Highly reactive unstable dogs, multiplied by highly reactive unstable situations & people = prescription for disaster
MIAMI, Florida––A week of sensational crimes with pit bulls in the immediate background in October 2021 capped a 30-day stretch including seven dog attack fatalities, five of them involving a total of seven pit bulls.
Each incident illustrated the multiplier effect of combining dangerously unstable dogs with dangerously unstable situations and/or individuals.
Five Americans suffered fatal dog attacks between the September 21, 2021 death of Frank Jerome Cobb, 70, whose demise ANIMALS 24-7 examined in Six pit bull-related deaths linked to “The Wickedest City in America”, and the October 20, 2021 alleged killing of James Mcneelis, 7, by a purported sheltie/corgi mix in Kiefer, Oklahoma, investigated in James Mcneelis: flukiest fatal dog attack ever, or killed by a dog unknown?
The other five victims included Alex Binyam Abraha, 21; Amber Dawn Labelle, 42; Ka’Vay Louis-Calderon, 16 months; Bentley Parker, six months; and Kathleen Bertram, 69.
Four of those five were, like Cobb, killed by pit bulls. Parker was reportedly killed by a St. Bernard, a mastiff variant known for snappish temperament, albeit not for killing people.
Alleged burglar died on doorstep
Alex Binyam Abraha, an alleged burglar who had reportedly just been released after spending a week in jail, died alone on the morning of September 24, 2021, on the porch of a home in a rural area near Newnan, Georgia.
Police believe Abraha broke into the home, was fatally mauled by the resident’s two pit bulls, and then escaped out the front door before bleeding to death.
The resident, who was away, found Abraha’s body upon returning home later in the morning.
Members of Abraha’s family have alleged on social media that the resident was involved with illegal drugs, had also been in jail the night preceding Abraha’s death, and that the homeowner is a police officer.
Amber Dawn Labelle: killed by pit bull with history
Amber Dawn Labelle was killed in front of her two children, ages 8 and 5, by a pit bull brought to her home in Myrtle Point, Oregon, on September 24, 2021 by a new boyfriend, Jeremy Robertson.
Robertson was taking care of the pit bull for another woman, Sara Nicholes, of Springfield, Oregon, 126 miles north.
“Officials believe the dog had attacked two children in Springfield in July,” reported Chelsea Hunt and Grace Smith of KDZI television in Eugene, Oregon.
Ka’Vay Louis-Calderon: it wasn’t her argument
Ka’Vay Louis-Calderon, according to Jack Shea of WJW in Akron, Ohio, was killed in her Akron home on October 3, 2021 by two pit bulls, one of whom had already been declared vicious for having mauled a mail carrier during the summer of 2021.
Ka’Vay Louis-Calderon was reportedly in care of her uncle, 20, who was distracted when a female acquaintance, also 20, came to the house and became involved in a heated argument with the uncle on the front porch of the home.
Bentley Parker’s mother, Tiffany Parker, left him in care of his grandmother in Kodak, Tennessee on October 18, 2021, while moving into a house a block away. The grandmother’s St. Bernard killed the boy and injured the grandmother when she tried to help him.
Kathleen Bertram, of Matthews, Indiana, on October 19, 2021 was holding her three-year-old granddaughter in a chair when she fell, the granddaughter screamed, and the family pit bull tore Bertram’s throat open, the Grant County coroner’s office found.
Nature vs. nurture
Each of the seven deaths raised, for social media commentators, the usual nature-versus-nurture debate about whether fatal and disfiguring dog attacks result most from the nature of the dogs involved, or how the dogs are raised.
Only one of the deaths, that of Alex Binyam Abraha, could be considered to have been provoked in any normal sense of the word.
Neither Frank Cobb, nor any of the four dead children, nor either Amber Dawn Labelle or Kathleen Bertram, could fairly be said to have done anything that is not a routine part of human and dog existence: Cobb went for a walk around his block, Labelle opened a bedroom door behind which was a pit bull whose history she did not know, Bertram fell out of a chair; and the four children were merely present when family dogs detonated.
Ka’Vay Louis-Calderon not only had nothing to do with the argument involving her uncle, but was not even in the same part of the house.
Ka’Vay Louis-Calderon was, however, left alone with a pit bull whose vicious tendencies were already on public record.
All seven dog attack victims, including Alex Binyam Abraha, might be said to have died due to owner irresponsibility.
Breaking-and-entering, in Abraha’s case, is not punishable by the death penalty in any U.S. state or developed nation. While killing an intruder into an occupied home would be legal anywhere, rigging up a lethal booby-trap for an intruder in an unoccupied home would in itself be a criminal act.
In the other cases, Cobb was killed by a pit bull running at large; LaBelle was killed by a pit bull with concealed bite history who was far from under the owner’s control; and allowing either a pit bull or any sort of mastiff to be around a small child, or allowing a small child to be with any dog unsupervised, might be considered inherently irresponsible, but only if one resoundingly rejects the “nanny dog” myth much amplified by pit bull advocates.
What each of the seven dog attack deaths occurring between September 21 and October 20, 2021 might most have illustrated is the multiplier effect of combining pit bulls in particular with irresponsible behavior.
Any number of other dogs around the U.S. during the 30 days in question were subject to the same stresses that led to the seven deaths, but only two non-pit bulls responded in a lethal manner, whereas seven pit bulls did.
This in turn leads to asking whether pit bull owners, in particular, are predisposed to risk-taking and criminal behavior.
Gunfight in West Park, Florida
Dogs were in the immediate background in connection with four sensational crimes committed during the fourth week of October 2021. Any sort of dog might have been involved, but reality is that pit bulls in each case were the alleged perpetrators’ choice of dog.
Three 16-year-olds initiated the first of the crimes on the evening of October 20, 2021 in West Park, Florida, when they and a teenaged accomplice believed to be still at large attempted to steal two micro-bully pit bull puppies at gunpoint from two female breeders.
Most of the crime was captured by surveillance video.
A fight ensued. The three suspects fled with the two puppies, firing shots back at the house as they ran to their car. One of the women followed, spraying at least 11 shots toward the suspects and out into the neighborhood from a semi-automatic rifle.
Two of the suspects were arrested and charged soon afterward. The woman will not be charged, police said, because her shooting was legal, random as it appeared to be, under the Florida “stand your ground” law.
Shotgunned neighbor over cat tracks
The next morning, October 21, 2021, Clifton Anthony Bliss Jr., 58, an inholder in the Ocala National Forest of central Florida, confronted neighbor James Arland Taylor, 41, with shotgun in hand, claiming Taylor’s cat had wandered on his property.
Bliss, whose Facebook page indicates he owns or has owned multiple pit bulls, threatened to shoot the cat. Taylor asked him not to, according to Marion County sheriff’s deputies. Bliss then shot Taylor in the chest. Bliss was charged with second degree homicide.
“Bliss was known as a troublemaker in his neighborhood,” reported Peter Aitken of Fox News. “Neighbors referred to bliss as a ‘hothead’ who would often argue with neighbors, often while armed. He often argued about pets in the neighborhood.”
Posted pit bull attack to Snapchat
In Schenectady, New York, City Court Judge Teneka Frost on October 27, 2021 arraigned Dwayne Henderson, 25, Danny Harrell, 19, and Dieago Harrell, 18, with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping, and multiple counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance.
The three men “face felony charges of beating up a man and then unleashing ‘a pit bull as a weapon to maul’ him while holding him captive for more than 12 hours inside an apartment — a torture session that left the victim hospitalized in critical condition, according to court documents,” recounted Paul Nelson of the Albany Times-Union.
“The criminal complaint indicates that police discovered fentanyl and cocaine, with some of the drugs ‘packaged in a manner that it is normally packaged for sale’,” Nelson continued.
The victim was apparently rescued at dawn after another law enforcement agency “downstate” forwarded to Schenectady police a video of the torture session allegedly posted by one of the participants to Snapchat, a mobile messaging application.
Also on October 27, 2021, Guntersville City, Alabama prosecutor Kelsey Yoste disclosed that a pit bull who was due for a euthanasia hearing, after attacking a woman, had been stolen from the Marshall County Animal Shelter, after someone cut part of the fence.
Study found pit bull owners had troubled legal history
The view that pit bulls get into trouble not only because of their own highly reactive nature but because the wrong people are attracted to them gained currency on November 16, 2006 when a peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence revealed that among a sampling of 355 people who keep pet dogs, all who kept pit bulls turned out to have had trouble with the law.
Thirty percent of the people in the sampling who had been cited at least once for failing to license a pit bull were found to have had at least five criminal convictions or traffic citations.
By contrast, only 1% of the people who keep dogs with a low risk of being involved
in an attack legally defined by Ohio municipal ordinances as “vicious” had five or more convictions or traffic citations, the researchers found.
“A ‘vicious dog’ under Ohio law,” at the time, “meant a dog that without provocation, has
killed or caused serious injury to any person, has killed another dog, or belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull,” the study authors explained.
No balancing effect from normal owners
Because the definition of “vicious” then in effect presumed that any attack by a pit bull is high risk, regardless of the actual level of damage done, the terms of the study were stacked against finding a link between keeping pit bulls and having a history of lawbreaking, if their keepers were little different from keepers of other kinds of dogs. Ordinary citizens who keep pit bulls would have balanced and neutralized the influence of the lawbreakers.
Instead, explained lead study author Jaclyn Barnes of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, “Owners of vicious dogs who have been cited for failing to register a dog (or) failing to keep a dog confined on the premises … are more than nine times more likely to have been convicted for a crime involving children, three times more likely to have been convicted of domestic violence … and nearly eight times more likely to be charged with drug (crimes) than owners of low-risk licensed dogs.”
Co-authors included Frank W. Putnam of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; Barbara W. Boat of the University of Cincinnati, an investigator of animal/human relationships who had often spoken at humane conferences; and Harold Dates and Andrew Mahlman of the Cincinnati SPCA.
Those findings were later reinforced by two other studies, “Vicious Dogs: The Antisocial Behaviors and Psychological Characteristics of Owners,” by Laurie Ragatz, William Fremouw, Tracy Thomas, and Katrina McCoy, published in the May 2009 edition of the Journal of Forensic Sciences; and “Vicious Dogs Part 2: Criminal Thinking, Callousness, and Personality Styles of Their Owners,” by Allison M. Schenk, Laurie L. Ragatz,, and William J. Fremouw, published in the January 2012 edition of the Journal of Forensic Science.