Falling for hoax included praise of pit bull mayhem
MIAMI, Florida––Why did Miami Coalition Against Breed-Specific Legislation founder/director Dahlia Canes on June 2, 2017 tout an alleged fatality inflicted by a home-invading pit bull on her Facebook page, amid her other seemingly endless efforts to overturn the little enforced 1989 Miami-Dade ordinance against possession of pit bulls?
Why did the Pit Bull Defense Fund, Pit Bull Bible, Bully Breed Owners United, Norfolk Pit Bull Examiner, and many other pit bull advocacy social media pages tout the same alleged fatality?
And why did many, perhaps most of them, leave endorsements of the fake news story posted, days after being informed by other pit bull advocates that the story was not true?
Burst through doggy door
Why did hundreds of other pit bull advocates around the world do likewise, though normally hell-bent on contending that their pit bulls are harmless “nanny dogs” who “might lick you to death,” but never burst through a neighbor’s doggy door, as dozens have in documented cases, to kill one man and maul two others?
All were hoaxed by the fake news story “Hero Pitbull Uses Doggy Door to Save Neighbors from Violent Home Intruders,” posted on May 31, 2017 by an “Anthony Brooks,” who may not exist, to the notorious “Miami Gazette” fake news web site.
But the whole truth of the matter also incorporates a tacit admission by Canes, the Pit Bull Defense Fund, and everyone else who amplified “Hero Pitbull Uses Doggy Door” that the much-denied pit bull mayhem often detailed by legitimate news media, including ANIMALS 24-7, not only is real, but in the pit bull advocates’ perspective is to be praised if presented in a context which superficially seems to put pit bulls in a positive light.
Heading the fake news story “Hero Pitbull Uses Doggy Door” was a purported “Photo of Brisco the Hero Dog courtesy of Facebook” which suggested, had anyone actually run a Google image search to find out, that “Brisco” had already been in the social media spotlight several hundred times before, including on April 10, 2017 when another Florida-based “news” web site of dubious authenticity, the “Regal Tribune,” used the same stock photo to depict the dog as victim of a sexual assault.
A real Brisco went to prison the same day
The same day “Brisco the Hero Dog” allegedly killed a man, by coincidence, also in Miami, the rap music artist Brisco “was sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for selling fake money, stealing identities and committing fraud,” reported Paula McMahon of the Florida Sun Sentinel.
“Brisco, whose real name is British Mitchell,” McMahon recounted, “has been locked up since he was arrested in December 2016 in Broward County after spending several months on the lam.”
Apparently partially inspired by the real Brisco’s story, “Anthony Brooks” asserted that “Brisco’s owner, 39-year-old Greg Bannerman, lives in Miami, Florida, and adopted the young pit bull 4 years ago after he retired from the United States Marine Corps and his doctor recommended he get a therapy dog.”
1989 Miami ordinance ignored
While pit bulls are banned in Miami-Dade County, therapy dogs are allowed, so this part of the “Brooks” account might be believed. In any event the 1989 ordinance has largely been ignored.
Affirmed by more than 60% of the electorate in August 2012, the Miami-Dade ordinance was nonetheless not enforced against the pit bulls who killed Javon Dade Jr., age 4, in 2014; Carmen Reigada, 91, in 2015; and Nyjah Espinosa, days short of her second birthday, just before Christmas 2015. Instead Miami-Dade Animal Services dismissed those pit bulls as “American bulldogs,” disregarding that “American bulldogs” are among the oldest documented lines of fighting pit bulls and easily meet the pit bull conformation standards specified in the 1989 ordinance.
(See Four-year-old killed by pit bulls because Miami-Dade law was not enforced, Christmas baby killed by pit bulls because Miami-Dade law is not enforced, and Miami residents: “No pit bulls” means “No pit bulls”.)
No Greg Bannerman, no Lorient Circle
However, there currently appears to be no one named Greg Bannerman living in Miami. Former Miami resident Forest Gregory Bannerman, 60, of Albany, Georgia, has no evident connection to anything “Anthony Brooks” described.
According to “Brooks,” “Bannerman along with his fiancé Megan Howler live in a modest home” located on “Lorient Circle,” a street which according to MapQuest does not exist anywhere within the United States.
A real Megan Howler
There is a real Megan Howler, who is the wife of Fox Networks Group chief executive Peter Rice. Like the real Greg Bannerman, once of Miami, the real Megan Howler has no evident connection to the “Anthony Brooks” account.
Continued “Brooks,” “According to Bannerman, the 6-year-old therapy dog [Brisco] was laying on the floor at the foot of the couch, when suddenly, his ears perked up and he bolted out of the living room and using a doggy door, ran out of the house.”
The fictitious Bannerman “witnessed Brisco jump the chain-link fence connecting his backyard to his neighbor’s and utilize his neighbor’s doggy door to enter their home,” “Brooks” wrote.
“Connie Havens” is Pixabay stock photo
This home, at another stated address which does not exist, was purportedly occupied by a Barry and Connie Havens and their two “young children,” none of whom have any verifiable existence in Miami.
A photo “Brooks” identified as “Connie Havens” thanking “Brisco” has been offered by the Pixabay stock photo web site since April 7, 2016.
The fictitious Bannerman supposedly then called police.
“After hearing several screams coming from inside the home,” claimed “Brooks,” the police “broke down the front door and entered expecting to find that the pit bull had mauled a sleeping family. Instead, what the responding officers found,” was that the nonexistent Havens family had all “been blindfolded with duct-tape and tied to kitchen chairs.”
“Chief of police” does not exist
According to “Brooks,” “Chief of Police, Bryan Carlton,” an officer who does not actually exist on any police force anywhere, past or present, joined “Barry Havens” in describing how “In protecting the family, Brisco bit all three intruders on the legs, arms, and necks. One of the home-intruders, who has since been identified as 42-year-old Spencer Elliot, was pronounced dead on the scene and the remaining 2 intruders sustained serious injuries requiring medical treatment.”
None of the names “Brooks” mentioned connect with any such tale in any verifiable way.
A firefighter named Bryan Carlton Barfield, 29, was charged with multiple counts of assault and with killing a kitten during a fight with his fiancé in Gaston County, North Carolina.
There is a Spencer Elliott of about the right age, but he is an attorney in Charleston, West Virginia, better known for his guitar work with a band called CandyRat.
No Spencer Elliot, by any spelling of the name, appears to be anywhere near Miami.
“The story is entirely false”
Notwithstanding that no part of “Brooks” story could be authenticated in any way, the “story began circulating widely on social media,” observed Pet Rescue Report blogger Penny Elms, herself a longtime pit bull advocate, who pointed out on June 2, 2017 that “The story is entirely false. Everyone who is sharing this amazing story,” Elms wrote, “has missed the Miami Gazette’s disclaimer, which reads: “The Miami Gazette is an entertainment and satire web publication. We simply aim to provide an outlet for our writers and contributors to develop creative, outrageous, and 100% fictional tall tales that our audience can enjoy reading and sharing with friends. All news articles contained within The Miami Gazette are fictional and presumably satirical news.”
The disclaimer calls into question the veracity of another “9 Heartwarming Stories Of Pit Bulls STEPPING UP And SAVING The Day” offered by the “Miami Gazette,” with working links in eight of the nine instances to articles apparently published by actual mainstream news media, albeit that some of the claimed heroic deeds by pit bulls seem to lack adequate verification.
Apparently not from known pit bull advocates
But for all that it panders to pit bull advocacy fantasies, the “Miami Gazette” does not itself appear to have originated from known pit bull advocates.
No actual newspaper called the Miami Gazette has ever been published from Miami, Florida. Four newspapers called the Miami Gazette were published from Miami, Ohio between 1805 and 1969, but none still exist.
The actual owner of the “Miami Gazette” web site is masked by registration through Domains By Proxy LLC, of Scottsdale, Arizona.
Jonathan David Eborn
Several web sites, however, have linked the “Miami Gazette” ad content to the self-promotional modus operandi of one Jonathan David Eborn, 48, of Draper, Utah.
Recounted the Federal Trade Commission in a July 31, 2014 media release, “Jonathan Eborn was one of the marketers behind a work-at-home scheme that operated under names such as ‘Google Money Tree,’ ‘Google Pro’ and ‘Google Treasure Chest.’ In 2009, the FTC charged Eborn and others with using the scheme to lure consumers into divulging their financial account information and failing to disclose that they would be charged $72.21 a month.
“Under the settlement,” reached as result of the FTC charges, Eborn and other defendants “gave up more than $3.5 million in cash and other assets,” the FTC release said, which were “returned to consumers in 2012.”
Purportedly could not pay restitution
But, the FTC release added, “Eborn was excused from liability for the vast majority of a $29.5 million judgment based on sworn financial statements that purportedly showed his inability to pay.
“On June 4, 2014,” however, “the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada found that Eborn hid” substantial assets, leading to reinstatement of “the full judgment of $26.9 million against Eborn,” the FTC release finished.
Eborn at last report was still engaged in legal maneuvers to try to avoid making payment.
Along the way, former Utah attorney generals Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow were charged in 2014 with accepting bribes and destroying evidence.
“According the charges,” wrote Pat Reavy of the Salt Lake City Deseret News, “Shurtleff and Swallow told Internet marketer Jonathan Eborn that contributing to Shurtleff’s election campaign would benefit him if he were investigated. Eborn, who owned Infusion Media, subsequently donated $30,000.”
The charges against Shurtleff were eventually dropped, while Swallow was acquitted at a jury trial in March 2017.
Noted the Deseret News editorial board, “Shurtleff did not testify. Swallow did not testify. And a key player at the center of the storm, convicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, refused to testify and went to jail for contempt of court because of it. He is already serving an 11-year sentence for making false statements to a bank in his own criminal prosecution.”