Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Getting to know pit bulls

Insightful comments from a UK reader on her own pit bull experience:

Here in the UK, we have enjoyed a Dangerous Dogs Act with several breeds of dog that are not permitted to be kept at ALL, Pit Bulls and Pit Types being one of them. We had a Pit Bull in our family, her name was Bully. My brother and father picked her up from a building site, straying. She was friendly. They tried to find out who she belonged to but no-one claimed her. The Police said they could bring her home. When I first met her, my daughter was very small. I took a long long time just looking at that dog. I like to look at things, weigh them up, wait for the tumblers to fall into place. Bully moved like no other dog. She had an aura and a presence that I didn't recognise. She was so still, so quiet, so placid; a gingery ghost with cool cool eyes. Her body, her head, that chest - you could feel the power beneath the skin. I didn't dislike her, but I didn't love her. I set some rules out straight away to my family that Bully was never EVER to be around my little girl alone or without strict supervision. I didn't know what a Pit Bull was, I didn't know their history, but something about that dog rattled me. Something primeval. I knew that dog. She didn't do a thing to set my teeth on edge but they set all the same. 

Some of my family were upset about the Dangerous Dogs and Banned Breeds Act; they knew what Bully WAS, but they didn't want her to be called a Pit Bull. They took her to our Vet. Our Vet wasn't having ANY of it. She said 'that is a Pit Bull'. My family tried to say that she was a Rhodesian Ridgeback Mix, but the Vet said no. Bully had to comply with the Law, or be exterminated. She was duly sterilised, chipped, logged at the Police station, had to be muzzled and short-leashed in public at all times. She was given an Exemption Certificate to stop her being PTS. Several years passed; Bully remained as she had always been; quiet, unruffled, never barked, never growled, just quietly moving among us, the gingery ghost. 

She finally went 'Pit Bull' when my family had left her for a simple short shopping trip. A normal day, no catalyst, no reason for it. Something snapped. The family kitchen paid the price. It looked like a Tiger had tore it up. Massive worktops pulled to the floor; a freezer door completely removed (food intact); a solid hardwood teak door eaten and clawed through as though it was cardboard; another interior door broken through; large heavy ceramic floor tiles torn up; a UPVC double glazed window smashed through. Bully was covered in blood. Some nails were torn out. Her lips and gums had splinters in them. The cool cool eyes had gone, replaced with red-lit, darting, nervous glancing. She panted as though a thousand demons had settled in her skin. 

The Vet said she was done for. She never recovered. She would not settle, agitated and skittish, fear and aggression in her eyes. Bully was put to sleep and buried in a bank full of flowers, along with out other pets. I tried to feel sad but I couldn't. She never harmed anyone in our family, but I couldn't love her. Years later, and recently too, I was having a 'gruesome' session on the computer. I Googled 'dog bite' Images. A horrific Page came up, people with torn faces and worse. I truly believed that Google had mixed up Shark attacks with Dog bites. They were Pit Bull victims. All the tumblers fell into place again. I've spent 6 months now, studying the subject, drawn irresistibly to it all. My daughter has now grown up and moved into a cottage with her partner. Cruel fate has placed a Pit Bull and what looks like a very overweight Staffordshire next door to her. She is concerned about them. The dividing fence is rotten and low. :( 

Our Dangerous Dogs Act and Banned Breeds Acts worked when it first came out, but it is not enforced. Pits are appearing back in our communities. They are posing as little British Staffordshires, but they are not. They are Pit crosses. Attacks are on the increase. Two child deaths since January. John-Paul Massey was killed by family Pit Bulls. Jade Anderson was killed by a variety of savage dogs, including one that was passed off as a Mastiff but which looks very much like an American Bulldog which is not a banned breed. Two 'Staffies' were amongst the dogs that killed her. Neighbours described the 'Staffies' as being being very big and very fierce. Almost certainly Pit Bulls. 

Some people have said that my being British means that I have no voice when it comes to American Pit Bull problems. My reply is simple; I am not so inhuman, nor has the world become so large and cold, that I cannot hurt for the dead and the maimed in ANY country in this world. With our own failing BSL, we have much in common. You are us, and we are you. A Bull breed that kills and maims is ever present in both our Countries. Innocent children have died. That's reason enough for me. :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is it time for a pit bull recall?

A Beverly Hills law office has put out a very insightful press release. While the premise of the press release could conceivably be misconstrued by some low information types, I think most people will be able to see his point as they read it. It's a way to look at a problem from a different perspective through a clever analogy.

By way of introduction, I'd like to talk about the Ford Pinto - those who've been around the block may remember the Pinto, manufactured for a decade between 1971 and 1980. I confess to having a pinto back in the day, and I am none the worse off. But for a number of pinto drivers, a design flaw that, in the event of an accident, facilitated the explosion of the gas tank, proved fatal. It's estimated that 27 people were killed from pinto gas tank explosions. Ultimately Ford recalled the pinto, and the rest is history. 

Imagine if you will, that after every fiery pinto crash, a rowdy mob of pinto fans attacked anyone who mentioned that it was a pinto, screaming "racist!". This mob would assert that "any car could have done the same thing", and they would post pictures of pintos filled with happy families, and helpfully reminding us that "all cars crash", "not all pintos are defective", and "it's the driver, not the pinto".

Now, let us further imagine that it was impossible to recall the pinto, due to a law that prevented singling out any specific type of car, because that would amount to "unfair discrimination".

The resulting nightmare scenario would result in additional unnecessary deaths, because it would be strictly verboten to speak clearly about the problem, and legally impossible to rectify it. Who would stand for such a state of affairs?

Welcome to the world of pit bull advocacy. 

Here's the bottom line: Ford was forced to recall the Pinto because of 27 deaths over 10 years. However, there have been 185 people violently mauled to death by pit bulls over the past 10 years, with no action from lawmakers, only thinly veiled threats and raucous protests from the pit bull lobby any time there is a hint of relief for potential victims. If the pinto problem was so potentially deadly that it had to be addressed, isn't it high time to address the pit bull problem?

If this makes sense to you, then you'll have no problem understanding and appreciating the significance of the press release from the law offices of Kenneth M Phillips. 

See the press release here: PressRelease-ItsTimeforthePitBullRecallToo.pdf

References -

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dog attack report by breed - June 2013

Linda Henry, severely maimed by her own pit bulls

It's time for a mid-year update of the statistics on serious and fatal dog attack in the US, and it comes as no surprise that pit bulls have further widened their lead over all other breeds as the most dangerous type of dog, as this has been a violent year so far. In the first 141 days of 2013, 14 people were fatally mauled by dogs, and 13 of the 14 cases involved pit bulls.

High risk: Pit bull

Some relevant insights can be gleaned from the report. Pit bulls (variously referred to as staffy, amstaff, apbt) now make up approximately 6% of the dog population in the US, while, over the past 5 years they have been responsible for well over 70% of the fatal attacks, a disproportionate representation.

Toddler Beau Rutledge mauled to death by family pit bull

In contrast, large retrievers (labrador, golden etc) make up over 8% of the dog population, but serious attacks by large retrievers are rare in comparison.

Labrador retriever, the most popular dog in the USA

A good example of a safe breed would be the Irish Setter - with no fatal or disfiguring attacks recorded in the 31 year study period. Other relatively safe breeds include the Greyhound, Standard Poodle and Dalmatian, none of which accounted for a single fatal attack, and the Weimaraner, St Bernard, Great Pyrenees and Collie, each with only a single recorded death over the same 31 year period.

Safe breeds: Weimaraner, Collie, St Bernard

Interestingly, data indicates that the actual number of pit bulls in the US has not materially changed in 10 years. Nonetheless, the number of violent and fatal attacks committed by pit bulls continues to rise, most likely due to well financed PR campaigns aimed at convincing prospective dog adopters and others that pit bulls are not dangerous if treated well, that they have a good temperament, and were once known as "nanny dogs", a particularly insidious myth which sprung from the imagination of pit bull promoters in the latter part of the 20th century.

Human death toll, showing all breeds with over 10 fatalities

You can download a full copy of the June 9th report here

References for further reading -
The nanny dog myth revealed
The pit bull hoax: The ATTS
Fatal pit bull attacks: the archival record

Monday, June 3, 2013

Zelda's story

We are telling Zelda's story here to help raise awareness of the slaughter of the innocents that is happening every day in America. Zelda and her human family were victims of pit bull advocacy. Such attacks almost never make news, but Zelda and others like her deserve to be remembered. Mr Jones shares his loss, and the story of a beloved animal companion:

An account of what happened the day I lost my baby Zelda. I wrote this some weeks after her passing....

I had just finished teaching my Saturday morning class, and the weekend had officially begun. I was so excited for the day, I had so many fun errands to run and just wanted to take a quick nap before heading out for the day. As I lie there, with Tiffany and Link (my lab) in bed with me, I heard some strange barking. I knew it was different due to Link's reaction. The hairs on his back stood up, and he was barking louder than normal. What felt like forever, was only mere seconds that it really took me to recognize that it was Zelda's bark I had heard. I raced outside and was shocked to find two dogs in my front yard, pouncing on top of my poor, innocent Zelda....

Before I continue though, let me take a second to go back. To go back twelve and a half years to be exact. I was merely thirteen years old when I started to really beg my parents for a dog. See, my parents went out a lot on the weekends. I was old enough to stay at home, and I just stayed in my room and played video games all night. Deep down though, I was lonely. I had no siblings my age to stay with me, and I couldn't have friends over most of the time.

So for the most part, I was just very lonely and yearned for some company. I don't want to make my parents out to sound bad, I just also really wanted a dog so bad. I love animals, especially dogs, and always wanted my own. My parents did not share my same enthusiasm about getting a pet though.

Well, once I got my mom on board that was all it took. She wanted to get a Schnauzer, because our family has always gotten that breed of dog, and it also had to be female, because according to my mother, male dogs pee everywhere. Anyway, once I agreed to her terms, we searched for mini-Schnauzers and once we found someone breeding them, we met to choose our dog. I can remember the night we rode to these people's house, and the joy I had picking her out. She was so tiny, and so cute, and she just made me feel so happy. On the ride home, I can remember dancing in the car, I was just ecstatic.

I will spare you all the countless and hundreds of Zelda stories and moments that I could recall through her twelve year run on this Earth. All I can say is that in every sense of the word, she was my companion. She was very human-like, and very frustrating at times, and she had a mind of her own! But she loved me, and she respected me, and I loved her more than a human should probably love his dog.

It's not just her funny quirks that I remember the most. It's the things she did for me. It's when I was a kid, or even through most of my young adulthood, if things were hard, or overwhelming, she would sit right up by me and start licking my face. She could tell when I was sad, and at times I felt like she was taking care of me. She warmed me over with her unconditional love. The kind of unconditional love that only a faithful dog can give. I loved it, and I miss it so much.

I cannot sum up my twelve year relationship with Zelda in words. There is no way I could do it justice to how much she meant to me, and my Mom both. I always knew that she'd die, and I had come to grips with it several years ago when we thought she had cancer. I prepared myself for the day she would grow old and die. But you can never prepare yourself for what I saw. 

They were on top of her, biting her, shaking her, it was vicious. When I ran out there, I didn't even know they were pit bulls. Honest to God, my vision blurred and I lost all sense of safety as I ran into the dog fight and immediately kicked one of them off of her. In the process, Zelda bit me by accident, and finally my neighbor who owned them came in and helped me separate the dogs. Once the smoke cleared, I was about five feet away from Zelda, I had walked off, holding my bleeding thumb. I started to regain some awareness, and started calling out for Zelda. I couldn't find her in the grass. She sat up. Fractured ribs, a hernia, and multiple bite wounds, she sat up for me. I saw her, clearly in pain, as she collapsed back down to the ground, and I lost it. Tiffany rushed her to the vet while I stayed to see the ambulance and then I drove to meet her there.

All day Zelda was in critical condition, and later that night, as they performed surgery on her, it was not enough. Her old heart couldn't handle it. I choke up, as I write this to you all. It honestly hurts to even think about what I saw. It's just never something in a million years I thought that I'd picture seeing Zelda in. She was old, and she deserved much better than how she had to leave. She still had years left. And had I not been careless letting her out of the house, she would still be here today.

I was talking to someone the other day, and they said something that really hit home with me. Zelda has been in my life for over a decade. She has been with me through my entire teenage life, and all the way up to manhood. She was in my life every day, and I have never experienced losing someone to death that has been a part of my life that much or that valuable before. I've never felt this kind of pain before. And honestly, I'm sad that it had to be her. I could think of much more deserving people of a pit bull attack. I am still coping and dealing with this. It may seem to be "too much" for some people. Well, that's just how much she meant to me. I will not just be "over this" any direct time soon. But I must learn to live with it. I have no more tears left to cry, so all I can do now is keep standing and moving forward. 

Goodbye Princess Zelda, I will love you forever. And I will never forget you. I will miss you more every day you are gone.