Friday, November 29, 2013

Leazaun Thornton's pit bull

Revised: December 29, 2013; 15:39 GMT

On November 1, 2013 Leazaun Thornton of Reynoldsburg, Ohio was cited for harboring a pit bull. Reynoldsburg, a suburb of Columbus, approved legislation in 1996 which prohibits the keeping of vicious dogs, including pit bulls.

Ms. Thornton is contesting the citation, claiming that her dog is a cross between a Cane Corso and a Presa Canario and is considered to be a mastiff, not a pit bull.

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In a related incident, 65-year old Anne Murray of Wilton, CT was attacked by her pit bull on November 11th, 2013. The family pet gnawed off one arm above the elbow and the other arm below the elbow. Her entire body was covered with bites.

What is the connection between harboring a mixed-breed dog in Reynoldsburg, OH and the horrifying pit bull attack in Wilton, Connecticut? The connection is that advocates of fighting breeds habitually attempt to confuse the issue by arguing about the breed of the dog, which is an irrelevant diversion in nearly every instance.

In Reynoldsburg Leazaun Thornton claimed her dog was not a pit bull but a mix between a Cane Corso and a Presa Canario. Ms Thornton's case is related to the simultaneous effort by Reynoldsburg pit bull advocates to overturn the city's pit bull ban which has been in effect since 1996.

In the Wilton case pit bull advocates from around the state, including Kayte Zowine, Allyson Halm, and Racquel Trapp1 all claimed the dog was not a pit bull. The controversy about the breed of the dog that ate Anne Murray's hands simmered until Wilton police Capt. John Lynch briefed the Wilton board of selectmen on the matter, and said the dog wasn't a pit bull but an American Staffordshire Terrier. The issue may ultimately have been resolved when the ASPCA acknowledged that the dog was a pit bull.

All these breeds (and others) are pit bull type dogs.

It is not uncommon for breeders of American Pit Bull Terriers to register their dogs as both American Pit Bull Terriers (in the United Kennel Club) and American Staffordshire Terriers (in the American Kennel Club). It is also not uncommon for breeders of American Staffordshire Terriers to dual register their dogs as both American Staffordshire Terriers (in the AKC) and American Pit Bull Terriers (in the UKC). If both kennel clubs are willing to cross-register these dogs it's evident they are the same dog under different names.

Ms Thornton does not claim that her dog is a pure-bred Cane Corso or Presa Canario (the breed responsible for the notorious Dianne Whipple mauling); she claims it is a cross-breed. Pit bulls historically have been interbred and crossbred for a broad range of shapes and sizes.2  They have been crossed with mastiff type dogs for increased bulk for so long that in many individuals it's impossible to distinguish a specific lineage; and all of these crossbreeds are therefore referred to as pit bull type dogs.

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Omaha NE Municipal Code Section 6-163
For purposes of this section, pit bull shall be defined as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Dogo Argentina, Presa Canario, Cane Corso, American Bulldog, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one or more of the above breeds (more so than any other breed), or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.

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1  Kayte Zowine is co-director of the Bridgeport-based  Project Precious Rescue; Allyson Halm is president of Adopt-a-Dog Inc., and Racquel Trapp is director of Angel Capone Pit Bull Rescue in Bridgeport.
2  See the SRUV version of Find the Pit Bull.

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.

Posts on pit bull identification:

Sources for Reynoldsburg:
Eight member committee will review pit bull law
   This Week Community News, November 23, 2013
   This Week Community News, July 16, 2013
   The Province, October 2, 2013

Sources for attack on Anne Murray:
   Norwalk Citizen, November 20, 2013
   Norwalk Citizen, November 20, 2013
   NY Daily News, November 13, 2013 

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 30+ 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