Ignoring pit bull mayhem does not make it go away
What happens when ANIMALS 24-7 goes ten days without publishing a new dog attack death or maiming account?
Unfortunately, the multinational failures of the so-called humane community to recognize and effectively address dog attack mayhem do not stop.
The body count rises, even if temporarily unreported here, with two more human fatalities in the U.S., two more in the United Kingdom, and three near-fatalities in South Africa just coming to light.
Some of the dog attacks of which ANIMALS 24-7 is newly aware actually occurred a few more than ten days ago.
Information obfuscated & delayed
Offsetting that, we may not find out about dog attacks occurring today, yesterday, and the day before until word of them percolates through the web to mass media tomorrow and the next day.
Finding out who the victims are and which dogs killed or disfigured them increasingly often takes longer than just learning that the attacks have occurred.
Over the 40-plus years that ANIMALS 24-7 has logged dog attack fatalities and disfigurements, and especially in recent years, police, animal control agencies, and media have become conspicuously more reluctant to identify a pit bull as a pit bull, and to disclose photographs of the dogs involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks to permit the public to make identifications, even in some of the most obvious cases.
How “pit bull” became “mixed breed”
The ”politically correct” term for a pit bull has become “mixed breed,” through the incessant public relations efforts of organized pit bull advocacy, represented by the American Humane Association, American SPCA, Animal Farm Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Society of the U.S., Maddie’s Fund, and an alphabet soup of others.
Pit bulls have become “mixed breed” dogs not because most observers have any doubt as to what a pit bull is when they see one, as the courts in many states established decades ago, but because animal shelters in the U.S., United Kingdom, and South Africa long since became glutted with temperamentally unstable pit bulls whom no one of sound mind would adopt.
Eventually the notion spread throughout the alleged humane community that renaming pit bulls would somehow make an unsafe dog more appealing to prospective adopters.
“St. Francis terriers” & “New Yorkies”
The San Francisco SPCA tried calling pit bulls “St. Francis terriers” in 1996, with catastrophic results for the cats several newly rehomed pit bulls killed during the next few days.
The New York City Center for Animal Care & Control tried to call pit bulls “New Yorkies” several years later, but was promptly forced to cease and desist by the threat of lawsuit from Yorkshire terrier fanciers.
Then someone realized that since pit bulls are a category of dog historically defined by what they do, more than by the details of what they look like, and since the documented pedigree of every fighting dog for which a pedigree exists includes a mixture of bloodlines to accentuate size, strength, reactivity, plus the willingness to fight to the death without relent, pit bulls could be described and sold as “mixed breeds” without fear of legal contradiction.
How the “Heinz 57” vanished
Historically a “mixed breed” was a smallish mutt, a street dog or a “Heinz 57” product of accidental breeding in suburban yards.
But coinciding with the success of selling dog owners on spay/neuter, authentic “mixed breed” dogs of the traditional sort largely disappeared from much of the U.S. decades ago.
Since there never was a “mixed breed” club among the kennel clubs with the funding and clout to sue dog adoption agencies for misappropriating the “mixed breed” name to sell maulers, the U.S. animal sheltering and rescue communities took to promoting pit bulls as “mixed breeds” like a pit bull takes out after a beagle.
The “Staffordshire” fiction
Mislabeling pit bulls as “mixed breed” dogs soon spread to the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom already had a long history of calling pit bulls “Staffordshire terriers” to evade the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 ban on possession of “American pit bull terriers,” never mind that the so-called “Staffordshire terrier” first appeared in the United Kingdom under that name when exported to England by American pit bull terrier breeder John P. Colby.
Prior to that, NewspaperArchive documents, the word “Staffordshire” had never been used to describe a dog of any sort.
More recently, describing pit bulls as “mixed breed” dogs reached South Africa, roughly coinciding with South Africa overtaking the U.S. and United Kingdom for having the highest ratio of pit bull attack deaths to human population of any nation in the world, even though the numbers of pit bull attack deaths in the U.S. and United Kingdom have also soared to unprecedented heights.
Sacrificing to the devil
Of course the “mixed breed” scam is far from the only ploy used by pit bull advocates to try to disguise pit bull mayhem.
Calling pit bulls “mixed breeds,” indeed, is just a recent variant on a much older tactic having much in common with Satanism, or devil worship.
These terms have historically meant mainly that the “Satanists” or “devil-worshippers” sacrifice animals––or humans––to a deity differing from that of the majority culture.
Yet, while denying that the deity defined by one’s own culture as “Satan” or the devil has authentic authority over human affairs, most people in most cultures have tended to fear that maybe “Satan” or the devil can somehow harm them.
Names are legion
“Speak of the devil and he appears,” many humans have believed for millennia.
Therefore the names invented to describe the devil without actually naming him long since became legion: besides Satan, also Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Prince of Darkness, Old Scratch, and enough others to fill the Devil’s Dictionary, if author Ambrose Bierce had not chosen to continuously fill it with other information from 1881 to 1906.
One of those scraps of information is the Devil’s Dictionary definition of “dog” as “A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world’s worship. This Divine Being in some of his smaller and silkier incarnations takes, in the affection of Woman, the place to which there is no human male aspirant. The Dog is a survival – an anachronism.”
(Grammarians have wondered for more than 120 years whether Bierce meant “survival” or “survivor.” Bierce himself left no clue.)
Operating under the delusion that a pit bull is not a pit bull by any other name, and is more marketable under other brands, fanciers have advanced nominal variants including, besides those mentioned above, the Ambull, American bulldog, American bully, Bully XL, Cane Corso, Cuban bloodhound, Dogo Argentino, Presa Canario, ad infinitum, some of which have greater or lesser infusions of terrier, mastiff, and even, one might suspect, hippopotamus in their gene pools, without actually being behaviorally anything other than a pit bull.
(No, a pit bull cannot actually cross with a hippopotamus in the normal, natural course of events. But in view of recent advances in unnatural genetic manipulation, some funded by dogfighters and pit bull fanciers, this might not be impossible in a laboratory setting.)
Five dogs identified & three “mixed breeds”
To be sure, not every recent dog attack victim was necessarily a pit bull victim.
Dog-walker Natasha Johnson, 28, of London, England, was walking eight dogs on leashes at one time on January 12, 2023 at Gravelly Hill, Caterham, Surrey, when she apparently lost control of the pack, suffering a torn jugular vein.
The eight dogs have been identified as two dachshunds, a cockapoo, a collie, a Leonberger named Shiva who appeared in a 2017 BBC broadcast about bad puppy behavior, and several “mixed breeds.”
Since more than two-thirds of all dog attack fatalities are inflicted by pit bulls, it is a reasonable bet that one or more of the three “mixed breeds” involved in killing Johnson were pit bulls of one sort or another.
Newly adopted “American bulldog” kills child
Alice Stones, 4, of Broadlands, Netherfield, Milton Keynes, England, was killed on January 31, 2023 “by what is claimed to be an American bulldog that the family got from a rescue center,” the Daily Mail reported, adding that “the family only had the dog a matter of weeks” before the fatal attack.
Another source alleged to the Daily Mail that the killer dog was a pit bull crossed with husky, another breed notoriously dangerous around children.
“Thames Valley Police have so far refused to identify the breed,” the Daily Mail said.
What the Daily Mail did not mention is whether there is even the slightest chance that the rescue center, adoption counsellor, behaviorist, and trainer involved in placing this pit bull mix in the home with Alicia Stones and her single mother will be brought to justice for what might reasonably be considered negligent homicide, especially since the pit mix was significantly bigger than Stones.
Look at the broken fence & whistle
Meanwhile back in the U.S, a thus far unnamed 69-year-old disabled man who reportedly lived on the 5500 block of Sheraton Oaks Drive in Houston, Texas, on February 1, 2023 reportedly heard two “mixed breed” dogs mauling his poodle in his yard, after breaking through a fence from his neighbor’s yard. The man tried to rescue his poodle and was killed himself.
Police shot one of the two attacking dogs while trying to recover the victim’s remains. The other attacking dog was reportedly euthanized.
But the police in Houston, a stronghold of pit bull advocacy, declined to identify the breeds of the attacking dogs.
What sort of “mixed breed” dog accounts for more than 90% of all dogs shot by police in the line of duty, more than 80% of all dog attack deaths of other dogs, and more than two-thirds of human fatalities due to dog attack?
Veterinarians not trained to judge dog shows
“A veterinarian will determine the breeds of the dogs,” KHOU television news reported.
What qualifies a veterinarian to identify a dog breed any more accurately than anyone else knowledgeable about dogs?
Not a thing. Dog breed identification is not normally a part of veterinary training.
Rather, veterinary schools mostly presume that anyone studying companion animal medicine knows the basic dog breed categories, and is there to study surgery, anatomy, and the prescription of medications, not to prepare to judge dog shows according to minutely detailed breed standards.
Four “mixed breed” dogs & “German shepherd mix”
Just a day later, on February 2, 2023, 64-year-old Stanley Hartt went for an evening walk near his home in Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Hartt “was attacked by a pack of five dogs, all mixed breeds,” according to the Quay County Sheriff’s Office.
The five “mixed breed” dogs killed Hartt, the third of the four U.S. dog attack fatalities thus far into 2023 to be killed while minding his or her own business outdoors after dark.
(See 2nd fatal dog attack of 2023, like the first, kills child out past sunset.)
The Quay County Sheriff’s Office claimed to have shot one of the dogs who killed Hartt, impounding the other four.
The Quay County Sheriff’s Office stipulated that one of the five “mixed breed” dogs was part German shepherd. Why could this dog be partially identified and not the rest?
(Note that Tucumcari may be best known for originating “wild cow milking,” a rodeo event bearing no relationship to anything ever actually done on ranches, recently banned in Alameda County, California. See Rodeo “wild cow milking”: living legacy of rich alleged child molester.)
South African pit bull mayhem continues
South African authorities and media are as yet less reluctant to call a pit bull a pit bull, despite the obfuscation advanced by pit bull advocacy since firefighter Sizwe Kupelo in December 2022 collected 138,000 signatures on a petition seeking a national pit bull ban.
Of 102 dogs involved in fatal attacks in South Africa since 2004, 75 have been pit bulls.
While the South African government has so far not issued any response to Sizwe Kupelo’s petition, pit bulls themselves are frequent victims.
Bloemfontein SPCA inspectors on February 1, 2023 rescued a pit bull who had reportedly been kept locked in a car for weeks by an owner who claimed he was afraid the pit bull would escape from his yard and attack someone.
The following day five boys, ages 10 to 13, burned a pit bull alive in Hanover Park, near Cape Town––the third such incident in two months, but the first not known to have immediately followed a fatal or disfiguring attack on a child.
There have been no further fatal pit bull attacks reported in South Africa since retired soccer star Philemon Mulala on January 7, 2023 became the seventh victim in 52 days.
(See Soccer hero Philemon Mulala is latest South African pit bull victim.)
But 44-year-old Lazarus Appalsamy and Stanley Subbiah, 57, who ran to help him, were on January 15, 2023 mauled by two pit bulls kept by neighbor Michelle Mahomed in Trenance Park near Verulam.
No action by police after two previous attacks
Both men were hospitalized in critical condition, Reaction Unit South Africa spokesperson Prem Balram told the IOL news agency.
Appalsamy was probably permanently blinded, IOL reporters Charlene Somduth and Tamasha Khanyi mentioned in a January 20, 2023 follow-up.
The pit bulls, who were euthanized, previously mauled a male neighbor in 2021 and a 73-year-old woman in 2022, Somduth and Khanyi learned.
Both previous victims filed police reports, they said, but no action was taken by the police in response.
Five days later, on January 19, 2023, gardener Ronel Lewis, 26, a pregnant mother of four, lost her right ear and had the flesh torn off of most of her head by a pit bull and two Rottweiler mixes in Penhill, near Capetown.
The dogs’ owner reportedly told the Weekend Argus that the dogs were “protecting him during the incident after the woman allegedly jumped on him in fear when they began their attack.”
I don’t understand why people are not held accountable for these killings and maulings. They are putting the public at risk by having these dogs.
Jamaka Petzak says
BSL. Period. As long as these dangerous dogs exist, innocent lives will end and be maimed for life. As long as these dangerous dogs are prioritized over the safety of everyone else, the litany and the body count will continue. It’s entirely senseless, unjustifiable, and lacking in compassion and sanity. And it’s up to us to act, or not.
Sharing with gratitude, and all the usual.
Mary Finelli says
Yes, pit bulls can be very dangerous but let’s not demonize them. They are victims, too.
Let’s put the blame where it belongs: on humans who have bred them and those who continue to mistreat them.
Merritt Clifton says
Putting the blame where it belongs includes, even more than breeders, dogfighters, and drug dealers, the American Humane Association, American SPCA, Animal Farm Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Society of the U.S., Maddie’s Fund, and the alphabet soup of other alleged humane societies mentioned in the article. In their zeal to rehome pit bulls & repeal breed-specific legislation, these organizations have given the pit bull breeding industry a multi-faceted promotional campaign over the past 20 years, the likes of which has never been waged on behalf of any other animal. Demand for pit bulls manufactured by the named organizations & others, far from emptying animal shelters of the pit bull surplus, has stimulated pit bull breeding, as unwitting people purchase pit bull puppies instead of taking chances on adult “used dogs” of uncertain background. The net result is that more pit bulls are filling shelters now than ever, just as many are being euthanized, mostly for behavioral reasons, and pit bulls are killing around four times as many people and other animals per year as they were circa 2000; 40 times more per year than circa 1960. The one major national animal advocacy organization which has not actively contributed to this disaster is the one still headed by someone who was a street-level animal control officer before the other national organizations dived headlong into pit bull promotion: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, founded in 1981 by Ingrid Newkirk. ANIMALS 24-7 has had many differences with Newkirk over the years, but on this point she has held the high ground over all rivals.
Bruce Henderson says
Using “mistreatment” or “abuse” as an excuse or justification for maulings is a deliberate tactic to attribute maulings to the owner – and not to the breed, which is the real cause.
