Sunday, December 22, 2013

Inside the minds of pit bull advocates

This article is worth reading if you want to understand what makes pit bull advocates tick.

A few years ago, I experienced a serious pit bull attack that led to countless personal losses, I found myself outraged at the system that had enabled such attacks to occur in the first place. I mean isn’t Government supposed to protect innocent people from such unnecessary brutal and violent assaults? It didn’t take long for me to discover why, I soon learned there was an aggressive and outraged pitbull advocacy movement that had influenced Government and prevented reasonable protective legislation from being implemented. So I turned to social media to interact with these people, only to realize that they felt they were the aggrieved party, even though they had suffered no permanent  physical injury, as I had,  they had not lost the ability to walk or care for themselves for a substantial amount of time, as I had, they had suffered no large financial losses, as I had, they had never faced years of legal wrangling to seek compensation for their losses, as I had and they had not lost their business as I had.  The only loss it appears they had incurred is that people hurt their feelings because they were critical of the breed of dog they had chosen as a companion animal.  And yet their outrage was as if someone had murdered their entire family.  This disproportionate over reaction struck me as incredibly bizarre and until now I hadn’t been able to understand it sufficiently.

Continue reading Max Gold's article here

'via Blog this'

Monday, December 9, 2013

An anniversary of sorrow

No matter how many cases like this that we learn about, we are always shocked and saddened anew. It's never easy to write about these tragic deaths, but we are duty bound to raise awareness of the ongoing slaughter of the innocents. 

November 12th is forever tainted for Jaime, whose beloved Boxer girl, Quinn, was savagely mauled to death in front of her on that very date, four years ago. This is her story:

At approximately 7:43, my brother called. I talked to him for 12 minutes while in the garage and came back upstairs to my room. Three minutes later, I called 911.

Many of us celebrate the births of our loved ones as well as mourn the loss of our loved ones. Quinn was six, she was a boxer, she was 'just a dog', expected to live another 4-6 years.  That night, my life changed forever.  More than I could ever put into words.  I think of the little things I did wrong, the graphic details, the sounds, the sights, the smells, etc almost every night I lay my head down. Tonight is the anniversary of the attack, when the pit bulls turned on me & Quinn. 

It all happened so very fast but yet seemed to take forever.  I am not here to condemn pit bulls, I'm just here to share the life of Quinn and make others listen to the way she died.  She was so very pretty, a flashy fawn that was given to me by my pops as a Christmas present, he brought her home in a stocking.  I named her Joey for a few days and then Quinn came to be the final choice.  She went through a lot with me, during a very tough time of my life.  We moved into this new house a year before her death. 

She finally had the doggie door, free reign of the house and was finally the 'only dog'.  She always had a racquetball in her mouth, her tiny nub of a tail was always shaking, especially when she brought the turtle in from outside and thought he was a toy to push around the hardwood floors.  

The pit bulls moved in after knowing her for four years.  All she wanted, was to be a part of their bond.  She would run and play and lick their faces, thinking she was becoming a part of their pack.  I made a few mistakes, I should have listened to my gut, I should have made them go...this was her house and he promised he would never let her get hurt.  I trusted in that.  I've forgiven myself, I've accepted the way she died but I may never forgive him.  She was my girl, and I watched her fight for her life, trying to surrender to her torturers.  She screamed like a child, the blood was everywhere. I had to walk away from her, I couldn't save her.  I knew, while laying in the bathroom trying to wrap my arms around her and pick her up out of their grip, I knew that I was putting my own life in danger and could not let my family lose me in that way. Yes, my finger was crushed, my scars will always be there. But no living soul should ever have to experience what she suffered in her final moments on this earth.

I will forever share her story on this day, it's the least I can do. I have loved pit bulls in the past, and there are still a couple I love to this day - but please, please know that if ever they snap, it may be too late.  Three years and one day ago, I too was saying that it was the owner, not the dog - but I learned the lesson the hard way. The pit bulls died a very peaceful death, with me at their side, not like my girl Quinn, who was ripped apart like a wishbone in front of my face. There is no worse feeling than that helplessness, being unable to save the one who looked to you for security.

Yes, I know Quinn was just a dog, as far as the statistics go, but I often let my mind wander to what if it would have been a child or even me. I promise you, it is not worth the chance.  Keep your families safe, and this includes that little four legged dog that trusts in you as his or her only friend.  More importantly, listen to your gut. 

For more info go to

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Boom, the gentle pit bull

One thing we've been noticing here is that as the number and severity of pit bull maulings rises, the propaganda campaign from the pit activists ramps up in an attempt to divert attention from the violence. We've all seen the media hyped stories of pit bull "heroes" - perhaps a pit bull barks when a fire starts in the trailer - something any dog would do, but when a pit bull does it, it's heralded as a legendary exploit. Single-source, unverified stories of pit bulls performing heroic tasks are quite common, and tend to spread quickly, despite the absence of proof.

There is a popular meme among pit activists which takes the form of an image of a pit bull (not torturing a victim, but rather posed in some harmless looking way, using some cute looking props) featuring a caption that ridicules the idea that a pit bull could possibly be dangerous. The image below features "Boom" the pit bull:

The idea behind these memes seems to be "Hey, if we can show this picture of a pit bull not killing a miniature poodle, that proves that pit bulls don't kill miniature poodles, right?"

As it turns out, "Boom" does indeed appear to be "your typical violent and aggressive pit bull", which is to say that it is perfectly capable of posing for an innocent looking picture one day, and the next day mauling the blind, elderly miniature poodle belonging to the widow next door. 

Boom is owned by Carla Ann Thomas, who has multiple animal cruelty convictions. Boom was witnessed by at least a dozen people committing a completely unprovoked attack on a little dog at a canine fly ball competition. For more info on the real Boom, kindly refer to the article Profile of a responsible pit bull owner at  Craven Desires

When you see cute pictures like the one above, remember that they are carefully staged to produce warm fuzzy feelings, and remember the daily reality of pit bull attacks on innocent animals. The survivors can be seen in pictures like this:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why not trust a pit bull?

