Thursday, March 3, 2011

Letter to Oregon Dept of Child Services

To: Roxann Jones, Senior Project Coordinator, Jackson County,
      Oregon Commission on Children & Families
      Mike Winters, Jackson County Sheriff
      Colleen Macuk, Manager, Jackson County Animal Control
      Chris Conrad, Mail Tribune

I read with interest the news accounts of the attack on Ashtin Hedges by pit bulls in Central Point on February 23, 2011.

Early accounts reported that the father owned five pit bulls, three of which were involved in the attack. A large section of Ashtin's scalp was removed during the attack. In comparison to other recent pit bull attacks Ashtin can be considered fortunate.

According to the Sheriff's department charges will not likely be filed against the father. "The only way we will step in is if someone purposefully causes dogs to attack someone,"  according to Sheriff's department spokeswoman Andrea Carlson.

Jackson County Animal Control officers will collect the pit bulls and quarantine them for 10 days; generally dogs are returned to the owner after quarantine. In dozens of similar cases nationwide the parents have, like Ashtin's father, claimed they no longer want the dogs around their children. But in many if not most of the cases the dogs are later discovered to remain with the family.

I will note that there have been at least four deaths caused by pit bulls in the first seven weeks of 2011. There have been dozens of other attacks on humans and animals. You may be aware of the recent death of an infant in Michigan, who was also attacked by the family's pit bull, inside the family home.

In the view of many people the act of keeping fighting dogs in the same home as children is in itself an act of child endangerment. There is even greater cause to consider the environment dangerous when the father keeps two or more fighting dogs in a home with a child.

In view of the fact that neither the Sheriff nor Animal Control appear prepared to resolve the situation, we urge the Oregon Children's Protective Services to insure the safety of Ashtin and any other children in the household.


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