Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Annoyance Bite

A new term has entered the lexicon for pit bull attacks.

On April 24 WTAP TV of Parkersburg, West Virginia, aired a report of a pit bull attack on a 4-year old child. The tape shows an apparently un-neutered male pit bull mastiff mix weighing at least 90 pounds. According to initial accounts the dog's "teeth were around the child's face. Her head was practically in its mouth," said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.

The attack perforated the unidentified child's cheek, who lost several teeth in the attack. There were additional punctures under the child's eyes. She was initially taken to Marietta Memorial Hospital, then life-flighted to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, where she was listed in serious condition.

Sergeant Kelly McGilton serves as the dog warden for the Washington County, Ohio, Sheriff's Department. When asked about the attack Sgt McGilton said the dog was not trying to hurt the child. She continued:
"In my opinion, this was not a vicious attack. This was an annoyance bite. The mere size and power of a pitbull/mastiff mix, is what caused a substantial injury to the child's face." said McGilton.
Dr Ian Dunbar's Dog Bite Assessment Scale is the tool used to assess the severity of dog attacks based on an objective evaluation of wound pathology. According to reports of the 4-year old victim's wounds, the child suffered a level four attack; level six results in the death of the victim.

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Sgt McGilton's characterization of a level 4 attack as an "annoyance bite" is grossly misleading: it's not possible for Sgt McGilton to know the pit bull's motives for the attack. In other reports Sgt McGilton suggests that the 4-year old victim may have been responsible for her own injuries, by annoying the dog. The officer goes on to say that the attack was not breed-related.

It's clear from Sgt McGilton's comments that she views the attack from the perspective of the attacking dog, rather than from the perspective of the 4-year old victim or the victim's family, or from the perspective of public safety.

The role of public safety officers, including Dog Wardens and Animal Control Officers, has been irrevocably changed by the advent of high stakes pit bull advocacy. Dog Wardens and Animal Control Officers, who have historically been charged with protecting the public health and safety, are no longer fulfilling that role. Too many of these officers now ignore their responsibility to the public and instead use their positions to advocate for fighting breeds.

There is a clear need for councils and commissioners to assert their authority over these positions. Municipal leaders must assure their citizens that the first responsibility of all public safety employees is to protect the citizens of their community. Any public employee who promotes fighting breeds over the safety of the public should be subject to disciplinary action or removal.

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Evaluating bite levels in dogs (Dr Sophia Yin)
Ian Dunbar's Bite Assessment Scale (Auf den Hund Gekommen)
Dr Ian Dunbar's Dog Bite Assessment Scale (APDT)

Related Post:
A People Problem; SRUV March 30, 2015

Recent Ohio Sources:
Lorain police cite owner when 2 dogs attack, kill another
   May 1, 2015; The Morning Journal
Dog euthanized after attacking child
   April 29, 2015; Lancaster Eagle-Gazette
Ohio bill would add teeth to vicious dog laws
   April 28, 2015; Bucyrus Telegraph Forum
Pit bull's owner may face charges after jogger attacked
   April 26, 2015; WCPO Cincinnati
Dog attacks 4-year old child
   April 25, 2015; Parkersburg News and Sentinel
4-year old dog bite victim upgraded to good
   April 24, 2015; WTAP
Dog recovering after pit bull attack
   April 21, 2015; Dayton Daily News
Pit Bull Attacks Woman, Toddler, and Elderly Man in East Columbus
   April 16, 2015; ABC6
3 llamas killed by 2 dogs in Portage County
   April 16, 2015; ABC5 Cleveland
Deputy Jerrod Hankins of the Portage County dog warden said that there is no law that can be applied to dogs killing livestock, and that the dog owner is permitted to keep the dog who killed the llamas.
Hospital to release Toledo man hurt in 2-dog attack
   March 27, 2015; Toledo Blade

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

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 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.