Bad to the Bone?

By Megan Clark December 13, 2008 Published in the November 2008 issue of Seattle Met

MEET SIMON. LEAN IN CLOSER. She won’t bite. Yes, it’s been a bad year for ­Simon and her fellow pit bulls. In September, in two separate attacks, area pits mauled a 72-year-old woman and a six-year-old boy, leading some to ask whether it’s time to ban the breed. But doggone it, they have it all wrong, growls Simon’s owner, Julie Russell: “People want to believe that pit bulls are more dangerous than other breeds when it’s simply not true.” The numbers, however, don’t look good for ­Simon and her canine clan. Only 4 percent of ­licensed dogs in Seattle are pit bulls, but the breed is responsible for 22 percent of the city’s reported bites. And once bitten, victims aren’t shy about speaking out. After surviving an attack during a jog in her Beacon Hill neighborhood in 2007, Colleen Lynn founded, which includes graphic photos of mauled children and argues for breed-specific legislation, including mandatory pit bull sterilization. “Pit bulls are known for attacking with no warning whatsoever,” Lynn says. Julie Russell nipped back on the Web site (Families Against Breed Bans), documenting the heroics of her ­favorite breed—a pit saved a family from a burning Philly house á la Lassie, another sacrificed its own life to save two women from a cobra’s fangs. The dueling Web sites mirror a split among the pooch-owning public in Seattle, a town that drools over its pets but barks when they bite. Lynn submitted a 21-page document to city councilman Tim Burgess that demanded, among other things, sterilizing every pit from Ballard to Georgetown. In purely ­Seattle dog-loving fashion, the council summarily refused the proposal. Simon seems pleased.

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