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Kids, ATVs and pit bulls just don’t mix

Recently I was driving along listening to WSB radio’s news coverage of the death of one child and the maiming of another as they were walking to their Atlanta School bus stop. They were attacked by pit bulls allowed to roam free by their owner or owners. One of the dogs attacked responding police and was shot dead. The other was hunted down, captured and euthanized. Sadly, the charges against the irresponsible owner are not serious enough. As I was listening to this horror story, I went around a curve and saw two pre-teen boys on four-wheelers flying along the side of the road at what seemed to be top speed. Neither had on a helmet. I shook my head. The boys were just doing what boys do – trying to find the top speed of whatever vehicle they are operating at the time. Soon thereafter I learned of injuries to two different boys on ATVs that I know from the soccer community. Fortunately, both lived. We have written the story of worse outcomes too many times to count. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, 13,617 people were killed on ATVs from their advent in 1982 through 2014. Of those deaths, 385 occurred in Georgia and at least 28 more have been killed here since the report was done. Of the national total (through 2014), 3,098 of those killed were under age 16. Of those young victims, 1342 were under age 12. Since 2007, the number of injuries attributed to ATVs ranges from near 93,700 to 151,000 annually. Each year about half of those injuries were to kids under age 16. There is no question that ATVs are dangerous – especially to kids. The danger is exponentially greater to kids not wearing helmets. Pit bulls are harder to pull stats on. There are actually pit bull owners groups that defend their dogs and, no doubt, there are some sweetheart pits that children sleep with without problems. There is also controversy regarding what exactly a pit bull is. A victim’s awareness group claims pit bull attacks have increased by 830% in the past seven years. When you hear about terrorism, radical muslims are most often involved. When you hear about dog attacks, pit bulls are most often involved. There are those who will disagree just as there are those who can attest their kids grew up riding ATVs and never had an accident. There are also people who smoke for 80 years and never get cancer. But, the risk of cancer is always there. Risk analysis of any sort clearly points to the fact that kids are endangered needlessly by pit bulls and ATVs. Whether you choose to heed those risks is up to you. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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