Monday, February 8, 2016

The Albuquerque Pit Bull Journal

Revised: February 9, 2016; 18:16 GMT
Revised: February 16, 2016; 16:07 GMT

The city of Albuquerque was plagued by two long-running animal welfare embarrassments during 2015. An investigation of the Animal Welfare Department (AWD) began in March, when complaints surfaced that the city was adopting out dangerous dogs. Several weeks later, on April 27, Maria Escamilla's pit bulls attacked Jack Cash and killed his companion, the 10-pound Maltese Terrier Duncan. This began the court case that lasted throughout 2015 and into 2016.

Duncan; d. April 27, 2015
By November, 2015, the situation for Albuquerque's dogs was somewhat improved. The nine-month long investigation of the Animal Welfare Department (AWD) had been resolved the previous month. The Maria Escamilla case was also finally (almost) resolved, when Escamilla was acquitted of keeping vicious animals on November 25, 2015.

New Mexico has experienced more than its share of pit bull embarrassments and horrors: the mysterious 2012 case of Debra Swenerton, who dognapped over 60 dogs, most of them pit bulls, to "rescue" them from their families. The 2011 fatal attack on Margaret Salcido on Easter Sunday in Truth or Consequences. The 2012 fatal attack on Clifford Wright, whose son claimed that Mr Wright loved his pit bulls more than he loved his children. Gavin Wright also later claimed his father would have defended the breed even as the pit bulls were mauling him to death. The week after Mr Wright's death a 16-month old girl was fatally attacked in Las Cruces. The shocking, inhumane response by Animal Humane New Mexico who, after the bloodletting of the May 2012 pit bull attacks, had the temerity to claim that pit bulls show no more aggressive tendencies than Golden Retrievers. The 2011 death of Michal Nelson, mauled by one of her 11 pit bulls. The 2014 suit, following the mauling of a 9-year old child, against the city of Roswell and Doggie Saviors Rescue. And finally, in the midst of an investigation of the city's Animal Welfare Department, a pit bull attacked a child's service dog, after which the city put the pit bull up for adoption. Devout pit bull advocacy is not unusual in New Mexico, despite the record of pit bull attacks in the state.

The Journal has been reluctant to cover news of these and other pit bull attacks. In this respect the Journal is like many other newspapers, which also suppress or self-censor news of attacks by pit bulls. In the extensive list of news accounts (see below) readers will not find a single Journal article about these recent New Mexico pit bull attacks.1

As November progressed Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry may have believed his city's animal welfare embarrassments were finally over. On November 13th the Albuquerque Journal published a story on the Mayor's call for stronger dangerous dog legislation. There is an inescapable subtext when talking about "dangerous dogs" and that subtext is pit bulls, but neither the Mayor nor the Journal acknowledged the connection. Pit bulls killed a record 33 humans in  2015 and have already killed three people in the first month of 2016. But nowhere in the Journal's article are pit bulls mentioned.

Instead of publishing news of the attacks, The Journal publishes articles friendly to pit bulls at every opportunity. On the same day the journal published Mayor Berry's November 13th dangerous dog proposals the Journal also published "Pit bull police dog defies breed's savage stereotypes."2

On Friday the 13th, the same day the Journal published the Mayor's proposals and the Associated Press article about a pit bull K9 in upstate New York, the hometown pit bull news turned ominous. An Albuquerque man took his unneutered pit bull to Kit Carson Park. The pit bull attacked other dogs in the park, whereupon the pit bull's owner joined in the attack. He pulled out a concealed gun and shot the dogs that were under attack by his pit bull. The two canine victims (victims of the pit bull as well as victims of the pit bull's owner) were expected to recover. The pit bull owner will be charged for carrying a concealed weapon but his pit bull will return to the safety and comfort of his home. The Journal declined to cover this story; the space that day was given to the pit bull K9 that defied the breed's savage stereotypes.

There were additional pit bull attacks on November 16th and 28th. Readers of the Journal, however, could remain blissfully uninformed of all these attacks, which were carried only by radio and TV stations.

Then, in a remarkable publishing event, on Friday, November 27 the Albuquerque Journal published the November 13th Associated Press article about the New York pit bull K9 a second time. The second appearance of the story featured new photos from the Animal Farm Foundation which were not originally published with the article. To our knowledge, no other paper in the country published the article glorifying the fraudulent pit bull K9 more than once. The reasons the story was published a second time are unclear.

The Escamilla case, which had been in-and-out of court all summer, was finally resolved in January 2016. The case was resolved only because of a subsequent attack by Escamilla's pit bulls. A 22-year old woman living in the Escamilla house attempted to break up a pit bull fight and required medical attention on January 9. The drumroll of pit bull attacks continued on January 22nd and 23rd; none of these attacks were reported by the Journal.

How can the citizens of Albuquerque and New Mexico make informed decisions about an important public safety issue if their newspaper does not provide accurate news? The Albuquerque Journal does not consider the welfare of their readers and the community they serve when it chooses to publish only feel-good news about pit bulls. The Journal has chosen to hide the facts from their readers, rather than reporting accurately on the growing public safety menace of pit bull attacks.

* * * * *
1   The Journal covered the Maria Escamilla case because it became a protracted legal and political embarrassment for the city, not because it highlighted pit bull attacks. The Barbara Bruin investigation, capably covered by Colleen Heild, also became a major political issue: Both the Escamilla case and the Barbara Bruin case were given extensive coverage because they involved city government, not because they involved pit bulls. Ms Bruin, incidentally, although relieved as director of the Animal Welfare Department, continues to draw a generous salary despite performing the duties an intern or volunteer could perform.
2   See Associated Press articles, next section below. Since the article appeared on November 13th SRUV has published a series of posts exposing fraudulent pit bull K9s.

Recent Associated Press Pit Bull Articles in the Albuquerque Journal:
Pit bull named Kiah will be one of a few of her kind to take a spot on a police force helping to fight crime
   By David Klepper
   November 27, 2015;  Albuquerque Journal

Pit bull police dog defies breed’s savage stereotypes
   By David Klepper
   November 13, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Pit bulls in training as service dogs
   by Sue Manning
   March 6, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Other ABQ Pit Bull News:
[ NOTE: The list below includes only a few of the more notable New Mexico pit bull attacks during the period indicated. Note the paucity of coverage of pit bull attacks by the Albuquerque Journal. Articles related to the 2015 turmoil at Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department are noted in the subsequent list below. ]

Editorial: Finally some justice for a little dog named Duncan
   January 27, 2016; Albuquerque Journal

Dog owner reports attack by larger canine (pit bull) on Canyon Road
   January 23, 2016; Santa Fe New Mexican

Dog and owner injured after pit bull attack
Julio Carattini says the pit bull turned on him
   January 22, 2016; KOAT ABC 7
There was a pit bull, female pit bull, just chewing on my puppy, Susie. My thoughts were 'My God, this is my baby . . . '

Albuquerque cracks down on pit bulls and chihuahuas
   December 11, 2015; KRQE

Nurse, mauling victim reunited, 3 decades later
   December 4, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Looking for ‘fabulous’ nurse, 3 decades later
   December 1, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Trio of pit bulls attack, kill two dogs in neighborhood
   November 28, 2015; KOAT

Pit bulls kill two small dogs
   November 16, 2015; KOAT ABC 7

Man shoots 2 dogs at ABQ dog park
   November 13, 2015; KOB 4 Eyewitness News

Avid runner attacked, seriously hurt by dog pack
   October 18, 2015; Valencia County News Bulletin

Carlsbad residents: Pack of dogs terrorizing neighborhood
   September 14, 2015; KRQE News 13

City officers impound pit bulls after attack injures woman, kills poodle mix
   July 15, 2015; Santa Fe New Mexican

ABQ man steps in to end pit bull attack
   June 27, 2015; KRQE News 13

Pit Bull Attacks Girl's Service Dog; City Puts Animal Up For Adoption
   June 16, 2015; KRQE

