On boxers and responsibility

On Wednesday, August 25, Taylor Becker died. She was 4, and she was attacked by a boxer--Rocky, the pet of a family friend. The child and dog were together, unsupervised by adults, in the dog's backyard. Rocky broke free from its lead and for unknown reasons, this otherwise friendly and nonviolent dog attacked.

Next month, Green Acres Boxer Rescue will hold its 10th Annual Boxer Bash in Columbus, Wisconsin. It's the first year the Bash will be held outside of the greater Green Bay area. Columbus is 30 miles from Iron Ridge, where the Becker family lives. I want to take some time to explain why I think the Boxer Bash is more important now, in light of this tragedy, than ever before.

I haven't seen anyone call for the event to be cancelled, and I'm glad for that. Anyone who loves dogs and endeavors to understand them knows that there's no such thing as a "bad breed." There are dogs that behave badly, and there are dogs that behave dangerously, just like there are dogs that behave sweetly and joyfully. The difference isn't in the breed name; it's in the owner, and that owner's sense of responsibility for the animal he or she cares for.

Boxers as a breed do not deserve to be blamed for this dog's unexplainable attack. But without counterbalance, all the general public will see of this story is the face of a little girl lost. Boxer rescue groups are justifiably concerned that they'll see dogs returned to rescues and humane societies; we've all seen what happens when the same thing happens with other breeds put in dangerous circumstances by their owners.

I hope the Boxer Bash goes on as planned. A moment of silence or a collection for Taylor's family would be an appropriate recognition of the Beckers' loss. The community needs to know that responsible dog ownership is key to keeping everyone safe, and that breed rescues do the good work of providing healthy foster relationships for dogs in trouble. Boxers, like all animals, can be dangerous--events like the Boxer Bash are working hard to make sure these tragedies don't happen again.