Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Associated Press: Five Years of Pit Bulls

Revised: February 17, 2016; 21:39 GMT
Revised: December 15, 2016; 12:39 GMT
Revised: December 15, 2016; 18:26 GMT
Revised: February 02, 2019; 29:38 GMT

On February 3, 2011, newspapers across the country published an Associated Press article by Sue Manning titled Training, not nature, makes bully.1 The article was picked up by newspapers around the globe and was reprinted for weeks.

A week after the appearance of Ms Manning's AP article SRUV published our first blog post. The current post is published on the 5th anniversary of our response to Ms Manning, and is our final post.

* * * * *

In the five years following her 2011 article Ms Manning has published at least five additional laudatory AP articles about pit bulls, the most recent just days ago. Other AP writers have added to the catalog of positive press. In the five-year period from Ms Manning's 2011 article until the publication of our current post at least 124 people have been killed by pit bulls in the United States, and hundreds have been critically injured.

Ironically, the first fatal attack to occur following Ms Manning's 2011 article was the attack on a newborn child, Darius Tillman, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a week after her article about nature vs nurture in pit bulls. The irony is twofold: Kalamazoo is the home of the United Kennel Club, the organization formed in 1898 to legitimize pit bull dog fighting, and which continues to serve as the breed registry. The second irony is that Michigan is a state dominated by exceptionally effective pit bull advocacy groups, a sad legacy of its dogfighting heritage.

The very question of nature vs nurture, when it comes to pit bulls (or any canine for that matter), is bizarre: it's both. Pit bull advocates are the only dog owners who claim that nurture can alter specific behaviors that have been bred into the various breeds for centuries. Breeders of scent hounds, retrievers, sheep dogs or rat terriers know that the behaviors their dogs inherit will be with them from cradle to grave. And so it is with pit bulls, who have been bred for centuries for pit fighting.

In addition to the 124 fatalities an estimated 20,000 people have been maimed or otherwise permanently disfigured. An estimated 100,000 companion and domestic animals have been killed in these five years.2

* * * * *

Ms Manning has published many fine articles about companion animals, but is also one of the most prominent national journalists for articles sympathetic to pit bulls. The other AP articles appear to be one-offs for the journalists. Two of the AP pit bull articles which received wide distribution during this 5-year period concerned coverage of two pivotal voter referendums, in Aurora, Colorado and in Miami-Dade County. In both cases breed specific restrictions had been in force for decades, and in both cases the citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of keeping those restrictions on pit bulls.

Neither of those two Associated Press journalists chose to write a follow-up story on the outcomes of the voter referendums.

The most recent AP story to earn wide circulation is the David Klepper article about a pit bull that was trained as a K9.3  Mr. Klepper's article was still being published in newspapers nearly two months after the original date of publication, which led us to ponder how Associated Press articles come to be written, and how their authors are paid. Mr Klepper generally covers New York state capitol news for the AP, so it is fair to assume that he was approached by lobbyists from the Animal Farm Foundation, the Dutchess County pit bull advocacy group which funded, facilitated, and placed the pit bull with a Dutchess County police department.4

Ms Manning, Mr Klepper, and the other Associated Press journalists who write about pit bulls have a guaranteed audience. Their articles serve as internet click-bait for the hundreds of thousands of media-savvy pit bull advocates. If these authors receive a penny each time their article is read they could live comfortably well into the future. The newspapers that publish these stories, and their advertisers, all receive tens or hundreds of thousands of hits from pit bull advocates, generating an immense revenue stream for the publishers.

This may explain why Associated Press journalists, as well as other authors (at the Huffington Post, for example), write about the wonders of pit bulls, rather than writing about their victims, human and animal. Or rather than writing about Golden Retrievers, for that matter, or other lovely breeds that have never killed a human. The United States is experiencing a public safety crisis, while the journalists avert their eyes and extol the virtues of pit bulls.