Uncontrolled breeding an ‘epidemic’ in NM
   April 10, 2015;  Albuquerque Journal

Pit Bulls That Bit Rio Rancho Boy, Dog To Go Back To Owner
   January 25, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Treats, Training for Pit Bull Ambassadors
   April 18, 2014; Albuquerque Journal

Man almost loses genitals in pitbull attack
[The NM victim was attacked while in Albuquerque]
   August 3, 2014; Reuters

3 dogs (pit bulls) maul 9-year-old Roswell boy
   Family plans to sue city of Roswell and nearby pit bull rescue
   June 11, 2014; KRQE News 13

Pit bulls flood Albuquerque animal shelters
   Unwanted pets costing taxpayers
   August 7, 2013; KOAT

City's Animal Shelter Overrun With Animals Needing Adoption
   June 8, 2012; Albuquerque Journal

Woman 'stole SIXTY pet dogs and gave them to animal shelters by claiming they were strays'
   December 4, 2012; Daily Mail

Communities Considering Bans On Pit Bull Dogs
(Note: This 1986 article recounts the historic 1984 attack on Angela Hand of Tijeras NM. In December 2015 The Journal published two articles on the reunion of Ms Hand with the nurse who treated her at the time.)
   January 1, 1986; Associated Press

Maria Escamilla Case:
One attack too many
   January 23, 2016;  Albuquerque Journal

Judge considering sentence for woman with dangerous dogs
   December 17, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Dog owner acquitted of keeping vicious animals
   November 25, 2015; Santa Fe New Mexican
Jury delivers mixed verdict in dog case
   November 25, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Berry wants stronger law on dangerous dogs
   November 13, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Dog case gets pushed back
   July 30, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Barbara Bruin / Animal Welfare Department Investigation:

Shelter director deleted, rewrote spay/neuter goals
   October 5, 2015;  Albuquerque Journal

Director Out At Animal Welfare
   October 2, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Director of Albuquerque Animal Welfare department to step down
   October 1, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Shelter Director Saves Dog; Dog Bites Worker
   September 30, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

City shelter director violates new policy
   September 29, 2015; KRQE News 13

City overhauls shelter policy on dangerous dogs
   September 26, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque city shelter released dangerous dogs
   September 26, 2015; Animals 24-7

After Dog Bites 12-Year-Old Girl, Family Accuses Shelter of Deceiving Them
   September 22, 2015; Inside Edition

Time for a change at the top at Animal Welfare
   September 14, 2015;  Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque shelters adopted out dangerous dogs
   September 6, 2015; KRQE News 13

City Report Upholds Criticism of Animal Welfare
   September 5, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque pound broke city’s own dangerous dog law
   July 28, 2015; Animals 24-7

Team Advises Tougher Policy on Dangerous Dog Adoptions
   June 25, 2015, Albuquerque Journal

Pit Bull Attacks Girl's Service Dog; City Puts Animal Up For Adoption
   June 16, 2015; KRQE

Dangerous Dog Coverup Alleged
   April 27, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

City Tightens Policy on Dog Adoptions
   April 20, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

City rejected startling investigation of Animal Welfare in 2012
Report: Department failed to meet city ordinances, processes
   April 3, 2015; KOAT ABC 7

City must put public safety first at its animal shelters
   April 3, 2015;  Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Animal Welfare Department #2 and behaviorist allege neglect of public safety in pushing pit bull adoptions
   April 2, 2015; Animals 24-7

City puts hold on adoptions of certain dogs
   April 1, 2015;  Albuquerque Journal

Stories of two dogs that killed
   March 31, 2015; Albuquerque Journal

Complaint: Dangerous dogs being released by city
   March 31, 2015;   Albuquerque Journal

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 32+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

Record 33 fatal pit bull attacks & 459 disfigurements in 2015

Pit bulls killed 24,000 other dogs & 13,000 cats in 2015

2015 Dog Bite Related Fatalities (Daxton's Friends)

Fatal Pit Bull Attacks

Today's pit bull attacks

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.