But HSUS and the ASPCA mark the occasion by pushing pit bulls for families
Rottweiler kills a child, too
NEW YORK CITY, WASHINGTON D.C.––October 2019, designated the thirteenth annual “National Pit Bull Awareness Month” by pit bull advocates, opened with a blood-red sunrise.
Only 24 hours earlier police in Bryan County, Oklahoma, and Hampton, Virginia, announced the near simultaneous deaths of pit bull mauling victims Allen “Hooty” Bruce, 56, and Morgan “Mo” Crayton, 31.
Both Bruce and Crayton were killed by pit bulls they had long known and trusted, whose attack histories they apparently knew but disregarded, even when they were among the injured.
Both Bruce and Crayton led frequently troubled lives. Both were fatally mauled by pit bulls kept by close friends.
Pits who killed Bruce had attacked children twice in a month
Bruce, 56, of Bennington, Oklahoma, was fatally injured on September 28, 2019 by longtime friend and neighbor Michael Don Wright’s two pit bulls and a pit mix. Bruce was known to police for, among other things, participating in an early-morning brawl on December 18, 2018 that culminated in an alleged stabbing.
Wright, 47, made headlines on October 23, 2014 when his alleged moonshine still burned down, and on August 20, 2015, after he was allegedly beaten by a two-by-four-swinging neighbor for purportedly dumping a meth lab on the neighbor’s property.
Life-flighted to a hospital in Dallas, Texas, Wright was subsequently charged with possession of methamphetamine, operating a whiskey still, and public intoxication.
Bennington police chief James Heil “said a month ago Wright’s dogs got loose and attacked a young girl near the fire station. She was taken to the emergency room as a precaution but wasn’t seriously hurt. These same dogs also attacked 14-year-old Zachary Burkhalter on his way home from school on Thursday,” reported KXII-TV.
Burkhalter was bitten, but fought the pack off with a baseball bat.
[UPDATE: Michael Don Wright was on June 18, 2020 charged with second degree manslaughter for Bruce’s death.]
Crayton “had been attacked multiple times” by pit who killed her
Crayton, 31, of Hampton, Virginia, was fatally mauled on September 29, 2019.
Crayton “had been attacked multiple times by the dog who unfortunately killed her. Pray for her young daughter and family,” friend Melissa Lemons posted to Facebook, mentioning that she too has a pit bull but would not have kept her pit bull had it ever menaced a family member.
Crayton and her fiancé, Talina Ramsey, had worked for months earlier in 2019 to help Chopper, their 92-pound pit bull, to rehabilitate after undergoing costly surgery to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
Reported WTKR-TV, “A 68-year-old family member was also attacked by the dog while attempting to help Crayton. The family member’s injuries are non-life-threatening, officials said.
“The preliminary investigation revealed that Crayton was in her backyard with multiple canines from the home when the bite occurred. Animal Control was called to the home one day before this attack for a report of a dog bite.
“The same victim was bitten by another dog in the home (not the same dog in question). The injuries from the first attack were minor, officials said.”
Granite Bay & God’s Lake Narrows attacks
Bruce and Crayton were the second and third pit bull-inflicted fatalities in 11 days, following the September 19, 2019 death of a 13-month-old baby in Granite Bay, California. The pit bull in that case had reportedly been in the family for six years and struck without warning.
Also within that time frame, a semi-feral pack of husky mixed breeds reportedly killed a two-year-old Keewatin tribe member in an unwitnessed attack at Gods Lake Narrows, Manitoba, in the Canadian Far North.
(See Pit bulls now in the “rez dog” gene pool, 12-pit bull attack on toddler spotlights soaring risk on reservations and Pit bull proliferation hits “Indian country”: fatal dog attacks triple.)
The Gods Lake Narrows fatality was the 30th by huskies and husky mixes since ANIMALS 24-7 began tracking fatal and disfiguring dog attacks in the U.S. and Canada in September 1982. Over that time only Rottweilers (111) and pit bulls (469) have killed more people.
On October 1, 2019, a three-year-old boy fell out a window at a single-floor frame house in Louisville, Kentucky, into a yard containing two recently acquired Rottweilers. The Rottweilers killed the child, who became the fourth dog attack fatality in 12 days.
Delta Airlines maintains pit bull ban
The lopsided fatality totals lent emphasis to the September 23, 2019 announcement by Delta Airlines that despite pressure from the U.S. Department of Transportation, it will not relax the ban on flying pit bulls in aircraft cabins that it introduced in 2018, after several onboard attacks, “to protect the airline’s employees, customers and trained service animals,” Delta said.
“Pit bulls account for less than 5% of the overall dog population, but 37.5% of vicious dog attacks,” Delta said, citing data from an unidentified source; most data sources show pit bulls inflicting a far higher percentage of “vicious” attacks than that.
“Understanding this risk, Delta has not come to a solution for allowing pit bulls onboard that satisfies its own rigorous safety requirements,” the Delta announcement said.
(See Pit bulls win, victims lose in USDOT & South Dakota Supreme Court rulings and How the Americans with Disabilities Act has become the “Pit Bull Pushers Act”)
“We will do what is right for health & safety”
Pledged Delta senior vice president for corporate safety, security, and compliance John Laughter, “We will never compromise on safety, and we will do what is right for the health and safety of our customers and employees.”
Added Delta senior vice president for in-flight service Allison Ausband, “The safety of our people is paramount. In 2018 alone, more than 40 instances of aggressive animal behavior occurred aboard a Delta aircraft. Our 25,000 flight attendants are my greatest responsibility, and I will do everything I can to keep them safe and send them home to their families in the same condition they came to work.”
HSUS president ignores neuroscience & medicine
Humane Society of the U.S. president Kitty Block on September 25, 2019 fulminated against the Delta Airlines decision, alleging that “scientists and animal experts have now agreed for years that there is no evidence supporting the assertion that a dog poses a direct threat because of his or her breed.”
Block appears not to have read the September 2, 2019 Journal of Neuroscience publication of “Significant neuroanatomical variation among domestic dog breeds,” by Harvard University evolutionary neuroscientist Erin Hecht, or the ANIMALS 24-7 coverage of it, Dog brain study refutes every major claim of pit bull advocacy.
Nor does Block appear to be aware of Characteristics of 1616 Consecutive Dog Bite Injuries by Michael Golinko, M.D., of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, accessible at a click from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, nor of the findings of a library of other studies repeatedly indicting pit bulls for inflicting by far the most injuries to humans, and the most severe injuries, for more than 40 years.
Rallies for pits while family plans funeral
“Right now,” Block continued, “our staff members in Maryland are preparing to help overturn a decades-old breed-specific policy in Prince George’s County. We will be pushing for this with all of our might,” Block said, promoting “a rally we are organizing in Prince George’s County on October 1, 2019 to make the case for the repeal, along with our coalition partners Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Rescue Alliance, and Prince George’s SPCA.”
Just a three-hour drive to the north, Talina Ramsey and the Crayton family will be planning a funeral.
Even more shamelessly, the American SPCA on September 17, 2019 published “10 Tips for Being a Powerful Advocate for Pit Bulls,” repeatedly directing readers––mostly staff at animal shelters around the U.S. and the world––to the web sites of the pit bull advocacy organizations BAD RAP and Animal Farm Foundation.
In particular, the American SPCA urged humane societies to “to promote pitties as wonderful family companions,” including by parading them before captive audiences “in places like schools, hospitals and nursing homes.”
One abused child: Mary Ellen Wilson
The American SPCA won an enduring national reputation for acting with moral force, which it now seems hellbent on squandering, largely through the 1874 rescue of an abused nine-year-old foster child, Mary Ellen Wilson.
At urging of Methodist social worker Etta Angell Wheeler, ASPCA founder Henry Bergh assigned ASPCA attorney Elbridge Thomas Gerry to the Mary Ellen case on April 7, 1874, after other agencies, including the New York City police, refused to become involved.
Bergh reputedly told Gerry that if Mary Ellen could not be protected as a human being, she could at least be protected as an animal, under the animal protection law Bergh had won shortly forming the ASPCA in 1867.
Gerry won the case before the New York State Supreme Court with a somewhat more sophisticated legal argument.
