Monday, April 29, 2013

Coast to Coast

Any breed out there is going to have a tendency to attack.

Jennifer Bender, Animal Services Supervisor, Lodi, CA

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On April 11th Julia Dare and her Dachshund Shelby were walking near Lodi Lake when a pit bull broke free of its collar and leash. Ms Dare was injured while protecting Shelby, who was killed in the attack. The pit bull's owner gave false contact information and has not been seen since Shelby's death.

On the same day, 17 miles away in Stockton, Claudia Gallardo was killed by a pit bull named Russia.

Eleven days later nearly 200 goats were killed by pit bulls 21 miles away, in French Camp.

San Joaquin County has a pit bull problem.

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As does America. There have been 11 dog attacks fatal to humans in the first four months of 2013 in the US, all of them by pit bulls. Two of the eleven canine homicides have been in California.

139 humans have been seriously injured by dogs in the first 116 days of the year, through April 23, 2013. 135 of those 139 attacks, over 97%, have been by pit bulls. 99 of the 135 people injured by pit bulls, nearly one person a day, have been permanently disfigured or lost a limb from the pit bull attack.

Pit bull attacks on our more vulnerable animal companions, like Shelby, are estimated to be on the order of 10x the number of attacks on humans. (See below)

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There are still people who are unaware of these figures. And there are those who refuse to acknowledge them. Attacks by pit bulls are so glaringly disproportionate that it's impossible to misinterpret the data. Yet there is a strange disconnect in the way Animal Control Officers discuss pit bull attacks. For example,
But pit bulls aren't more aggressive than other breeds, according to Jennifer Bender, Animal Services supervisor for the Lodi Police Department. They’re just prone to more violent attacks because of their size and strength, she said.
Ms Bender is wrong. Pit bulls are not only "prone to more violent attacks," but they also attack more often than other breeds. Even though they constitute only 5% of the canine population, pit bulls are responsible for more of the disfiguring attacks than all other breeds combined.

Ms Bender's comment bears an eerie resemblance to the remark by Tim Jennings on the other side of the country. A week after the attack on Shelby two pit bulls killed Carver, a FEMA certified disaster dog in Thomasville, NC. They broke out of their own enclosure and broke into Carver's fenced back yard; one pit bull dug under Carver's fence and one climbed over the fence to attack. Mr Jennings noted wryly that the dogs were just being dogs.

Did Ms Bender or Mr Jennings consider that their comments appear to dismiss the severity of their respective attacks? What impulse could motivate a person to defend a pit bull in the moments after that dog attacked and killed another, more vulnerable canine companion? Neither of these comments were solicited by questions from journalists; both Animal Control Officers volunteered to defend pit bulls when a defense was uncalled for, and weirdly out of place. This follows in the manner of compulsive pit bull advocacy.

The thread connecting Ms Bender's remarks to Mr Jennings' is that both Animal Control Officers apparently believe that pit bulls are no more aggressive than other breeds. The National Animal Control Association (NACA) guideline on this matter says it directly:
Any animal may exhibit aggressive behavior regardless of breed.
This "breed-neutral" approach to canine aggression is patently wrong; it implies that Yorkshire Terriers are as aggressive -- and as dangerous -- as pit bulls. This is an outrage to reason. If all breeds were as aggressive as pit bulls we would not have co-evolved with them for millennia, inviting them into our homes and hearths. We invented only one type of dog to be so uniquely aggressive.

Animal Control Officers on both sides of the country must come to grips with the reality they, and we, face: pit bulls are inherently aggressive and a danger to us, to our more vulnerable animal companions, and to the human-animal bond.

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Related posts:
Timeline of California pit bull attacks
Index of California posts
The Natural History of Fighting Breeds

Statistics are from 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.

Attack leaves beloved pet dead
   Lodi News, April 23, 2013
Thomasville Search & Rescue Dog Dies After Attack
   Greensboro News & Record, April 26, 2013

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks