Wednesday, April 15, 2015

By Any Other Name

One hour east of Springfield, Missouri lies the small town of Lebanon. The towns of Lebanon, Camdenton, and Osage Beach are spread along a forty-mile stretch of highway running north from Lebanon. The small town of Bolivar lies 30 miles north of Springfield. Imagine these towns as the face of a clock with Springfield as the axis where the hands meet; Bolivar would be 12 o'clock, Osage Beach is at 1 o'clock, Camdenton at 2 o'clock, and Lebanon is at 3 o'clock.

These Missouri towns are all, in various ways, responding to a horrifying pit bull attack five months ago.

On Saturday, November 8, 2014, Rick Taylor swung by his home in Lebanon for his lunch break. The Taylors babysit their granddaughter Mia, whose single mother lives in Bolivar. Three-year old Mia had grown up with the Taylor's five-year old American bulldog, which had never before demonstrated aggression and has been described as her best friend. As Taylor was in the house finishing lunch he heard a growl and turned to see the 105-pound American Bulldog latched onto Mia's face and neck.

On November 13, 2014, the Springfield News-Leader carried an extensive account of the attack on Mia. After the attack Mia was rushed to Mercy Hospital in Lebanon. From there she was transported to Mercy Hospital in Springfield and eventually to a specialist at the University of Missouri Women's and Children's Hospital in Columbia. Once there Mia was placed in an induced coma and had her first of at least three surgeries on Sunday morning.

In early December Mia underwent several skin graft operations at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati. A portion of Mia's initial medical expenses were covered by a crowdfunding appeal. The Lake Stockton Shriners has committed to covering all of Mia's medical expenses until she reaches 18 years of age.

Mia Kraft before the attack

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The breed that later became known as the American Bulldog was nearly extinct by the end of WWII. John D Johnson of Georgia began a breeding program and recreated the dog known today as the American Bulldog. Johnson created his dog through selective breeding and judicious outcrossing.

The American Bulldog was first registered with the NKC in 1970 as the American Pit Bulldog; it was later renamed American Bulldog to avoid confusion with the American Pit Bull Terrier. American Bulldogs were recognized as a separate breed by the UKC only 15 years ago.

There are several reasons that American Bulldogs are sometimes confused with pit bulls. They are a recent breed and not yet well known, except among fanciers of fighting breeds. They constitute a small percentage of the overall canine population. And finally, they look like a pit bull crossed with a mastiff, which they are.

Despite the relative scarcity of the American Bulldog, the breed has been involved in a number of attacks, notably in the United Kingdom. The most recent fatal American Bulldog attack was the death of 64-year old Rhona Grieve, who was killed by her grandson's American Bulldog in Cardiff on March 20, 2015. 8-year old Leon Montiel of Miami, Florida was mauled on April 9, 2015.

According to, American Bulldogs were among the top three breeds (along with pit bulls and rottweilers) responsible for fatal attacks in a recent reporting period.

Another pit bull variant, the American Bully, was established as a separate breed and recognized by the UKC in 2013. American Bulldogs, American Bullies, American Pit Bull Terriers -- and the crossbreeds of all these breeds --  are all fighting breeds. And they are all pit bull type dogs.  A pit bull by any other name is still a pit bull.

* * * * * 

On November 13, five days after the attack on Mia, on the same day the News-Leader published their account of the attack, while Mia was still in an induced coma, the Camdenton Lake News published an editorial opinion calling for a relaxation of the town's Breed Specific Legislation. A few days later the Osage Beach LakeExpo also ran an article on the Camdenton BSL.

The editorials and articles are part of a statewide effort by Missouri advocates of fighting breeds to roll back public safety laws. Advocates in Springfield and Independence began campaigns to roll back BSL in January, 2015. A number of cities have submitted to the demands of the advocates, while dozens of other cities across the country have recently enacted BSL, or upheld, strengthened, or defended existing BSL ordinances.

According to the LakeExpo, Misty Brown of Camdenton had received a citation for illegally harboring two pit bull type dogs.

On November 18th, Ms Brown appealed to the Camdenton Board of Aldermen for an exemption from the ban, on the grounds that her dogs were not pit bulls. As proof Ms Brown produced papers which purportedly proved that her dogs were AKC registered American Bulldogs, the same breed that attacked Mia a few miles down the road the previous week.

Rudi, the American Bulldog that attacked  8-year old Leon Montiel of Miami last week. Rudi had previously mauled Jose Torres. ( CBS Miami )
The claim by Ms Brown that her dogs are registered by the American Kennel Club is in error or is fraudulent. The AKC does not register the American Bulldog. It's doubtful that Ms Brown will be able to clarify the issue for us; according to the Lake Expo she no longer resides in Camdenton.

On April 1, 2015 4-year old Gavin Tobeck of Lacy, Washington, was mauled by Smash, a 102 lb. dog that Gavin's mother had recently adopted from a friend of a neighbor. Authorities originally reported that Smash was an American Bulldog. Susanne Beauregard, director of Thurston County Animal Services, now says that  Smash is a “Pit Bull XL,” a line of pit bulls bred to be extra large.
The Olympian, April 9, 2015

Related Post:
Leazaun Thorton's Pit Bull; SRUV Nov 29, 2013

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1  The AKC recognizes and registers only the Bulldog (the mascot of the University of Georgia Bulldogs; the Bulldog is a sweet-natured breed with short-legs, a flat nose and wrinkled face) and the French Bulldog.

