Similar “rescuer” rhetoric takes toll in South Africa, too
MARGATE, Florida; EDENVALE, South Africa––Joseph Varanese, 57, of Margate, Florida, just plain Joe to friends and family, believed the pit bull moonshine.
On August 7, 2020, Joe Varanese adopted a pit bull reportedly picked up by Miami Dade Animal Services as an injured stray on June 16 in the city of Miami.
Named either Axon, after a maker of tasers, or Akon, after a Senegalese/American singer, according to varying spelling in Facebook posts by Miami Dade Animal Services volunteers, the pit bull was relayed to Joe Varanese by Mastiffs of Florida Rescue.
Ankle-biter went for jugular
Joe’s 84-year-old mother, Carolyn Varanese, let the pit bull, renamed Smokey, share her bed.
But on August 31, 2020, “Carolyn Varanese was facing her son, her arms draped over him,” as he helped her out of the bathroom, “when Smokey attacked the woman’s ankle,” recounted Eileen Kelley and Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“Carolyn Varanese crumpled to the floor,” Kelley and Boryga continued. “Smokey went for her jugular while Joe beat back the dog with anything in reach, including his mother’s wheelchair. It was no use.”
30th pit bull-inflicted death of 2020
Bitten multiple times on the head and upper body, Carolyn Varanese died there in the hallway, the 28th pit bull-inflicted fatality in the U.S. of 2020, and the 30th in the U.S. and Canada combined.
“Joe Varanese suffered injuries to the left forearm and bicep as well as several facial scratches and a laceration under his right ear,” Kelley and Boryga detailed.
“Did not display aggression toward humans”
A Miami Dade Animal Services spokesperson told Kelley and Boryga that Axon/Akon, also known as Smokey, “did not display any aggression toward humans” during 52 days in the county shelter.
Carolyn Varanese was the fourth person in six years whose death involved questionable decisions by Miami Dade Animal Services, whose chief of shelter operations and enforcement, Kathleen Labrada, has consistently failed to enforce the county pit bull ban as written.
Originally adopted in 1989, the Miami Dade pit bull ban was upheld by county voters by a 63% to 37% margin in August 2012.
Miami Dade Animal Services ignores letter of the law
The previous victims included Javon Dade Jr., age four, killed by his father’s pit bull on August 13, 2014; Carmen Reigada, 91, killed on September 22, 2015 by a household pack including a pit bull, a Rhodesian ridgeback, and a Labrador mix; and Nyjah Espinosa, killed by her father’s pit bull on December 20, 2015, days short of her second birthday.
Labrada claimed after each death that the killer pit bulls were “American bulldogs,” and therefore not covered by the Miami Dade pit bull ban, despite clear language in the ordinance stipulating that it applies to any dog of characteristics which “substantially conform” to several recognized definitions of “pit bull.”
This language was incorporated to include pit bull variants such as “American bulldog” and “American bully,” as well as any other name with which a pit bull owner might try to disguise an illegally kept dog.
After the fatal attack on Carolyn Varanese, the pit bull who killed her was impounded by Broward Animal Care & Adoption. A spokesperson there told Kelley and Boryga that they “would wait for instructions from police” before deciding what to do with him.
The killer pit bull was finally euthanized due to “heartworm” on or about September 1, 2020.
Mastiffs of Florida Rescue has, as of September 2, 2020, made no public comment on the Carolyn Varanese death.
Cane/Kane raises Cain
Carolyn Varanese was killed in Margate, Broward County, Florida, just 10 days after another pit bull rescue failure injured an 11-year-old boy, a 12-year-old boy, and the boys’ 35-year-old mother in Coral Springs, Broward County, Florida.
That pit bull, “named Cane [also spelled Kane by some rescuers who knew him], had come to live with the family a month earlier,” Kelley and Boryga wrote. “Julian Aviles suffered a severe laceration to his right eye and a slight fracture to his jaw. He was taken by air ambulance to Broward Health Medical Center.
“Julian’s brother Jovani, 12, was bitten in the back of the head. The boys’ mother also was bitten. The attacks stopped after the 12-year-old grabbed a knife and stabbed the dog at least three times, according to police.
“Dog-aggressive but not dangerous toward people”
“Reports say a woman found Cane in the Everglades and brought him to Carlos Aviles, a former military police K9 handler, for training,” Kelley and Boryga said.
Supposedly Cane was “dog-aggressive,” but not dangerous toward people.
The pit bull attacks on August 21 and August 31, 2020 were the most serious in Broward County since the May 30, 2018 mauling death of nine-month-old Liana Valino in Miramar. Liana’s mother had gone to work, leaving Liana with the child’s grandmother.
Miramar police officer Yessenia Diaz told media that the pit bull who killed Liana was a three-to-four-year-old male, raised in the home since puppyhood. Also present were one of that pit bull’s littermates and their mother.
Rehomed four times, Troy kills six other dogs
Animal rescue indifference toward public safety––and the safety of other animals––when it comes to promoting pit bulls is scarcely limited to Florida, or the U.S., or the North American continent.
A comparable example reached ANIMALS 24-7 on September 1, 2020 as a screenshot from the Facebook page of the Edenvale SPCA, serving the northeastern suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Lamented the posting, later taken down, “Once again we have had to repossess a dog that was adopted from us. 2nd dog in 2 months!!
“A male pit bull [named Troy] was adopted from us in May 2018,” the posting explained. “He was subsequently given away. This dog came in after killing five dogs and needed a safe home where he would be his ‘dad’s’ only child. Sadly, [this was] not the case.
“National blacklist of original owner”
“We are not sure exactly when Troy was given away but are waiting for more details,” the Edenvale SPCA posting continued. “It must have been recently as he was checked on a few times post-adoption. Troy once again escaped his new owners property and killed another dog. He ended up at [the] Randburg SPCA,” about ten miles west of Edenvale.
“Troy is in back in our care and a national black list will be sent out to all SPCAs for the original owner,” the posting concluded.
Other Edenvale SPCA postings, also deleted, indicate that Troy had already failed in three homes, having first been rehomed by the Edenvale SPCA in 2016, before being rehomed to again to fail in at least his fourth home.
The Edenvale SPCA advertised Troy in the Bedfordview & Edendale News as “a one-year-old black-and-white male Staffie. He is four years old, compatible with other dogs and very friendly towards people and children,” the ad said, appearing with a photo suggesting that Troy was more likely four years old than just one year old.
Where is Troy today?
What will be done with the six-time dog killer pit bull Troy appears to be anyone’s guess. Euthanasia was not mentioned and Troy was reclaimed by the Edenvale SPCA, suggesting that yet another rehoming might have been contemplated. Another deleted posting, however, said “Please note Troy will not be placed up for adoption and nowhere did we state he would be.”
Left unanswered is the question as to why any Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with any genuine concern for the prevention of animal suffering would even once rehome a dog with a known history of ripping apart other dogs alive.
Charl Baartman & Jan van Aswegen
The Edenvale SPCA posting came a little more than three weeks after retired waiter Ronnie Madurai, 63, of Clayfield, Phoenix, near Durban, lost part of an ear when attacked by two pit bulls belonging to neighbor Trevin Moonsamy outside the home of his daughter, Sashnee Madurai.
Moonsamy, instead of surrendering the pit bulls to law enforcement, told media “We have sent them to a rehabilitation center. I’m not sure if they will be returned.”
With that case still in the news, two pit bulls killed three-year-old Charl Baartman, 3, died after being attacked by two pit bulls in Aqua Park, a suburb of Kirkwood in the Eastern Cape.
Baartman was the second pit bull fatality of the year in South Africa, and the 20th on record in South Africa since 2004, compared with 12 fatalities inflicted by all other dog breeds combined. The 21st, another three-year-old boy whose name was not released, came only two weeks later, on September 14, 2020, in Glenwood, near Durban.
The first South African pit bull fatality of 2020 was Jan van Aswegen, 64, of Alberton.
A 22-year member of the South Downs Country Club, Aswegen was golfing on January 23, 2020 when he heard a 74-year-old woman screaming from the far side of the club fence that she was under attack from her own four pit bulls. Aswegen jumped the fence and saved the woman at cost of his own life.