Supersized pit bull variant bred to kill
BALDY MESA, California––Soon Han, 80, picked wind-swept and barren Baldy Mesa as her hill to live on.
Having lived through World War II and the Korean War, Soon Han was out for her morning walk at about 11:00 a.m. on October 7, 2022 when two Dogo Argentinos running at large made Baldy Rock her hill to die on.
About nine minutes later, the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station reported, deputies summoned to the scene found Soon Han “unresponsive” at the junction of dry, dusty Vinton Street and Mesa Road.
“Pronounced deceased at the scene”
Soon Han “suffered major injuries during the attack and was pronounced deceased at the scene,” the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Station said.
“The dog owner was located and is cooperating with the investigation. San Bernardino County Animal Control responded to the location and took custody of the dogs,” who “will be held until the investigation is complete and a vicious dog hearing takes place,” the Victor Valley Sheriff’s Office concluded.
Little information about Soon Han was immediately available. Her name, of apparent Korean origin, can be translated into English from Korean characters at least 14 other ways, and many other people using those names live in Southern California.
Inbred supersized pit bull variant
There is also little information immediately available about the specific Dogo Argentinos who killed Soon Han, except that at least one neighbor previously complained about the Dogos running at large, and a breeder of large dogs is believed to be active in the Baldy Mesa neighborhood.
But considerable information is available about the Dogo Argentino breed, which despite having won “breed” recognition from various kennel clubs, is really just another inbred supersized mutt variant of pit bull, comparable to the Presa Canario, Fila Brasiliero, and Cane Corso.
(See Was Gladys the killer Cane Corso witness to a previous human death? and Cane Corso: A pit bull by any other name.)
Mutt with a pedigree
The major difference between a Dogo Argentino and other inbred supersized mutt variants of pit bull is that while the origins of most fighting dog lines are murky, ardent hunters Antonio Nores Martinez and his brother Augustin claimed all their lives to have originated the Dogo Argentino and shared their breeding formula––up to a point. They did conceal the exact crosses that went into the Dogo Argentino.
The Martinez breeding project began either in 1925 according to some accounts, 1928 in the generally accepted version.
Either way, both Antonio and Augustin Martinez were the privileged sons of an affluent medical doctor, with the means to engage in excessive self-indulgence, including in multiple “blood sports.”
Fighting & hunting
Their Dogo Argentino was at first “generally considered a dog for fighting,” according to the American Kennel Club history of the breed, but the brothers soon used their dogs as well to hunt down and tear apart whatever “game” they could find: wild boars, peccaries, pumas, and apparently the now endangered Argentinian wolf, among other species.
Antonio Nores Martinez, 1907-1956, also became a medical doctor, and a noted Argentinian fascist, a matter typically left out of Dogo Argentino breed histories.
Dying as he had lived, Antonio Nores Martinez was killed by a robber in 1956, or at least somehow murdered (accounts again differ) while hunting birds.
“Fighting Dog of Cordoba”
The foundation stock for the Dogo Argentino, according to the American Kennel Club, included “Great Dane, Boxer, Spanish Mastiff, Old English Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Great Pyrenees, Pointer, Irish Wolfhound and Dogue de Bordeaux.”
Two among that list are generally recognized as pit bulls. Only pointer and Irish wolfhound have no record of killing people within recent decades.
The American Kennel Club list omits the “Fighting Dog of Cordoba” from the list cited to media by breeder Raul Zeballos, when he brought the first six Dogo Argentinos from the Martinez line to the U.S. in October 1970.
Descendant of dogs who stormed Peru
The “Fighting Dog of Cordoba,” purportedly extinct but likely leaving considerable genetic traces of itself, was a direct descendant of the Spanish war dogs who helped to subjugate Peru in 1532-1533, brought to the future site of Cordoba, Argentina in 1870 by Spanish troops commanded by Peruvian war veteran Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera.
Cabrera had traveled on, and indeed had been executed for alleged insubordination to the viceroy in 1574, before the “Fighting Dog of Cordoba” instilled sufficient terror in the resident Native Americans, called Comechingones, to enable the Spanish survivors to establish a permanent settlement.
Regardless of whether Antonio and Augustin Nores Martinez actually had authentic descendants of the “Fighting Dog of Cordoba” to throw into their murderous mix, there seems to be no doubt that their goal was to resurrect the “Fighting Dog of Cordoba.”