This is an account from about 20 years ago. At the time, the pit bull problem was not as serious as it is now, but the problem's trajectory, so to speak, was visible to those who were paying attention even then. Developments of recent years have underscored the problem, but as this account shows, the nature of the pit bull, formed over hundreds of years of deliberate breeding for merciless violence, was exactly the same then as it is now.

A dog, a pit bull terrier, allegedly killed his female master on September 3, 1992, in Cleveland. There were 180 bite marks on the dead woman's body, according to the Cuyahoga County coroner. I read that news story and revisited the horror my family experienced on Christmas Eve, 1989.

We had a pit bull. He was all white. I named him Chester, after Chester Avenue in Cleveland, where I found him in the middle of the busy street, trapped amid traffic. I could not just drive by. I stopped to shoo him off the roadway. Instead of running off, he got to the tree lawn and rolled over by a belly-rub. He had me by the heartstrings. I took him to a veterinarian for a checkup and neutering that very day.

Chester was not yet one year old, but he was big and well-muscled. He was friendly even with strangers. He spent most of his time in a fenced area with another dog I had taken in, and things went smoothly throughout that fall. When the temperatures turned cold, I brought the two dogs into the heated, finished basement of our country home.

On many occasions I let Chester sleep with my youngest daughter. (She was only three.) Chester was also allowed to mingle with my assorted formerly stray cats, and a rabbit who ran loose in the house. He never paid any attention to the other animals, but he loved the attention he got from my three daughters.

My husband always had reservations about Chester because of his breed. I, on the other hand, got used to the idea of having a pit bull, and I trusted that nothing bad would happen. After all, we were not encouraging aggressiveness. We never roughhoused with Chester. We didn't want a guard dog, and we kept a close eye on him when he was with the children.

I, an animal health technician, former zookeeper, and animal activist, believed that Chester would not be one of those vicious dogs you read about in newspaper headlines. I was wrong.

On Christmas Eve, after a family gift-opening get-together, we returned to our home. My husband was the first to enter the house. I was sleeping in the car when he shook me into reality. "Donna," he said, "it's awful. I wish I could hide this from you. I can't. Come in."

What awaited me in the house was a scene from a horror movie. Chester, greeting me in the kitchen, had long red scratches all over his face. There were streaks of blood here and there on the carpeting throughout the house. The French doors between the basement steps and the living room had been forced open. and there were dead bodies everywhere.

My rabbit was dead on my bed. One cat lay dead in the basement, another under my dresser. Two cats, locked safely in a bedroom, were unscathed. One cat survived atop the refrigerator, but a claw had been ripped from his paw. The fourth survivor was huddled on the top bunk in my daughter's bedroom, wild-eyed and quivering. It took him weeks to return to normal behavior.

My husband reluctantly shot Chester. We then went about placing presents under the tree and stuffing stockings. It was a grim Christmas morning as I watched the sun rise through tears, and I hugged my daughters a little harder that day.

Donna Robb

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1993

[Donna Robb, now a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is a vet tech who was formerly an elephant keeper at the Cleveland MetroPark Zoo.]

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A sad place for a pit bull

The Animal People organization have been working for animal rights for decades, and have been documenting their efforts along the way, and as a result, their archives are filled with relevant data. We recently came across some accounts published in the Animal People News nearly 20 years ago that we find quite relevant today. Here is one of those accounts

We had Nikki euthanized this morning. She was a purebred pit bull terrier, rescued from an animal collector here in southwest Michigan. When we responded to the call from Children's Protective Services, who had gone to the home for other reasons, we found Nikki chained to a doghouse. The chain was bolted to her collar. It was the dead of August, and Nikki had been without food or water for who knows how long. She lay in the dirt, barely moving. We were able to convince the collector that her dog was days away from death, and she finally consented to let us take her.

At our veterinarian's clinic we took photographs, in case we were able to pursue cruelty charges against the collector. Nikki was grossly underweight at 25 pounds, and was full of worms, fleas, and mange. Her age was estimated as two years. When her heartworm test came back negative, we determined that she was salvageable. I took her on as a foster project, and watched this pitiful wreck of a creature bloom into a healthy, handsome dog. It took weeks. We kept her indoors, though she was smelly and crusty from the manage. She learned about living in a home, and reveled in the constant affection she got from my husband, myself, and our two boys. Though Jon and I had been battling in court about the five dogs we already had, two more than the city limit, we grew attached to Nikki. That she was a pit bull made finding her a proper home more difficult. Most people who would adopt such a dog had no business having one at all. We intensified our search for a place in the country.

We moved to our 9-acre farm early in the fall. By now Nikki was a spayed, healthy, 60-pound success story. She and the other dogs spent leisurely afternoons with the family, walking the pastures and woods on our farm. Nikki loved to dig after the pasture critters, though she never caught any. She'd come up for air after five solid minutes of burrowing, her white face and head caked with earth, tongue lolling out, smiling a joyous, dirt-filled smile. Our other dogs, a Dane, a greyhound, and three mixed breeds, would race through the pastures, chasing and teasing. Nikki, with her great bulk, could not join them. She'd get up to a slight run, then somersault over her own feet. So she mostly tagged along with Jon and I, dashing away from us now and again to dig another hole.

In the house she was a dream dog. Perfectly housebroken, perfectly crate-trained, clean, submissive, and gentle, Nikki dispelled our image of the raging, murderous pit bill. All those pit bulls who turned on their families, well, those people must have done something to make it happen. Our Nikki was just a lover and a cuddler. Other than normal playing and sleeping with the dogs, Nikki seemed indifferent to our other animals. Then, late in the fall, a potbellied pig came to us for foster care. After the initial pig-dog introductions, we saw that there was a potential problem between Nikki and Petunia. Nikki was over-excited by the pig, chasing and biting at her in a way that was not just playful. Petunia brought out a side of Nikki that we had not seen before, and we were concerned. We decided that the two animals would never be exposed to one another.

