Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reignite, Debate

Revised: April 16, 2014; 14:58 GMT
Revised: April 17, 2014; 11:29 GMT
Revised: April 21, 2014; 19:05 GMT

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
George Santayana

* * * * * 

On Thursday, December 12, 2013, Dan Pelle was walking with his companion Koko near Chase Middle School in Spokane. Pelle described what happened during their walk:
One of the dog's circled back, . . . saw us and just charged right over here, right down this path. It stopped, smelled our dog once and just hit her right around the neck. The other dog just attacked her from the rear and just took her down.
Six days after Koko's death the editors of the Spokane Spokesman Review published an editorial titled Pit bull ban won’t help; leash, license will (December 18, 2013). The editors claim that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is ineffective; they are wrong. The editors compound their error by demonstrating a callous disregard for one of their own employees of the Spokesman Review, Dan Pelle.

Koko d.  December 12, 2013
[Koko] meant everything to us . . . she was the center of our lives for the past 11 years.

* * * * *

Four months later Spokane experienced a frenzy of pit bull attacks; three attacks in the space of a week injuring at least eight people and a K-9.  On April 3rd, 2014, two pit bulls attacked an 8 year old girl, then attacked the two men who came to her assistance. On April 7th a pit bull attacked a K-9 and was shot. On April 9th a pit bull bit five people before it was shot outside the apartment complex where it lived with the family of Christy Baker, who was the first victim of the night's mayhem.1

* * * * *

In response to the string of attacks the Spokesman Review published a boilerplate article titled Pit bull attacks prompt debate over breed safety. There have been dozens of similar articles in recent years, many of which include the words Reignite and Debate, or similar words. A few recent examples include:
Four of these articles were written following fatal pit bull attacks on infants or children.

The newspapers and journalists cannot be faulted for falling into this pattern, which has become a journalistic cliché in cities which fail to protect their citizens with Breed Specific Legislation. Communities which do not have the courage to resolve their pit bull problems will be forced to resort to this cliché many times over.

* * * * *

1 The owner of the dog, Levi Jessup, lives with his mother in the apartment complex. The dog had lived with the family for a week, and had previously lived with a friend of Jessup's. Levi's mother, Christy Baker, received bites on both arms and suffered a broken arm but claims the dog was not responsible. An image of Ms Baker sporting tattoos and a t-shirt with the message My Boyfriend is a Vampire appeared in a Spokesman Review article which headlined her defense of the dog that went on the rampage. Baker and Jessup were evicted from their apartment immediately after the rampage. On April 12th the apartment complex was burned in a two-alarm fire, displacing 40 people. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Dan Pelle's photograph of Cbristy Baker is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize nomination.


Sheriff’s Office dog Laslo recovering after pit bull attack
   Spokesman Review, April 16, 2014
Pit bull attacks prompt debate over breed safety
   Spokesman Review, April 13, 2014
   Spokesman Review, April 13, 2014
North Spokane apartment fire displaces 40
   KXLY, April 12, 2014
Police shoot pit bull after attack on five people
   Spokesman Review, April 10, 2014

Pit bull ban won’t help; leash, license will
   Spokesman Review, December 18, 2013
Owners of pit bulls step forward after attack
   Spokesman Review, December 18, 2013
   Yakima Herald, December 14, 2013
   Spokesman Review, December 14, 2013
   KHQ, Q6 TV, December 14, 2013