Saturday, July 19, 2014

Summer Reading List

Revised: July 25, 2014; 16:09 GMT
Revised: July 27, 2014; 19:04 GMT
Revised: August 21, 2014; 14:08 GMT

For some, summer brings long days stretched out by the pool with a hardcover or juicy paperback; for others, an e-book on the phone or audio book in the car can do the trick. Whatever the season has in store, it provides ample opportunities . . . and we've got more than enough titles to keep you reading.
And so begins the 2014 Summer Books Preview from the Los Angeles Times. Magazines and newspapers from Glamour to the Wall Street Journal offer their recommendations for your summer escape. This year the TED community has entered the fray with a mega-list of 70 books that only a TED-head would attempt during the sultry summer months.

Beginning fifteen or twenty years ago and continuing up through the present, articles about pit bulls were almost exclusively dominated by pit bull advocacy. Many of the articles were written by advocates or the journalists were writing from talking points memos supplied by advocacy groups. Some articles were essentially ghost-written by advocacy groups.1

There is still plenty of the old writing to be found, but this summer there's also something new. For the first time in years many journalists and editorial writers have thrown off the shackles of pit bull political correctness; there is a revival of common sense and honesty in these new articles about the hazards of living with pit bulls. The new pit bull journalism brings a welcome breath of fresh air to a genre that has been stagnant too long.

Grab your sunscreen and beach gear and pack the kids. Fire up your iPad and get ready for something new: the truth about pit bulls. Here's the SRUV list of recommended summer reading.

Image courtesy of The Guardian: Summer Reading 2014; Illustration by Laszlito

* * * * *
 1.  Pit bulls are dangerous and should be feared
     July 27, 2014; Barry Lewis, Times Herald-Record

 2.  There is no need for pit bulls
     June 29, 2014; Cincinnati Enquirer

 3.  The Problem with pit bulls
     June 20, 2014; Charlotte Alter, Time Magazine

 4.  What we know about pit bull owners
     July 26, 2014; Rich Tosches, The Denver Post

Two articles by Dr Ellicott McConnell, published in the Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

 5.  Blame the owner? (June 22, 2014)

 6.  Temperament vs teachings (July 27, 2014)

Bonus pages:

 7.  Dog attack victim victory in court is bad news for irresponsible dog owners

 8.  Face it: pit bulls are hard-wired to kill

A special list of articles from Patriot-News journalist Eric Veronikis:

 9. Pit bulls responsible for most dog attacks/deaths in U.S. and Canada

10. Philadelphia man says attack on daughter . . .

11.  Couple's life forever altered after two pit bulls kill toddler

12.  Family traumatized by vicious attack of 7-year-old son

13.  Pit bull attacks leave lasting wounds, devastate families

14.  Pit bull kills one dog, attacks another in Carlisle; owner vows it won't happen again

* * * * *

1 See Pimping Pit Bulls


Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Cincinnati Vortex

Revised: July 17, 2014; 01:49 GMT
Revised: July 19, 2014; 19:15 GMT
Revised: July 23, 2014; 23:42 GMT

On June 4th, 6-year old Zainabou Drame was attacked by two pit bulls while playing in a neighbor's yard. In the six weeks since the attack pit bulls and Breed Specific Legislation have resurfaced as contentious issues in the news and in Council chambers. On July 14, 2014, the editors of the Cincinnati Enquirer weighed in with an Opinion titled Don't ban pit bulls; punish owners. The Opinion was published on behalf of the Publisher and Editorial Board of the Enquirer.

* * * * *

Cincinnati has a complex relationship with Breed Specific Legislation. The Queen City may have been the first major American city in modern history to enact BSL, when City Council placed restrictions on the sale or purchase of pit bulls in 1983.1 Legislation was introduced in 1986 (and passed in 1987) which banned pit bulls outright (though this law remained unenforced until an officer was attacked in 1995).

In 1999 the Cincinnati code was revised and the pit bull ban was reinstated. Pit bulls registered prior to November 1, 2003 were exempt from the new legislation. In 2007 the State Supreme Court upheld the state's BSL laws. In March of 2009 the existing law was strengthened, making it illegal to breed, sell or give a pit bull away in the city - except to an animal shelter.

The ban was revoked on May 16, 2012, in part to come into compliance with new state law.2  With this complicated history behind them the editors of the Cincinnati Enquirer should now be experts in BSL.

But apparently that's not the case. Can the editors be serious in proposing that the threat of punishment will compel different behaviors in pit bull owners? This is the same tactic advocates have used to forestall BSL for years, and all the while the numbers of attacks have climbed. In 2012 there were 305 serious pit bull attacks on humans in the US; in 2014 we passed that point midway in the year.(Statistics) The Enquirer's modest proposal is so contemptuous of recent events that we must question whether it is offered in good faith.

The Editors have accepted other unsupported assertions made by pit bull advocacy groups; for example the claim that there is a "national trend in lifting bans." This in hardly the case. A vocal minority of advocates has convinced some cities to rescind existing BSL; revocation happens primarily in towns which have had successful BSL for so long that pit bulls are no longer perceived as a threat.

At the same time other municipalities continue to add BSL. The tough new legislation in Carroll County, MS is but one example. Legislators in numerous other cities are currently considering adding or strengthening legislation.

The Editors also suggested that pit bulls are difficult to identify. This advocacy red herring has been used to intimidate Councils but is patently false. Laws and definitions have withstood court challenges in numerous states, including Ohio where Judge Herman J Weber wrote the opinion in a 1989 case:
The Court concludes that Ordinance 87?6 sets forth a meaningful standard which can be used to identify those dogs subject to its prohibition and that the Pit Bull has certain phenotypical characteristics in its appearance which allows this breed of dog to be identifiable.3
The era of cross-breeding pit bulls with larger mastiffs does not alter this precedent: definitions must be expanded to include all pit bull-mastiff crossbreed dogs.4 Similarly, the decoding of the canine genome has had minimal impact of the identification or definition of a pit bull.5

It's estimated that pit bulls killed 40,000 of our more vulnerable companion animals last year.6 The story of one such attack, in Cincinnati's Incline District, was eloquently recounted in the Enquirer. The Editors fail to acknowledge the toll of grief these attacks bring to tens of thousands of American families each year. Perhaps the Editorial Board should visit Bebe Wilker, whose companion Bartles was attacked by a pit bull last month. The promise of harsher punishments rings hollow to 40,000 (and counting) additional families each year. At some point the sheer number of victims will demand a more fitting response from newspapers, city councils, and legislatures.

The Editors' prescription for after-the-fact punishment for owners fails to acknowledge that many pit bull attacks, both on companion animals and on humans, are by pit bulls which have not previously demonstrated aggression. Of the thirteen fatal pit bull attacks this calendar year, eight of the victims were killed by dogs owned by a family member. At least three more were killed by pit bulls owned by neighbors, meaning eleven of the thirteen victims were killed by family pit bulls with owners we can consider responsible.7 Increasing the punishment for irresponsible owners will not stop the attacks by well-cared for family pit bulls.

Meanwhile, the silliness vortex has spread to Council chambers where Christopher Smitherman, Chair of City Council's Law and Public Safety Committee, stated in a recent interview:
All dogs can be trained to be vicious.
This notorious advocacy adage dismisses the gravity of a pit bull attack by implying that it could just as easily have been a Golden Retriever that mauled Zainabou. This is an outrage to reason: these are pit bulls committing these atrocities and it is dishonest to pretend otherwise. Mr Smitherman's hand-wringing is evident: "There's something inside of me that's saying we need to look at this," Smitherman added.

There's something inside of me saying the prospects for a solution in Cincinnati are not promising.

* * * * *

1 While Cincinnati may have been out front on the pit bull issue, it was not the first city to legislate against pit bulls. There is evidence that cities such as Ogden, Utah enforced a shoot-on-sight BSL ordinance as early as 1910.
2 Ohio state laws had been revised the previous month (March 2012), dropping the breed specific designation of pit bulls as a "vicious" breed. In 2012 there were three fatal pit bull attacks in Ohio. One of those deaths was 3-day old Makayla Darnell, who was killed by a pit bull the same week Ohio dropped the "vicious" designation from its animal laws.
3 US District Court Ohio; Vanater v. Village of South Point
4 See the Omaha Municipal Code, for example.
5 See The Trojan Horse
6 See How many companion animals do pit bulls kill?
7 For documentation see Fatal Pit Bull Attacks

View or download Dog attack deaths and maimings


Don't ban pit bulls? Are you folks for real?
   July 17, 2014; Cincinnati Enquirer

Don't ban pit bulls; punish owners
   July 14, 2014; Cincinnati Enquirer

Should pit bull ban be reinstated?
   July 7, 2014, Cincinnati Enquirer

Laws in Ohio and pit bull violence in Cincinnati
   June 25, 2014; Scorched Earch

Former pit bull owner recovering after attack
   June 23, 2014; Fox 19

Pit bull owners rally in support of breed
   June 17, 2014; WLWT

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

Woman, 73, in rehabilitation after pit bull attack
   Dec 13, 2013; Fox 19

Cincinnati pit bull ban repealed
    May 16, 2012; CityBeat

Losing Fight
    April 12, 2012; CityBeat

City toughens pit bull rules
   March 30, 2009; Cincinnati Enquirer

City Council again outlaws pit bulls
   August 7, 2003; Cincinnati Enquirer


Monday, July 14, 2014

Michigan Reprise

Kara Sepulveda, of the Red Rock Arabians farm in Handy Township, walked into the bloody scene and saw one dog - she later learned there was a second dog - attacking her 25-year-old mare, Helvezia . . . .
The attack on Helvezia came three months after four rampaging pit bull type dogs killed two people in the same area of rural Michigan in late 2008.

Following the double fatal attack and the pit bull attack on Helvezia, the Livingston County Daily Press called  upon the State Legislature to take action on dangerous dogs.
We also feel that the Michigan Legislature needs to closely - and quickly - examine what types of reasonable legislation is needed to deal with this growing problem.

Harper's family is promoting legislation that would make it illegal for someone to own dangerous dogs, and Sepulveda said she supports that measure. Is that too drastic?
This prudent call for action languished for three years, until June 2011, when Representative Timothy Bledsoe introduced HB4714.  Bledsoe's landmark legislation was killed within minutes by a single legislator, Rep. Hugh Crawford (R-Novi, Chair of the House Regulatory Reform Committee),1 who refused to give the bill a fair hearing before his committee or before the full house.

Now, in an eerie reprise of the 2008 attack on Helvezia, a pit bull recently entered the stall of a prize Arabian mare in Michigan. The pit bull-boxer mix escaped from its owner's house and made its way to Hampton Green Farm where it located the mare, Candela, in her stall. "The dog hunted down the horse. She went for the oldest, weakest of the horses and I think it's a very dangerous thing," said Kim Boyer, owner of Hampton Green Farm. "The dog has tasted the blood of an animal that is much larger than her."

Michigan's legislature passed harsh new animal fighting legislation in 2012,2 but the legislation has done nothing to stop pit bull attacks on humans, companion animals, or horses. After the attack on Candela, the legislators need no additional reminders that they have yet to fulfill their obligation to protect the people and companion animals of Michigan.

* * * * *
1 Rep Crawford is retiring this year after six years in the House. Rep Crawford's wife, Kathy Crawford, is currently in the race to succeed him.
2 Michigan's tougher animal fighting penalties, Detroit Free Press, December 31, 2012


The dog hunted down the horse
   June 20, 2014; The Muskegon Chronicle

   April 15, 2008
Police said two of McGalliard's pit bulls attacked and mauled a Polish Arabian mare in her stall on Judd Road in January.

Emotions flare over hearing in dog attack
   February 22, 2008; Detroit News

Legislature needs to take up debate on dangerous dog breeds
February 4, 2008; Livingston County Daily Press & Argus
(Note: this article is behind a paywall)

My Horse Saved My Life
Jan 30, 2008; Livingston County Daily Press & Argus
(Note: this article is behind a paywall; it has been copied into a discussion at

Horse put down after pit-bull attack
   January 28, 2008
Handy Township is just north of Iosco Township, the rural Livingston County community where a pack of purebred and mixed-bred American bulldogs attacked and killed two people last September.[Editors' note: American bulldogs are pit bull type dogs.]

Killer dogs tried to attack third victim
   December 28, 2007

Index of articles about the attack on Kara Sepulveda's Arabian mare


Sunday, July 6, 2014


Revised: July 6, 2014; 18:49 GMT
Revised: July 10, 2014; 17:38 GMT
Revised: July 11, 2014; 15:57 GMT
Revised: July 11, 2014; 23:50 GMT

Two recent dog attacks on horses, separated by four days and nine thousand miles, have spotlighted the dangers posed by fighting breeds. On June 16 a pit bull-mastiff cross attacked Karina Fellows and her 15-year-old daughter as they were riding in Paekakariki's Queen Elizabeth Park in New Zealand. The prolonged attack covered a distance of 1½ kilometers during which the riders were attacked more than once. Both riders were thrown and during the second attack Ms Fellows became tangled in the reins and was dragged when her horse took flight a second time. Both horses suffered multiple injuries. Queen Elizabeth Park ranger Brendan Bulliff said he had never seen a dog attacking so aggressively.1

