Monday, March 30, 2015

A People Problem

Revised: March 31, 2015; 18:20 GMT

And that's very sad. That's very sad. 

* * * * * 

De'trick Johnson; d. March 21, 2015

On the morning of March 21st De'trick Johnson of Pine Bluff, Arkansas went to CJ's Garage to have his car serviced. Soon after he stepped out of his car he was attacked by the garage owner's seven pit bulls and killed.

On the following morning an article featuring Debbie Howell1 appeared on thv11, the web site for KTHV television in Little Rock, Arkansas. The article was accompanied by a video interview with Ms Howell.

In the article Ms Howell comments, And that's very sad. That's very sad. Readers who think these words refer to the death of Mr Johnson would be mistaken; Ms Howell is lamenting that the incident will further stigmatize pit bulls. Ms Howell continues:
What we're dealing with is not an animal problem, it's a people problem, You can have a very nice typical dog, like a lab or a golden retriever. In the wrong circumstances and with the wrong owner and the wrong treatment, they can also be dangerous.
The comments of Ms Howell echo similar comments by Major Lafayette Woods of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. In a department press release announcing the murder, Major Woods makes an unusual personal observation:
This incident furthers the stigma of pit bull terriers as aggressive and dangerous animals. However, each dog, regardless of breed, could potentially cause serious injury or death. 
In the hours after the death of De'trick Johnson these two public officials, Major Woods and Ms Howell, issued extraordinary statements defending the breed of dog that murdered Mr Johnson, who is mentioned only briefly in both cases. Their remarkable praise of pit bulls in the hours following Mr Johnson's horrific death demonstrate a depraved indifference.2

Neither Ms Howell nor Major Woods mentions that pit bulls have already killed at least 6 humans this year and maimed or disfigured at least 50 more. The People Problem, as Ms Howell refers to it, is not that pit bulls are owned by careless, abusive owners; the People Problem are the public officials and animal welfare specialists who refuse to acknowledge that pit bulls kill a human every two weeks, on average. The People Problem are the people who have more sympathy for pit bulls than for the victims of their attacks.

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1 Ms Howell is a board member of the Humane Society of Pulaski County.
2 "To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be 'so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. Depraved indifference focuses on the risk created by the defendant’s conduct, not the injuries actually resulting." (US Legal Definitions)


SRUV uses the definition of "pit bull" as found in the Omaha Municipal Code Section 6-163. As pit bulls are increasingly crossed with exotic mastiffs, Catahoula Leopard Dogs, black mouth curs and other breeds, the vernacular definition of "pit bull" must be made even more inclusive.
Sources cited by news media sometimes refer to "Animal Advocates" or sometimes "Experts." In many cases these words are used to refer to single-purpose pit bull advocates who have never advocated for any other breeds or species of animals. Media would be more accurate to refer to these pit bull advocates as advocates of fighting breeds.

Similarly, in many cases pit bull advocates refer to themselves as "dog lovers" or "canine advocates" and media often accepts this usage. The majority of these pit bull advocates are single-purpose advocates of fighting breeds.

Owners will not be charged in Union Co. pit bull attack
April 2, 2015; THV11 Little Rock AR
According to the prosecutor, the owners will not be charged because the three pit bulls showed no previous signs of aggression.
Family holds vigil for Pine Bluff man killed by pit bulls
March 29, 2015;

6-year-old attacked by 3 pit bulls
March 27, 2015; THV11 Little Rock AR

Pit bull stigma resurfaces after Pine Bluff dogs attack
March 22, 2015; THV11 Little Rock AR

Debbie Howell, Humane Society of Pulaski County, speaks on pit bulls
March 22, 2015; THV11 Little Rock AR

Arkansas man mauled to death in vicious dog attack by pack of seven pit bulls 'who bit someone only days before' (Daily Mail)
Arkansas Man Mauled To Death By Pack Of Pit Bulls
Pine Bluff man mauled to death by group of pit bulls, one still at large
March 21, 2015

Man mauled to death by pit bull terriers
March 21, 2015; Jefferson County Sheriff

Pit bulls attack 6-year-old boy in Union County
March 26, 2015; KATV ABC 7

Three pit bull mixes attack three-year-old girl in Arkansas, she may not survive
December 24, 2014; The Examiner

Arkansas woman killed by pet pit bull
September 14, 2014; 10 News

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

2014 Year-end report of dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; January 3, 2015
32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; September 27, 2014
How many other animals did pit bulls kill in 2014?
   Animals 24-7; January 27, 2015

This page may also include information from Dogsbite &Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks

2014 Dog Bite Related Fatalities on Daxton's Friends
Index of canine fatalities on Daxton's Friends