Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pit bulls: A 21st century depiction of the American Pit Bull Terrier

To further the laudable goal of education, I wanted to call attention to an interesting piece by Gary Wilkes, which was published last year, about the history of the APBT (American Pit Bull Terrier) in the USA.

As Colleen Lynn wrote, "It has been over 20 years since a U.S. journalist has presented the pit bull issue in such a compelling and candid way as Wilkes has here. The last was EM Swift who created the 1987 Sports Illustrated cover article, "The Pit Bull: Friend and Killer."  The 2010 Wilkes piece depicts the first accurate U.S. version of pit bulls in the 21st century. Much of its power lies in the author's explanation of the genetic underpinnings of the breed, which cannot be disputed or "trained out" of the breed."

Wilkes, an acclaimed behaviorist, trainer and author with over 30 years experience with dogs, begins the piece by describing the unprovoked pit bull attack on little Charlotte Blevins. This 2008 attack sent shock waves through the heartland of America and three months later, moved the City of Omaha to adopt a breed-specific law. The Wilkes article is 6-pages and covers many areas, including breed-specific laws.

Continue reading the introduction to the Wilkes article here
You can download the article in PDF format here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Overheard in a technical forum

I was reading an online article in a technical forum today where a discussion arose in the comments thread about the reliability of paypal. I found it interesting to see the following comment from a tech guru in Texas:

Using paypal is like owning a pit bull. Sure, it treats you good and seems harmless, (sans a huge appetite for your money in service fees) But one day, for reasons only it understands, it will turn around and bite the cr@p out of you.

Am I the only one who thought that comment was over the edge? Hopefully, after he cools off, he'll apologize to paypal for the comparison.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Abused Chihuahua - Lancaster, Ca

Update 12/10/2011 -

I'm sorry to say that Stevie has been put to sleep. Her adoptive mom, Stefanie Larue, agonized for some time over the decision but ultimately decided that the pain she was suffering did not afford her the quality of life she deserved, and made the painful decision to end her suffering.

From her facebook page: "her time has finally come...there is nothing else that can be done for her. her bones have's not just her legs's her inner bones. "

Finally free of pain:


To friends of Stevie from her step mom:

"To all of those who loved and supported our little Stevie the Survivor…
It is now been one week after having to let my precious Stevie go. Last Saturday, at 4pm, I experienced one of the biggest heart breaks my mind, body and soul has ever felt. It has quietly shaken my internal peace. Have since felt such emptiness in my moments of existence without her and a profound sadness lingers within. I know it was the right decision to make. But it still hurts. SO MUCH!! But I loved you so much that I had to gift you with freedom. Freedom of pain. You hid it well with me until the end. I know it’s because you too wanted to stay here as long as you could to be with me as I felt the same about you. We made a pack. If I had to stay here on this earth, then so did you! We had to survive together!! And we did. For a while. But things change, our bodies change, and they give out on us sometimes. And sometimes, we have done all we can and there is nothing left to do… but to let go. It was the hardest thing to let go of you. Of your body as it lay in my hands and arms. Even after you left to go sleep with the angels. I apologize to the vets for it taking so long for me to actually give you over to them. Your spirit had already gone. I saw it leave. Never witnessed that before but I saw that it was peaceful. But again, it still hurts. SO MUCH!! I would hold you as much as I could while I was gifted with your presence because I knew… I knew it would be some of my last moments to hold you. Especially at night snuggled up watching movies. Beautiful moments embedded in my memory.

I will see you again soon my little Stevie girl. I smile thinking of when I will join you over the rainbow bridge to complete the end of my journey because that is where I want to be. To see your little crooked wiggie tail going in circles when you see me again, to hold you for so long, and this time, never having to let you go. I will see you again soon…

Until then, there is another Stevie the Survivor out there that needs people like us to help rescue them from the shelters. Sadly, there are so many in fact. And it is my continued commitment to rescue another that is need of my sacred love. And I will do in honor of Stevie and all others out there like her… May God bless their unconditional souls.

Thank you again, truly, to those of you who helped rescue Stevie from the shelter, those who transported her to Brent Air Animal hospital from the shelter, all of the vets, especially Dr. Edmonson, and vet techs, especially sweet Kaylan (you were always her favorite) who cared for her and helped her heal quickly. And without the undeniable efforts of my kick ass animal advocate and long time friend Linda Delizza and ever so big hearted Kris Kelly and the Kris Kelly Foundation… I would have never been able to adopt the most amazingly little vibrant creature that deeply enriched my life. Kris Kelly, I am devoted to you for life for choosing me to adopt Stevie. We were meant to be together until her end and I am so grateful you understood why.

Finally, to all of Stevie’s supporters… some of you donated, and donated greatly. And I, more than anyone, thank you so very, very much. Without your generous donations I would not have had the treasured time with Stevie that I had and she, would not have experienced the unconditional love, fun, joy, excitement, play time, and some levels of comfort from the pre-existing pain. And to those of you who supported her by showing her love on her Face book fan page, constantly following her, posting such inspirational and loving thoughts… even just the valuable time you took out of your days and night to check in on her was so appreciated.

