Oneil Colley serenades Michigan lawmakers for Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day
LANSING, Michigan––In the Michigan state capital, at least, Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day on October 25, 2019 upstaged National Pit Bull Awareness Day, both officially celebrated a day later.
National Pit Bull Awareness Day, held annually since 2007 to whitewash the public image of pit bulls and promote pit bull adoptions, enjoys the backing of multi-million-dollar organizations including the American SPCA, Animal Farm Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Society of the U.S., and Maddie’s Fund.
Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day, organized on behalf of the human and animal victims of pit bulls, is funded entirely by the pittance that victims themselves can scrape together after paying medical and veterinary costs that often cannot be recovered from uninsured pit bull owners.
But Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day had both the moral high ground and the top of the Michigan state capital steps.
There Jamaican/American rapper Oneil Colley, 44, entertained television reporters, passers-by, and perhaps some legislators with his calypso/rap rendition of how he and neighbor Sandra Lois Lucas, 74, fought to save an unidentified 52-year-old Detroit mail carrier from an attacking pit bull on February 22, 2019.
“I, Oneil Colley, stopped a dog with a trash can!”, Colley testified in his refrain.
“I see a dog attacking a postman. This look so wrong! Man, this dog is so strong! I, Oneil Colley, did not run. I, Oneil Colley, stopped the dog with a trash can,” Colley narrated, crediting Mrs. Lucas as well, who was actually first to the scene, swinging a broom.
Woody, Green, Lynn, & Rogers testify
Among the pit bull attack victims converging on Lansing from as far away as Florida and Texas were Paige Woody and Zoey Green. Woody and Green recently won a seven-figure settlement from the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, for having rehomed a pit bull with substantial bite history who went on to severely injure both Woody and Green.
Dogsbite.org founder Colleen Lynn made a rare public speaking appearance.
Summarized Responsible Citizens for Public Safety founder, event organizer and longtime dog rescuer Ann Marie Rogers, to Nina DeSarro of WZZM, “Five hundred eighty-two dead Americans because of someone else’s pet choice gave me great concern. Pit bulls are simply too dangerous to make safe pets.”
Rogers and others called for laws mandating that pit bulls and other closely related “bully breeds” be sterilized.
“It helps the pit bulls themselves, who are over-represented in shelters and in cruelty cases, so it’s a win-win for the animals, the dogs, and the human beings,” Rogers emphasized.
“Bred to fight––that’s why they are called pit bulls”
Instead of endorsing the pitch for spay/neuter, as generations of humane society spokespersons did at every opportunity before the advent of aggressive pit bull advocacy, Humane Society of West Michigan director of development Amy Stockero responded with the familiar saw of pit bull advocates that “Every dog is an individual.”
Stockero disregarded the mounting scientific and medical evidence that pit bull genetics underscore the unprecedented surge in dog attack deaths, disfigurements, and dog attacks on other animals occurring during the first two decades of the 21st century.
Countered Rogers, “These are dogs bred to fight in pits. That’s why they are called pit bulls.”
Repeal of Pawtucket pit bull ban brought 10-fold surge in attacks
A leading goal of pit bull advocates, advanced by National Pit Bull Awareness Day publicity since 2007, has been repealing whatever legislation already exists to discourage pit bull breeding and proliferation. Such campaigns have so far encountered little organized resistance, and have succeeded in prohibiting breed-specific ordinances in 21 states.
One of the first state-level pit bull advocacy victories against breed-specific legislation came in 2013 in Rhode Island. A new state law overturned a pit bull ban in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, that had protected city residents and their pets since 2004.
Since then, reported Ethan Storey, managing editor of the statewide Valley Breeze newspaper chain, on October 15, 2019, “Local attacks by pit bulls have trended sharply upward since a judge tossed out the Pawtucket ban on the breed back in 2013.
“During the 10 years the city had the ban in place, there were 23 total attacks involving pit bulls,” Storey learned. “But data provided to the Valley Breeze in response to a public records request shows there have been 116 attacks where pit bulls or pit bull mixes were the aggressor in the five years since the ban was overturned, or more than 10 times as many per year since the ban was lifted.
“There were 319 total dog attacks involving people or other animals from July 1, 2014, to September 30, 2019,” Storey elaborated, “with those 116, or more than 36 percent of the total, attributed to pit bulls or pit bull mixes.”
Prince George’s County moves to defend pit bull ban
Comparable local data––and recent pit bull attack history––appears to have influenced the county council in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on October 22, 2019.