This worked for about a month. Then, late for work one evening, I rushed out without telling Jon that Petunia was unpenned. He called me at work an hour later to tell me that he let Nikki out and she attacked Petunia, mauling her face and head. I came home at midnight to find Petunia still bleeding and frightened. Traumatized and plagued with guilt, we immediately found Petunia another home.

That dog should be destroyed, our vet said. On the most reasonable level, we knew he was probably right. But we we weren't operating from that level. Jon and I rationalized the incident. Nikki lived next to a pig farm when she was with the collector. On the day of her rescue we witnessed several other dogs fighting over the remains of a pig who had been slaughtered that morning.

They probably had to kill pigs to survive, we protested. We kept Nikki, vowing to watch her every move.


In December a pit bull mix named Mac came for foster care. Because he was heartworm-positive and a pit bull, we knew he would be a longterm project. We started his heartworm treatment and integrated him into the family. Things were uneventful for the first month. He fit into the routine easily, getting along with everyone but the cats and one unneutered male dog who stopped at our home on his way to another foster home. Otherwise Mac did not worry us. Then one evening Mac and Nikki were playing in their typical vigorous fashion, and suddenly both turned on Enzo, our Labrador mix, who was sitting nearby. Within seconds Mac s jaws were clamped on Enzo s hind leg while Nikki s were locked at his throat. The sounds of the fight were terrifying, and as Jon and I rushed to separate the dogs, I lost my footing and fell. Mac bit hard on my ankle and I screamed until Jon was able to shake him off. Jon had Mac by the collar; I grabbed Nikki s collar. We had to twist and yank with all our strength to get the pit bulls of Enzo. When we did, Enzo crawled into the corner, injured and whimpering and terrified. His leg was hurt and there were deep puncture wounds to his throat, but there was nothing that required stitches. My leg throbbed from Mac s bite, but that bite too consisted of deep puncture wounds that could not be stitched. Mac was put outside and Nikki went to her crate. Because Mac bit me, he was unadoptable by Rescue standards, and he was euthanized the next morning.

Jon and I were forced to re-evaluate our beloved Nikki. We had to face that she was a pit bull, and had the potential to act every bit like those we d read about in the papers. I spent the next day on the telephone, seeking the advice of professional dog trainers and animal behaviorists. In essence, I was told that with pit bulls and other dogs bred for aggressiveness, one blood bite would usually precipitate others. Indeed, Nikki was temporarily preoccupied with Enzo, sniffing the door to the porch where he stayed and attempting to attack him again when we went to reacquaint them several days later. We had a trainer come to our home to evaluate Nikki and her capacity for further aggression. He suggested obedience training and trying to desensitize Nikki by having her see Enzo from a distance, then gradually bring the two dogs closer together. He explained that even with training, there would be no guarantees, and he reiterated his point that dogs who have bitten are likely to bite again. My husband and I, clinging to the slight possibility that this was an isolated incident, vowed to keep Enzo and Nikki totally separate. Nikki would become a full time house dog.

Within a few days we had developed a workable system to keep the dogs away from one another. We felt that it must have been Enzo s timid, ultra-submissive personality that caused Nikki and Mac to go after him the way they did. Nikki was second highest in the pack order of our household, the uncontested alpha dog being Rita, our five-year-old greyhound. Enzo had always been at the bottom of the hierarchy. We had never seen anything between Nikki and Rita that concerned us. The two dogs co-existed peacefully, and even played sometimes, with Nikki consistently adopting a submissive posture in the games.

Jon and I watched Nikki with eyes in the backs of our heads. She ate completely by herself, and went out in the fenced yard on a cable, just in case. She was kept from Enzo, and she was crated whenever there was not an adult available to supervise her. She lost her couch privileges, since we didn't want to encourage any illusions of dominance she held. If she and Rita s play got a little too rowdy, Nikki went to her crate to calm down. We bent over backward to safely accommodate our dog. Despite this, we saw her getting worse. Within one week, Nikki broke out two windows when she saw cats outside. When she was out on her cable and saw cats, she would nearly choke herself trying to get at them. We watched, tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It was a matter of weeks before it did. My mother came for a visit. Because of deep snow, I had to move my car into the driveway. I was on my way back in when she ran to the door, screaming my name. Rushing in, I could hear the dogfight. I ran to the dining room and grabbed Nikki s collar, and tried to unclench her jaws from Rita s throat. It took several seconds for me to twist and pull her away. I immediately crated Nikki, who continued to snarl and bark at Rita from the crate. Examining Rita, I was amazed and grateful to find her uninjured.

I knew then that our time with Nikki was over. What we had dreaded most was now the only option. While we had never seen Nikki act aggressively toward any person, her behavior toward other animals was likely to result in their death. Doing the rescue and sheltering work we do, there are always other animals around. We could no longer jeopardized their safety. We spent the evening grieving.

Readers of this story might ask, God! What took you so long to put that dog to sleep? It s a valid question. Within the Rescue, we've euthanized dogs who behaved less aggressively than Nikki, and I've advised many people to euthanize their unpredictable or aggressive dogs. All I can say is that we loved her deeply. The pit bull aspect of her personality, while terribly frightening, seemed minuscule compared to the dozens of endearing things about her. People who weren't dog people loved Nikki. When people came to adopt our foster dogs, they were taken aback by Nikki s friendliness and silly antics, and often asked if they could adopt her instead. Family members who had long since stopped trying to keep track of our pets asked about Nikki regularly. When we had her before and after pictures on a Rescue donation jar, she gained fans we've yet to meet. Truthfully, Nikki was adored by everyone who knew her, and even by some who didn't know her. The goofy, smiling, happy, friendly Nikki was the one we couldn't put to sleep. Watching the pit bull take her over was like watching a loved one succumb to mental illness. We denied what was happening until we just couldn't any longer.


In the days since Nikki's death, I find myself moving between grief and anger. Grief dominates when I think I hear her barking, or when the boys, out of habit, call to her to come snuggle with them while they watch TV. My most tearful time so far was when I moved her crate out of the living room. I gathered her blankets and buried my face in them, breathing her sweet, clean smell, and my chest just ached. The anger is much easier to deal with. In sadness, I want to be left alone to cry for hours. In anger, I curse the twisted idiots who breed these lovable time bombs. I think of pit bulls who have killed people; killed children. I pity the animal lovers who, like me, feel compelled to give a pit bull the benefit of the doubt. The pain we've earned in so doing defies description. I am aware of several other instances, some within the Rescue, of other pit bulls killing or injuring animals or people. Sorrow and regret seem almost inevitable when we're talking about this breed. I myself vow never to take on a pit bull again. Should I find one crossing the highway, of course I ll stop and try to get him, or her. And if I succeed, straight to Animal Control is where I ll go. Better for me to euthanize the dog immediately and forever question myself, than to take such a dog in, grow to cherish him or her, and then face what we faced with Nikki.

I harbor no anger or blame toward Nikki. She was as much a victim as her own victims were. My regret is that I thought she was different, that she was incapable of the violence her breed is known for. Or maybe I thought we were different, that if we just gave her enough love, enough discipline, enough something, that love would override her pit bull instincts. It hurts to admit we were wrong. It hurts to think that because we took in this animal, our other animals lives were threatened. I have yet to admit to myself or to anyone else that our children could have been in danger.

I know now that pit bulls have their reputation for a reason. Fear of the breed is not unjustified. And while rescuers will be rescuers, I personally will advise my fellow animal people not to try rehabilitating pit bulls. Your chances of success are too slim, while your chances of bringing tragedy upon yourself, your children, and your other animals are too high. As unpopular as my position might be with my peers, I believe that a peaceful death is the best we can offer pit bulls.

Nikki's ashes were scattered at the Special Place, a serene wooded valley at the back of our property. It is easy to visualize her there, digging and playing and just being the goofy dog she was. Nikki loved the Special Place, and she makes the valley even more Special by being there.

Shannon Lentz
Founder and Director, Kalamazoo Animal Rescue
(Now founder/director of Grateful Acres Animal Sanctuary.

(From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pit bull advocacy and basic statistics

There have been 400 disfiguring or fatal US pit bull attacks on humans so far in 2013.

In the aftermath of each attack, news sites that report the attack are invariably besieged by an army of relentless pit bull advocates doing damage control and PR, delivering prepared and well-practiced talking points which usually boil down to one or more of the following, in some form:

  • It was the attack victim's fault; It was the pit bull owner's fault
  • Blame the deed, not the breed! (What does that even mean?)
  • How do we know it was a pit bull? (It was a pit bull, not a unicorn!)

One of the most popular types of talking points involves a personal anecdote, usually involving one or more of the following elements:
"I've had pit bulls all my life and I've never been bitten by one, but I was viciously attacked by a <arbitrary breed name here>. My pibble is harmless. He wouldn't hurt a fly."

The pit bull lobby always tries to emphasize atypical behaviors - for instance, a seemingly mild-mannered pit bull. But when a pit bull advocate trots out an anecdotal tale of a pit bull that didn't attack, thinking it to be some sort of game changing revelation, what they're really saying is that they have no concept of statistical distribution.

While there may well be some "family pit bulls" that don't attack, there is absolutely no way to predict whether such a pit bull will attack tomorrow, since virtually all attacks by such pit bulls are completely random, sudden and unexpected. But let's say, for the sake of argument, that there are pit bulls that don't attack. This is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Living creatures are not identical automatons. For every trait, there is variation along some curve. Pointers were bred to point, but you might occasionally find a pointer who fails to point. Pit bulls were bred to attack, torture and kill weaker creatures for no particular reason, but you might find the odd pit bull that doesn't appear to have that inclination. 

At any rate, the pointer that doesn't point, the lab that doesn't swim, and the pit bull that doesn't torture and kill are statistical outliers. The fact that such pit bulls might be observed is often used by pit bull advocates to insinuate that all pit bulls are harmless, but all it really does is illustrate the properties of the well known bell curve.

The bottom line is this: Any particular single observation or measurement could be nearly anywhere on the map. A single data point is always inconclusive. But once you have a large enough sample size, every distribution starts looking like a bell curve. (More info on this at Khan Academy)

So, when pit advocates trot out the apocryphal account of a meek pit bull (assuming it's true in the first place) we're talking about something not representative of the breed in general. When they trot out their tale of an attack by an aggressive large retriever (again, assuming the story has any basis in fact) it is a statistical outlier. When pondering what breed of dog you would like to adopt as a family pet, it would be extremely foolish to focus on an aggressive breed and assume you'll end up with one of the safe "duds", and it would also be a mistake to avoid a known safe breed because you heard a story about someone being bitten by one. 

As long as we're dealing in personal statements about pit bulls, consider this observation from a long time pit bull fancier and breeder: "Any pit bull that hasn't killed another dog is a pit bull that hasn't been let outside". Isn't that lovely? The pit apologists will howl in protest over that statement, but it has every bit as much validity as the hackneyed "my pit bull wouldn't hurt a fly" shtick. 

Anyone can make a statement of belief, and anyone can relate a personal anecdote, but if we want an accurate view of reality, we need to look at the big picture, not just our own personal experience. Using a search engine can be a useful first step in such a quest. Google is your friend!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Welcome new blogger

Another new blogger has arisen to address the growing epidemic of pit bull violence.

17 Barks welcomes The Canine Game Changer to the community of those who stand for the truth and speak for the victims.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Maul Talk Manual 2.0

A new version of the Maul Talk Manual is out!

All who are considering breed-specific laws should browse this helpful glossary of terms used by pit bull activists, which will provide insight into the reality distortion and psychological warfare tactics employed by pit bull owners, advocates and animal groups.

The pit bull propaganda machine

Access the new maul talk manual and learn more about it here

Thursday, September 5, 2013

On pit bulls and their owners

In 2013, there have been 18 canine homicides of which 17 were committed by pit bulls or pit bull mixes. Our dogs are not killing us. Pit bulls are killing us. And although pit bulls attack and kill strangers like Claudia Gallardo, 38 (killed by a pit bull in the front yard of its owner's house in Stockton, California) and Pamela Devitt, 63 (killed by 4 pit bulls running at large as she took a walk in Antelope Valley, California), the usual victims are our children, parents and guests.

I have come to believe that the modern pit bull should not be thought of as a dog at all. A dog is man’s best friend, but this is an animal that will kill the man, his wife, his children, his parents and the guests in his home. Clearly this is not man’s best friend; clearly it is not a “dog” in the sense that we think of a dog. Charles Manson was anatomically a man, sociologically a neighbor, and legally a citizen, but he is spending his life behind bars because he was a deranged individual who orchestrated mayhem and murder. Just because pit bulls look like dogs, they do not have to be thought of like we think about dogs such as golden retrievers and Yorkshire terriers.

In almost all homicides carried out by pit bulls, the owners and neighbors express shock and disbelief because the animal never gave a sign that it wanted to kill anyone. But to me, this is like a drunk driver expressing shock and disbelief that his car could kill. In both types of cases, a person made a choice to do something incredibly reckless, either by getting drunk or by getting the animal that makes headlines because of the frequency and brutality of its killing. We need to stop people from doing these reckless things.

Lawmakers have to stop listening to the nonsense about breed specific laws which is spouted by the owners of bully dogs like pit bulls. Since 2006 there have been 3 psychological studies which focused on the personality and behavioral traits of the owners of pit bulls and other high-risk breeds of dog. A study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence showed a link between ownership of high-risk dog breeds and deviant behaviors, crimes against children and domestic violence. Another study concluded that "vicious dog ownership may be a simple marker of broader social deviance." A third study established that the owners of high-risk breeds of dog displayed more antisocial thinking styles, have an arrest history significantly higher than owners of other dogs, and engage in fighting to a significantly greater degree than other dog owners. They also had higher levels of overall criminal thinking patterns to go with the actual criminal behavior. These people, who are fixated on the animals that kill, maim and terrorize, are not the people that a lawmaker needs in his camp. Reasonable people want fair laws that provide a solution to the obvious problems caused by pit bulls.


Kenneth M. Phillips
Attorney at Law

Monday, August 19, 2013

What happened to Gavin?

There was a time when Maggie would have heartily recommended a pit bull as a family pet, but she no longer feel that way. Here is how a real-life education about pit bulls changed her mind.

My boyfriend Greg had had a pitbull named Bexar for 6 and a half years. He'd raised him from a pup and Bexar was a very well behaved dog and listened to everything Greg would tell him. Greg and I got together over 2 years ago, moved in with each other and Bexar came too. I instantly fell in love with Bexar. He was my "sweet boy". He would give you kisses for hours, even smiled at us every time we walked in the door.

I got pregnant in April 2011 and gave birth to our son in Feb. 2012. Everyone in my family was very concerned about Bexar. We insisted that he would never hurt anyone ever! (well, at least we were sure Bexar wouldn't ever actually hurt a person - cats and other animals were a different story). Bexar was great with our son Trenton, just as we expected him to be.

Trenton had just started crawling in September 2012. We would let him crawl over to Bexar, pat him on the head, play with his ears, let Bexar give him kisses, etc. Bexar would even sleep in front of his crib. He had been around kids his whole life. Family, nieces and nephews, friends kids of all ages.

Maggie and Bexar

On Saturday November 10th, 2012 my mom came to my house to hang out and visit and brought Gavin, my 5 year old cousin. Gavin had stayed with us many times before playing with everyone all day, including Bexar, who he loved to play with. Eventually about 10 visitors had arrived at the house and were in the backyard socializing while Greg and I were inside trying to put Trenton to sleep. 

The backdoor was open and suddenly we heard people screaming from outside. Bexar, with zero warning, had lunged at Gavin, and his jaws were clamped down on Gavin's face, right in front of everyone. Let me point out that there were 8 people within arms reach of Gavin when Bexar attacked. This is a critical point, because I have heard from many people about this, who say that they would never leave their children “alone” with "any" dog. Gavin was far from being alone when this attack happened. Even 4 grown men were unable to pry Bexar's jaws off of Gavin's head. Greg ran out and was finally able to get Bexar to release, saving Gavin's life.

Gavin was rushed to the hospital, then transported to Texas Children’s due to the severity of his injuries. He's since had multiple surgeries on his face and jaw and will need more in the years to come. Bexar barely missed his temple, barely missed his eyeball, and barely missed the main artery in his neck. Greg and I took Bexar and had him put down that night.

In retrospect, we had felt supremely confident that Bexar would never do anything like that - ever. We'd argued with many about pit bulls and told them that "it's all how you raise them". I know that there are people out there who still think it's all in how you raise them, and my goal is to educate and raise awareness of the breed, in the hope that future tragedies can be averted. 

We never want to see what we went through happen to someone else's loved ones. I wouldn't wish the pain that our family has gone through, and more importantly, the pain and suffering that it has caused for our sweet Gavin, on my worst enemy.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sudden, Random, Unprovoked & Violent: LA Times Opinion

It is clear to anyone looking objectively at all the data that we have a serious pit bull problem. It's a public safety issue, and it's a humane issue, as pit bulls are causing injuries and deaths to both humans and animals in amounts drastically out of proportion to their numbers. When we say "out of proportion", what sort of proportion are we talking about? We're talking about a type of dog that constitutes a very small minority of the overall dog population but causes more death and mayhem than all other types of dogs combined.

"321 humans have been killed or disfigured by dogs during calendar year 2013; 316 of those 321 fatal or disfiguring attacks were by pit bulls" (and the human casualties are just a drop in the bucket compared to the number of innocent family pets being killed by pit bulls)

The quote above comes from an article over at the SRUV blog which takes a look at the positive pit bull propaganda coming out the LA times in the wake of numerous horrific attacks; Please feel free to read more at the URL below:

Sudden, Random, Unprovoked & Violent: LA Times Opinion

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How pit bulls changed my life

In response to repeated, horrific maulings committed by pit bulls, the city council of Watertown, Wisconsin has been considering breed specific ordinances to address this breed specific problem. Naturally, pro pit bull organizations have been bombarding the city with threats and propaganda, and attempting to create the illusion of massive grass roots support for pit bulls. Hopefully, the concerns of normal people will not be drowned out in the shrill cacophony of strident pit bull advocacy. Here is an open letter that one Wisconsin resident sent to the Watertown city council. This poignant letter represents the side that sorely needs to be heard in this debate.

