The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

March 12, 2014

Attitudes and laws against pit bulls soften

(Continued)

"I figured a few parents would be there who would bring tears to my eyes," the Republican said. "Would it have changed my opinion or what I believe in? No."

A version of Hicks' legislation was endorsed by a House committee last month and needs to clear another committee before a full House vote. The state Senate is considering a comparable bill, as are lawmakers in Utah, South Dakota, Washington, Vermont and Maryland.

In Kansas, the communities of Bonner Springs and Garden City repealed their pit-bull bans earlier this year.

Summer Freeman did not know there was a ban when she moved to Bonner Springs last year after a divorce. She panicked when an animal-control officer discovered her pet and told her she had 15 days to get rid of the dog named Titan or move out of town.

"I think of him like my son," she said. "He's my dog-son, I guess you could say. He's at my hip all the time. He's just a big baby that wouldn't hurt a fly."

Freeman was forced to leave Titan at a shelter in Lawrence for nine months until she successfully fought to overturn the law in January.

For dog owners and pit bull opponents alike, the battle is as deeply personal as any gun-control or religious issue. Each side accuses the other of lying, exploiting emotions and using bullying tactics.

Pit bull owners insist their dogs are harmless, loving family members that shouldn't be blamed for something they didn't do. To opponents, they are a volatile breed whose genetics drive them to kill more than two dozen people in the U.S. each year, many of them young children.

Popular television shows such as "Pit Boss" and "Pit Bulls and Parolees" on Animal Planet glorify the animals and minimize the tragedies that occur when pit bulls turn on humans, pit bull opponents say.

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