Sunday, October 4, 2015

Carnival of Madness: Illinois

Revised: October 5, 2015; 22:29 GMT

The Spring silliness began with the story of a protracted legal battle in Hawthorn Woods, pitting the city against residents Brian and Jean Bacardi. By the Spring of 2015 Hawthorn Woods had spent over $28,000 in legal fees on the case; in response the Bacardis invested more than $15,000 in legal fees and at least $10,000 in boarding fees for their dogs. In February, 2013 the Bacardis had filed a lawsuit against the village. In May, 2014, Brian Bacardi was jailed for eight days for contempt of court.1

The reason for the protracted standoff? Over a period of eight years, since the Bacardi's got their eight-week old puppy Heidi, she has accumulated a lengthy rap sheet. Between 2008 and 2015 the Bacardis have been reported to various municipalities or Animal Controls (in Illinois and Florida) at least 25 times for violations, including biting and roaming dogs. At least two delivery men and a child received bites to the groin.2 In violation of vicious dog orders the Bacardis refused to install a physical fence,  defied court orders to remove Heidi from the city, and then defied orders to surrender her for humane euthanasia.

In the Chicago Tribune article3 Heidi is referred to, seven times, as a Beagle. Adult Beagles weigh no more than 22-25 lbs. This is a Beagle:

Heidi, on the other hand, weighs at least 40 - 50 lbs, perhaps twice as much as a normal Beagle. There is one telling reference in the article to Heidi as a Beagle mix. Photos of  Heidi are copyright protected and are not reproduced here. The photo below is a Beagle x pit bull, and is strikingly similar in appearance to published images of Heidi:

The author of the article, Ronnie Wachtler, carefully described Heidi's repeated biting, as well as the obstinacy of the Bacardis. But the takeaway appears to be that the village of Hawthorn Woods recklessly spent tax dollars on persecuting a harmless little Beagle.4

All this anguish, all the bites, all the police and Animal Control man hours, all of the legal rigamarole, all of the wasted tax dollars, all of the wasted energy over many years, the clogging of the courts with useless, frivolous cases: all of it is easily understood once we acknowledge that Heidi is first and foremost a pit bull mix.

With that understanding the takeaway is changed: pit bull genes are now, sadly and perhaps irreversibly, widely dispersed in the rescue and shelter gene pool. For many of us the good old American mutt, loaded with hybrid vigor and boundless good cheer, is a thing of the past. Adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue has become a high risk activity.5

* * * * *

The account of Heidi the biting 'beagle' was lost in the clamor over another story that broke the same day and was widely reported. Armed robbers took three pit bulls, two of which were pregnant, from a backyard breeding operation. The pit bulls appear to be "American Bullies" and are reportedly valued at $15,000 each.

Many of the commenters under published news accounts expressed outrage that the story was widely reported as an armed robbery of a law-abiding business, while nowhere was it noted that the backyard breeders were running a tax-free operation supplying high-end fighting breed dogs.

Doing the numbers on this robbery: pit bulls often whelp ten or more puppies; 20 puppies @ $15,000 = $300,000. Even if the pups only brought in $500/ea the take could amount to $10,000. We assume the backyard breeders are back in business with their remaining dogs.

* * * * *

The Animal Protective League in Springfield, Illinois, made headlines for harboring or adopting out dangerous dogs. Volunteer James Sanders was attacked by Stewart, who is advertised on the agency’s website as a 49-pound pit bull mix puppy. Following the attack on Sanders the APL continued to promote Stewart for adoption. Later reports indicate that Sanders was prepared to sue to halt the adoption of Stewart.

* * * * * *

One of the most bizarre news stories came from WGN TV9 Chicago. In a brief (105 word) account the station described the attack, in which two small dogs were killed, as a fight in which the pit bull survived. The real story is told in an eloquent, outraged comment posted by Marc Brown:
How dare you call a vicious pit bull attack on two small dogs a ‘fight’? How dare you say ‘the pit bull survived’, as if the pit bull’s life was in danger as it attacked two small dogs? In fact, this pit bull’s life should have been in danger and it should have died on the spot — someone should have choked, stabbed or shot it to death.

How dare you call Chicago Pit Bull Care and Protection ‘Animal Care and Control’? The only thing that agency does in Chicago is make sure pit bull type dogs will live to maul or kill another day, no matter whether those pit bulls have killed a dog or a child.
Mr Brown deserves a journalism watchdog award.

* * * * * 

Among the accounts of attacks on humans and on our More Vulnerable Animal Companions in Illinois this summer, there were also a few uplifting stories. A former Olympic boxer fought off a pit bull as it attacked an 8-year-old boy on the Chicago's South Side. The child was initially taken to Metro South Hospital in Blue Island, then transferred to Christ Hospital for further treatment. Officials say he may have permanent damage to one of his legs.

The Good Samaritan, Danell Nicholson, also received injuries during the encounter and was hospitalized.

In a related incident, a UPS driver was rescued by a postal carrier after being attacked by a pit bull in the North Austin neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. UPS driver Jesus Toledo received injuries to his ear, head, forearm, hands and ankle, and underwent surgery at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park. Animal care has up to 30 days to make a determination about the dog’s future. It can be returned to its owner, banished from the city or destroyed, said a spokesman for the city’s department of Animal Care and Control.

* * * * * 

The most heart-wrenching story to emerge from this Carnival of Madness is the death of 9-year old James W. Nevils III. His grandfather stood in the doorway of his home, grave and dignified in his anguish, and choking back his tears, delivered this lovely eulogy for the TV cameras:
He was a good boy, a very good boy. I just can't believe he's gone. I'm just devastated. . . . He was all boy. Basketball, football, he was all boy. He was a loving little kid.

James W. Nevils III; d. May 25, 2015

* * * * *
1 In addition, in 2010 the Bacardis, who at the time owned three residences, filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, a request which was dismissed. See the Memorandum Opinion of the US Bankruptcy Court.
2 See the Timeline of Heidi's incident record.
3 The story was authored by Ronnie Wachtler of the Lake Zurich Courier, a Pioneer Press subsidiary of the Chicago Tribune.
4 See Muck Rack, a compilation of Tweets on the article.
5 See How behavior testing fails adopters, dogs, volunteers & shelter staff, Animals 24/7, September 9, 2015.

8-Year Old Girl, Woman Attacked By Dog in Gage Park
   October 6, 2015; 2015; ABC 7 Eyewitness News Chicago

Large pit bull population in Waukegan prompts second vaccination clinic
   September 30, 2015; Chicago Tribune

UPS Driver Attacked by Pit Bull in West Side
   September 25, 2015; ABC News

Man Fights Off Dog Attacking 8-Year Old Boy on South Side
   September 20, 2015; ABC 7 Eyewitness News

Man, Boy Bitten By Pit Bull In Chatham
   September 19, 2015; CBS 2 Chicago

Man, dog survive pitbull attack
Pitbull mauls lab, bystander in Wood River
   September 17, 2015; The Telegraph

Pit bulls who injured dog, 2 people in attack will return to owner
   September 10, 2015; Chicago Tribune

Bully Pit Bulls Attacking Pets
   September 10, 2015; WAND TV 17

Police officer fatally shoots pit bull in Chatham
   July 24, 2015; Chicago Sun-Times

Animal Protection League Adopting out Pit Bull that Launched Severe Unprovoked Attack
   July 23, 2015; Pit Bull Attacks and Dogfighting in Illinois

Lincolnwood Pit Bull Kills Yorkie in Front of Children Walking Their Pet
April 1, 2015; Pit Bull Attacks and Dogfighting in Illinois

Dog bites man, who sues
APL dog is dangerous, plaintiff says
   July 23, 2015; Illinois Times

Dog Attack Victims Say Owners Not Punished Enough
   July 22, 2015; WBBM CBS Chicago

Pit bull dies from injuries sustained in attacks on 2 Woodstock dogs
   July 12, 2015; Northwest Herald

Pit bull shot at in Woodstock area after reportedly attacking 2 dogs
   July 12, 2015; Northwest Herald

Illinois man accused of abandoning pit bull as it fatally attacks poodle
   June 24, 2015; Fond du Lac Reporter

Man charged after 10 abused pit bulls rescued from Far South Side home
June 9, 2015; Chicago Sun-Times

Woman wants ordinance against dangerous dogs
June 1, 2015;

Dog's owner arrested after jogger attacked
June 1, 2015; Illinois Homepage

5-year-old boy mauled to death by dog on South Side
May 26, 2015; Chicago Sun-Times
Grandfather of boy killed by dog: 'Person responsible should be made to pay'
May 26, 2015; Chicago Tribune

2 dogs reportedly killed in mauling in Lakeview
May 18, 2015; WGN TV

Pit bull bites 61-yo man
May 8, 2015; Chicago Tribune (Police  blotter)

Pit bull could be euthanized after mauling Alsip boy
May 6, 2015; Chicago Tribune
[Editor's note: this attack was unreported, and only made the news when it appeared the attacking dog was about to be euthanized. Matthew Dancho was hospitalized for three days after the attack.]

Matthew Dancho
Attacked April 8, 2015

Elgin eyes time limit for dangerous dog label
May 2, 2015; Chicago Tribune

Family’s pit bulls stolen at gun point
May 1, 2015; WGN TV

Hawthorn Woods spends $28K in legal fight to euthanize dog
May 1, 2015; Chicago Tribune

Previous Illinois References:
Girl, 12, attacked by pit bull in Albany Park
   April 26, 2015; WGN TV

Pit bull attacks 84-year-old U.S. woman as she's gardening
   March 27, 2015; Georgia Straight

Experts put bite on pit bull backlash
   By Teresa Auch Schultz
   February 27, 2015; Chicago Tribune

Pit bull owner fined over vet attack (Tinley Park)
   By Gregory Pratt
   April 7, 2014; Chicago Tribune

Pit bull overload floods shelters, strains rescuers
  By Robert McCoppin
  December 5, 2013; Chicago Tribune

The enduring agony of a pit bull rampage
   By Carolyn Starks and John Keilman
   August 13, 2006; Chicago Tribune

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.