Woman who saved child deserves credit; but pet owners must be accountableKathleen Imel is the kind of hero we all hope to be. Without hesitation she put her life on the line to protect a boy under attack by a vicious dog.

The 51-year-old woman saved a 7-year-old boy from an attack by two pit bulls in Aloha last week. Her courage is true and pure, and all the more commendable for being coupled with humility. Our world needs all the Kathleen Imels we can get, decent people who act without thought of thanks or praise.

At the very least, we all should join in paying for her medical expenses and those of Joshua Pia Perez, the boy she saved, by making donations at any branch of Washington Mutual.

Conceding up front that there are nice pit bulldogs and responsible pit bull owners, this incident reinforces the need to strongly regulate or ban this problematic breed. Certainly, other breeds also bite humans, but few others combine aggression with so much power and ability to do harm.

In the current case, Anastasia Richardson, the attacking dog's owner, failed to pay a previous $933 fine after it attacked and killed another dog. (Ironically, she has been fined only $622 for last week's attack on Imel and Perez.) In all likelihood, Richardson will be unable to pay either the fines or any money that might be awarded against her in a lawsuit.

This dog and owner should not have been given a second chance. The dog should have been humanely put down after its first signs of deadly aggression, and this "one strike and you're out" rule should apply to all serious dog attacks.

People who desire to keep pit bulls, Rottweillers and similar breeds should, at least, be required to file annual proof of insurance as a prerequisite of ownership. Insurers would doubtless require evidence that dogs attend obedience classes and are kept under control.

Those lacking the means and responsibility to keep these dangerous breeds under appropriate controls would have to settle for owning less deadly dogs.

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