Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2011 Top Ten

This selection is listed chronologically, and does not reflect the number of page views. 

* * * * *

1/ Hall of Shame 
    February 17, 2011
    Shortly after launching SRUV we read an article in the Mint Hill (NC) Times; it was this article which provided our direction and purpose.  When you've read the article you'll know everything you need to know about pit bull journalism. It's a perfectly distilled example of a journalist responding to the mauling death of a child; he pivots and interviews an advocate of fighting breeds. All other examples of pit advocacy journalism, and there have been hundreds, pale in comparison to this.

2/ Letter to the Animals & Society Institute, Pt 2
    March 5, 2011
    It's really very simple, isn't it?

3/ First They Came - Pastor Niemöller
    March 15, 2011
    On the bastardization of the timeless anti-Nazi statement on the holocaust.

4/ The Future of the APBT
    March 29, 2011
    A pit bull canine homicide of an infant in Kalamazoo, home of the United Kennel Club, and our letter to the UKC.

5/ Letter to the ASI, Pt 4
    April 15, 2011
    Will they never give up?

6/ Good Neighbors
    April 16, 2011
    An unfortunate situation? During our first year SRUV published numerous accounts of attacks on our MVAC, a practice we have largely abandoned. This heartbreaking example is representative.

7/ Unsupported Rhetoric
    April 17, 2011
    Pit bulls and academia

8/ Equal Consideration
    May 1, 2011
    A spin-off of the landmark 2001 Slate magazine debate between Peter Singer and Richard Posner.

9/ Reasonable Doubt
    May 23, 2011
    Pit bulls in a bucolic Midwestern small town, home of Smucker jams.

10/ Natural Consequences
    June 23, 2011
    Examples of the pit bull advocacy juggernaught at work.

11/ The Madding Crowd
    August 18, 2011
    Comments from advocates of fighting breeds following the death of BadRap supporter Darla Napora.

12/ BSL Scholarship
     September 10, 2011
     Are they serious? Do they know what they sound like?

13/ Ax3 Redux
      September 13, 2011
      This needs no introduction or explanation.


Monday, December 24, 2012


Following our recent post on the death of two-year-old Savannah Mae Edwards (NOLA to Topeka) we received a response from a recipient of our email alerts. The exchange is copied in its entirety below:

* * * * *

On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 5:00 PM, - - - - - -  wrote:
Reporting you for spam
From: Safe Island
Date: Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 5:10 PM
Hi - - - - - - - ,
SRUV does not spam anyone. All it takes is a simple request to remove your email address.
We've removed your address from our list, as requested.
On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 5:18 PM, - - - - - - - wrote:
I would have never signed up for your sudden, random and unprovoked emails... reported none the less. End of chain.

* * * * *

All SRUV email alerts include the following note:
SRUV email alerts are currently mailed to over 2500 domestic and international humane and animal welfare professionals, scholars of animal law and human-animal studies, ethologists and bioethicists, attorneys, legislators and law enforcement, veterinarians, journalists with an interest in canines, and other individuals with a demonstrated interest in pit bulls.
Even though we have always posted a Contact page with our email address, we will now add the following line to our email alerts:
To subscribe or unsubscribe from SRUV email alerts contact safeisland911 [at] gmail.
We do not want to send mail to anyone who does not want to receive our alerts. If you would like your name removed from our mail list please tell us.

* * * * * 

Maintaining our email list is a time-consuming undertaking. We try to inform as many people as possible, without wasting our own most precious resource: time. So we are careful in building our list, choosing only  those whom we believe will want to be informed on this controversial problem. Following each mailing we carefully purge our list of undeliverable addresses, so we do not consume bandwidth needlessly and do not send unwanted mail.  Many of those on our list obviously disagree with our views on animal welfare; we suspect they read SRUV to stay informed. Nearly all of those who cancel are polite.

Rarely do we receive vitriolic letters. Since many advocates of fighting breeds are affiliated with university law departments, some of the letters we receive carry a cynical or superior tone. One such letter came from an animal law professor, author of significant work on animal law, at a prestigious university in the Washington DC area. That letter, and our reply, can be read in an earlier post, Unsupported Rhetoric.

It came as no surprise that our correspondent in the most recent exchange is a software developer with an address that indicated a Kansas connection. She is attractive, with above average education and income, and is the proud owner of three pit bulls. There is no formula to predict the demographic for advocates of fighting breeds. Nor is it possible to predict who among us hides an explosive anger under a veneer of civility.

