What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it's the size of the fight in the dog.

— Dwight D. Eisenhower

Stop dog attacks

I've written about a lot of dog attacks in the last 40 years, and read a lot that's been written.

I don't think one of those years has gone by without maulings and killings by dogs originally bred for fighting, usually pit bulls and Rottweilers.

They seem to be the dogs that do the most damage.

The most spectacular dog attack I can think of happened Jan. 26, 2001, when two massive presa canarios (aka Canary Island fighting dogs) aggressively attacked and killed Diane Whipple in the hallway in front of her San Francisco apartment.

Afterward they found 77 bite wounds on her body.

And now, fighting dogs have reared their huge heads once again. A 2-year-old child has died after being mauled by three pit bulls in a Concord garage Thursday.

And a 7-year-old girl had a chunk bitten out of her cheek by a pit bull Saturday in Oakland.

How do we put an end to all these maulings and killings?

As long as we have dogs, there will be dog bites ... but must people continue to die for the privilege of owning these pets?

What's the answer?

San Francisco adopted a mandatory spay/neuter for pit bulls in 2005 and "the number of pit bulls impounded and euthanized has dropped dramatically" since then, according to a story in the Saturday Chronicle.

Sterilized dogs are normally less aggressive.

Is that the answer?

Just about every time there's a pit bull attack, neighbors start coming out of the woodwork after it happened to report having had previous bad interactions with that particular dog.

Is there a better way to spot potential problem dogs like that and get them under control before somebody finally gets hurt?

Is that the answer?

Are present "Potentially Dangerous Animal" and "Dangerous Animal" laws too convoluted and difficult to enforce to do any good? Should they be rewritten? If so, how should they be rewritten?

Is that the answer?

Speaking of answers, how about all of the above and probably a lot more?

It is unbelievable that in this day and age, people are still being mauled and killed by pet dogs daily in this country.

With the ongoing serious financial problems in our state, counties and cities, and cutbacks in most departments, including animal control, is this problem just going to get worse?

Anybody out there want to jump into this?

What's your answer?

Dear Gary:

This is the second year of raising tomatoes in pots.

This year I noticed something has taken bites out of the ripe Sun Golds and the Early Girls. I couldn't figure out what it could be.

This morning my house mates were at the breakfast table and called me to come see the culprit. It was a mockingbird dining on a Sun Gold tomato!

Now my curiosity is aroused. Which other critters besides humans and that mockingbird enjoy the tomatoes?

Rowena in Tracy

Dear Rowena:

Very few animals seem to like tomatoes (YES!).

Mockingbirds, roof rats and occasionally a scrub jay and fox squirrel will nibble on them. The scrub jay usually spots the mockingbird pecking at a tomato and flies down to try it out when the mocker leaves.

My wife and I grow a lot of heirloom tomatoes. We have skunks, raccoons and opossums wandering through the yard at night and they've never bothered the tomatoes.

Yet.