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Woman mauled by pit bulls wants breed gone

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — A woman who was mauled by two pit bulls in St. Paul said she wants that breed of dog "off the face of the earth," but experts said it is wrong to blame the whole breed for attacks.

Joann Jungmann, 59, was attacked Monday when she tried to serve legal papers at a home in St. Paul. She says the dogs jumped a 3-foot-high chain-link fence.

Jungmann said a neighbor of the dogs’ owner helped save her life.

The owner gave the dogs to the city, and they were euthanized Wednesday. They will be tested for rabies.

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Also Wednesday, the St. Paul City Council passed an ordinance that says pet owners cited more than once for abusing or neglecting an animal can’t legally own another pet. The ordinance targets those who train dogs to fight, puppy mill operators and pet owners shown to be irresponsible or negligent.

Existing city law requires all dogs more than 3 months old to have a license.

Monday’s attack was the fourth dog attack in the Twin Cities in a month. The first three attacks were in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels said he might propose changing the city’s dog ordinance to allow the city to destroy dogs after just one attack.

While Jungmann’s feelings about pit bulls were understandable, they also highlight the difficulties in policing dog attacks.

While some cities including Denver and Prescott, Wis., ban pit bulls or dogs classified as "dangerous," other places — including Minnesota — mandate that cities designate dogs involved in attacks as dangerous and track them.

One difficulty is that at least 25 breeds have been involved in fatal attacks.

"If you target a specific breed, it’s akin to racial profiling. There’s just no basis for that," said Lisa Peterson, spokesman for the American Kennel Club. She added that "pit bull" is a catchall for crosses of three breeds of terrier.

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Beth DeLaForest, a director of A Rotta Love Plus, a local rescue group of Rottweilers and pit bulls, said pit bulls may have a bad reputation, but there is no such thing as a bad breed of dog.

"There is such a thing as bad owners," she said. "When situations like this happen, people tend to blame the wrong end of the leash. … It’s owner accountability. I don’t think it’s a pit bull problem, it’s a social problem."

Keith Streff, director for investigations for the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, disagrees.

"To say that there are no bad pit bulls, I think is an injustice to public safety," he said. "The breed is innately hard-wired to be able to perform at peak capacity when it attacks."

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