By now, most people have probably heard pitbull apologia's desperate and deplorable cry that there is a "media bias" against pitbulls. Seeking to mitigate the stark contrast between the volume of attacks betwixt the 'chosen breed' and others, they claim that the media over-reports or reports only pitbull attacks, and that other breeds attack all the time but go under-/un-reported.
Now let it first be said what the criteria for an attack is... finger-nips, one quick bite-and-release, and self-defense/fear biting that results in only superficial injury is NOT newsworthy. Such a deluge of common happenstance would saturate the media so much that it would be extremely difficult know much of anything if we had to sludge our way through 'report' after report of every growl and nip. What constitutes an attack, and what I am referring to when I use the term here is;
serious injury requiring urgent medical care, such as:
- lacerations deep enough to require stitches or staples,
- significant and dangerous blood loss,
- broken bones,
- snapped spines,
- cracked or crushed skulls/ribs,
- lacerated internal organs,
- crippling, disfigurement through loss of eye/ear/nose/lips/muscle tissue/cartilage/bone/scalp or degloving (being 'skinned' through traumatic ripping force),
- permanent nerve damage,
- permanent loss of bodily function,
- brain damage,
- loss of limbs,
- loss of life,
- and/or dismemberment.
As of December 31, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission reports that there are 30,432 television and radio broadcast stations within the United States(1). The National Newspaper Association presently represents 2000+ newspapers(2)--this being a dramatically reduced number due to the massive cultural shift to digital mediums within the last 15 years. A simple Google query for news websites in the US yields over 1, 340,000 results(3). As of 2012, the Bureau of Labor statistics shows that the US employed approximately 57,600 reporters, news correspondents, and broadcast news analysts(4). Education News' Career Index showed that, as of 2010, there were 105,350 journalism professionals working in the United States(6).
And yet, pitbull fanatics would have you believe--and unfortunately, have been quite successful in convincing far too many--that every station, outlet, publication, reporter, and journalist has some sort of personal vendetta against a single breed of dog... so much so that they would defy journalistic integrity to persecute an animal many of them have either never had a negative experience with or, predominately, have not encountered at all. Pitbull apologists expect you to believe these people, for no fathomable reason at all, would risk their very careers or that these stations would risk their credibility and endanger the public at large by pointedly ignoring the (mythical) attacks committed by other breeds. They claim the media is all about reporting on pitbulls because they are sensational--yet the sheer volume of attacks--occurring on a daily basis throughout the US... makes pitbull attacks anything but. They are business as usual.
The very definition of sensational is that which invokes intense interest or curiosity. There's nothing new (and therefore novel, new, or interesting) about a pitbull inflicting serious injury or death on a person, pet, or livestock. This high frequency leaves sensationalism to be found only in how horrific the aftermath is. What IS sensational is a member of dog breed not known for aggressive tendencies or destructive behaviors, or physically unlikely to cause grievous harm (the ONE and only fatality by a pomeranian mix that killed a newborn) disfiguring or killing someone.
The bizarre and unusual are media's lifeblood; the ability to offer something that hasn't been heard of before, or that doesn't seem to make sense with the masses understanding of the world... such tales are attention grabbers. They can give a media outlet a competitive edge over their contemporaries.
The unusual, no matter what it is, promises the most payoff. It makes absolutely no fiscal sense for any medium to regularly forfeit attacks by other breeds. It is within their BEST interest to do so as often as the opportunity arises. This makes the 'media bias' conspiracy theory all the more absurd... so absurd and contradictory to volumes of tangible evidence that it borders on the same psychosis of Holocaust-deniers. This ridiculous "media conspiring against pitbulls" assertion requires the belief that tens of thousands of people working in and for the media are conspiring against a single breed ...to the very heavy detriment to themselves, their employer, their paycheck, and the public.