Evidently they succeeded. Only pit bulls appear to have been banned for violent behavior in more nations than the Dogo Argentino, included in the United Kingdom’s Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, banned in Spain in 1999, in Catalan since 2002, in Denmark in 2010, and in the Turks & Caicos islands since 2014.
As there were still relatively few Dogo Argentinos in the U.S., they rarely came to public notice before a Dogo named Bones was identified by New York City police as an accessory who on October 13, 2011 allegedly helped to hold David Shahda, 47, while Shaun Dyer, 49, beat Shadha to death with a metal pipe in their Upper East Side apartment.
Narrated longtime PETA staff member Alisa Marie Mullins, “After Bones languished for months in a cage as a result of legal wrangling [over what would be done with him], the Lexus Project gained custody of him and shunted him off to a so-called rehabber in Toledo, Ohio. Less than two years later, Bones was dead.
“The rehabber claimed that Bones had been ‘stolen’ while she was attending a funeral,” Mullins summarized. “However, nine months later, members of the Lexus Project, acting on a tip, discovered Bones’ remains buried in the woman’s back yard. The group believes that he had become ill and had been denied veterinary care, eventually starving to death.”
(See Alisa Marie Mullins: longtime behind-the-scenes voice of PETA 59.)
Dogo Argentino bit news anchor who tried to kiss him
In Denver, a Dogo Argentino in February 2012 bit 9NEWS morning anchor Kelly Dyer when she tried to kiss the dog live on the air.
Though the Dogo Argentino displays “the majority of physical traits” recognized as “distinguishing characteristics” of a pit bull, as specified by the pit bull ban in effect in Denver from 1989 to 2020, former Denver animal control chief Doug L. Kelley refused to take action against the owners and handlers of the Dogo.
The consequences of allowing Dogo Argentino proliferation on top of pit bull proliferation began to become clear in January 2015.
Police in Cottonwood, Alabama, impounded 65 allegedly neglected dogs, mostly Dogo Argentinos, from Jerome Wesley Hughes, then 49.
Hughes was initially believed by law enforcement to have been involved in hog/dog fighting, illegal in Alabama since 2004, but he denied the allegation, and was not charged with hog/dog fighting.
After years of legal maneuvering, Hughes was at last tried on ten cruelty counts in March 2018. Convicted on nine counts, Hughes was in May 2018 sentenced on seven counts, and was ordered to serve a year in jail.
The Dogo Argentinos were eventually surrendered to the Town of Cottonwood for rehoming.
Dogo Argentino breeder killed
Dogo Argentino breeder Jenna Sutphin, 28, of Huntingtown, Maryland, on June 28, 2018 became the first U.S. fatality on record inflicted by a Dogo, in an attack witnessed by a truck driver and a state trooper who came to Sutphin’s aid.
Sutphin raised and sold Dogo Argentinos in partnership with her fiance, Jason Hammer, a dog handler for the Prince George County Correctional Center.
The next two reported fatalities from Dogo Argentinos occurred in Argentina, relatively close to their origin. The newspaper Diario Norte in November 2020 mentioned that a Dogo Argentino kept as a family pet killed a two-year-old girl in Ensenada, a Buenos Aires suburb.
Only Canadian dog attack death of 2021
Three months later, on February 5, 2021, in the city of Rivadavia, Mendoza province, Natalia Florencia Mendoza Peirano, 24, crowned “Queen of the Trees” in a 2017 beauty pageant, thought her 19-month-old daughter Micaela Rufina Mendoza would be safe in the temporary care of her parents and sister.
Unfortunately, what police called “a momentary lapse of care” allowed the little girl to slip outside into a patio. The family Dogo Argentino then tore her throat out.
The most recent fatality attributed to Dogo Argentinos was the only reported dog attack death in Canada during 2021. Three Dogo Argentinos, also identified by some sources as pit bulls, on April 2, 2021 killed Megan Fisher, 17, a Chippewa resident of Middlesex, Ontario, at a friend’s house.
Jamaka Petzak says
Along with many other questionable enterprises, the breeding of dangerous dogs is a popular pastime in the Mojave. And during my time there, I was aware of many dogs running loose. Guns, drugs, and dangerous dogs profilerate in what is a beautiful environment populated by a fair number of very questionable characters.
Sharing with gratitude.