SRUV challenges the authors of the Associated Press articles, whose names and articles are listed below, to read the names of each of the 124 victims, also listed below, and continue to believe that pit bulls are like any other dog.

The last five years have been a crucial period in pit bull politics. As noted above, there have been significant victories for the advocates of public safety legislation. But the advocates of fighting breeds, including organizations with multi-million dollar budgets and squads of salaried lobbyists and attorneys and IT and Social Media specialists, are far more powerful than those who fight for the victims of pit bull attacks. It will be difficult to enact additional public safety legislation until we achieve fair and balanced, uncensored reporting. That will not happen until journalists recognize and write about the immense burden of grief and loss caused by pit bulls.

The Editors of SRUV are grateful to the many readers who have supported us during the last five years.

Associated Press Pit Bull Articles:

How a Dog Became Internet Famous
   by Sue Manning (in the San Diego Union-Tribune)
   January 27, 2016; Associated Press

Pit bull police dog defies breed's savage stereotypes
   by David Klepper
   November 13, 2015; Associated Press

PBS series featuring shelter dogs debuts Oct. 1
   by Sue Manning
   September 23, 2015; Associated Press

Rescued pit bulls fight stigma by guiding people in need
   by Sue Manning
   February 11, 2015; Associated Press

Pit bull vote aims to settle disputes over breeds
   by Kristen Wyatt
   October 18, 2014; Associated Press

Attitudes and Laws Against Pit Bulls Soften
   by Bill Draper
   March 10, 2014; Associated Press

New center offers help for dogs consumed by fear
   by Sue Manning
   March 24, 2013; Associated Press

Attorney gets animal law degree to fight breed bias
   by Sue Manning
   October 25, 2012; Associated Press

Voters consider lifting pit bull ban
   by Jennifer Kay
   August 6, 2012, Associated Press

McDonald's pulls ad after pit bull owner outrage
   by Sue Manning (in the Oakland Press, Pontiac MI)
   February 7, 2012; Associated Press

AP-Petside Poll: Training, Not Nature, Makes Bully
   by Sue Manning
   February 3, 2011; Associated Press

Champion of underdogs saves pit bulls, parolees
   by Sue Manning (in the Oakland Press, Pontiac MI)
   August 13, 2009; Associated Press
* * * * *
1   The Poll was based on data derived from telephone interviews with 1,000 pet owners, and was conducted Oct. 13-20, 2010, by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications.
2   These figures are conservative estimates based on data from Pit bulls killed 24,000 other dogs & 13,000 cats in 2015 as well as other data from Animals 24-7.
3   In response to Mr Klepper's article about the pit bull K9, SRUV published a series of posts about the suitability of pit bulls as Search & Rescue and K9 dogs.
4   Mr Klepper's article was published by the Albuquerque Journal on two separate occasions,while the paper has neglected to report on the many pit bull attacks in its area. This prompted SRUV to publish an article about the censorship of pit bull attacks, The Albuquerque Pit Bull Journal.

Fatal Pit Bull Attacks, February 11, 2011 through February 11, 2016: 124 canine homicides
[ This list of 124 fatal pit bull attacks does not include attacks by pit bull type dogs such as American Bulldogs, Cane Corsos, and other pit bull x mastiff crosses. We are indebted to Fatal Pit Bull Attacks; The Archival Record, where full documentation for every death listed can be found. ]
February 2016, Perquimans County, NC
Suzanne Story, 36

January 2016, Robeson County, NC
Talan West, 7

January 2016, Grayson County, VA
Payton Sawyers, 1

January 2016, Yuba County, CA
Tyler Trammell-Huston, 9

December 2015, Butte County, CA
Maria Torres, 57

December 2015, St. Clair County, MI
Rebecca Hardy, 22

December 2015, Wayne County, MI
Xavier Strickland, 4

November 2015, Oneida County, NY
Carter Hartle, <  1

November 2015, Nassau County, NY
Amiyah Dunston, 9

October 2015, Oklahoma County, OK
Edgar Brown, 60

October 2015, Orange County, TX
Tanner Smith, 5

September 2015, Berkeley County, WV
Lamarkus Hicks, 2

September 2015, Riverside County, CA
Emilio Rios Sr., 65

August 2015, Davie County, SC
Cathy Wheatcraft, 48

August 2015, Spartanburg County, SC
Porsche Nicole Cartee, 25

July 2015, Wagoner County, OK
Carolyn Lamp, 67

July 2015, Cuyahoga County, OH
Annie Williams, 71

July 2015, Henderson County, NC
Joshua Strother, 6

July 2015, Reeves County, TX
Norberto Legarda, 83

June 2015, Comanche County, OK
Jordan Collins-Tyson, 3

May 2015, Cook County, IL
James Nevils III, 5

April 2015, Dallas County, TX
Brayden Wilson, <  1

April 2015, Nye County, NV
Kenneth Ford, 79

March 2015, Jefferson County, AR
De'trick Johnson, 36

March 2015, Ohio County, WV
Roy Higgenbotham Jr., 62

February 2015, Allegheny County, PA
TayLynn DeVaughn, 2

February 2015, Johnson County, AR
Frederick Crutchfield, 63

January 2015, Page County, IA
Malaki Mildward, 7

January 2015, Hernando County, FL
Declan Moss, 18-months

January 2015, Frederick County, MD
Eugene Smith, 87

December 2014, Porter County, IN
Edward Cahill, 40

December 2014, Nueces County, TX
Rita Ross-Woodard, 64

November 2014, Robeson County, NC
Alemeaner Dial, 83

October 2014, Stanislaus County, CA
Juan Fernandez, 54

September 2014, Sharp County, AR
Alice Payne, 75

September 2014, Benton County, MS
David Glass Sr., 51

August 2014, Miami-Dade County, FL
Javon Dade Jr., 4

August 2014, St. Charles County, MO
Deriah Solem, < 2

August 2014, Levy County, FL
Joel Chirieleison, 6

August 2014, Butler County, OH
Cindy Whisman, 59

July 2014, Montgomery County, OH
Johnathan Quarles, Jr., < 1

July 2014, Hillsborough County, FL
Logan Sheppard, 4

May 2014, New Haven County, CT
Rita Pepe, 93

May 2014, Kent County, DE
Kasii Haith, 4

May 2014, Lee County, AL
Katie Morrison, 20

April 2014, Highlands County, FL
Jessica Norman, 33

April 2014, Bexar County, TX
Petra Aguirre, 83

April 2014, St. Clair County, AL
John Harvard, 5

March 2014, Kaufman County, TX
Dorothy Hamilton, 85

March 2014, Holmes County, MS
Christopher Malone, 3

March 2014, Terrebonne Parish, LA
Mia DeRouen, 4

March 2014, Maricopa County, AZ
Nancy Newberry, 77

February 2014, Guilford County, NC
Braelynn Coulter, 3

February 2014, Bell County, TX
Je'vaeh Mayes, 2

January 2014, McLean County, IL
Kara Hartrich, 4

January 2014, Comal County, TX
Betty Clark, 75

January 2014, Harris County, TX
Christina Bell, 43

December 2013, Valencia County, NM
Michal Nelson, 41

December 2013, Cook County, IL
Jah'Niyah White, 2

November 2013, White County, AR
Levi Watson, 4

November 2013, Pierce County, WA
Nga Woodhead, 65

November 2013, Forsyth County, NC
Katherine Atkins, 25

September 2013, Baltimore County, MD
Terry Douglass, 56

