Medford considers banning pit bulls after recent attacks

Medford considers banning pit bulls after recent attacks
Photo of pit bull rescued from a dog fighting ring in Idaho - Photo by Jerry Manter - KBOI 2 News.

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Following concerns over recent dog attacks, the Medford City Council is looking at banning pit bulls or requiring that the dogs be sterilized.

Police have recorded 89 dog attacks over three years, just over half of them by pit bulls. And Medford Police Chief Tim George said the number probably represents only a fraction of the attacks and bites in the area.

Other cities in the country have banned pit bulls, while many have opted for sterilization or muzzle laws. In some cases, cities have banned pit bulls and other dog breeds considered dangerous from city parks.

As the city looks at its options, other groups, including pit bull supporters, are urging the city not to take extreme measures.

"Any dog in the wrong hands can be dangerous," said Scott Beckstead, senior Oregon director for The Humane Society of the United States. "People out there that are wonderful owners have wonderful pit bulls; then there are the bad people."

Kathleen Olmstead, 63, of Ashland asked the city council to take action after her Anatolian shepherd, Halee, was attacked in a Medford park in September, the Mail Tribune reported. Two pit bulls and another dog charged Halee, wrestling the 90-pound dog to the ground. One ripped at Halee's neck, another at her stomach and a third gnawed on her leg.

Bystanders broke up the attack by punching and kicking the attacking dogs, which were later euthanized. After $4,000 in veterinarian bills and being confined to a crate for two months, Halee has recovered, though she remains wary.

"I was really scared for her life," Olmstead said.

Juston Menteer, a 33-year-old Central Point breeder of pure-bred pit bulls, said he would prefer the city of Medford not pass any laws against dogs, particularly banning a specific breed.

"We see the writing on the wall, that at some point they're trying to make the breed extinct," he said. "People that are responsible shouldn't be penalized."

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Information from: Mail Tribune

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