2,500 “Mary Ellens” ignored
Most persuasively, however, Mary Ellen herself testified before Judge Abraham R. Lawrence on April 10, 1874, only hours after her rescue.
“I have now the black and blue marks on my head which were made by [her foster mother], and also a cut on the left side of my forehead which was made by a pair of scissors. She struck me with the scissors and cut me,” Mary Ellen said, describing a facial scar she would bear for the rest of her 92-year life.
Mary Ellen did not mention the bleeding wounds on both of her legs, shown in an evidentiary photograph.
Pit bulls have comparably disfigured more than 2,500 American children since 1982, and have killed more than 250.
Pursuing present policies, the ASPCA might just as well parade pit bulls to urinate on the memorial to Mary Ellen Wilson and Etta Angell Wheeler that stands in the 100 block of Fifth Avenue.
Therisa Bennett says
A national campaign to give free neuter/spay to bully breeds would be an effective answer. I saw that PETA had some sort of service like this, but couldn’t find a way to donate to that specific cause.
Donna Barclay says
Be advised that there is a growing resistance building AGAINST mandatory spay/neuter coming from activists on the pro-pit side who have a line of communication just one person removed from VIP’s in AFF, BFAS, and NCRC. They resist every leeway we give them vociferously. Be it noted — those organizations I mentioned and their VIP’s do not want pit bulls to even go gently into the mists of time in the last living pit’s twilight years. Even though these canines are busting the seams of shelters, killing shelter workers and adopters, injuring their trainers, disfiguring pit bull positive talk show journalists — they will fight tooth and nail to preserve that genome…Why?…Why save an aberrant genetic sequence and replicate it to full potential again and again?…Because THAT ABERRATION IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT AND IS EXACTLY AS THEY DESIRE IT TO REMAIN!…
…Certain interests are involved in pit bull bite training on the dubious theory that with an E- collar and voice training they can get the pit bull to latch on and then immediately release. I have seen the training videos and the pit bulls did not release quickly enough or cleanly enough. The time lapse was enough that the victim would incur deadly wounding even with a release by this method. And in real life the victim would not be wearing heavily padded armor assisted by others wearing heavily padded armor…When I talked directly to a trainer and an ardent supporter of this method they scoffed at the idea of continuing with Malinois and German Shepherds. They did not have respect for the innate skills of the herding breeds even though they have proved their skills for decades. So these interests want people to keep breeding pits, and then attempt to have apprehension K9 training, and utilize these pits as guard dogs that they know are capable of killing the apprehended, extol the pit bull’s unique grip and rip bite and then they attempt to reassure me that police departments do not employ pit bull K9’s in apprehension and the military still doesn’t allow pit bulls on base…but…and this is a big but…the police and military cannot keep a citizen or soldier from the very American selfish entitlement of having pit bulls in civilian residential housing…Why do they feel entitled to have pit bulls?…Because that which IS INTRINSICALLY A PIT BULL is EXACTLY WHAT they want and no other dog will do for them now or decades and many deaths later from now…
Jamaka Petzak says
Dangerous dog breeds should be discontinued, end of story. Sharing to socials with alert for those considering giving to, or advocating for, the referenced organizations, in the interest of public and companion animal safety. HOW LONG will it take for people to WAKE UP?
Once upon a time, animal advocates were not in the business of marketing particular breeds of dogs. Many people reading this have probably been in the movement long enough to remember the very different response by the HSUS, ASPCA, and most regional SPCAs to the live-action remake of Disney’s “101 Dalmatians.”
Fearing that hoards of Dalmatian puppies would be obtained and then dumped once the cute pups grew into a high-energy, snappy adults, animal groups went on the offense, doing everything they could to educate people about the downsides of the breed and how they weren’t a good choice for small kids or first-time dog owners.
The message seemed to sink in to mainstream culture, too–I distinctly remember the controversy over “breed fads” whether Disney was being callous and greedy by marketing these dogs. Even the AKC issued some more tepid statements, encouraging people to research breeds before buying a dog, and not choose a breed because it’s trendy or popular.
What is going on now is so wildly different. Animal advocacy groups are behaving like the most irresponsible breeders imaginable–those who just want to make a sale, and care nothing about the future of the dog or its family.
Elizabeth Clifton says
So well said Lindsay!