Friday, October 4, 2013

Factchecking the LA Times

Revised: Oct 6, 2013, 15:44 GMT
Pit bulls have come under scrutiny in the Southland after violent attacks left one jogger dead in Antelope Valley last year and, most recently, a 2-year-old boy in Colton.1
The term Southland is used to refer to the interacting metropolitan and rural area sprawling over five counties in the southern part of California; the counties are Los Angeles, Orange, San  Bernardino, Riverside, and Ventura counties. Another way to describe the Southland is to say that it includes all of Greater Los Angeles (LA, Orange, and Ventura counties) as well as the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties).

The excerpt at the top of the page leaves the distinct impression that one person was killed by a pit bull in 2012 in the Southland and a 2-year old child was killed this year.

This misrepresentation, whether it is intentional or inadvertent, begs to be corrected. The recent death of the 2-year old child in Colton is the third fatal pit bull attack in the Southland this year.

There have been at least 20 fatal dog attacks in calendar year 2013 in the US. 19 of those deaths have been committed by pit bulls. California leads the nation with 5 of the 19 fatal pit bull attacks, or 26% of the nation's total. 3 of California's 5 fatal pit bull attacks in 2013 have been in the Southland.

The victims of California's fatal pit bull attacks include:
  • Elsie Grace, 91 yo (February 8, 2013), Hemet, CA
  • Claudia Gallardo, 38 yo (April 11, 2013), Stockton, CA
  • Pamela Maria Devitt, 62 yo (May 9, 2013), LA County, CA
  • Nephi Selu, 6 yo (June 17, 2013), Union City, CA
  • Samuel Eli Zamudio, 2 yo (September 23, 2013), Colton CA
The breaking news of the most recent fatal attack, as well as the earlier attack on Pamela Maria Devitt, both received exemplary on-the-spot coverage by the LA Times news teams.2, 3 But when it comes to putting the Southland pit bull attacks into the larger context of state or national pit bull attacks, discussing the public safety menace of pit bulls, or providing analysis of the nation's unacknowledged epidemic of fatal pit bull attacks, The Times falls silent.

* * * * *

1 Pit bull that attacked Bay Area fireman twice is spared, LA Times, September 27, 2013

2 The teams were led by Richard Winton (for the attack on Ms Devitt) and Joseph Serna (for the attack on Samuel Zamudio).

3 The mauling death of Elsie Grace, a noted watercolorist, in a Riverside County motel room received only five sentences in the LA Times.

4/ For our comments on the LA Times opinion pages and editorial coverage of pit bulls see LA Times Opinion.

5/ The Press Enterprise provides a detailed account (by Brian Rokos) of the September 14th attack on James Hernandez in Corona, Riverside County. Following the story is an extensive list of recent attacks. (See here.)

Man's guilty plea is second for family in series of pit bull attacks
   Desert Dispatch (San Bernardino Cty), October 4, 2013
Boy mauled by pit bulls still hospitalized
   Press Enterprise (Riverside, CA), October 22, 2013
Kindergartner dies after pit bull attack
   KTVB, September 27, 2013
Pit bulls kill toddler; pit bulls are killed
   LA Times (Carla Hall), September 25, 2013
Pit bulls kill toddler; Grandmother, uncle arrested
   The Sun (San Bernardino, CA), Sept 24, 2013
Little boy mauled by pit bulls in Gilbert, AZ, September 22, 2013

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here. This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Information on euthanasia rates is from Pit bulls and Political Recklessness, by Merritt Clifton. Shelter  intake and euthanasia rates are published annually in the July/August edition of Animal People.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks