Shirley E. Watkins of Derwood, Md., has sent me a clipping from Family Safety, a nonprofit magazine I have found extremely useful over the years. In its issue dated Spring 1976, Family Safety reported some unsettling information about dogs.
The magazine said that more than a million dog bites are reported each year, and that a million others go unreported. Most of the victims are children. Most of the bites are inflicted "by dogs whose owners allow them to run loose, despite leash laws."
Family Safety said, "Many of the bites cause serious injuries, reports Dr. Joseph S. Hansen in the veterinarian publication, Norden News. 'There is no way to estimate how much physical and psychological damage to the victims cannot be repaired.'"
The magazine added: "Along with other experts, Dr. Hansen attributes much of the problem to dogs that are spoiled and badly trained. He, like others, is also alarmed by the increasing and indiscriminate sale or rental of attack-trained guard dogs to the general public.
"Few people who buy such a dog are aware that these animals are potentially more dangerous than firearms. A firearm is usually set in motion by a human hand, whereas an attack dog can go off all by itself, and once started may not stop.
"We are all familiar with the client who is lucky if he or she can control a pet animal, let alone a potential killer or maimer. Many of the people who own German shepherds today are not even qualified to own a poodle.
"According to the U. S. Army and Air Force, the German shepherd can generate up to 700 pounds of pressure per square inch with his bite. 'When sufficiently agitated,' says Dr. Hansen, 'these dongs could rip off a man's arm. What could they do to a small child?'"