What IS strange--a genuine curiosity, if you will--is when a 'tried and true' breed, the most relied-upon for service work and family environments, such as the Labrador, kills someone. The data-gathering magazine ANIMAL PEOPLE issued a report showing that, from September 1982 through December 31, 2013, purebred Labradors have killed only three people.
The death toll rises by 9 if you include Lab mixes... one of which was an Akita (the Japanese equivalent of a fighting dog) mix, another mixed with German Shepherd (known for their boldness and aggression--which is why they are the top breed in schutzhund and police work), and five of which were pitbull mixes.
In stark contrast, 263 people in that same time-frame were killed by purebred pitbulls. If including pitbull mixes, that number rises to 277(5).
For the 2013 year alone;
credit: "BSL Saves Lives" Facebook group
In the last week: (at the time of this writing)
A 22 month old Montana toddler was mauled into critical condition by the never-bit-anyone-before family dog of 10 years(8b), which tore off her grandmother's fingers as she intervened, and would not stop attacking the helpless baby girl until a neighbor Jonathan Banta arrived to help and stabbed it repeatedly with a steak knife(8). Another life-flight victim. Little Deriah Solem was attacked Thursday evening and died at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center the following Monday afternoon.
Despite weeks of regular interaction and familiarity, Joel Chirieleison of Tanning Springs, FL, was mauled to death by his aunt's two pitbulls--neither of which had a history of aggression, both of which had interacted with children many times prior without a problem(7).
6yo Armani McKinnis was attacked by a loose pitbull while attending a friend's birthday party. It took the intervention of witness Micheal Marshall and his two nephews--beating the dog with chairs and even standing on its neck--to get the dog to release(9). The injuries to his face and leg were so severe he had to be rushed into emergency surgery and spent the night in the pediatric intensive care unit. (9) The child's grandmother described his face as "demolished" and "gone"(9b).
59yo Cindy Whisman was mauled to death in her own backyard, in front of her 2yo grandson, by her daughter's never-aggressive-before, raised-from-a-puppy pitbull. Her daughter was living with her; the dog was a 'household member' wholly familiar with Cindy(14). Detectives reported she had extensive injuries all over her face, neck, body, and hands. Butler County coroner Dr.Lisa Mannix simply put the cause of death as accidental, "due to dog bite" on the autopsy report. In the sidebar of other articles on the news-site featuring this article, were several pro-pitbull stories as well, including a piece titled "pitbulls aren't the only dangerous dogs"(14b).
Another Butler County resident, 67yo Pamela Middlebrooks, was attacked by a neighbor's pitbull while on her daily walk. When she saw the neighbor and dog approaching, she stepped off the curb to avoid being in close proximity to them. The owner even picked up the dog, but it immediately broke free of his hold, ran after Middlebrooks, and attacked her from behind. Fortunately but atypically, he was able to wrest his dog off of her and returned it to his domicile. A neighboring witness, Terry Brown, ran to help Middlebrooks and described her visage as thus; “She had blood all over the inside of her legs. Blood was running down both thighs.” The owner had the gall to tell her the dog wasn't his--after first taking it and placing it back inside his home. Officers' subsequent investigation revealed a backyard kennel with a female pitbull.(28)
A third Butler resident--a black Labrador retriever in Hamilton, lost an ear to a pitbull serially loose in the neighborhood. Officers and Animal Control finally caught the offending dog on the same Monday morning that Pamela Middlebrooks was attacked and Cindy Whisman was killed.(28)
In Hot Springs, AR, a pitbull mix invaded an elderly woman's yard with escalating hostility toward the 72yo and would not leave until she fired a shot in the air(10).