Good Morning,

My name is Jennifer Scott. On April 8th, 2009, my life changed forever. 

At the time I lived in a very nice apartment in Pewaukee and adopted a golden retriever puppy, Ruby. We walked to the lake every single day, even most weather couldn't keep us from doing what we both loved best. We’d run, jog, and walk, loving every minute. Then, one day, 2 pit bulls escaped a fenced-in area of their yard. I thought they were coming to meet my puppy. I never thought to be scared. I will make a very long story as short as I can. These dogs ripped my puppy apart, and threw me to the ground. It took 6 men to get them off of her. 3 were holding the pit bulls heads so that they couldn't shake her to death. Others trying to keep my puppy stable. I was in shock, utter disbelief. I have never heard a dog scream. Ruby screamed so loud that neighbors from 4 blocks away could hear her. That day will haunt me forever. It took 6 surgeries to heal my poor puppy who had done nothing wrong. The owner of the dog told the judge that his dogs were merely punishing my dogs because we were trespassing. The judge gave a bewildered look, and said, “Trespassing? I thought you said Jennifer and her puppy were walking on the sidewalk?” The owner stated the sidewalk belongs to him since he shovels and takes care of it. Unfortunately, this type of education level seems far too common with those who own and advocate for pit bulls. 

Fast forward to March of this year. I couldn't believe my ears when I turned on the television. A DJ whose music I came to like, had a young boy, Dax Borchardt, who was mauled by 2 pit bulls - mauled to death! 

I am still in shock. I hadn't even gotten over my own attack from 4 years before. I cannot take a walk without taking an anti-anxiety pill. I live in fear…every time I see one I go into panic mode. I have gained weight because I am simply scared to exercise outside like I used to. It’s hard to explain unless you've seen for yourself. But you can see for yourself; the proof is in the research. Any dog can attack, this is true. But when a pit bull goes to attack, it does so to kill. It will do anything it can to do just that. If you’re lucky, you may just have horrific scars or missing limbs. 

In a moment of honesty, forgetting perhaps how much he is being paid to say otherwise, Cesar Milan said this true word about the pit / bulldog types: “Yeah, but this is a different breed…the power that comes behind the bull dog, pit bull, presa canario, the fighting breed – They have an extra boost, they can go into a zone, they don’t feel the pain anymore. … So if you are trying to create submission in a fighting breed, it’s not going to happen. They would rather die than surrender. If you add pain, it only infuriates them…to them pain is that adrenaline rush, they are looking forward to that, they are addicted to it… That’s why they are such great fighters. Especially with fighting breeds, you’re going to have these explosions over and over because there’s no limits in their brains".

Quote again, just in case you missed it. "THEY WOULD RATHER DIE THAN SURRENDER". My dog had over 90 puncture wounds. I cannot even imagine the grief that Jeff and his wife, Kim, are going through. I beg you, to please look at the facts…the facts that will prove to you that the only way to keep Watertown a safe community is through BSL.

Here’s a picture of what they did to my dog. Please let me know if you need anything else from me or have questions.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Breedism: what is a breed?

What is a breed, anyway? It may seem like an inane question, but it's a good idea to be clear about what we mean. It can be rather frustrating to take part in a discussion where each party is using the same terms and assumes they mean the same thing to everyone, but where each party attaches radically different meaning to those terms.

A quick consultation with Google provides this basic definition of the noun "breed": A stock of animals or plants within a species having a distinctive appearance and typically having been developed by deliberate selection.

It was popularly believed that our domestic dogs descended from wild wolves tamed by humans, but more recent research indicates that domestic dogs evolved gradually from canine ancestors in response to conditions in their environment, adapting themselves to a niche on the fringes of human civilization. 

These canids differed from wolves in that they were less fearful of humans. They scavenged food from human garbage dumps, living in close proximity to man. These early "village dogs" would have been killed off had they presented a threat, but because they were able to coexist peacefully with humans, their destiny connected with ours, and Canis Familiaris became man's best friend.

Since the appearance of the early dogs, the remarkable flexibility of Canine DNA has given rise to a diverse collection of domestic dog types, with an incredible range of size, appearance, temperaments  and behaviors, which we've grouped into over 400 breeds. If humans displayed same range of diversity as canids, we could have adults ranging from 1 foot tall to 17 feet tall, and we'd have drastically different body types, temperaments, and mental capacities. 

Of course, there is no such range diversity in human biology. What diversity of human appearance does exist is extremely minor compared to that found among the population of the domestic dog. We're all humans, and respond in similar ways to given environmental conditions. In other words, there is only one human race, and the concept of different breeds as in the domestic dog simply has no parallel in humanity.

But I digress. The point I want to make here is that Canid DNA is incredibly adaptable, and that the various breeds of domestic dog have taken on distinct, breed specific characteristics, in response to deliberate efforts by humans to select for those very characteristics. For instance, pointers were bred to point to waterfowl, while retrievers were bred to retrieve downed waterfowl, with a soft mouth. Sheep herding breeds arose from selection for the ability and inclination to herd sheep. Livestock guardians were bred to protect weaker creatures under their care. Each of these working breeds was equipped, over time, with the skills to do it's specific job, from birth. 

Beginning in the Elizabethan era, bull dogs were bred by selecting for temperament and physical characteristics useful in dogs which would torture animals - for instance de-horned bulls or de-clawed bears - for "sport".

When bull-baiting was outlawed in 1835, the "sportsmen" turned to dog fighting, and bred specifically for those characteristics best suited to a life in the fighting pit, tearing apart dogs (A bit of terrier was added to the bull dog for more energy, creating the "bull & terrier"). Such characteristics, copiously documented in diverse places, include, but are not limited to, a hair trigger attack reflex, a determination to continue attacking the victim, ignoring signals of submission, as well as injury to itself, and a freakish insensitivity to pain. This collection of traits characterizes the "pit bull", or the "pit fighting bull dog", which, though called by various names over time, has always displayed the distinctive traits which speak of its original purpose.

There's an old saying "You can take the dog out of the fight, but you can't take the fight out of the dog". Just as frustrated border collies without sheep to herd will take to herding children, frustrated pit bulls, without opponents in the pit to attack, will escape confinement and go looking for neighborhood pets to kill. The propensity for a pit bull to jump out of a moving car or a second story window to attack and kill a little dog is well documented, as is the rather breed specific pit bull behavior of finding ways into other people's houses to torture and kill the animals inside. There have been several such cases just within the past few weeks, and such nightmares are truly heartbreaking for anyone who has the least bit of compassion for animals. 

The foregoing sets the stage for the question: If we have deliberately bred lines of dogs for centuries to produce breed-specific characteristics, why is it somehow "racist" to note the existence of these very breed specific characteristics which we've deliberately produced?

If we can accept the fact that, for instance, border collies must have a job to do, and their job is herding, because it's in their DNA, why do we deny all genetic influence when it comes to pit bulls? These bully breeds are working dogs too, and their work is killing. I'm at a loss as to how the pit bull propaganda machine continues to condemn "breedism", as though there are no genetic factors in a dog's behavior. They speak as though a pit bull were no different from a lab.

Why does the pit propaganda machine shout "racism" and speak nonsensically of "condemning a breed for the actions of a few" when that's not the issue at all? At issue here is our ability to recognize that specific breeds were created with specific purposes. We deny reality at our peril - a quick look at the statistics for serious and fatal injuries from dog attacks over the past 30 years makes it clear that breed, more than anything else, is the most relevant factor, not the owner and not the upbringing.

Bottom line: It's absurd to pretend that breed specific characteristics which were deliberately created by humans don't exist. And to call those who recognize these breed specific characteristics "racist" reveals a profound ignorance on the part of the accuser.

A final thought: When someone speaks of the unfairness of "killing off a breed" what they are actually talking about is eliminating a specific set of characteristics which have proven to be a problem. The fact that sadistic humans created a "breed" to torture animals is no mandate to continue the existence of said breed. Nobody has suggested killing off the domestic dog - only those man-made expressions of temperament and behaviors which have proven to be harmful and cruel.

References - 
Coppinger, Dogs, from
Semyonova, The 100 silliest things people say about dogs, from

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pit shelter and euthanasia stats

Merritt Clifton, Editor at Animal People recently shared some pertinent information about the number of pit bulls in shelters and their ultimate disposition. I think it bears repeating because it refutes the idea that "BSL" is somehow to blame for all the pit bull deaths.

The current U.S. pit bull population is about 3.2 million, and it has been about three million for about 10 years now, according to the annual ANIMAL PEOPLE surveys of classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption. About one million pit bulls per year enter animal shelters, about two-thirds surrendered by their keepers, most of the rest impounded for dangerous behavior. Most of these dogs have already been through three homes -- their birth home, the home that bought them, and a subsequent pass-along home, before they arrive at shelters.

An average of just over 900,000 pit bulls per year over the past 10 years have been killed in shelters after flunking behavioral screening, with a peak of 967,000, a low of 835,000, and 910,000 killed last year. This is about 60% of all the dogs killed in U.S. shelters today, up from about 50% in 2003. The average age of pit bulls killed in animal shelters is about 18 months. So what we have at any given time is a third of the pit bull population having not yet reached maturity, a third (at most) in homes they will still occupy at the end of the year, and a third flunking out of homes and being killed -- which translates into a 50% failure rate among adult dogs in homes each & every year. Among all other dog breeds combined, about 5% enter shelters each year.

Animal people news

Monday, July 15, 2013

Getting to know pit bulls, continued

This article appeared as a comment in a discussion of a news article and we felt it was worthy of bringing up again, since it addresses a number of points which the pit bull advocacy would rather you not think about. 

I was an upper middle-class pit bull owner just like you. My husband is a doctor and I am a stay-at-home soccer mom and we live in a lovely suburban neighbourhood. We got our dog as a puppy from a reputable breeder and put her through puppy classes and basic obedience. She was spayed and properly vaccinated, stayed indoors and was very loved. I used to defend the breed to everyone I met, just like you. I used to think I knew my dog inside and out, and I was sure she would never, ever hurt my child. 

Then my dog turned 3 and, literally overnight, her dog-aggression came out. She tried to attack the neighbour's poodle through the backyard fence (she had been in a fenced yard beside this same dog literally thousands of times with no show of aggression). When my 8 year old daughter tried to pull her away from the fence, our pit bull locked onto her forearm (she only got her forearm because my daughter threw it up to protect her face, she was going for the face) and it took 8 minutes for my husband to beat her off, he eventually wound up using the weed whacker, after a baseball bat broke over the dog's back without even being noticed by her. My daughter lost partial use of her right arm and she is still relearning all of the basic skills with her left. Her life will never be the same.

We have been accused of being at fault for not "being there to call off the dog". Well, we were there, we were sitting on patio chairs watching my daughter throw a ball for our pet, who she had spent three years playing with and which had never shown so much as a lip lift to anyone or anything up to that point. We couldn't, physically, call off the dog. We couldn't physically BEAT off the dog for over 5 minutes. After the dog was off my daughter, my husband was on the ground struggling with it to keep it from going at her again as I pulled her into the house. There was so much blood that I kept sliding on it and falling down. There are still blood stains on the patio almost 2 years later. All the dog wanted was to get back on my daughter and finish the job. The dog didn't make any noise while she was attacking and her tail was wagging faster and harder than it had ever wagged before. I believed then, and I believe now, that that dog was the happiest it had ever been when it was locked onto my daughter and trying to kill her.

