s These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.