Editorials: Thanksgiving with ANIMAL PEOPLE

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 1992:
The process of writing this editorial was interrupted when a gunshot cracked
through our woods at dusk. Rushing out to intercept a suspected poacher, I met Buddy, the
“pit bull terrier” who lives up the hill, limping up the road at great speed from the direction
the shot came. Actually an apparent Rottweiler/terrier cross, Buddy is about the color of a
deer, and it wasn’t hard to guess what had happened. But whoever fired the shot got away.
Sidling past me, uninterested in any more encounters with anyone but his family, Buddy
trotted on home. I watched him go, hoping the limp was from stumbling over something in
his haste to escape, rather than from a bullet.
As I checked the mailbox on my way back inside, five minutes later, our neighbor
came running down the hill, shouting for help. Expecting to hear of a wounded dog, I
heard instead of a mauled baby. Buddy apparently ran into the house and curled up with
something to chew, by way of settling his nerves. The five-month-old baby reached for it.
Buddy bit, just once, but hard.

I rushed the shaken mother, father, and baby to the nearest hospital, and then to
another one fifty miles away, where a plastic surgeon was available. The surgeon’s verdict
at this point is that the baby will have some lasting scars, but should outgrow the most evi-
dent damage.
Buddy, high-strung but never before dangerous, is now in quarantine. He hasn’t
been shot––but his owner, the baby’s uncle, may shoot him rather than risk another attack
on a child.
The incident is officially recorded in medical records as a pit bull terrier attack. It
should properly be recorded as a hunting accident.
Ironically, the father was himself hunting when it happened. Half an hour earlier,
he’d missed two almost point-blank shots at a buck, who would have been his first victim in
nine years of attempting to kill one.
“Maybe you didn’t really want to kill the buck,” I suggested.
“Could be,” he laughed.
And I don’t think Buddy really meant to bite the baby. And if we could just get the
guns and the impulse to use them out of the way, life would be safer for all of us, of what-
ever species. ––M.C.
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