Breed Information:
A Brief American Bulldog History (Old Southern Bulldogs)
American Bulldog Breed Standard (NKC)
American Bulldog (
The Development of the American Bulldog (
Bulldog Information

City Votes to Allow Pit Bull Rescues from City Shelter
   April 13, 2015;
Young child recovering after pit bull attack
   March 30, 2015; KFVS 12
Opponents press Independence to reverse ban on pit bulls
   March 28, 2015; The Examiner (Independence MO)
Dog owner blames girl for Pit bull attack
   March 20, 2015;
Eugene, Missouri  girl recovering after dogs attack
   March 18, 2015;
Pit bull laws generating buzz in the community
   March 12, 2015; Springfield News Leader
Pit bull vote delayed past election
   March 9, 2015; Springfield News Leader
Pit bull bill off Monday City Council agenda
   March 6, 2015; Springfield News Leader
   March 5, 2015;
City of Springfield could be changing how it treats pit bulls
   March 5, 2015; KY3
Councilman wants to repeal pit bull ban
   March 4, 2015; KY3
Councilman seeks to repeal pit bull ban
   Springfield News-Leader; March 4, 2015
Some in Independence want to lift city's pit bull ban
   KMBC9; March 3, 2015
City to allow some pit bull adoptions
   Springfield News-Leader; February 24, 2015
Pet rescue groups will be allowed to adopt pit bulls from the Springfield pound
   KY3; February 24, 2015
Public comment silenced on future of city's pit bull law
   KSPR33 ABC; February 9, 2015
Group says city treating pit bulls unfairly
   Springfield News-Leader; January 26, 2015
Camdenton looks to loosen breed-specific bans
   Lake News; January 21, 2015
Shriners step up to help Bolivar girl who was mauled by family dog
   Springfield News-Leader; November 20, 2014
A routine lunchtime, then tragedy strikes
   Springfield News-Leader; November 13, 2014
Mia suffered gruesome injuries from the mauling and had surgery on Sunday in Columbia. She awoke from a medically induced coma on Wednesday but is still in the intensive care unit at the University of Missouri Women's and Children's Hospital recovering from injuries to her face and neck area.
Family's pit bull attacks 6-year-old near Bernie, MO
   August 13, 2014; KFVS 12
St. Charles County toddler attacked by family dog has died, officials say
   August 11, 2014; StL
Family pit bull attacks toddler, grandmother loses fingertips trying to save her
   (St Charles, MO)
   August 9, 2014; Fox13 Salt Lake City
Legislation would halt bans on dog breeds
   March 12, 2014; The Examiner
Dog to be Euthanized After Attacking Toddler
   January 31,  2014;
Pit bull attacks Callaway County family
   December 30, 2013; ConnectMidMissouri
Attack on man, small dog may lead to Rockaway Beach pit bull law
   June 6, 2013; KY3
Springfield Pit Bull Ordinance Five Years Later, Animal Control says Ordinance is Reducing Vicious Dog Attacks
   November 4, 2011; KSPR ABC 33
Father found dead in son’s pit bull pen
   October 20, 2010; MissouriNet
Missouri horses attacked by pack of dogs
   August 19, 2010; Southeast Missourian
Pit bull victim awarded $7.25 million (Independence MO)
   June 11, 2008; UPI
Laws address dogs' potential for danger
   September 4, 2006; USA Today
Pit bulls had constituted the majority of our vicious dog problems, and the number of pit bulls had continued to grow," says Ron Boyer, assistant director of health for Springfield, Mo., where the City Council passed a law in April requiring pit bulls to be registered. "This was prompted in the beginning because of a number of serious attacks we had in Springfield, primarily on small children. ... (Now) we have an immediate mechanism to deal with the problem.
Pit Bull Registration to Begin in June (Springfield, MO)
   April 27, 2006;
Pit Bulls Kill Owner In Home (St. Louis MO)
   May 12, 2005; CBS News
Two pet pit bulls with no apparent history of aggression and described as well-kept attacked and killed their owner inside his suburban St. Louis home, authorities said Thursday.
Camdenton looks to loosen breed-specific bans
   January 21, 2015; Lake Expo
Camdenton board sinks its teeth into new dog ordinance
   January 8, 2015; Lake Expo
'Pit Bull Law' faces changes in Camdenton
   January 7, 2015; Lake Expo
Pit Bull ordinance back under the microscope
   December 21, 2014; Kirksville Daily Express
Does city's 'Pitbull ordinance' carry too much bite?
   November 19, 2014; Lake Expo
Pit bull ban stands in Camdenton, pet owner must relocate bulldogs
   November 19, 2014; Lake Expo
Pit bull ban needs revisions
   November 13, 2014; The Lake News
City puts ordinance on tighter leash
   January 11, 2011; The Lake Today
Camdenton officials work to strengthen pit-bull ban
   January 5, 2011; The Lake Today

City of Independence Pit Bull Regulations
SPRINGFIELD, MO., CODE OF ORDINANCES §§ 18-95 - 18-98 (2011)

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 32+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

Dog Bite Studies Index

Today's pit bull attacks
   Google News

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

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.