EDMOND — Canines Fergie and Otie are behind bars awaiting a judge’s decision that could ultimately cost them their lives.
The dogs are accused of attacking a neighbor’s dachshund about two weeks ago, leaving it with injuries that required stitches. They are in the Edmond animal shelter on vicious dog complaints with a court hearing set for Thursday.
Their owner, Christy Taylor, thinks the dogs are being unjustly targeted because they are part pit bull terrier.
"If they weren’t part pit bull, I don’t believe this would even be an issue,” Taylor said. "Some people are letting their fear of the breed get in the way of seeing that these are two lovable family pets.”
Will Widman, owner of the dachshund, said the case could end up in court and declined to comment further.
‘It’s pit bull mania’
Jim Fish, supervisor of Edmond’s animal shelter, said he couldn’t comment on the predicament Fergie and Otie are in, but agrees pit bull terriers are singled out as a threat to society.
"You say ‘pit bull’ and people automatically say ‘killer,’” Fish said. "It’s pit bull mania — if people see a medium size dog with floppy ears they’re calling it into us as a vicious dog roaming the streets.”
In the past, Oklahoma City’s animal shelter destroyed unclaimed pit bulls that came into its custody without giving them the opportunity to be considered for adoption, said Katherine English, manager of the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Department.
English said the policy was dominated by peoples’ fear of the breed. She said pit bull terriers don’t bite more than any other dogs, but it is in their nature to keep fighting until they’ve dominated their opponent.
English, who has been working with animals for 35 years, said before the 1970s pit bull terriers were not popular family pets. They were bred mostly for sport until breeders decided they could make money selling the puppies that weren’t considered prime for fighting.
Desire for the dogs grew because they were a handsome, hearty, shorthaired breed — qualities that family dog owners were looking for, English said.
English said the popularity of the breed ended up being their "kiss of death.” When people started to become wary of the dogs, they ended up in shelters with no one willing to adopt them, she said.