* * * * *

2-year-old Topeka girl dies from dog attack
     (Topeka Capital-Journal, Dec 13, 2012)
Child, 2, Dies Of Injuries Suffered In Dog Attack
     (, Dec 14, 2012)
Dog Attack Victim Identified
     (, Dec 14, 2012)
** City approves animal ordinance
      (Topeka Capital-Journal, Nov 28, 2010)

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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Local Trainer

Putting the dog in that situation can be harmful sometimes. But in this situation here, it could be any breed.
Mose Hugghis

* * * * *

We are banging our heads in frustration!

It is not true to claim that, in similar circumstances, a Golden Retriever or a Yorkshire Terrier would have killed Savannah Edwards. It's dishonest.

Here is the excerpt in its entirety:
A local trainer with 25 years of experience, Mose Hugghis, says this sort of thing could happen with any breed.

"Sometimes you need to know the health of the dog, if it's not feeling good, if it's not active around other kids," he said. "Putting the dog in that situation can be harmful sometimes. But in this situation here, it could be any breed."
Mr Hugghis' claim is a close cousin of the more commonly used phrase All dogs bite or Any dog can bite. Of all the hundred of versions we've seen in news accounts the most extraordinary example was uttered by Michael Linke, the CEO of RSPCA Act. His phrase is so unbelievably grandiose that we named it.

The phrase, and variations of it, have been repeated so often by people who should know better that it is  now treated as received wisdom. The purpose of the phrase, clearly, is to divert the attention away from the horror of the victim's death, in this case the death of two year old Savannah Edwards, while at the same time pretending that pit bulls are no more vicious than your Golden Retriever. This, if we stop to consider it, is obscene.

During the last thirty years 2,146 Americans have been disfigured by dog attacks; 1,350 of those by pit bulls. During the same period 495 humans have been killed by dog attacks; 244 of those by pit bulls.*  Though pit bulls have never comprised more than 5% of the U.S. dog population. they are responsible for half of the disfigurements and canine homicides.

If we are to believe his website, Mr Hugghis is a dedicated and serious dog trainer, having been successful with his own dogs in Schutzhund competitions. But he also raises Presa Canarios, the breed responsible for the notorious Diane Whipple killing. Mr Hugghis may train dogs for obedience, but he also openly trains Presa Canarios as attack dogs.

* * * * *

* Statistics are from Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here.

Dog Attack Victim Identified
     (, Dec 14, 2012)

Related Post: Helping Hands

See Also:
  MoKan Kennels
  IronHeart (formerly Vom Kaiserhofe Training Center; Lawrence, Kansas; )

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nationally Recognized

The committee also included University of Kansas law student Katie Bray Barnett, whom Hiller said is nationally recognized as an expert on animal control legislation.
City approves animal ordinance
(Topeka Capital-Journal, Nov 28, 2010)

* * * * * *

SRUV has not been able to confirm any other mention of Ms. Bray-Barnett as a nationally recognized expert on animal control legislation. Topeka city council member Karen Hiller, who apparently fabricated this claim from whole cloth, was also a proponent of repealing Topeka's Breed Specific Legislation (BSL).

Calling attention to this fact in the wake of Savannah Edwards' death may appear needlessly petty, but it is not. SRUV will remain vigilant when advocates of fighting breeds inflate their resumes or credentials. It has been a long-standing pattern of these advocates to inflate their own or their colleagues' reputations.

Usually, advocates of fighting breeds have little need to inflate their own credentials; journalists often do it for them. SRUV has previously drawn attention to journalists' propensity to inflate the reputations of pit bull advocates in our posts Delise's Dark Shadows and Pit Bulls Don't Exist.

* * * * *

2-year-old Topeka girl dies from dog attack
     (Topeka Capital-Journal, Dec 13, 2012)
Child, 2, Dies Of Injuries Suffered In Dog Attack
     (, Dec 14, 2012)
Dog Attack Victim Identified
     (, Dec 14, 2012)

Related Post: Helping Hands

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

NOLA to Topeka

In 2010, I worked with the City of Topeka to repeal its pit bull regulations of nearly 25 years.
Katie Bray Barnett

* * * * *
Revised: Dec 18, 2012; 16:24 GMT

On December 13th, 2012, 2-year-old Savannah Edwards of Topeka, Kansas, was attacked by a pit bull and died from her injuries.* A chain of events which began in late August 2005 and culminated with Savannah's death seven years later provides a fascinating study of causal relationships. A few of the links in the chain of events include:

  • In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans.
  • Among the hundreds of volunteers who returned home with pit bulls was a young woman from Topeka named Katie Bray.
  • In 2007, I met Ledy VanKavage. The first time I spoke to Ledy she was giving a presentation on how to prevent cities from enacting breed-discriminatory laws. VanKavage encouraged Bray to attend law school.
  • 2008 - 2009 Bray interned at Best Friends Animal Society in Maryville IL for two summers and worked with VanKavage on several projects.
  • 2009 (Fall): Bray starts her first year at University of Kansas School of Law
  • 2009 (Oct): Bray registers a student chapter of the Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF)
  • 2009 (Winter) Bray co-authors (with Ledy VanKavage) “The Fiscal Impact of Breed Discriminatory Ordinances in the Era of DNA.”
  • In January of 2010 VanKavage is invited to address the SALDF; Bray also invites local politicians and humane society representatives. VanKavage's presentation on this occasion is titled “Due Process and Doggie Discrimination: The Current Climate of Breed Specific Legislation.” 
  • Following VanKavage's presentation, the city of Topeka forms a committee to write new animal legislation. The committee also included University of Kansas law student Katie Bray Barnett, nationally recognized as an expert on animal control legislation.**
  • 2010 (May) Bray receives the Advancement of Animal Law Scholarship from ALDF
  • In 2010, I worked with the City of Topeka to repeal its “pit bull” regulations of nearly 25 years.
  • 2011 (May): Bray graduates from law school

Ms Bray, along with her husband, manages GameDog Guardian, a pit bull rescue working in the Topeka-Lawrence area. She currently serves as the Program/Legislative analyst for Best Friends’ pit bull terrier initiatives.

Ms Bray has not been reluctant in posting details of her personal story; stories currently appear on StubbyDog, SeattleDogSpot, ALDF, as well as on GameDog. In her role as Adoption Director for GameDog she has "coordinated the successful adoption of hundreds of bully breed dogs."

Early reports indicate that the pit bull that killed Savannah on Dec 13 came from a shelter or rescue. Bill Acree, Director of Helping Hands Humane Society, reported that a check of their records "shows no one from the incident address adopted" a pit bull from Helping Hands. This bit of legalese is a non-denial: the tenant of the residence may have changed address. Helping Hands has yet to crosscheck the names of all those associated with the address as well as the family against the names of those who have adopted from Helping Hands.

It is not yet known which rescue provided the dog which killed Savannah. Regardless of which shelter or rescue adopted out the dog, Katie Bray’s career path, encouraged and mentored by Ledy VanKavage of Best Friends, has produced a climate of tolerance of fighting breeds. This climate, and the hundreds, perhaps thousands of pit bulls introduced into the region, led to Savannah's death.

Bray's role in the removal of Topeka's BSL, as well as her role in rescuing and adopting out fighting breeds, has resulted in the death of this child. Ms Bray and her mentor must now hold themselves accountable, even if the authorities do not.

Cities which have never adopted Breed Specific Legislation may bear less responsibility for pit bull attacks in their communities than cities which have had BSL but then abandoned it, as Topeka did. Cities which have enjoyed the protections of BSL, then grow indifferent and discard these protections for their citizens, are culpable. The leaders who voted to abandon BSL must also accept responsibility for attacks in their communities.

The leaders of Topeka must reinstate the former BSL provisions and halt the adoption of fighting breeds; they must restore the protections of BSL to the public they serve.

Savannah Mae Edwards

* * * * *

* SRUV has learned (here) that Savannah was killed in unincorporated Shawnee County, which includes Topeka.

2-year-old Topeka girl dies from dog attack
     (Topeka Capital-Journal, Dec 13, 2012)
Child, 2, Dies Of Injuries Suffered In Dog Attack
     (, Dec 14, 2012)
Dog Attack Victim Identified
     (, Dec 14, 2012)
** City approves animal ordinance
      (Topeka Capital-Journal, Nov 28, 2010)

Related Post: Helping Hands

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

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Zen and Pit Bulls

In that situation, nobody's negligent. Who bears the loss?
Sen. Brian Frosh

* * * * *

A kōan is a story, dialogue, question, or statement, which is used in Zen-practice to provoke the "great doubt" . . . .

