Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gameness: IX

They were biting him like it was their breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

* * * * * 

74-year old Sawney Brown Bell was walking to work when he was attacked by two pit bull mix dogs in NE Washington.

One dog had him by his skull and he was just ripping, ripping. I hit the dog in the back, the stomach, the head. Nothing worked! said Leroy, a neighbor and friend.  Leroy also tried to help by beating the dogs with a metal pole.

They were biting him like it was their breakfast, lunch , and dinner, said a witness who asked to remain anonymous.

Another neighbor said that the dogs appeared to be trying to "eat" Bell.

After all else had failed and the dogs continued to gnaw at Bell, the neighbors turned to the weapon of last resort: another pit bull. A neighbor loosed his own dog on the attacking dogs and the neighbors were able to save the wounded man.

And in a recent dog-on-dog attack in New Haven, horrified bystanders watched as a pit bull destroyed an elderly woman's companion.  After killing the woman's companion the pit bull continued to work the dog's neck in an effort to decapitate her. The police, recognizing that there was no alternative to killing the pit bull, moved the crowd of bystanders away from the scene.

An officer fired one shot into the pit bull, which had no effect.  Then an officer fired a second shot, hitting the dog again. Still, the pit bull kept going. The officers finally stopped the pit bull after firing 12 - 15 shots.

The distraught human companion of the victim stayed on the scene all day, according to reports.

* * * * *


Sources for Sawney Brown Bell:  WUSA9 News; EMS World

Source for attack in New Haven CT:  New Haven Independent 

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Revised: August 9 2012, 21:09 GMT

They have caught themselves in a metaphysical riddle that only the Mad Hatter could solve; they clearly know how to identify a pit bull.

* * * * *

To: Maryland Legislative Task Force on Pit Bulls

Dear Senators and Delegates,

Several members of the task force have voiced concerns about identifying pit bulls. This issue is one of the first smokescreens used by advocates of fighting breeds, and one of the easiest to resolve.

Over three hundred and fifty United States municipalities have ordinances restricting pit bulls and other fighting breeds; many of these laws (if not all) contain language which defines a pit bull. These laws have been tested in the courts and in Washington state the definition has withstood challenges up to the Supreme Court. The Duhaime Legal Dictionary offers legal precedents on the definitions of pit bulls, and we have copied below definitions from Omaha NE and Yakima WA. There is no need to rediscover the wheel.

The members of the Maryland Task Force have been flooded with input from pit bull advocates and insurance lobbyists. One of their most common handouts is the ubiquitous "Find The Pit Bull" test, which is used to instill doubt about identifying a pit bull. This visual prop has been discredited but is still widely distributed.

The advocates of fighting breeds argue, on the one hand, that pit bulls are difficult if not impossible to identify. They have caught themselves in a metaphysical riddle that only the Mad Hatter could solve, for they clearly know how to identify a pit bull.

The advocates of fighting breeds are part of a well-organized and heavily financed minority. Recent polls have shown that 60% or more of the population do not want to live next door to a pit bull. HSUS and other animal welfare institutions have been slow to acknowledge that pit bulls have been bred differently, and remain different in significant ways. And the advocates have steadfastly refused to acknowledge the grief and suffering fighting breeds have caused; they remain immune to it. If you have the courage to withstand the onslaught of advocacy Maryland's grateful citizens will applaud you.

* * * * *


Omaha NE Municipal Code Section 6-163
For purposes of this section, pit bull shall be defined as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, DogoArgentina, Presa Canario, Cane Corso, American Bulldog, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds (more so than any other breed), or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.

Yakima WA Municipal Code Section 6-18
18.010 Definitions
"Pit bull dog" means any pit bull terrier. "Pit bull terrier" means any American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog or American Staffordshire terrier breed of dog or any mixed breed of dog which contains as an element of its breeding the breed of American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog or American Staffordshire terrier so as to be identifiable as partially of the breed American pit bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog or American Staffordshire terrier.(Ord. 2004-32 § 1, 2004: Ord. 2001-32 § 1, 2001: Ord. 98-27 § 1, 1998: Ord.3034 § 1 (part), 1987).

