Seattle resident Ellen Taft—critics have called her a "dog hater"—has seized on a recent attack by two pit bulls to renew her crusade for a citywide ban on fighting breeds. Two pit bulls running loose in South Seattle "attacked a 3-year-old girl and 74-year-old woman," the Associated Press reported on July 27. "One of the dogs allegedly jumped up and bit the 3-year-old in the face."
In response, Taft called on media outlets to promote a Change.org petition asking the Seattle City Council and Mayor Mike McGinn for sweeping legislation to "eliminate all fighting breeds." Specifically, it says fighting breed dogs that are already in the city should be spayed and neutered, and new fighting breed dogs should be prohibited outright. Finally, the petition asks for "safety precautions such as muzzles" when the dogs are in public.
Taft has run a petition before, which she withdrew after feeling intimidated by political opponents. And she scheduled a rally last September to oppose fighting breed dogs in the city but again, she canceled. Taft's critics responded to the canceled rally by posting photos of pit bulls with babies.
Whether pit bulls are actually dangerous is, of course, debated. The breed was responsible for 128 fatal attacks in the United States from 2005 to 2011, according to an analysis of news reports by Dogsbite.org, which also says pit bulls are responsible for most fatal dog attacks. Meanwhile, some pit bull proponents point out that while their dogs may be responsible for more fatal attacks, it's because there are now more pit bulls being kept as pets. They say rottweilers and German shepherds have a higher kill rate.
Taft expects her new petition, which has only 228 signatures, to get more traction than previous efforts because it automatically blasts elected officials with e-mails.
"A lot of people out there support my position," Taft says, "but they throw up their hands because the pro-pit-bull people get all the good press, the attention, and the sympathy. A lot of supporters are afraid to speak out because the pro-pit-bull people use ad hominem arguments and say we should be executed."
Taft may be zealous, but within days, the pro-pit-bull lobby proved her correct.
Pro-pit-bull people started their own petition—1,390 signatures as of press time—that calls on the mayor and city council to "impose safety precautions such as muzzles when Ellen Taft is walked in public spaces to protect people and pets from being verbally attacked by Ellen Taft" and "evict Ellen Taft from Seattle." One petition supporter added, "She is obviously rabid and needs to be euthanized."
Taft also got several personal notes. On Facebook, one person told Taft, "I hope a pit bull eats your face off." She also received a couple of e-mails this week, one saying, "You are too old and ugly for this" and another calling her "a pig."
So that settles it: The pit bull lovers are fucking nuts and Ellen Taft looks sane and dignified in comparison.