Tuesday, February 5, 2013


[This post is archived and is no longer supported. 07/06/15]

If you have a pit bull type dog and you don’t know Ledy VanKavage, you need to. She probably saved your dog’s life.
Katie Bray Barnett,  StubbyDog
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Anthony Cobb, Chief of Police, Champaign IL
Rene Dunn, Spokeswoman, Champaign IL
Larry Krause, Risk Manager, Champaign IL
Stephanie Joos, Animal Control Director, Champaign County IL
Michael Schlosser, Police Training Institute, Urbana IL
Chelsea Angelo, ACO, Urbana IL
Champaign City Council
Cynthia Bathurst, SafeHumane, Chicago
  and hundreds others

We are writing in response to the Nov 17 2012 shooting incident at the corner of John and Crescent Streets, in which a dog belonging to the Saathoff family was attacked by a pit bull. In the ensuing melee the Saathoff's 5-year-old chocolate Labrador was shot.

We note that Ledy VanKavage has become involved in the case, but the news coverage is unclear who solicited her involvement, if anyone. Ms VanKavage currently serves as the Senior Legislative Attorney at Best Friends Animal Society, where much of her work is related to helping pit bulls. She also sits on the Board of Directors of Animal Farm Foundation, an organization whose sole purpose is to protect pit bulls, and to encourage their acceptance as family pets.

Ms VanKavage is known for her visits to college campuses for the purpose of enlisting law students to work as pit bull advocates. Some of these young attorneys are now working to rescind public safety laws in their own communities. Ms Vankavage has been so effective that she ranks among the top two or three pit bull advocates in the country, and has earned a cult-like following among other advocates of fighting breeds. At the same time she has added immeasurably to the burdens of police work.

In 2010 Ms VanKavage was instrumental in overturning the Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in Topeka. Two months ago, two-year old Savannah Mae Edwards of suburban Topeka was mauled to death by a pit bull that had been adopted from a pit bull rescue.

Savannah Mae Edwards

In the month before Savannah's death Miami-Dade County voters overwhelmingly voted to retain their long-standing ban on pit bulls, despite the well-organized, heavily-funded campaign led by Ms VanKavage and other pit bull advocates to rescind it. Ms VanKavage has published dozens (if not hundreds) of articles and papers advocating against the very laws communities have used to protect their citizens from fighting breeds.

In addition, Ms VanKavage has insinuated herself into positions of respect and authority in the American Bar Association and in dozens of communities across America, where much of her work is in the service of pit bulls, the type of dog which last year killed at least 33 people in North America [see link below].

The shooting in Champaign is not an isolated event. Police officers have increasingly found it necessary to discharge their weapons during pit bull attacks. A quick search of Google news for similar events results in thousands of hits [see Google news link below]. Ms VanKavage has demonstrated an intense interest in the police response to disturbances involving pit bulls and has now "offered her services" to the city of Champaign. The thought of Ms VanKavage, who has recklessly encouraged the proliferation of fighting breeds, instructing Champaign's law enforcement officers how to handle attacks by the very dogs she favors, is bizarre.

As a result of the Nov 17th incident the police are considering revising their use-of-force policy, "to specifically state that an aggressive animal must present an imminent threat to a human being before deadly force would be authorized." In cities where similar restrictions are enforced pet owners have been forced to watch helplessly as pit bulls have killed their pets.

Ms VanKavage may try to convince us that inadequate police training is at fault when officers discharge their weapons. What she has failed to acknowledge is that in the majority of recent shootings by police officers, a pit bull has attacked a family pet and is in the act of killing it. At the root of the problem is the large and growing number of pit bulls in society, which Ms VanKavage is in large part responsible for.

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Champaign police will train to deal with dogs, (News-Gazette, Feb 3, 2013)
Dog fatally shot by police officer, (News-Gazette, Nov 17, 2012)

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

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.