* * * * *


Source: WUSA9, Fox6, Springfield: / Pit Bull Attacks Raise Questions About Dog Breed

Related post: SRUV's version of Find the Pit Bull

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Right now at TJO we have a beautiful golden retriever 
that hospitalized a woman for three days. It was a severe attack.
Pam Peebles, TJO Foundation

* * * * *
Revised: June 21, 2012; 10:53 EST
Pam Peebles, Exec. Director
Thomas J O'Connor Foundation
Springfield MA

The comment (headline above) following the mauling of a nine-year-old child by three pit bulls on the eleventh of June is a remarkable and sad coincidence.

In November 2011 SRUV published a series of posts to the MSPCA after Kara Holmquist, the MSPCA Director of Advocacy, commented on television that there was no difference between the aggressive tendencies of pit bulls and golden retrievers. In April of 2012 we posted three posts to the NH SPCA about their references to golden retrievers. In May of this year we published a post to the NM Animal Humane about similar comments they made following an epidemic of pit bull attacks in their state.

In a separate series of posts over the last three months SRUV has published 12 posts about the origins of the pit bull/golden retriever formula, which are indexed here.

Deflecting responsibility away from an attacking pit bull has become commonplace, but so far not one of these alleged attacks by a golden retriever has been verified. In 2011 pit bulls caused 23 human deaths, while golden retrievers caused none.

These unsupported claims cannot be left unchallenged. Anyone who claims that a golden retriever has caused serious injury must offer supporting evidence. Hospital or animal control records must be provided or we should assume the story is apocryphal, as 100% of the stories thus far have been.

If SRUV is provided with fair copies of either a verified hospital report or an animal control action report, we will gladly offer our apology to Ms Peebles. Otherwise, Ms Peebles' account of the attack by the golden retriever must be considered a fabrication.

Making false claims about golden retrievers is slanderous and is worthy of civil action by the Golden Retriever Club of America. Journalists who receive any such claims must treat them with skepticism and investigate them thoroughly. The AKC must lodge a complaint against Ms Peebles in defense of golden retrievers.

Humane shelters and animal control officers have been given a public charge and work on behalf of the citizens and our companion animals. We expect these officials to discharge their responsibilities with honesty and with dignity. A false charge by an officer of an animal shelter, in this case slandering an innocent breed while exonerating the attacking pit bull, should be grounds for dismissal.

The larger question is not the culpability of Ms Peebles, but why advocates of fighting breeds compulsively use the Hannover Formula to displace responsibility of attacks by pit bulls.

* * * * *

Source: WUSA9, Fox6, Springfield: Pit Bull Attacks Raise Questions About Dog Breed

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks in the US


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Corrections

I sold him anyways. He’s probably in Florida by now.
William Johnson

* * * * * 
This is not a book discussion group for the bestselling novel by Jonathan Franzen; that would be a different blog. This post responds to a pit bull attack and what steps the city should have taken to mitigate the attack.

Albert Gallagher and his family returned from a cookout to find the neighbor's pit bull had invaded his home, attacking his five little dogs. One of the dogs, Isabella, died and Gallagher was left with $5,000 in medical bills for the other four dogs.


Animal Control declined to take the invading pit bull. Authorities said the dog had not been deemed dangerous by a judge.

William Johnson, the neighbor who owned the pit bull, claimed that Gallagher's son allowed the pit bull in the home with the five Shih Tzus. I sold (the pit bull) anyways. He’s probably in Florida now.

William Johnson

The Corrections

The following comments and suggestions will be self-evident to most people, but may not have occurred to authorities in Carrick, PA.
  • Any child would intuitively recognize Johnson's winking deception that the dog is in Florida; the dog is probably hiding out across town at a friend's house. Johnson is gaming the Carrick authorities.
  • Animal control should question Johnson to find out where the dog is and have it euthanized.
  • Animal control should realize that if a pit bull is caught in the act of attacking five Shih Tzus, having killed one of them, it is de facto dangerous. Who in God's creation would offer a complaint if the dog had been taken away at that moment? Was Animal Control more concerned with the welfare of the pit bull than with the victims?
  • As in so many cases following a pit bull attack, the victim is left to cover the costs. SRUV suggests two options for covering the costs. The city should arrest Johnson for criminal negligence, and fine him to cover the cost of Gallagher's medical bills. A second option would be that all those who advocate for  fighting breeds including Mike Markarian, Ledy VanKavage, Jane Berkey, Karen Delise, and dozens of others, should send Mr Gallagher a check and their apologies.
On numerous occasions SRUV has reminded readers that advocates for fighting breeds lobby for Dangerous Dog Laws (DDL) over BSL. The DDL in Carrick worked exactly as they hoped: a pit bull which wreaked havoc by invading a home and attacking five dogs, killing one named Isabella, was returned to the safety and comfort of its home, while the animal and human victims suffered without recourse.