September 2013, Baker County, OR
Jordan Ryan, 5

September 2013, San Bernardino County, CA
Samuel Zamudio, 2

September 2013, Maricopa County, AZ
Daniel Teubner, 2

August 2013, Harris County, TX
Juan Compos, 96

June 2013, Florence County, SC
Arianna Merrbach, 5

June 2013, Alameda County, CA
Nephi Selu, 6

May 2013, Dorchester County, SC
Carlton Freeman, 80

May 2013, Los Angeles County, CA
Pamela Devitt, 63

April 2013, Fulton County, GA
Beau Rutledge, 2

April 2013, Jasper County, IA
Jordyn Arndt, 4

April 2013, San Joaquin County, CA
Claudia Gallardo, 38

April 2013, Bay County, FL
Tyler Jett, 7

March 2013, Bryan County, GA
Monica Laminack, < 2

March 2013, Walworth County, WI
Daxton Borchardt, 1

March 2013, Knox County, IL
Ryan Maxwell, 7

February 2013, Uvalde County, TX
Isaiah Aguilar, 2

February 2013, Riverside County, CA
Elsie Grace, 91

January 2013, Montgomery County, TX
Christian Gormanous, 4

January 2013, Greenwood County, SC
Betty Todd, 65

December 2012, Shawnee County, KS
Savannah Edwards, 2

December 2012, Fresno County, CA
Esteban Alavez, 34

October 2012, Wayne County, MI
Tarilyn Bowles, < 1

October 2012, Robeson County, NC
Mary Jo Hunt, 54

September 2012, Oklahoma County, OK
Nellie Davis, 60

September 2012, Johnson, Tarrant Counties, TX
Rayden Bruce, < 1

September 2012, Perquimans County, NC
James Hudson, < 1

September 2012, Jefferson County, AR
Deborah Wilson Roberts, 45

August 2012, Cook County, IL
Charles Hagerman, 44

August 2012, DeKalb County, GA
Rebecca Carey, 23

July 2012, Hamilton County, OH
Ronnel Brown, 40

June 2012, Washoe County, NV
Kevin Latz, 50

June 2012, San Deigo County, CA
Tyzhel Latella McWilliams, < 1

May 2012, Person County, NC
Eugene Cameron, 65

May 2012, Allen County, OH
Makayla Darnell, < 1

May 2012, Maricopa County, AZ
Maryann Hanula, 73

May 2012, Doña Ana County, NM
Jazilyn Mesa, < 2

May 2012, Santa Fe County, NM
Clifford Wright, 74

April 2012, Bryan County, OK
James Hurst, 92

March 2012, Victoria County, TX
Kylar Johnson, 4

March 2012, San Diego County, CA
Diane Jansen, 59

January 2012, Montgomery County, TX
Jace Valdez, 1

December 2011, Bradley County, TN
Mable McCallister, 84

December 2011, San Diego County, CA
Emako Mendoza, 76

December 2011, Lowndes County, GA
Misti Wyno, 40

December 2011, Winnebago County, IL
Tonia Parks, 39

December 2011, White County, IN
Joseph Hines, 58

November 2011, Harris County, TX
Edna Dyson, 71

October 2011, Potter, Randall Counties, TX
Mya Maria Maeda, < 1

September 2011, New Haven County, CT
Nevaeh Bryant, < 2

September 2011, Harris County, TX
Brayden McCollen, < 1

August 2011, Bladen County, NC
Addyson Camerino, < 1

August 2011, Philadelphia County, PA
Carmen Ramos, 50

August 2011, Pima County, AZ
Michael Cook, 61

August 2011, San Mateo County, CA
Darla Napora, 32

June 2011, Chesterfield County, VA
Salvador Cotto, < 1

June 2011, Putnam County, FL
Roy McSweeney, 74

June 2011, Spotsylvania County, VA
David Quyon Haigler, 38

April 2011, Sierra County, NM
Margaret Salcedo, 48

April 2011, Carter County, OK
Virgil Cantrell, 50

March 2011, San Bernardino County, CA
Jennie Erquiaga, 47

February 2011, Kalamazoo County, MI
Darius Tillman, < 1
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.