3 scrapyard Rottweilers killed a 57yo man working there. He was employed there for years, and was reportedly a very kind man who "took care of those dogs like children".(13)
An Ardrie pitbull with a previous history of "incidents" as described by local Mounties broke free of its collar and leash to get at and kill a neighbor's loose, small, "poodle-type dog". (12)
When Anastasia Pavlova's business-as-usual trek to the Marcus Garvey Dog Run with her 3yo white Maltese, Bentley, she noticed a few unfamiliar dogs in the dog park. Before entering with Bentley, she asked the owners if their dogs got along with small breeds. All of them said yes, so she entered. In a flash, a large pitbull snapped up Bentley and crushed into his ribcage with jaws so powerful teeth penetrated his lungs. Anastasia somehow managed to free her dog and get to an emergency vet, but it was too late. The little dog bled out and died in Anastasia's arms. The owner of the pitbull immediately took off with his dog and never came forward. No one could identify him by name.
The article included quotes of blind speculation by the organizer of dog-run events, Millie Gonzalez, whose concern was clearly more for the public image of the pitbull than maintaining the safety of her human and canine dog-park patrons; after pointless speculation that would have the public believing this was not a dog-park matter because the owner of the pitbull "might have just been dog-walkers"--when the attack CLEARLY happened INSIDE the dog-park and was not a result of a random dog-walker's dog either attacking another dog just outside the run or somehow seizing an opportunity to break into the run--she was quick to say, "The last thing I want to do is demonize a breed that’s already been victimized,” said Gonzalez, 44. “This is an issue of what responsible pet ownership is.”(15)
81yo Jack Harper was walking his bichon frise, Fliss, in Weaverham when a loose Staffordshire terrier* seized her by the throat, ripping her windpipe, esophagus, and puncturing her skull in multiple places. Harper beat at the attacking dog with a stick to no avail. It took one heavy-booted bystander kicking it and another beating it with a pole to get the dog to release Fliss.(16)
*A Staffordshire terrier IS a pitbull... breed names, variants, and attributes will be a post in its own right.
San Franciscoan Mike Lindstrom's pitbull mauled 3yo German Shepherd Max. The attack was caught on a passing motorist's dashcam. The pitbull turned on Mike when he tried to stop the attack, even knocking him to the ground. Max ran from the scene at first opportunity and has not been seen since.(17)
A 40yo New Braunfels woman confronted by police (while trespassing) allowed her pitbull mix loose, which then went at them with hostility. The officers had to defend themselves with their service weapons. The article put quotation marks around "aggressive" when describing the dog, as if the very clear threat witnessed by multiple people was in question. (18)
A Lakewood, WA landlord was chased off his property and into a neighbor's yard by his tenants two English Bulldogs*. Neighbor Katherine Holmes described the scene;
"I drove down a very long driveway and the whole time saw dogs on top of this man viciously attacking him. He was on the ground and had been there for quite a while as these dogs took chunks out of him," Holmes said. "I had to use everything that was at my disposal. I used my child's car seat and full water bottles and they still didn't get off of him."
*English bulldogs are part of what created the modern pitbull streamlined for dog-fighting. See the post 'Purpose Bred' for details.
A Lakewood Police official called the dog mauling one of the worst he's ever seen. The victim spent a week in Seattle's Harborview Medical Center.(19)
Another Lakewood man was attacked in his own home by the 2yo family pitbull. He was holding his infant child, and suffered over 20 puncture wounds to his arms and thigh to keep the dog from getting at the baby. A woman in the home (her relation to the man/baby goes unreported) also suffered injuries, while they were reportedly not as severe as the man's, both required emergency medical treatment. They went to separate hospitals as the man's wounds required higher trauma services not available in all hospitals.(20)
Later that same day, in a wholly separate incident, a little boy suffered injury to his back when a pitbull in the home attacked him. He was transported to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus for treatment.(20)
5yo Quentin Holman of Kansas City, MO, required facial reconstruction after a loose chow-mix entered the boy's yard and bit him in the face. The article did not specify what other breeds constituted the dog's 'mix', but there were some startling aspects of the attack that parallel a methodology very specific to fighting breeds.
⦁ The dog moved with deceptive body language before its explosive aggression; witness Billy Vaden described it thusly;
"I didn't think he'd bite nobody. He didn't look vicious. He really didn't. He looked like he was calm and cool, just walking down the street content, like he was glad to get loose from somewhere," Vaden said. "He was just enjoying it, enjoying his little moment of freedom."
⦁ The attack was wholly unprovoked; little Quentin was playing in his own yard at a family gathering.
⦁ The presence of adults did not deter the dog
⦁ and it exercised extraordinary tenacity--they had to "shoo it away" from the property repeatedly throughout the day.
⦁ The dog went straight for the little boy's face
⦁ and inflicted catastrophic damage
⦁ with long-term effects. The nerve damage to his mouth and lips was significant enough to impair sensation and the ability to talk.(21)
Despite knowing nothing definitive of the dog's history and circumstances, the article included speculation about what 'made' the dog attack;
"I am very happy. My daughter is happy. But it's a happy-sad because we like animals," she said. "Because of his previous owner's neglect or abandonment, he had to fend for himself. And that's not a good thing, either."
However, no witnesses nor Animal Control reported the dog as appearing abused or malnourished. In cases of dog attacks in which the dog is determined to have been abused or neglected, it is among the first thing the involved animal professionals mention to the media... and many animal professionals wind up involved in processing dogs when they attack. (That will be a future post in its own right.) It is also notable that the dog in this scenario, despite having the opportunity to go after the 'easier target' right next to Quentin--the family Yorkie--the dog went after the boy's face and did not attempt to consume the boy's flesh.
A 50yo Eugene woman allegedly trespassing on a man's property suffered serious injury to her arm when his pitbull-boxer mix latched on to her and would not let her go until the owner intervened. To his credit; dangerous dog signs were posted on the property and the badly injured woman was cited for second-degree criminal trespassing.(23)
Two of Marty Stevenson's four pitbulls escaped and attacked a neighbor. His other pitbulls were already impounded for aggressive behaviors--which were caught on tape by his neighbors--and had not been released back to him because he failed to meet the city's requirements for proper enclosed cages, tattoo or microchip identification, and proof of rabies vaccination. Despite the bite injury and witness and video evidence, the article put quotations around every mention of the dog's aggression, as if it were in question, and also included the assertion (made by one of the owner's friends) that “I haven’t seen any dog bites or anything like that."(23)
A 27yo Bluffton man was on break at work when a coworker's pitbull spontaneously emerged from under a vehicle and savaged his lower right leg. He spent nearly five hours in the ER getting it treated and closed up.(24)
Californian horseback-rider Natalie Lilley and her 12yo daughter were out riding in the morning when two loose pitbulls went after them and sparked a chase. Lilley screamed at her young daughter to ride in the opposite direction. Lilley thought they could outride the dogs but the dogs overtook the horses and started snapping at stirrups and one of the horse's belly. She jumped off, hoping that alleviating the horse of her weight would enable it to escape. It still suffered deep lacerations and "chunks taken from its legs". The dogs' owner refused to give Lilley any form of identification and took off with the dogs before police arrived. They remain at large. (25)
Two Riverside County boys, ages 11 and 5, suffered bites in the head, stomach, and hand from a neighbor's pitbull that broke free of its restraint to attack them. The dog had previously been put on dangerous dog 'probation' for biting the owner's son in the head less than four months earlier.(26)
The force required to interrupt a family's internal pitbull vs pitbull fight was best dealt via a heavy cast iron pan. Unfortunately, when 15yo Brian Brown tried to do exactly that--hurling the pan to stop the fight--he missed and it fatally struck his twin brother Ryan in the head.(27)
17yo Davon Jiggetts of Riverdale, GA, was struck and killed by a car fleeing an attacking pitbull (which was also struck and killed by the same vehicle) that went after him right after he stepped off the bus home.(29)
Image Courtesy Sanctuary of Mary (29b)
Another Georgia teenager, 13yo Demonta Collins, was killed the same way in Augusta, only two days before Davon Jiggett's death.(29)
Image Courtesy Sanctuary of Mary (29b)
46yo Celiflora Maldonado was unloading groceries from her car when she was attacked by one of her neighbor's two pitbulls. That neighbor's dog-sitter was trying to get the dogs inside their fence when they attacked her, right before going next door and commencing with Maldonado's attack. Neighbor Johnny Campos described the sounds he heard; "Blood-curdling screams, horrible, something you never hear." 10yo Justin Melesio heard, came outside, and tried to help his aunt, frantically hurling things at the dog and screaming for help when his efforts proved futile. Maldonado's own children also came outside and tried to help. It took the efforts of more people--neighbors--to finally free her. Her arms and breast were so savaged she had to be hospitalized near Greenspoint.(30)
51yo Joan Carter of Lamaha Springs was killed by her sister's two pitbulls. She had been living with the family for over three months. These dogs were 'family' dogs of five years, with no previous history of aggression. 'By the looks of it', according to sister Sue, Carter had desperately fought and tried to get back into the house during the attack--she was found on her knees slumped over on the steps leading to her small flat. Blood pools and spatter remained smeared on the door and steps.(31)
The article goes on to blindly and falsely claim that pitbulls are primarily used as security and protection dogs and in "some" cases, dog-fighting for profit. The truth is quite the opposite. The top breeds historically purpose-bred and used for protection(31b) are;
⦁ doberman pinscher
⦁ giant schnauzer
⦁ german shepherd
⦁ rhodesian ridgeback
Other breeds of note for guarding purposes (including guarding livestock/flocks/herds) are the: boxer, Australian Cattle Dog, Manchester Terrier, Beauceron, Kuvasz, Norwegian Elkhound, Alaskan Klee Kai, Argentine Dogo, Basenji, Alano Espanol, Bernese Mountain Dog, Ariege Pointer, Boerboel, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Doberman Pinscher, Border Collie, and the Appenzeller Sennehund.(31c)
Professional dog-fighters often have large numbers of pitbulls--50 or more. The number of people estimated to be involved in dog-fighting in the US alone numbers in the tens of thousands.(31d) According to an HSUS 2007 report, annually, approximately a quarter-million pitbulls were placed in fighting pits nationwide, approximately 40,000 people were involved in organized dog-fighting, and another 100,000 people were involved in 'street-level' dog-fighting.(31e) Pitbulls are indisputably the most popular breed-of-choice (having been purpose-bred specifically for dog-fighting, after all) for dogmen, and the above figures are staggering. A far cry from... hardly... "sometimes".
A 1yo Racine, WI girl was mauled by her grandparent's pitbull. Another life-flight victim. (32)
One of four resident pitbulls lunged at a Middleton, Ohio police officer during the service of a drug search warrant/child-welfare check, forcing the officer to shoot the dog's muzzle in self-defense. The shot was non-fatal, and once the area was secured, officers immediately transported it to an emergency veterinary clinic.(33)
Ellen Mohan's dog Zoey was attacked by two neighborhood pitbulls. In her own words, "It happened in just the blink of an eye... I can’t even put it into words," she said. "I mean, it is your absolute worst nightmare. They tore my dog up in front of me. There was blood everywhere. Her intestines were coming out, I mean it was horrifying." She tried to save her little dog, but even with her boyfriend's assistance, the dogs managed to both mangle her hand and kill her little dog. Mohan suffered over 50 lacerations to her hands and had to remain hospitalized for a week. Other neighbors came forward to report being attaacked as well. Despite this, Northfield TWP released the attacking dogs to their owner for quarantine... residents no longer feel safe walking around their own neighborhood as a result.(34)
Two pitbulls went on the rage in Buchanan, killing one woman's cat in her own yard, a small dog in another yard, and one charged a police officer tailing their frenzy. He fired two fatal shots when the pitbull was within five feet of his person. The other, 30 feet away, was secured.(35)