SRUV recognizes that some of our corrections are extra-legal, but we dream of a more humane, just world.

* * * * *

Appendix IV

Everyone was laughing.....except the gov. witness. He looked confused and said, 'Uh, excuse me Your Honor, but I am afraid I don't understand what you are asking me'.
It was classic.

Cathie Dettmar

* * * * * *

Angela Mittmann (2002) authored the dissertation which became an important weapon in the battle against breed legislation. It also became the cornerstone of the urban myth that "no significant difference" could be found in the aggressive tendencies of pit bulls and golden retrievers.

In a brief section describing the development of the test for aggression Ms Mittman simply refers to Appendix IV. Upon turning to Appendix IV we discover a list of names, which are included at the bottom of this page.

With this enigmatic reference we are given to understand that this group wrote the test for canine aggression. SRUV has previously* referred to the test as a document written in a smoke-filled back room, and there is no indication that scientific procedures were used to develop the test. We have argued that the TiHo test actually disguised aggressive tendencies in dogs. We also argue that the test led directly to extended court battles and to the legal debacle which ended with the annulment of the dog laws.

The Appendix IV committee was packed with advocates of fighting breeds. One member of the committee, Esther Schalke, subsequently authored papers which advocated for fighting breeds. Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Hackbarth, also on the Appendix IV committee, is the director of TiHo and very likely the man behind the curtain.

It will be informative to look at other members of the Appendix IV committee, in order to better understand how the test for aggression came to be such a counterproductive document.

* * * * * 

Now we will segue to the chat forum at the bulliez.net where we find a Cathie Dettmar appealing for funds to continue a long running (nine years, at that point) and expensive (33K euros) court case.

Yes, Cathie would be married to Rudolf, a member of the Appendix IV committee (see below),  and signs many of her posts as Cathie and Rudi Dettmar. 

Subtracting nine years from the date of the post (March, 2010) indicates that the Dettmar's court case (against restrictions on importing fighting breeds into Germany) began in 2001, immediately after Rudolf's service to help write the test for aggression. Sitting on the committee to write a test for aggression, which would clearly be considered a conflict of interest by many, apparently didn't bother the less scrupulous Rudi.

* * * * * 

Now we segue to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier web site (staffords.co.uk)  in the UK, where Cathie shows up reporting on another court case: 
The highest administration court in Berlin heard the appeal of the Lower Saxony Dangerous Dog Law (Rudi was there today) . . . 
* * * * * 

Segue to yet another page, where Cathie reports, in a lengthy letter, on a court judgment of 3 July 2002:
Two studies were presented as evidence by the plaintiffs:
The Vet. School in Hannover tested over 500 dogs in their temperament test.(The 5th study Rudi and I are using in our trial).  . . . The Cat. 1 dogs, (Bull Terrier, Am Staff and Pitbull) ranked from very good to excellent.
Also introduced was the temperament test done by Dr. Feddersen-Petersen. She tested 207 dogs and only 1 failed. (Another expert we have for the Bull Terrier)
* * * * *

Mr and Mrs Dettmar are breeders and importers of Bull Terriers from England into Germany, and continue to be fierce opponents of dog legislation in the courts. 

Cathie's last comment conveniently provides the transition to Dr. Feddersen-Petersen, who is also an Appendix IV committee member. Not only did she act as a witness in the Dettmar's court case, but she has been a prolific author of letters to the courts, including here and most conspicuously, here.

* * * * *

There is more, but we are reluctant to bore the readers.

Why did the state of Lower Saxony chose Mr Dettmar to help write the test? And why would they invite a second breeder of fighting breeds, Ortlieb Lothary, to participate? These two men, both of them breeders of fighting dogs, are the only breeders represented on the Appendix IV committee; breeders of Golden Retrievers are not represented. 

How did it come to pass that the state of Lower Saxony passed a law to restrict fighting and other dangerous breeds, then pack the test committee with advocates of fighting breeds?

The members of the Appendix IV committee were given a public charge to act in behalf of society, and chose instead to protect fighting breeds, in conflict with their public responsibilities.

* * * * * * * 


See the TiHo Index for complete list of posts on TiHo.

* Related post: Personal Communication

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks in the US

* * * * *

Appendix IV

Dr. Johan Altmann
Veterinary officer and chairman of the Lower Saxony Animal Welfare Advisory Council

Rudolf Dettmar
VDH representative of Lower Saxony, Harsum, Bull Terrier Breeders

Dr. Dorit Feddersen-Petersen
Ethologist, Veterinary specialist, Department of Animal Science, Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel

Dr. Barbara Gottstein
Veterinarian, Lower Saxony Ministry of Nutrition, Agriculture and Forestry

Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Hackbarth
Director of the Institute for Animal Welfare and Behaviour, Hannover

Ortlieb Lothary
Bull Terrier Bull Terrier Breeders Association, Maxhuette

Dr. Sabine Petermann
Veterinarian; Niedersachsen, Director of the Animal Welfare Service

Dr. Esther Schalke
Veterinarian, Institute for Animal Welfare and Behaviour, Hannover

Dr. Barbara Schöning
Veterinary Specialist for Ethology and Animal Welfare, Hamburg

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Delise's Dark Shadows

Revised: January 9, 2014; 12:48 GMT

Any dog that is labeled a pit bull lives in the dark shadow
of the manufactured villainy of a classic folk devil.

* * * * * 
Ginny Sohn, Publisher, The New Mexican
Mike Cosgrove, Rob Dean, Editors
NM State Senate
Doña Ana County Commissioners
Las Cruces City Council
The Board of Directors, Animal Humane NM
Peggy Weigle, Executive Director, Animal Humane NM

The quotation above begins a newspaper article by Julie Ann Grimm which appeared on May 4th. The story appeared in The New Mexican in response to the mauling death of Clifford Wright two days before.

The quotation has become a battle cry for the advocates of fighting breeds. The sentence would have been red-lined by most English professors for its flowery, overwrought, Edwardian, hysterical prose, but it apparently appeals to the advocates of fighting breeds. Google currently returns over 2,500 hits for a search of the sentence, and it is most often hauled out following a pit bull attack.

The headlines of these stories often refer to the author of the quotation, Karen Delise, as an expert.  Ms Delise is not a veterinarian or an animal behaviorist. Nor is she a bioethicist, an ethologist, nor a scholar of human-animal studies. Ms Delise is simply one of the country's most prominent advocates of fighting breeds. She is considered an expert primarily by other advocates of fighting breeds.

SRUV has previously questioned (in The War Room)  how advocates of fighting breeds respond so quickly to tragedy with such similar quotations. The Infinite Monkey Theorem claims that given an infinite amount of time a monkey sitting in a room will tap out Hamlet.  We'll never know, but SRUV doubts that journalists all over the country (2,500 of them!) independently quote Ms Delise.

It's far more likely that following a mauling, the pit bull advocacy War Room emails an information packet to the local newspaper, perhaps with a suggestion that the newspaper will also tell the other side of the story about these misunderstood dogs. The packet may include ready-made quotes, and offer access to an "expert" such as Ms Delise.

It is difficult to imagine any other scenario in which a newspaper would publish such a tasteless article. SRUV asks why the New Mexican would publish an article which advocates for fighting breeds on the heels of a canine homicide so gruesome that the police were unwilling to describe it. SRUV will not spare the details of such an attack: other victims of similar attacks have been dismembered, decapitated, and extensively eaten. By their family pets.

Does the New Mexican really want to defend man-made aberrations so violent they would destroy their own human companions?

* * * * *

Santa Fe New Mexican: Experts warn not to demonize dog breed

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here. This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Information on euthanasia rates is from Pit bulls and Political Recklessness, by Merritt Clifton. Shelter intake and euthanasia rates are published annually in the July/August edition of Animal People.



The author and year citations below refer
to papers published by students or faculty of 
 The University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany. 
For the full titles see the Annotated Timeline of TiHo publications.

These excerpts are drawn from the conclusions and summaries
of TiHo dissertations and papers written between 2002 - 2008.

The SRUV commentary follows the citations.

* * * * * *
Mittmann (2002)

The assessment of the breeds and the Pitbull-type dogs did not show any significant difference as far as aggressive behaviour . . . is concerned. Consequently, splitting the dogs into two categories and the resulting different legal treatment is not justified.

Johann (2004)

Comparing the MITTMANN (2002) group and the comparison group no significant difference in the frequency of inadequate aggressive behaviour could be observed.

The results show that it is neither legitimate to discriminate against certain breeds nor to submit them to the rules and regulations of the so called breed-lists.

Hirschfield (2005)

In conclusion, there were no indications found for inadequate or disturbed aggressive behaviour in this Bull Terrier breed line. Furthermore, throughout the entire study the broad majority of the dogs proved to possess excellent social skills as well as the ability to communicate competently and to solve conflicts appropriately.
Ott (2008)
However, no significant difference between the 415 dogs tested by Mittmann (2002) and the 70 golden retrievers of this study was found.
. . . . no significant differences in the occurrence of aggressive behavior in inappropriate situations were found when comparing golden retrievers and 6 dog breeds affected by legislation. Therefore, assuming that certain dog breeds are especially dangerous and imposing controls on them cannot be ethologically justified.
Schalke (2008)
Furthermore, no significant difference between the breeds and type of [sic] concerning exceptional aggressive signaling or aggressive behavior in inappropriate situations could be found.
Therefore, the temperament test did not suggest particular dangerousness of these dogs with regard to their behavior toward people.
* * * * * 

SRUV Commentary:

It is impossible to miss the consistency of language and thought, as if someone were directing the argument. These conclusions are clearly written with legal proceedings in mind, rather than as scholarly conclusions.

SRUV has previously argued that the TiHo test does not provide an accurate measure of canine aggressive behavior. But for the moment we will assume that it is a valid test and examine one of the indicators.

The dogs were rated on a scale of one through seven, on each of 35 different subtests. According to several of these papers, 13% of the American Staffordshire Terriers reached a scale level of five on at least one subtest; 13% of the pit bulls reached a scale level of five; and 12% of the Staffordshire Bull Terriers reached a scale level of five.

One Golden Retriever reached a scale level of five. This amounts to 1.4% of the Golden Retrievers, compared to 12 and 13% of the fighting breeds, having reached a scale level of five.

There is reason to doubt the veracity of the subtest on which the single Golden Retriever received the scale level of five. SRUV has previously ( in The 11th Subtest ) referred to this unique occurrence and has asked TiHo to post the video of this subtest.

Despite the gap in percentages (and the persistent doubts about the single Golden Retriever which was assigned a scale level of five) TiHo papers repeatedly claim there is no significant difference between Golden Retrievers and fighting breeds. They are unable to acknowledge the difference between 1.4% and 13%.

In our view these numbers are meaningless, in part because idiopathic aggression is not measurable or predictable. But the TiHo authors, as scholars, must acknowledge their own findings.

* * * * * 

See the TiHo Index for complete list of posts on TiHo.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks in the US

Friday, June 1, 2012

NM May Roll Call

It is more like the Siegfried and Roy thing.
He would be defending the dog no matter what.
Gavin Wright

* * * * * 

Gavin Wright, in the quotation above, is referring to the mauling death of his father  This will be difficult for many to comprehend but the younger Mr Wright presumes to know that his father, as he was being mauled, would be defending the family pit bull at the moment it was killing him.

Is it really necessary for us to discuss the degradation, the loss of humanity, associated with this utterance?

SRUV ended our previous post with the following lines: 
Advocates of fighting breeds have chosen to place their concern for pit bulls above the suffering of humans. We ask the media why the advocates of fighting breeds are provided such generous coverage, following a month of unparalleled violent attacks?
Who will speak for the victims? 
That question is more important than ever.

* * * * * 

The roll call for May:

  • 5/02 / Mauling death of Clifford Wright by family pit bull
  • 5/08 / Mauling death of Jazilyn Mesa by family pit bull
  • 5/15 / 12 year-old leukemia victim Christian Hobbs is attacked
  • 5/19 / Pomeranian killed at children's soccer game
  • 5/24 / Bill Bolling's collie attacked; Bolling stabs two pit bulls 60-70 times
  • 5/28 / Pit bull injures 88 yo woman and kills pet

* * * * *


News sources for death of Clifford Wright:
   Santa Fe New Mexican: Experts warn not to demonize dog breed
   Reprinted in The Chicago Tribune
   KOB com: My Dad loved this dog more than me
   Initial news story: Santa Fe New Mexican