It is a message that is already being sent. In February, Hayward Turnipseed of De Kalb County, Ga., was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison after three of his pit bulls attacked and killed four-year-old Billy Gordon as the child walked through a neighbor's yard. Michael Berry, 37, the California man who owned the dog who killed two-year-old James Soto, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. And Edlyn Joy Hauser, the woman whose dog, Benjamin, attacked animal control officer Crowell, has pleaded innocent to three felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon—Benjamin—and intentionally inflicting great bodily harm.
As for the American pit bull terrier, it, too, has taken its lumps. In the three weeks following those two grisly June incidents in California, more than 300 pit bulls and pit bull crosses were turned in to the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control Department, most of them by owners who no longer wanted the responsibility of keeping them, or who had simply become frightened of their own pet by the breed's reputation. The animals were all put to sleep.
Overpopulation of the breed remains one of the chief concerns about pit bulls, especially in already crowded urban areas. Law enforcement officials, animal control officers, animal rights groups and legislators are just beginning to address that particular problem.
And the American pit bull terrier's aberrant sidekick? They're going to be dealing with the human part of the puzzle for a long, long time.