“The Prince George’s County Council took a step toward protecting its ban on pit bulls,” reported Rachel Chason of the Washington Post, “by advancing an amendment to a bill overhauling the county’s animal control ordinance. The move,” approved by a vote of 7-4, “overturned a measure that advanced out of a committee meeting and would have repealed the county’s 22-year-old ban,” which has been under attack by a coalition of national organizations led by the Humane Society of the U.S.
“This month,” Chason continued, “police said two mixed-breed American bulldogs mauled two men in Prince George’s County, “dragging a 72-year-old man from a bus stop and forcing the second victim to climb atop a parked car to try to escape. Officials said animal service officers removed a third dog from the owner’s home — a pit bull who was not involved in the attack on the two men.
Yes, American bulldogs are pit bulls
“Although the dogs involved in the attack were not pit bulls,” Chason wrote, in glaring factual error,” some County Council members said the incident heightened fear in the community about dog attacks.”
American bulldogs have in truth been recognized as pit bulls––and one of the oldest lines of fighting pit bulls, at that––since the early 19th century, when they also often used to hunt runaway slaves.
Pit bull ban helps to raise “live release” rates
“More than 400 pit bulls were euthanized last year in Prince George’s, out of 687 impounded,” Chason mentioned, “and more than 250 have been euthanized so far this year.”
Relative to human population, the pit bull euthanasia rate in Prince George’s County is about 10% of the U.S. norm––which suggests that by suppressing pit bull ownership, owner surrenders, and running at large, as well as attacks, the pit bull ban is working very much to the advantage of local shelters trying to maintain high “live release” rates.
Prince George’s is the only jurisdiction in the Washington region and the second-largest in the country with a ban on pit bulls,” Chason alleged, overlooking that bans are in effect, if only sporadically enforced, in both Denver and Miami, with ordinances mandating pit bull sterilization also in effect in San Francisco and San Bernardino, California.
Pit bull bans in Independence, Missouri, and Sioux City and Des Moines, Iowa, are currently at risk of repeal.
Enacted in 2006, after multiple local pit bull attacks, the Independence ordinance is in jeopardy, ironically, because the Great Plains SPCA found it could not achieve “no kill” status while receiving the numbers of pit bulls that it did while holding the city animal control contract, even occupying a $5.3 million shelter built by the city in 2012.
The Great Plains SPCA announced in January 2019 that it would quit providing animal control sheltering service in July, obliging the city and Jackson County to take over the job, while still trying to maintain a 90% “live release” rate.
Rehoming more pit bulls could temporarily boost “live releases”––but allowing more pit bulls into the community, as in Pawtucket, would increase attacks and impoundments, as well as owner surrenders of pit bulls and incidents of pit bulls running at large.
How Des Moines could become “sue city”
“As Sioux City city leaders approved the second reading of an ordinance to potentially lift a ban on dogs with more than 50% pit bull DNA,” reported former pro football player turned WHOTV reporter Justin Surrency on October 22, 2019, “Mike Hagar from Des Moines says his battle scars are proof for why Des Moines should not follow.”
“We’ve been attacked by two different pit bulls three times in this neighborhood,” Hagar told Surrency, reciting the details.“It is legal in Des Moines to own pit bulls,” Surrency pointed out, “but breed-specific legislation requires owners to carry insurance of $100,000, have a leash no longer than six feet, and be over the age of 18 while handling them on walks. These are restrictions that Tom Colvin of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa hopes Des Moines eliminates.”
Colvin, who has headed the Animal Rescue League of Iowa since 1993, appears to be unaware that State Farm, the only major insurance group to cover pit bulls without restriction, paid a median settlement of $37,000 in 3,600 dog attack cases in 2017; pit bull attacks doing more than $1 million worth of physical injury to the victims are not uncommon.
Repealing the Des Moines pit bull ban would have the net effect of obliging more pit bull victims to sue pit bull owners and others responsible for attacks, including animal shelters that rehome pit bulls who subsequently injury someone.
“Educate yourself” at the Pit Stop Archive
Animal Rescue League of Iowa director of development Stephanie Filer and two pit bull advocacy web sites meanwhile handed Iowa State Daily reporter Susannah Crichton an assortment of fictions worth of Colley’s trash can in commemoration of National Pit Bull Awareness Day, centering on pit bull history.
Those fictions might have easily been refuted had Crichton double-checked any of them at the ANIMALS 24-7 Pit Stop Archive.