$2 million payout to family of Janet D’Aleo, 95, killed on November 6, 2019 by “rescue” pit bull belonging to Humane Society of the U.S. state representative Annie Hornish
AURORA, Colorado––Overturning an ordinance banning pit bulls that was endorsed by 64% of the electorate as recently as 2014, four of the seven members of the Aurora, Colorado city council on January 11, 2021 voted for repeal, effective on February 10, 2021.
Dissenting council members Françoise Bergan, Dave Gruber, and Marsha Berzins, along with mayor Mike Coffman, who votes only when council members are deadlocked, argued unsuccessfully that the repeal should be submitted to the Aurora voters in November 2021.
Denver & Aurora pit bull bans prevented fatalities for 31 years
Sixty-four percent of the voters in neighboring Denver, however, swayed by a well-funded pro-pit bull campaign with no organized opposition, in November 2020 repealed a pit bull ban adopted in 1989, three years after a neighbor’s pit bull killed 3-year-old Fernando Salazar in southwest Denver in October 1986.
Denver is the only U.S. city big enough to have major league sports teams which has not had a pit bull attack fatality since then.
Denver Dumb Friends League
Denver Dumb Friends League president Apryl Steele, DVM, apparently persuaded the Aurora city council majority with a statement which might have raised many questions––and eyebrows––but evidently did not.
“It is vital,” said Steele, “to create a community where pit bull puppies can be socialized without fear of having them confiscated.”
- Why, and to whom, is it “vital” to have pit bulls and pit bull puppies in a community at all?
- Why is fear of having pit bulls confiscated more vital to community well-being, in Steele’s opinion, than enabling citizens, including children, the elderly, and other pets, to go about their lives without risk of attack by a pit bull?
- Why, at this point in time, is anyone of good sense still accepting claims that “socialization” can prevent pit bull attacks, when more than 500 Americans have been killed and more than 5,000 disfigured over the past 38 years by pit bulls whose owners consistently claim they were well-socialized and safe?
Plugs adopting pit bulls from Dumb Friends
Steele went on, predictably, to plug the Denver Dumb Friends League as a source of pit bulls: “This is also why allowing your citizens to adopt a pit bull from an organization that has several full-time behavior experts evaluating the animal prior to making it available, rather than obtaining it from underground resources motivated by profit, is imperative.”
- Why allow citizens to adopt pit bulls, when almost every other recognized breed and breed type has a far superior safety record?
- If having “several full-time behavior experts evaluating the animal prior to making it available” can make a pit bull safe, why have 75 dogs, including 52 pit bulls, who went through just such evaluations by animal shelters, participated in killing 46 Americans during the first 20 years of this century?
Finished Steele, “The fear of bringing the dog out in public, sourcing pit bulls from unscreened dog dealers, and not providing them with veterinary care or training all increase risks to your citizens.”
- How is a dog who is not in the community at all posing any risk to anyone?
Aurora will now have a “tiered system,” which allows owners of dangerous dogs, including pit bulls, multiple chances to keep them, no matter what menace the dogs present.
A dog may be designated “aggressive” if the dog approaches “any person or other animal in an apparent attitude of attack” without provocation.
This is carte blanche for a dog owner to contend that a dog is “only playing” if, like many pit bulls, the dog charges with a wagging tail, anticipating the pleasure of inflicting mayhem.
“Provocation,” meanwhile, can be interpreted to be any sort of self-protective response.
Aurora will now consider a dog to be “potentially dangerous” if the dog has actually bitten a human or injured a dog or cat, though the injury to the victim demonstrates actual harm, not just “potential” risk.
“One free bite” replaced by five all-out maulings
A municipal judge will have to rule that a dog is “aggressive” or “potentially dangerous” before the owner will be required to keep the dog muzzled when at large and to have the dog trained. Even if such restrictions are imposed, they will apply for only two years.
This, in effect, replaces the “one free bite” rule which prevailed in dangerous dog ordinances before the introduction of pit bull bans with a rule that allows a dog to inflict as many as five all-out maulings within an average canine lifespan, even if all the penalties are applied.
Unclear is whether Aurora will mandate euthanasia now, even after a dog kills someone.
Said dissenting Aurora city council member Marsha Berzins to the four council members who repealed the ban, “When a horrible accident happens, just remember that you voted to have them back in the city.”
New Hope Rescue director facing multiple charges
In Colorado Springs, meanwhile, just an hour south of Aurora, New Hope Rescue Inc. director Joann Roof “is facing felony animal cruelty charges,” Chelsea Brentzel of KRDO reported, also on January 11, 2021.
“Court records show Roof was charged with animal cruelty, neglect, or mistreatment on August 23, 2020,” Brentzel continued.
“El Paso County court records show Roof was charged with nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in 2014. Court records show she accepted a guilty plea without admitting guilt in the case and was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation and nearly $4,000 in fines.”
In 2015, Brentzel added, “Roof pleaded guilty,” in Pueblo, Colorado, “and then withdrew her plea after being charged with having a dangerous dog that caused death to another animal. Court records indicate she paid over $400 in restitution and court fees in that case that was eventually dismissed.”
As of January 14, 2021, ANIMALS 24-7 found, nineteen of the 22 dogs offered for adoption on the New Hope Rescue Inc. web site were either pit bulls or pit mixes.
Maggie’s House Rescue operator identified in “dine-and-dash” attack on child
In Houston, a major source of “rescued” pit bulls delivered into the Denver area for adoption, Cleveratta Gordon-Waldroup and other witnesses on January 10, 2021 identified Maggie’s House Rescue owner Jennifer Romano as the woman whose pit bull, wearing a “service dog” vest, attacked her three-year-old daughter Ronin Waldroup at a local restaurant called the Loose Caboose.
Ronin Waldroup suffered severe facial injuries. Received prompt plastic surgery, she has a good longterm prognosis.
Romano, meanwhile, and a companion, fled the scene with the pit bull, but were pursued, photographed, and videotaped by several witnesses, including Ronin’s father, James Waldroup.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office told media that a meeting was scheduled with Romano, and that information from the meeting and from the witnesses would be sent to the Houston district attorney to decide if any charges be warranted.
Had Ronin Waldroup been injured by Romano’s car, rather than by her dog, she would at least have been charged with fleeing the scene of an accident.
Priors involved Caesar Millan
A pit bull named Gus, belonging to Romano, was impounded 2013 after attacking trainer Amber Rickles.
Rickles was on May 18, 2015 awarded $1.3 million in damages for the attack. But, Rickles told ANIMALS 24-7, “I have never received a dime of that money, nor will I ever because Jenny Romano can’t and won’t pay.”
Romano meanwhile sent Gus to the Dog Psychology Center in California, operated by celebrity trainer Cesar Millan.
Dog Psychology Center director Jen Woodard told Natalie Stone of the Hollywood Reporter that Romano, after falling behind in payments for retraining Gus, removed Gus “against the strong advice and objection of his trainer.”
Six days later, on September 23, 2014, Gus mauled Florida critical care nurse Alison Bitney at a friend’s home in California. Bitney sued Millan, citing “disfiguring open wounds, deep muscle and tendon lacerations” and bone fractures from the attack.
The case was apparently settled out of court.
$2 million settlement in HSUS state director case
Also within 24 hours of the Aurora pit bull ban repeal, Matthew P. Knox of the Manchester, Connecticut Journal Inquirer reported, the family of pit bull attack fatality Janet D’Aleo, 95, settled a lawsuit against the pit bull owners, Neil and Annie Hornish, for $2 million.
“The Hornishes confirmed that the settlement was reached, and said it was negotiated, and will be paid by their insurance company,” Knox wrote, “even as the company is suing the couple to avoid covering their expenses.”
Annie Hornish is Connecticut state representative for the Humane Society of the U.S.
D’Aleo, who used a walker, had come to the Hornish home on November 6, 2019 to visit Hornish’s mother, Agnes Wosko, 93.
A home health care aide who was present to attend Wosko tried unsuccessfully to drive the pit bull away from D’Aleo with a metal stool.
“Rescue” pit bull was in Hornish home for four months
D’Aleo suffered “massive injuries including flesh, muscle and tendon loss to the lower extremities,” recounted WFSB Eyewitness News in Hartford, Connecticut.
Dexter, the three-year-old pit bull who mauled D’Aleo, was apparently acquired from rescuer Jessica Kaczynski. Having already failed in several previous homes, Dexter had been in the Hornish home for about four months.
Neil and Annie Hornish, who are both lawyers, are according to Knox of the Journal Inquirer preparing to appeal yet again against a December 2020 “final” order by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture that Dexter be euthanized, upholding an order “originally issued by Suffield’s animal control officer in the days after the attack,” Knox wrote.