Many dogs are “mistreated” in one way or another. Unlike pits the vast majority of them do not go on to kill other animals or humans.
Mary Finelli says
The vast majority of pit bulls “do not go on to kill other animals or humans,” but some members of other breeds do.
Mistreatment/abuse can very much contribute to aggressiveness in dogs.
The issue with pit bulls is that they are so amazingly strong and they can be unwaveringly determined. Many if not most of them are very nice dogs, though.
Merritt Clifton says
Mary Finelli is grossly factually incorrect in asserting that “The vast majority of pit bulls do not go on to kill other animals or humans, but some members of other breeds do.” In any given recent year, approximately one pit bull in 180 kills or disfigures a human being, or kills another pet or domestic animal. Amortized over an average 10-year lifespan, this would be one pit bull in 18, but since the average pit bull lifespan is barely three years, due to exceptionally high mortality, it is actually more like one pit bull in three, and since at any given time about a third of all pit bulls are still puppies, amounts to one adult pit bull in two.
No other dog breed has even remotely as great a likelihood of harming other animals and humans.
Robin Pigeon says
In Excelsior Springs, Missouri last year, a fedex driver was killed by a “mastiff mix” and a “German Sheperd mix.” What is interesting to note is the investigating sheriff adopted a pit bull puppy from a Missouri fight bust and calls it a “mastiff mix.” No pictures of the murdering dogs were provided and the city council had just repealed its BSL (even though an off leash American Bulldog had attacked a policeman and gotten shot and killed just that last year right before the repeal).
The media and law enforcement both seem to be in on this obfuscation of pit type breeds to the detriment of public safety.
Merritt Clifton says
ANIMALS 24-7 covered the Excelsior Springs dog attack death here: Record 58 dead from dog attacks in 2022 with two months to go, and here: Drivers Jamie Burnam & Pam Rock, killed by dogs, exemplify rising trend.
M Leybra says
Am so appreciative of all your extensively researched articles which are a cut above & beyond other writings on same subjects, I read anywhere else. And ‘Animals 24/7’ is the perfect name for the main subject I read about. Cant help wondering about the obsessive focus on domestic dogs, specifically pit bull breed dogs & the continuous publicized details of every dog attack, not recorded so meticulously anywhere else.
The one thing blatantly missing in these ANIMALS 24-7 accounts, is the ‘animal’s voice’ & fact that pit bulls are a ‘genetically engineered’ species, so to speak, bred from Old English Bulldogs & ‘engineered’ to kill. In fact, the more one reads these ANIMALS 24-7 pit bull articles, the dog is portrayed as some kind of villainess freak. And it’s never ‘clarified’ that it’s a freak of ‘human manipulation.’ Not a freak of nature. Important since all non-human natural-born animals, are born of innocence, not capable of the human concept of evil, which does not exist in ‘their’ world.
If railing against pit bull dogs, don’t we ‘animal people,’ owe it to them to keep reiterating that they are ‘not’ a natural-born animal, but one more ‘designer’ dog, this one designed by Dr Frankenstein to kill? In any case, Nobody is forced to ‘own’ a pit bull & no authorities seem willing to commit to mass genocide of the breed, so people will continue getting hurt or killed & pit bull dogs likewise. As this ‘manmade’ breed continues to be persecuted thru no fault of their own.
In addition to all the minutely detailed, gruesome facts about each pit bull human victim, it would be interesting & educational to read minute details of the English Bulldog & how the Pit Bull breed came to be, etc., etc.. Facts about the whole known history of these dogs & how they became so prolifically popular today.
Merritt Clifton says
M. Leybra, above, is asking for information that ANIMALS 24-7 has detailed many times, to the extent of actually having two entire submenus dedicated to the subject, each accessible from two different front-page locations: “Pit bull data,” at the top of page one, and “The Pit Stop Archive,” halfway down the right column.
Under the heading Pit bulls, history & sociology, the top item currently is “English bulldog”: two dog breeds, one name, & a rising body count. The second item is Pit bulls, greenhouse gases, & poop: the solution is not dilution, also pertaining to pit bull genetics.
A little farther down, the heading Rottweilers, Dobermans, Presa Canarios, Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, Boerboels, Malinois & German shepherds includes detailed histories of how all of these breeds were manufactured, Presa Canarios, Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, and Boerboels specifically as pit bull derivatives.
In addition, 26 articles accessible under other heading describe the role of dogfighter John P. Colby in breeding and promoting pit bulls.
Sixteen articles discuss the evolution of medieval war dogs into the “Cuban bloodhound,” which became the Presa Canario pit bull variant.
And so forth. We actually have not been able to find any article focusing on pit bulls on the ANIMALS 24-7 web site which did not make clear that pit bulls are a manufactured breed type, with no analogy among naturally evolved dogs.