Let me tell you, you have no idea - none - how completely different pit bulls are from normal pet dogs. When that dog was triggered she went from being a goofy pet and companion to being a cold-blooded predator in a millisecond. You cannot imagine what it is like knowing that your dog is trying to kill your child and knowing that it might just succeed because it is stronger than you are. There is nothing like it in the world. 

There was no news coverage of my dog's attack on my daughter. None. So much for the overhyped media aspect, huh?

You are insane to own a fighting dog when you have children. Absolutely insane. I wish we had been protected from our own stupidity by legislation. What is worse is that you are also, by your own admission of a picket fence the dog could easily escape over, putting other people's children at risk. Fighting dogs are not pets and we need laws in place to protect people from them.

Many thanks to Craven Desires for their efforts towards raising public awareness of the pit bull problem. The original comment, in context, was found here

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Getting to know pit bulls, continued

A US reader sent this story - and sadly, this sort of thing and worse is happening to people regularly -


I have two Boston terriers. I'd researched every breed of dog, looking for the one that best suited my life, had minimal health problems, and was, in particular, great with children, dogs and people in general. I looked everywhere for the dogs. I had health concerns about breeders and rescues, but after some months of search, I found Dixon (4 years old in October), and Helena (just turned 2). Both dogs were at the dog park on the big dog side playing with large dogs at 4 months old. Dixon even played with American Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, Boxers, Mastiffs, etc. None of us had any fear of big dogs.


I rented a condo in December of 2011. The management told me two dogs would be allowed, so mine wouldn't be a problem. In August of 2012 my next door neighbors with a common wall brought Zulu home. Zulu is a 2 year old, 130 lb "Razor" pit bull. When they first brought him home they walked him with a muzzle and I thought it was just due to him being in a new environment or something. At times they would stop while walking, when another dog was present, and I thought it was just a training exercise. At the time, I was under the impression that dog attacks rarely if ever happened, and when they did happen, it was some fault of the owners, and being so rare, it would never happen to me.


The Event:

My life took a change for the worse on March 15, 2013. I was getting ready to leave for work and to take the dogs out for their last morning walk. I had a temporary cast on my right hand and had just gotten back from taking the trash out. I must not have latched the gate properly and Dixon ran out. I was right behind him, when all of a sudden Zulu grabbed Dixon by the neck, less than five feet from my gate. As soon as I saw what happened, I jumped on top of Dixon and held him between my legs to stop Zulu from throwing him, while trying to pry Zulu’s mouth open with my cast. Zulu was being walked by his owner, Elaina Maxwell, on a leash. Elaine is a professional MMA fighter and a purple belt; she was punching the dog in the face the whole time trying to get it to release us. I don't know how long the attacked happened, but my screams still echo in my mind. Somehow we all ended about 20 feet up a grass hill. Zulu still had Dixon by the neck, Dixon was still between my legs and the dog was pulling us up a hill! Finally Zulu released and I immediately pulled Dixon to my stomach; as soon as Zulu released Dixon it went for my face. Fortunately, Elaina was able to pull Zulu away at that moment, and took him into her house. I ran into the bathroom with the dogs and locked the door until I could catch my breath and my head stopped swimming.

After a close call

I went to the ER and Dixon went to the vet. He had numerous punctures around his mouth, and a gash in his neck. I had punctures (one if it was any closer to my eye would have made me lose my eye) a broken nose (broken in two places), and broken teeth. The dog pretty much bit into my mouth, covering my nose and getting the right side of my face. The ER filed a report with animals services. Animal Control came out on Sunday, the attack happened Friday! After meeting with me, seeing everything the dog did, and then talking to Elaina and her husband, THEY LET THE DOG STAY NEXT DOOR! The officer’s reason was that “it saves the owners money.” I told the officer that I didn't feel safe with that and he still let the dog stay.

They City of Milpitas deemed the dog a level four danger and the owners appealed it. They lied in court, swearing that Dixon started the attack, but the appeal judge didn't fall for their story. The best thing of all was seeing the letter sent to Elaina declaring in bold letters that her pit bull is deemed a level 4 danger. In a way, though, I feel violated by the city for allowing the dog to remain there. The only thing that we had separating us from a dog that wanted to kill us was a wall. I had to sit and listen to that dog barking every freaking day! Two weeks after it attacked me, Zulu broke out of its muzzle and went after another dog, and I have statements from that dogs owner.

In the aftermath of the attack, I was officially diagnosed with PTSD. I was in a support group and counseling, and it's been a struggle, but I graduated last week. Now I'm just dealing with the flashbacks, anxiety, being paranoid 24/7. I have only let the dogs be around one dog. I can't let my dogs out of my sight. So, I'm basically a mess. Both of my dogs are on anti/depressants and anti-anxiety medication. Dixon broke down at the vets when he heard a big dog barking, it was so bad he peed himself in the middle of the room. It saddens me to know that I've tried hard to do things correctly but this one day has altered these poor dogs for the worse.

When I finally hired an attorney, he showed me the the CCCR for the condo. The owner of the place had never shown them to me. Two items of interest are that (1) you can only have one dog, and (2) pit bulls are strictly verboten. The condo owner didn't have insurance, and of course Elaina didn't have insurance, and had filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy the year prior. So now we have to try to go after the HOA and the security company (the security guard knew about the pit bull and never notified the HOA). Kaiser won't fix my nose, even though they said I needed it (gotta love HMOs). Elaina Maxwell and her husband had to pay a mere $500 for what their dog did to me. It's almost always the case that the victims of pit bull attacks get nothing.

The end of April I moved to house 65 miles away from the attack, built on a hill, on a corner, with a fenced yard, and only one neighbor on one side, who has no dogs. I don't know how things will get better; I just know they will. I don't know why this happened to us; I just pray that it all happened for a reason.

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger; I would have gladly gone my whole life without getting this particular dose of strength. Me and my dogs are very lucky. We walked away with minimal damage, things could have been much worse. I'm grateful but I ask why: Why do people show so little care; why do they make excuses for these dogs; why don't we start protecting people instead of protecting an animal?