To: Sheriff Van Blarcum, Ulster County NY
We are writing in response to the recent graduation of three canines from the Ulster County Sheriff's K9 training program.1 One of the graduates of the program, a pit bull, received widespread media attention. While much has been written about the pit bull Kiah, there remains much that is not yet known.
The national K9 community has a strong interest in maintaining standards of training and professionalism. K9 team members and animal welfare professionals would benefit from an open discussion about the circumstances that brought Kiah to your department for training, and ultimately to the Poughkeepsie Police Department in Dutchess County. Thousands of interested trainers, officers, and others with an interest in law enforcement and animal welfare will be grateful for your responses to the following questions.
1/ Most K9s are selected from carefully bred lines, which have been bred for generations specifically for law enforcement work. Kiah, on the other hand, was a shelter pit bull from Texas with an unknown background. In addition, Kiah belongs to the type of dog which killed a record 33 humans in 2015, and maimed or otherwise permanently disfigured 459 humans. Would you tell our readers who proposed that Kiah be included in the training class, and who was involved in the decision to include Kiah in the Ulster County K9 training class?
2/ Dutchess County, where Poughkeepsie is located, trains their K9's at the regional K9 academy hosted by the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office. This would appear to be the logical training facility to train Poughkeepsie K9s. Please explain why Poughkeepsie's pit bull K9 was not trained in her home county? Why was your county (Ulster Cty) involved in training a Dutchess County K-9 when Dutchess County has its own training program? How was this decision made and who was involved in the decision?
3/ Explain the financial arrangements between Ulster County, Poughkeepsie, and the Animal Farm Foundation, the pit bull advocacy group involved in the transaction. Was Ulster County compensated for training Kiah? By whom? If Ulster County was not compensated, why wasn't it?
4/ Was the decision to train and place Kiah discussed by the Ulster County Legislature? Was the Legislature fully advised of the liability issues facing local governments due to poorly trained K9s? Was the legislature advised of the financial risks incurred by Ulster County by claiming that a pit bull is a fully trained K9?
5/ K9 certification for Ulster and Dutchess Counties appears to be provided by the Eastern Police Canine Association. Is the pit bull that graduated from your K9 training course fully certified by the relevant certifying organization?
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We appreciate your willingness to resolve these issues for the thousands of dedicated officers who closely follow developments in the field of K9 law enforcement.
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1 SUNY Ulster Goes To The Dogs (December 27, 2015; HVNN)
[Note: The list below includes only a few of the more notable recent pit bull attacks in the Hudson Valley.)
Pitbull Mauling Of Chihuahua Leaves Woman Heartbroken
January 12, 2016; Hudson Valley News Network
Service dog killed by pit bull; owner held on different charge
January 10, 2016; Poughkeepsie Journal
Amherst police investigating dog attack against girl
January 4, 2016; WGRZ.com
After Pit Bull Case, Questions Dog New York’s “Unfortunate Event” Test
January 4, 2016; JD Supra
Spate of pit bull attacks puts the spotlight on the polarizing breed
October 17, 2015; Buffalo News
FATAL PIT BULL ATTACK -- Marshall NY
Family’s pet pit bull kills 11-month-old boy playing at home
November 17, 2015; PIX11 TV
Breed can be risky because it won't let go, dog warden says
November 16, 2015; Syracuse.com
Pit bulls sought in llama attack
July 29, 2015; Kingston Times
1,200 animal attacks in region
by Ernie Garcia
June 15, 2015; Journal News
Middletown police officer fatally shoots pit bull after it attacks
June 3, 2015; Times Herald-Record
The attack and the subsequent shooting marked the second time in a week that Middletown police have had to shoot a pit bull because it turned violent in a public space, said Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano.
Pit Bull Turns on Family, Attacks Girl, Mother
April 17, 2015; TWC News
Pit Bull Attacks 8-Year-Old Girl in Hudson Valley
July 23, 2014; WPDH
Hudson Valley cop kills pit bull after attack
June 5, 2014; Troy Record
The Problem with Pit Bull Service Dogs (and numerous other posts)
February 12, 2015; Craven Desires
How the Americans with Disabilities Act has become the “Pit Bull Pushers Act”
July 3, 2015; Animals 24-7
Service and Therapy Pit Bulls that turned pit bull
September 16, 2014; Daxton's Father
LawDogsUSA, Pit Bull Detection Dog Program, Shuts Down
November 5, 2008; Dogsbite
Statistics: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.