* * * * *
Revised: Dec 15, 2012; 19:22 GMT

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it fall?

Who is dragging this corpse about?

Who bears the loss?

In the US we often hear these abbreviated versions of kōans, but most kōans are actually short parables or stories. Here's a recent example from real life:
A man is walking with his young daughter down the street.
Three dogs run from an open gate to attack them.
The man shields his young daughter from the attack, and holds her high while the dogs savage his legs, arms and torso.
A young man hears their cries for help and runs from his house; he too is savaged.
The attack continues, and after a period of time two teenagers come from the house where the dogs live and take them inside.*
     Who bears the loss?
* * * * *

Senator Frosh's koan-like riddle has been hovering over every pit bull attack this fall. But what loss is the Senator thinking of?

The Maryland Appeals Court issued their opinion, with the determination that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, on April 26, 2012. The media gave extensive coverage to the resulting explosion of fury from the HSUS and other animal advocacy groups.

The advocates of fighting breeds made all the initial noise but in reality they were simply a diversion. The clamor provided cover for the real opponents of the Court's opinion, the real estate developers and the insurance companies, who then quickly sent in the money, guns, and lawyers. State Farm Insurance, which paid out 21% more in dog bite claims in 2011 than during 2010, filed a motion asking the court to reconsider its ruling which holds them [State Farm Insurance] accountable.

On June 11 Delegate Heather Mizeur held a press conference to announce the stay on the Court's decision. As explained in a June 10 letter from the Office of the Attorney General, the stay would give the legislature time to write new legislation which, presumably, would nullify the finding that pit bulls are inherently dangerous.

When Senator Frosh asks Who bears the loss?, he isn't thinking of the owners of pit bulls or of the victims. We doubt the legislators are meditating for greater enlightenment, or wondering how to provide for all of the victim's losses. The legislators are trying desperately to protect Maryland's big money people from financial losses: real estate developers, insurance companies and the lobbyists who represent them.

The recent weeks have witnessed ongoing pit bull attacks in Maryland, including the following:

Oct 6
Max Cardenas, 10 yo
Puppy "Drake" killed
$5,000 + Veterinarian bills

Nov 22
Vanessa Feeheley, 89 yo
Mangled arm
Pit bull attacked over the fence as Ms Feeheley stood in her own front yard

Dec 1
Boy 7 yo and aunt who curled over him in fetal position while dog attacked
Child airlifted with extensive injuries

Dec 1
Three people attacked by 2 pit bulls
The owner was cited for license and vaccination violations as well as animals running at large, and fined a total of $100.

No other breed of dog has caused grievous injury resulting in disfigurement or hospitalization during this period in Maryland.

The legislature has been struggling without success for nearly a year and will take up the question again in the next session. Their struggle to determine who will bear the financial losses of a pit bull attack reveals their desire to protect Maryland real estate developers and insurance companies from catastrophic losses from pit bull attacks. As their struggle drags on it becomes clear that the legislature has forgotten the true victims.

The legislature's struggle to find an answer to the koan implies the following: 1/ the legislature acknowledges that the problems of potentially catastrophic attacks and financial losses will continue to occur as long as pit bulls are allowed in society, or they wouldn't be trying to protect the insurers, and b/ the legislature isn't trying to do anything to change the fact that these attacks will continue; they aren't trying to get rid of the problem which causes the catastrophic losses.

The legislature is avoiding the root issue: what to do about pit bulls and the advocates who defend them.

Who bears the loss? When pit bull owners, those who harbor pit bulls, and their insurers accept responsibility the pit bull problems will diminish and ultimately disappear. Only then will no one bear the loss.

* * * * *

Three pit bulls attack two people on Long Island (SF Chronicle, Dec 4 2012)
Maryland pit bull task force wrangles over liability

Resource: MD Court of Appeals establishes new liability rule in pit bull attack cases

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rolling Over in Sonoma

Revised: Dec 19, 2012; 00:14 GMT

On August 11, 2011 Darla Napora, a supporter of the pit bull advocacy group BadRap, was killed by her  pit bull. At a Sonoma city council meeting four days later Mayor pro-tem Joanne Sanders asked city council, staff, and police to review the existing ordinances regulating vicious dogs. The Mayor's request signaled the beginning of a year-long effort to update Sonoma's outdated animal legislation.

The Mayor's request and subsequent comments opened the floodgates for a barrage of vituperation from advocates of fighting breeds. The outrage directed at the Mayor and the city took the form of emails, phone calls, and the vandalism of the Mayor's FaceBook page. The comments (under news stories) of pit bull advocates exhibited a stunning arrogance. One advocate, also a BadRap volunteer, whose comment appeared in the Index-Tribune (Aug 22, 2011) felt her comments were profound enough that they deserved to be published a second time, several days later, as a stand-alone article.

If the citizens who wanted protections from fighting breeds had supported their mayor things might have turned out differently. But after an emotionally charged meeting on Wednesday September 7th, 2011 the Council declined to consider new dangerous dog legislation. Then, fifteen months after the initial uproar, at the October 15, 2012 meeting Council voted to accept revised dangerous dog legislation which is among the most lenient in the country toward pit bulls.

The legislation was written with the assistance of Bob Edwards of SVDOG and other local advocates of fighting breeds. The new legislation, rather than protecting the public, the livestock, and the more vulnerable animal companions, protects dangerous dogs. Thus, Sonoma has become one more community that has caved in to the demands of pit bull extremists and the public remains unprotected.

The city, in effect, heard the noise of a strident, vocal minority of extremists and rolled over, abandoning their responsibility to govern and their authority. The new legislation in Sonoma allows pit bulls, after attacking and even killing other animals multiple times, to return to the safety and comfort of their homes.

SRUV has published numerous posts illustrating the methods used by advocates of fighting breeds when  hijacking the public process. Rarely have pit bull advocates been as thuggish as they were in Sonoma.

* * * * *


Related Post: Protecting Dangerous Dogs

Dog lovers protest Sonoma councilwoman's pit-bull comments
     (Press-Democrat, Aug 23, 2011)
Council nixes dog doo, doggie park
      (Sonoma Index-Tribune, Oct 18, 2012)

See Also:
Sonoma Municipal Code Chap 18.12
Sonoma Passes On New Vicious Dog Laws
     (Sonoma Valley Patch, Sept 8, 2011)
Vicious Dogs Ordinance on Agenda 
     (, Oct 12, 2012)

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

Monday, December 3, 2012

Slander in Ukiah

You're dealing with animals, and . . . they can be unpredictable.
Sage Mountainfire
Mendocino County Animal Care Adoption Coordinator

* * * * *

To: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors

We are writing in response to the recent article in the Ukiah Daily Journal, which describes the attack on Mike Johnson and his canine companion by a dog recently adopted out from the Mendocino County Animal Care Services.

According to Ms Mountainfire, the attack happened because dogs "can be unpredictable." This claim misrepresents the true nature of our canine animal companions. Ms Mountainfire's claim that all dogs are unpredictable suggests that families should be wary of living with Golden Retrievers or Yorkshire Terriers.

Unfortunately, it is not at all unusual for animal welfare professionals, following an attack by a pit bull, to defend the attacking pit bull by claiming any dog might have done the same thing. Another recent example is a statement by the Director of the Rhode Island SPCA. Dr Finocchio is quoted as saying:
No animal should be trusted because they are unpredictable entities.
Dr. E.J. Finocchio, RI SPCA 
The unsupported assertion that all dogs are unpredictable is slanderous to the millions of reliable, gentle animal companions. Pit bulls, on the other hand, are subject to idiopathic aggression and thus are unpredictable. Thousands or tens of thousands of owners of pit bulls have expressed bewilderment after their well-cared for, previously well-behaved pit bull suddenly and for no apparent reason attacks a human or another animal. Idiopathic aggression has been acknowledged for several decades, but the subject has been buried.

When we began reading the news of pit bull attacks we were stunned by the similarity of the responses to pit bull attacks by animal welfare professionals; they are entirely predictable. Now that we are accustomed to these responses by these paid advocates of fighting breeds we are simply saddened. And disgusted.

* * * * *

We will also bring your attention to the blatant dishonesty currently on the home page of the Mendocino County Animal Services web page. The dog featured on your front page and offered for adoption, named Tracker, is described as a Border Collie mix.

Tracker is a pit bull mix. If Mendocino County Animal Care is this conniving in their efforts to adopt out pit bulls, it is easy to understand how the recent attack in downtown Ukiah occurred, and why MCAC should be held accountable.

* * * * *

Pit bull attack leads to shelter changes (Ukiah Daily Journal, Dec 01, 2012)

See Also: RISPCA vs Boston for SRUV's response to Dr Finocchio

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