Sunday, June 15, 2014

Any Dog in Cincinnati

Revised: June 16, 2014; 16:52 GMT

Any dog is capable of any act, at any point in time.
-- Michael Linke, CEO of the RSPCA, ACT

Any dog has the ability to attack ... any dog will attack when it gets aroused to a certain point.
-- Dr Jane Dunnett, Werribee Veterinary Hospital

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Four-year-old Ayen Chol died as she clung to her mother's feet when a pit bull owned by Nick Josevski ran down the street and entered the Chol residence in Melbourne, Australia. The pit bull continued the attack despite the desperate efforts of family members to save their daughter.

The statements above by Mr Linke and Dr Dunnett were made following the fatal attack on Ayen. The horror of Mr Link's utterance, and thousands of similar comments by other pit bull advocates,1 may not be readily apparent.

The horror, for those who require an explanation, is twofold. First, it demonstrates a depraved indifference to the suffering of this child and her family. Secondly, the statement is often made for no other reason than to defend the type of dog that killed the child.

And there are more reasons why this reasoning is repugnant. A third reason this statement (and its variants) is so horrible is that it encourages a coarsening of  the human-canine bond. If we come to believe that any dog is capable of killing our children we must believe that all dogs, our labradors and retrievers, the dogs who have curled on our hearths for millennia, are potential killers of our children. The result would be a persistent, lingering suspicion that the companion animals we have invited into our homes might kill us. We could no longer sustain unconditional love for our canine companions, and the human-canine bond would be ruptured. There are signs this change is underway.

A fourth reason the statement is horrible is that it is often uttered at the most surprising and illogical moments, often as a non sequitur, for example after a child's death. It is also uttered randomly in interviews and press releases. The phrase has become a kind of Chinese water torture and now innocent animal advocates repeat it without realizing the full implications.

* * * * * 

There's a pit bull out here eating a little baby!

That was the 911 call from a neighbor who saw two pit bulls maul 6-year-old Zainabou Drame in suburban Cincinnati on June 4th, 2014. Her jaw was basically ripped off, according to her grandfather. She lost most of the skin from her face and her tongue is gone. She received trauma to her entire body. At last report Zainabou remained in an induced coma. The officers at the scene were overcome by the scene they encountered:
It’s really indescribable and something no person should ever have to see and something we’ll never forget. I don’t want to get too graphic but I saw the brown dog, which was the bigger of the two dogs and he had the girl’s head in his mouth. He was slinging it around, thrashing his head back and forth with her in his mouth.
Mike Retzlaff serves as Director of Operations at the Cincinnati SPCA. Apparently one of his duties is to pretend that pit bulls are like any other dog.
A lot of times dogs like this will be used as guard dogs, and you can use any dog -- a lab, it could be a pit bull, it could be a German shepherd, you can make any dog mean.
   -- Mike Retzlaff, SPCA

Mr Retzlaff may have been interviewed by the WCPO news program On Your Side; but Mr Retzlaff is not on the side of Zainabou Drame nor on the side of the public. What good could possibly result from convincing the public that any dog, your Golden Retriever or Australian Shepherd for example, might take your child's head in its maw and try to dismember her? Mr Retzlaff may want to convince the public that pit bulls are as placid as any other dog, but it is pit bulls that kill more humans than all other dog breeds combined.

Mr Retzlaff has the affrontry to claim, in effect, that the breed of dogs that attacked Zainabou is irrelevant. This is a repugnant claim from an animal welfare executive and public servant who should be working on behalf of all of us. Mr Retzlaff, Ms VanKavage, and the hundreds of others who perpetrate the cruel fraud that pit bulls are like any other dog fail to see themselves as public servants; they do not represent us.

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1 Included among those who use the Any Dog formulation is, most famously, Ledy VanKavage, Senior Legislative Attorney and National Manager of Best Friends Animal Society's Pit Bull Terrier Initiative. Ms Van Kavage has worked tirelessly for years to instill the Any dog can bite concept into the public consciousness, in statements to the press and in visits to students at law schools. A small sample of her work is included in the following selection:

Any dog can bite.
   Bonnie Beaver, DVM;  in Fighting Fido, by Martha Neil (ABA Journal, Jan 2003)

The APDT is fully aware that any dog can bite, any dog can maim, and any dog can kill.
-- The Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Any dog can bite.
   Ledy VanKavage, Huffington Post,  April 8, 2014

Any dog can bite.
    Ledy VanKavage; City Weekly, September 18, 2013

Any dog's capable of attacking.
    Michael Davis, president of the National American Pit Bull Terrier Association
    Detroit Free Press, June 9, 2011, reprinted in the South Bend Tribune

Any dog can bite.
   Ledy VanKavage; Salt Lake City Tribune, September 27, 2010

Any dog can bite.
   Ledy VanKavage; Freemont, OH Update, November 7, 2009

Any dog can bite.
   Ledy VaKavage; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 27, 2009


SPCA evaluating 3rd pit bull found during Westwood attack
    June 10, 2014; WCPO 9

Gruesome attack sparks debate on how to handle certain dog breeds
    June 10, 2014; WLWT5

Girl still in coma days after attack
    June 9, 2014; Cincinnati Enquirer

Girl's family says 6-year-old suffered horrific injuries
    June 4, 2014 WCPO

Related Posts:

The Chol Inquest (Aug 30, 2012)

Ax3Redux (Sept 13, 2011)

RSPCA Act (Aug 26, 2011)

All dogs bite (Aug 13, 2011)

Fierce Chihuahuas (March 3, 2012)