“National Pit Bull Awareness Month” 2019 began & ended with fatal maulings
HAZEL PARK, Michigan––October 2019, designated the thirteenth annual “National Pit Bull Awareness Month” by pit bull advocates, closed much as it opened, with a blood-red sunset over Hazel Park, Michigan, barely 30 hours after four-year-old Benjamin Cobb was fatally mauled in his bedroom by a family friend’s pit bull who had been in the home for less than a day.
“The mom turned her back on her sweet, 4-year-old boy just for a moment,” recounted Detroit Free Press reporter Frank Witsil on Halloween morning.
“Bolo the pit bull pounced”
“And that, police said, is when Bolo the pit bull pounced,” killing Cobb while his mother, Brandi Halterman, 38, “tried to fight the 60-pound animal off, stabbing first with nearby scissors, then with a steak knife she ran to the kitchen to get.”
Halterman suffered injuries to her hand reportedly requiring “about 20 stitches” to close.
“It wasn’t until after the boy’s 14-year-old sister called 911 and police and firefighters arrived and zapped Bolo with a stun gun,” Witsil wrote, “that the light brown dog let Ben go and ran off.”
Captured later, the pit bull was euthanized, said Hazel Park city manager Edward Klobucher.
“We don’t know what sparked it”
“It appears as if this was just a sudden attack. We don’t know what may have sparked it,” Hazel Park police chief Brian Buchholz told media.
But we do know: the dog who killed Cobb was a pit bull, notorious for “Sudden, Random, Unprovoked Violence” since Elizabethan times. This is why retired blogger on pit bull attacks Thomas Mair called his web site SRUV. Mair commented on the spotty legislative history of Hazel Park in particular.
“There isn’t any ordinance that we could have had that would have prevented this,” added Klobucher. “They agreed to take a dog for a friend. The friend tells them the dog isn’t vicious. They’re trying to be nice. The last thing anybody thought would happen is something like this.”
Klobucher himself, however, only four years earlier told the Hazel Park city council that of 124 dog bite incidents since 2009, 45 were by pit bulls.
Of the 32 dogs involved in 16 fatalities by dog bite since 2005 within the state of Michigan, 22 were pit bulls. Thirteen of the 16 fatalities, including the death of Cobb, occurred in the Detroit metropolitan area.
“Pit bulls are not compatible with densely populated urban areas”
Had Hazel Park enforced the ordinance it adopted in 2008, banning new pit bulls, while requiring owners of existing pit bulls to maintain six-foot fences, the reportedly one-year-old pit bull who killed Cobb could never have entered the city. Nor could any pit bull have been kept at Cobb’s house, which lacked a six-foot fence in front.
Former Hazel Park police chief David Niedermeier, who retired in February 2012 after 23 years on the job, emphasized the value of the 2008 ordinance to Michael P. McConnell of the Oakland Press, after a pit bull mauled a six-year-old boy in October 2011.
The six-year-old suffered injuries to his head and face requiring “hundreds of stitches to close,” McConnell reported.
“I don’t know how many times such a thing has to happen before people wake up and realize that animals such as pit bulls are not compatible with densely populated urban areas,” Niedermeier told McConnell. “The animals are too unpredictable and their attacks are so vicious. This poor child now has to wear the scars of this attack for the remainder of his life because some people are unable to anticipate the danger these animals bring to our neighborhoods.”
Pit “just grabbed pant leg” but photos showed severe injuries
The 2008 Hazel Park ordinance was dismantled in 2015, except for the fencing requirement, as result of a campaign orchestrated by Courtney Protz-Sanders.
Protz-Sanders, according to SRUV blogger Mair’s tally, has argued against breed-specific legislation, and has contested euthanasias and police shootings of pit bulls involved in dangerous incidents, under at least six different organizational titles.
Recounted Mair on May 12, 2015, “On March 6, 2015, Fox News Detroit reported on a domestic dispute in the town of Hazel Park. Jamie Kraczkowski claimed that her boyfriend, Jamie Dopke, became abusive. That’s when her pit bull Ice came to the rescue. According to Ms Kraczkowski, Ice “just grabbed his pant leg,” and then, according to Ms Kraczkowski, Mr Dopke left.
“The ‘pant leg’ meme was repeated in later news accounts,” Mair wrote, “even following the publication of photographs of Dopke’s severe leg wounds.
Fox News “milked the incident”
“On the following day (March 7) the Oakland Press ran a three-sentence story with the sensational headline ‘Hero pit bull saves owner during domestic violence, faces removal from home due to city ordinance.’ Fox News in Detroit continued to milk the incident with additional stories. Arin Greenwood of the Huffington Post chirped in. The story continued to build.
On March 15, 2015, Mair continued, “Protz-Sanders appeared on a Fox News segment discussing Hazel Park’s pit bull legislation. The segment aired several times throughout the day.
“On March 16, 2015, Protz-Sanders launched the Hazel Park Animal Advocates Facebook page. On March 19, a community meeting was held to discuss new animal legislation for the city.
“The advocates continued to ratchet up the pressure on Hazel Park. On April 20, 2019 they received permission to march in the town’s Memorial Day Parade, an otherwise apolitical event.”
Hazel Park “was played like a fiddle”
The Best Friends Animal Society “posted a bulk mail form, which resulted in as many as 2,500 form letters addressed to Hazel Park’s Mayor and Council. The advocates enlisted the aid of Animal Farm Foundation, the premier deep pockets advocacy group,” Mair summarized.
“Finally, after months of gradually increasing pressure, the city of Hazel Park rolled over.
The city of Hazel Park,” Mair concluded, “was played like a fiddle.”
The already weakened Hazel Park ordinance was weakened again in 2017.
“All references to breed were removed, along with special requirements for pit bulls,” said Dogsbite.org.
Former Hazel Park mayors Jan Parisi and Jeff Keeton, who signed the 2015 and 2017 repeals of the Hazel Park pit bull legislation, are no longer in office.
“Some people raise more Cain over a dog than they would if it was a kid”
With the 2015 repeal awaiting final approval by the Hazel Park city council, Fox2 Detroit on July 6, 2015 reported about how a pit bull named Brice, left tied to a neighbor’s porch, broke loose to seriously injure a smaller dog named Sweetie, as owner June Dockery walked the victim dog.
Said the Fox2 report, “Mitchell Lovett says his daughter owns Brice but thinks the reaction to the dog’s attack is overblown.”
“Some people raise more Cain over a dog than they would if it was a kid that got attacked, that’s what burns me up,” Lovett said on camera.
Now a child has been attacked––and killed.
Who in Hazel Park will demand reinstatement of the ordinance that should have saved Benjamin Cobb’s life?
“Pit Bull Awareness Month” body count
Pit bull victims and survivors of deceased victims rallied on the Michigan state capitol steps on October 25, 2019, designated “Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day,” but have just a tiny fraction of the resources of organized pit bull advocacy with which to amplify their voices.
To be remembered, meanwhile, is that “National Pit Bull Awareness Month” 2019, promoted by multi-million-dollar-a-year pit bull advocacy organizations, began with police in Bryan County, Oklahoma, and Hampton, Virginia, announcing 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.
“National Pit Bull Awareness Month” 2019 also included the October 8 mauling death of Dustin Bryan, 21, killed in his sleep by two pit bulls at a friend’s home in Modesto, California.
In addition, pit bulls disfigured at least 13 children and 38 adults who survived the attacks.
The deaths and disfigurements were just about average for any month since 2010.