The second attack, four days later in Michigan, was different from the New Zealand attack in every respect but one: the attacking dogs were pit bulls. In the June 20th  attack two pit bulls entered the grounds at Hampton Green Farm in Michigan and savaged Candela, a prize Arabian, in her stall. While the attack in New Zealand might be called an attack of opportunity, the attack at Hampton Green Farm was a targeted, invasive attack in a confined area. The attack on Candela was particularly vicious because the horse had no where to run when the dog sought the horse out in one of the barns . . . "The dog hunted down the horse. She went for the oldest, weakest of the horses," said Kim Boyer, owner of Hampton Green Farm. There are other cases on record of pit bulls targeting a victim over time, then traversing significant distances and obstacles to seek out that specific victim.2

Unfortunately, some dogs will bark and chase horses but the simple fact is that it is unheard of for dogs other than fighting breeds to attack and remove flesh from the chest, groin, or face of a horse. Advocates of fighting breeds may claim that any dog is capable of attacking, but no other breed will plan an attack and wait for the opportunity to execute it; no other breed attacks so ruthlessly or inflicts such damage.

Pit bull attacks on humans, domestic animals, and companion animals are abhorrent, but attacks on horses fall into a special category of horribleness; pit bulls and other fighting breeds have been selectively bred for centuries to attack large animals without regard to their size. Flora Watkins, editor of England's Horse and Hound, writes:
In 10 years of riding . . . I have encountered the ignorant, the arrogant and those in plain denial about their dogs’ behaviour. Ignorance of the way horses — which are flight creatures — will react to a predator, and ignorance of the damage half-a-tonne of panicking horseflesh can do to itself, rider and innocent bystanders. And breathtaking arrogance in people’s belief that it’s their “right” to let their dogs rampage out of control.

* * * * *

For a list of pit bull attacks on horses see Timeline of pit bull attacks on horses.

1 The details of the June 16, 2014 attack in Queen Elizabeth Park in New Zealand are similar to the August 6, 2012 attack on a US National Park Service police horse at Crissy Field in San Francisco. In the SF attack the pit bull mounted a prolonged attack covering a distance of nearly two miles, during which the police horse threw his rider and attempted to escape back to his stable. The horse suffered wounds to his stomach and legs. The pit bull's owner, David Gizzarelli, mounted a social media campaign to raise support for the dog, which ultimately proved successful.
2 The home invasion fatal attack on Ayen Chol (Aug 17, 2011) is another example.


Government needs to be braver in face of dog owners
Bay of Plenty Times; March 29, 2014

Legislature needs to take up debate on dangerous dog breeds
February 4, 2008; Livingston County Daily Press & Argus
(Note: this article is behind a paywall)

Lubbock pit bull attacks spark outrage
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal; February 2, 2008

Pony survives Katrina, then is attacked at rescue facility
New York Times, May 15, 2006

Legal remedies against dog attacks on horses and riders

UK Sources:
Dog Attacks
   British Horse Society
British Horse Society influencing legislation
   Horse & Hound, Nov 15, 2012
Concern over rising number of dog attacks
   Horse & Hound, Jan 20, 2012
Menacing dogs put an end to my rides
   Telegraph; April 13, 2012
After 10 years of exercising my horse on Epsom Downs, I've had enough of uncontrollable hounds and ignorant owners.

Previous Equine Posts:
The attack which ended Joker's life was the fourth pit bull attack on the Appaloosa mare. These attacks, as well as others in the area, make the Mint Hill, NC area a Bermuda Triangle of pit bull attacks.
> > > > > Read the full post: Mint Hill Update: 4th attack on Joker proves fatal
* * * * * 
Less than a week later, in DeSoto County, MS, three family pit bulls attacked and killed Misty, the family's seven year old horse while the children looked on in horror. The pit bulls had previously attacked a different family horse. . . .
> > > > > Read the full post: Spud and Misty
* * * * * 
Veterinarian Dr. Lanier Orr was called to the pasture and attempted to close the wounds and stem the extensive bleeding. Trigger suffered for six hours as Dr Orr provided emergency care in the pouring rain, before succumbing to her wounds.
> > > > > Read the full post: Trigger
* * * * * 
Following a pit bull attack on a 3-year old champion horse in Texas, SRUV invited Dr I. Lehr Brisbin to a public discussion of locking jaws.
> > > > > Read the full post: Locking Jaws: II

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

This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks