According to Cartersville Police Department Lt. Mark Camp, the owner, a 24-year-old male, was outside in his fenced-in backyard on Latimer Road playing with his two pit bull dogs. The male suddenly turned on the owner and attacked his lower body.
A neighbor retrieved a shot gun when the dog could not be pulled away from the man. The dog was shot and killed.
A Cartersville Police animal control officer took custody of the female dog as a precaution until the owner was released from the hospital or until someone could maintain possession of the dog for the owner. The female, who was reported to be "very friendly," according to Bartow County Animal Control Director Debbie Elrod, was released to a friend of the owner who said that the female had been spayed and, therefore, was not in heat to cause a possible disturbance to the male.
"It's not the dogs themselves [that are aggressive]," Bryan Canty, director of the Etowah Valley Humane Society, said. "Pits are some of the nicest, loyal dogs you'd want to have."
Canty pointed out that one of the main problems is, in some cases, the owner. "People have a mindset of how they want their animal to act," he said. "It's kind of like Corvettes. The Corvette is the most wrecked car out there, but it's not the car causing the wreck, it's the driver. It's people saying 'OK, I've got this car. Let's see what it will do' and they wreck.
"It's unfortunate," Canty said. "A few bad dogs ruin the reputation for the whole breed."
Canty said that due to community concern and public safety, the humane society does not adopt out pit bulls, Doberman Pinschers or Rottweilers either and animal control will not release them to the society. The EVHS obtains their animals from animal control and places them up for adoption after the pets receive care from a veterinarian.
"We generally pick up dogs after a bite call for quarantine," Elrod said. "The Cartersville officer brought in the female dog for us to hold."
Elrod said that many of the pit bull problems in Bartow relate to strays running loose.
"People have a phobia about pit bulls," she said. "They see them and assume they're aggressive when, really, most of them are not. They'll usually attack another dog or animal before a human. We really don't know what happened [in this case]."
Due to safety concerns for both people and the dogs, Elrod said that animal control does not release pit bulls that have been picked up to the humane society or anyone other than the owners.
"We don't like to put them out there because people want them for the wrong reasons," she said. "We'll let them go to the humane society only if they find a legitimate, reputable and licensed rescuer for pit bulls [or other aggressive breeds], but many times they are put down."
For further information on pit bulls as a breed or how to rescue one, visit www.pitbulls.org.