Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pit Bull Awareness Month

In August 2007 Michael Vick was convicted on felony charges of dog fighting at his Virginia farm. Two months later Jodi Preis1 of Tennessee organized National Pit Bull Awareness Day (NPBAD), an annual event which takes place on the last Saturday of every October.

In the eight year period before Ms Preis launched NPBAD (Oct 1999 to Oct 2007) pit bulls killed 97 men, women, and children. In the subsequent eight year period pit bulls have killed 174 men, women, and children, an increase of 180%. Over the last four years pit bulls have killed humans at an average rate of one every two weeks.

October has become National Pit Bull Awareness Month, during which shelters and humane societies across the country launch their annual outreach campaigns. One component of the public relations blitz is to place articles praising pit bulls in the major media, as part of their effort to adopt out more of these dogs into family environments.

The New York Times has resisted publishing such free advertising for pit bulls . . . until this year. On October 1st, timed to coincide with National Pit Bull Awareness Month, the Times published the first of several articles promoting pit bulls. The Times subsequently published pit positive articles on October 7th, 9th, and 10th, and there may be more to come.

The October 1st NY Times article, Dogs Hurting the Most Have a Special Place to Heal, is a 1500 word argumentum ad misericordiam.2 This article, or a localized version of it, has been published in nearly every major media market in the United States over the last several years. Many of these articles are published as a result of outreach from advocacy groups, and could have been ghostwritten by them. When it comes to pit bulls there is an obvious disconnect between what happens in the editorial boardrooms and what happens outside their doors.

The Times, like other major newspapers, appears indifferent to the toll of devastating economic hardship, grief, and suffering caused by pit bull attacks on their own turf. The Times did not cover the September 6th attack on 15- year old Briana Neira. Briana was attacked by a pit bull the family had rescued from a city operated shelter that very day. Nor did the Times cover the September 8th attack on a homeless man in Brooklyn, which was stopped only when the dog was shot by an off-duty corrections officer.

The Times failed to report on the eruption of attacks in the East Village in August and September. Nor did the Times cover the September 11th attack on Francesco Bove, an attack so violent that a priest at Mount Carmel gave Bove last rites. Farther afield, the October 5th attack on an Appleton couple, by their recently rescued pit bull, went unreported.

The Times has devoted many column inches to the plight of pit bulls, but certainly the human victims of pit bull attacks are more deserving of our consideration. It is because the media, including the New York Times, has failed to report the victims' stories that the victims, those who are able, have been forced to tell the story themselves.

Exactly a year ago, at the prestigious ArtPrize Competition in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the country's first Pit Bull Victims Memorial, an installation by Joan Marie Kowal, was displayed; Ms Kowal's memorial jump-started the victims movement. New Facebook pages to promote public safety legislation restricting dangerous breeds continue to come on line.

The stalwart has advocated for victims' rights since founder Colleen Lynn was attacked in 2007. Dawn James, blogging as Craven Desires, has been an unrelenting critic of irresponsible owners and is a meticulous researcher of advocacy misinformation. Animals 24/7, in addition to their invaluable articles on global animal health and welfare, has exhaustively tracked dog attack statistics by breed for over 30 years. Jeff Borchardt, whose son Daxton was killed in March, 2013, has become a powerful voice for victims. Barbara Kay, the Canadian journalist and cultural critic, has contributed eloquent, incisive articles.

Two new web pages have recently come on line which are certain to influence the course of the debate. Ban Pit Bulls is a new legislative resource for writers, journalists, and reporters, pulling together information from hundreds of sources. The second, National Pit Bull VICTIM Awareness Day, represents the victims rather than celebrating the breed responsible for attacks on them. If justice prevails in the world this new site will eclipse its predecessor, "NP-BAD".

Visit these powerful new resources; if you breathe air and have blood in your veins you will be moved to tears.

* * * * *
1   Ms Preis is also founder of Bless the Bullys, a Tennessee pit bull rescue.
2   Appeal to Pity, or Appeal to Sympathy, a logical fallacy.
3   See ArtPrize and Pit Bulls

Victims' Resources:
National Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day
Ban Pit Bulls
Pit Bull Crisis Prompts Support Groups to Declare October 24th National Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day

Related Posts:
ArtPrize and Pit Bulls; SRUV November 10, 2014
Pimping Pit Bulls; SRUV October 15, 2013
November Outreach; SRUV December 20, 2013

NY Times:
Dogs Hurting the Most Have a Special Place to Heal
   October 1, 2015; New York Times
Series of Pit Bull Attacks Stirs a Clamor for Laws
   July 12, 1987; New York Times

Recent NY Pit Bull News:
Pit bulls: Man’s best friend, or dangerous killer?
   (Lists recent regional pit bull attacks)
   October 17, 2015; The Buffalo News

What you never knew about pit bulls
   ** Sponsored story **
   October 9, 2015; Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Appleton couple attacked by pit bull they had brought home
   October 5, 2015; Niagara Gazette

Authorities probe fatal attack on Pomeranian by pit bull in Town of Lockport
   September 26, 2015; The Buffalo News

Man viciously attacked by pit bulls in Bronx; owner arrested
   September 14, 2014; NY Daily News

Off-Duty Correction Officer Fatally Shoots Pit Bull As It Mauled Man In Brooklyn
   September 9, 2015; The Gothamist

Street living almost turns deadly for vagrant mauled by pit bull
   September 9, 2015; NY Post

Family Rescues Pit Bull From "Death Row"; Attacks Teen Daughter Within Seconds of Entering New "Forever" Home
   September 8, 2015; Daily Mail

“They made me feel confident,” Dad frustrated with shelter after “sociable” dog attacks teen
   September 8, 2015; KFOR 4

Rescued Pit Bull Euthanized After Attacking New Owner’s Teen Daughter On Long Island
   September 8, 2015; CBS New York

Pit bull mix attacks Long Island teen after being rescued from kill shelter
   September 8, 2015; NY Daily News

Pit bull mix rescued from 'death row' attacks new owner's daughter
   September 7, 2015; Newsday

More than $2K in fines for owner of pit bulls that killed local dog
   September 5, 2015; Kirksville Daily Express

Another East Village Pedestrian Attacked By A Pit Bull
   August 17, 2015; The Gothamist

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.