Sunday, April 21, 2013

Terrible Accident

Officials say there is no investigation and there will be no charges. Police and the Brooke County prosecutor agreed that this is just an unfortunate set of circumstances that led to a terrible accident.

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The "accident" referred to by officials was an attack on a five-year old child by a pit bull.

According to news accounts, the family had adopted the five-year old pit bull from a local shelter on  Thursday and the pit bull attacked the child on Friday afternoon.

Police, City Attorneys, Sheriffs, and Prosecuting Attorneys across the country have taken different approaches to prosecuting attacks by family pit bulls. Many prosecutors are reluctant to bring charges against parents whose children have been injured (or worse) by a pit bull the parents themselves brought into the home.

There have been nine fatal dog attacks in the US in calendar year 2013, every one by a pit bull. Six of these canine homicides have been children -- an average of two a month.*  There has been a disfiguring pit bull attack on a human nearly every day this year; dozens of children have survived pit bull attacks but will be disfigured for life. These deaths and maimings constitute an  unacknowledged epidemic. When a single type of dog is responsible for all the deaths, and for more of the maimings than all other breeds combined, those deaths and injuries are anticipated not accidental.

Some institutions pretend that attacks by pit bulls are unique, unexpected, accidental events; the preponderance of evidence proves that pit bulls are inherently dangerous.  To refer to pit bull attacks as accidental is to turn our eyes away from an ugly truth -- it is a whitewash. Adopting a pit bull or other fighting breed into a family environment is a grossly negligent act.

We urge city attorneys, prosecutors, district attorneys, sheriffs, and others to review their approach to this growing public safety menace, and to form appropriate policies in response. Parents and others who endanger their children by adopting pit bulls must be held accountable. Animal shelters or humane agencies that place fighting breeds in family environments bear an even greater burden of responsibility and, therefore, must accept liability for these attacks.

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

* See Fatal Pit Bull Attacks for index of news coverage.

Child attacked by pit bull (WTOV9, April 12, 2013)

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks

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This letter has been addressed to:

      National District Attorneys Association
      Association of Prosecuting Attorneys
      US DHHS, Administration for Children and Families
      Region 1: Mary Ann Higgins
      Region 2: Joyce Thomas
      Region 3: David Lett
      Region 4: Carlis Williams
      Region 5: Kent Wilcox
      Region 6: Leon R McCowan
      Region 7:  Patricia Brown
      Region 8: Thomas Sullivan
      Region 9: Sharon Fujii
      Region 10:  Steve Henigson
      Child Welfare League of America and dozens of state Child Protective Services officials, and others