Detroit & Greenville rescuers try everything at hand
DETROIT, Michigan; GREENVILLE, S.C.––Demonstrating courage, determination, and resourcefulness, despite increasing exhaustion, passer-by Oneil Colley, 44, and neighbor Sandra Lois Lucas, 74, did not stop fighting to save an unidentified 52-year-old Detroit mail carrier from an attacking pit bull on February 22, 2019 until the mail carrier was safely in Colley’s car, having suffered foot, hand and knee injuries, and Lucas was back in her home despite one last charge from the pit bull in her direction.
Police and animal control officers arrived only after the immediate crisis was over with.
Broom & trash can
Apparently escaping from a house on Ardmore Street next door to Lucas, the pit bull knocked the mail carrier down on the icy pavement in front of Colley’s vehicle.
While Colley repeatedly blew his car horn and briefly narrated what he saw happening into a dash camera that caught most of the action, before springing out of the car to help, Lucas charged to the mail carrier’s rescue with a broom. As the pit bull bit through the mail carrier’s shoe, Lucas held her broom by the bristle end, pounding the pit bull repeatedly on the head and back, to no evident effect.
Colley, an immigrant to the U.S. from Kingston, Jamaica, but a longtime resident of Detroit, Michigan and suburbs, tried to stop the pit bull first by smashing a plastic trash can over him, then by kicking him. That also accomplished nothing.
Belt, mail bag, & dog repellant
Eventually the pit bull owner’s nephew arrived, repeatedly screaming the pit bull’s name: “Boss Hog! Boss Hog!”
Unable to find a leash, the nephew tried to use his belt to pull Boss Hog away. Boss Hog then attacked the nephew, before turning back to the mail carrier, who unsuccessfully tried to shield himself with his mail bag and sprayed Boss Hog with what looked like U.S. Postal Service standard issue dog repellant.
Struck countless times, as well as sprayed in the face at close range, the pit bull briefly released the fallen mail carrier at least twice, only to re-grip and resume the attack.
Ice-chopper, wheel lock, & hammer
After dropping the trash can, Colley fetched a succession of improvised weapons from his car, including an ice chopper of the sort used by ice fishers to cut holes in the frozen surface of Lake Michigan. That broke off in his hand.
Next Colley tried striking Boss Hog with a steering wheel lock meant to prevent auto theft, while Lucas appeared to have pushed the broom handle into Boss Hog’s mouth, using it as a bite stick.
Colley finally brought to the fight a small sledge hammer or ball peen hammer. The actual rescue of the mail carrier occurred just outside the view of the dash camera.
The dash camera video concluded with Lucas scrambling toward her front door with Boss Hog in pursuit and Colley shouting for the nephew to intervene.
Splitting maul & drive shaft
Colley and Lucas drove Boss Hog away from the mail carrier a little less than 24 hours after Denzel Whiteside and William Long, of Greenville, South Carolina, responded to screaming from across-the-street neighbor Nancy Cherryl Burgess-Dismuke, 52.
Burgess-Dismuke, said other neighbors, often roughhoused in her yard with her two boxers, one of them possibly a boxer/pit bull mix, but this time the play session went bad. One dog seized either arm.
Whiteside grabbed a wood-splitting maul, Long the drive shaft from a partially dismantled vehicle, and both tried to beat the dogs off of Burgess-Dismuke.
Fifth U.S. dog attack death of 2019
Despite having reportedly lost one arm completely, with the other barely still attached, Burgess-Dismuke hurled herself over a white picket fence, but that used the last of her strength.
Burgess-Dismuke died at Greenville Memorial Hospital about seven hours later, the fifth U.S. dog attack fatality of 2019.
Burgess-Dismuke was already so badly injured before Whiteside and Long arrived that in all likelihood they could not have saved her, even if both had come with machine guns.
A wood-splitting maul and a drive shaft are both formidable weapons, lengthy enough for Whiteside and Long to have used them effectively without suffering bites themselves. The maul and drive shaft did finally stop the boxer and boxer-mix, but only after both men landed multiple blows.
Tools for the job
Taking that into account, Lucas and Colley had relatively little chance of quickly beating Boss Hog off the mail carrier using Lucas’ broom, the plastic trash can, and Colley’s ice chopper, steering wheel lock, and hammer.
The ice chopper, steering wheel lock, and hammer all might have stopped a human attacker, but a furious dog, especially a pit bull, behaves quite differently, and none of those instruments could be used as they were used, as improvised bludgeons, without Colley putting his own face, hands, and forearms within bite range.
In hindsight, Colley was lucky that Boss Hog remained fixated on the mail carrier instead of redirecting to Colley.
Why beating dogs over the head doesn’t work
But there were other ways, unfortunately unknown to Lucas and Colley, that both of them could have used the tools they had at hand to free the injured mail carrier, with much less risk to themselves.
These techniques are detailed in 15 real-life tips for surviving a dog attack (2019 edition).
To briefly recap, however, beating a dog over the head seldom causes the dog to release a clenched bite for the same reason that prize fighters wear mouthpieces: a blow to the head causes the recipient’s jaws to tighten, not relax.
Pit bulls, notoriously impervious to their own pain when focused on an attack, have for centuries been bred to a standard known among dogfighters as “dead game,” meaning that the pit bull in question will not relax a grip on a fighting opponent even in death.
How to use the same tools more effectively
The same instruments which might be used to bludgeon a dog are more effectively used as bite sticks, meaning something used to get the dog to redirect, that the dog can then grip and shake without doing injury to flesh and bone.
Holding one end of a bite stick while the attacking dog grips and shakes the other keeps the dog occupied and away from oneself, as well as other victims.
This gives others the opportunity to secure the dog with a leash, a catch-pole, any available rope or cable, or even by throwing a trash can over the dog’s body in such a manner as to hold the dog inside.
Lucas appears to have eventually thought of using her broomstick as a bite stick. That probably accomplished the most to save the mail carrier, until Colley was able to get him into his car.
If Colley had happened to have had an automotive fire extinguisher in his car, that would have been his most effective tool short of having had a gun handy and being able to accurately hit a moving target under stress.
Data extracted from the 37-year ANIMALS 24-7 log of fatal and disfiguring dog attacks indicates that using a fire extinguisher to spray an attacking dog in the face stops an attack, without injury to the person using the fire extinguisher or to other people who are not already injured, about 70% of the time.
Firearms by comparison have about an 80% success rate, but must be aimed precisely to stop a charging dog, whereas a fire extinguisher only needs to be pointed in the right general direction.
Attempting to use knives and blunt instruments actually have negative success rates, meaning that trying to use them effectively tends to puts the users, and others, at increased risk of injury.
The details, again, are discussed at length in 15 real-life tips for surviving a dog attack (2019 edition).