The on-line support has been so overwhelming so that is why I decided to write this letter. In hopes of precisely expressing my deepest gratitude to you all along with sharing a bit about what it was like to be blessed to have crossed paths with such a beautiful spirit and soul. Stevie… you are forever cherished."
Rest in peace, sweet girl. Your life was short and hard, but you knew what it was to be loved for the final 6 months of your life.

-- original story below--

On May 25th an injured Chihuahua was brought to the Lancaster animal shelter. On May 26th, a call for help was posted to the Chihuahua Rescue group, with a picture of this terribly abused little girl.

On May 27th The little Chihuahua was rescued by the Kris Kelly foundation. Her new name is Stevie and she is getting help.

Over the Memorial day weekend, Stevie was taken to Brent-Air Animal Hospital for treatment. Images are available here.

6/6 - An update from Dr Schlanger:
Stevie's head wound is healing nicely and responding very well to our daily treatments and bandage changes. Her attitude has significantly improved as she is feeling much better. We are consulting with specialists in order to determine the best way to further diagnose and manage her orthopedic issues.

Update 6/7 - New photos of Stevie at Brent-Air Animal Hospital

Update 6/9 - An update from the doctors...
Testing has revealed that Stevie has an immune mediated disease (erosive polyarthritis) that is causing her joint problems. It is very severe and advanced. Surgery is not an option for Stevie. She will need to be on medication for the rest of her life to try to control this disease and protect her other joints. She will likely also need lifelong physical therapy. Hopefully custom splints can be made so that Stevie is more comfortable when she walks. Her head wound is more than 50% improved but there is no way of telling what caused it. She is still getting daily bandage changes and lots of love. Stevie is most comfortable when being held or laying in a soft padded bed. Once her head wound has healed she will be ready to go to her loving foster home.

This poor baby will always need special care

Update 6/20/2011 - Stevie now has her own facebook page - Stevie the survivor

Moving forward, Stevie's facebook page is the best place to monitor her progress.

Update 6/27/2011  - Stevie has been taken home to live with her new caretaker Stefanie LaRue. Her head wound is healing, but her arthritis related issues are not so easily fixed. There are plans to get her a wheelchair to help her get around. Good luck Stevie! Visit her facebook page to track her progress moving forward.

Final update 8/04/2011 - Stevie is doing well in her new home, is loved and happy, and has some new wheels to help her get around. Her facebook page is kept up to date with her progress, so feel free to visit and comment there.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The story of Rhett

There was a dog who once had a home, but was abandoned by his owners when they faced hard times. He waited for them, and tried to survive. But then he was found, and adopted by a woman who was smitten by this handsome boy. She wanted to give him a forever home. This is her story:

I miss his velvet ears. I have some of his hair in a pretty little silver box.

In the neighborhood where my husband and I live, there is a graveyard nearby. Dogs are sometimes abandoned there, victims of the economy, and of owners who considered them expendable. It breaks my heart to see these dogs discarded like last week’s newspaper. I’ve always loved dogs. My childhood years were filled with happy memories of our Beagles - I loved their musical howls. One of our beagles actually slept on top of her doghouse - just like Snoopy.

We had been looking at rescues, thinking of adopting an older beagle, when I started seeing a beautiful dog in the graveyard. Kind neighbors would bring him food, which he would take warily and run away. One day, I saw him drinking from one of the leaky sprinklers on my front lawn.  He looked at me warily, but with kind, soulful eyes.  He had his drink, and then returned to his vigil at the graveyard, crossing his front legs, sitting like a statue, waiting for an owner who would never return. One day, I brought him out a can of cat food. He let me pet him, and I was smitten. I told my husband how beautiful he was, and he said, “Well, catch him and put him in the garden” - and that’s just what I did.

The vet thought he was a Chow/Lab mix. His hair was short, but thick and luxurious, with a copper-like metallic sheen. He had a teddy bear face, a black tongue and a curly tail. He’d been neutered as an adult, appeared to be 3-4 years old, and had no microchip. I named him Rhett, because he was handsome, and a bit of a rogue, but also because of his beautiful red coat.  He was never destructive, didn’t dig in my garden, and was very polite about his bathroom duties; always in the same place, and never when we walked. He was a gentleman, very well behaved. Somebody had obviously trained him well, although from what I understand about Chows, they are naturally polite dogs. He was also a very good watchdog. If he barked, we knew something was up. He knew the difference between the little old ladies that walked by, and the hooligans.

Rhett was very smart, a quick learner. I taught him to sit at a snap of a finger, and lie down with a hand command. He also knew “Give me five”, “Give me ten”,  adored having his belly rubbed and would roll over on his back if you said, “Belly time”, he played “patty cake”, and did a “happy dance” when it was supper time.  He was very enthusiastic about food.  One time, he stole a whole container of Loft house Sugar cookies. He would also “speak” on command. If  I threw something, he would grudgingly and dutifully go retrieve it, but if you threw it again, he would give you a look like your were insane…as if to say “Hey, I JUST brought it back to you, silly.”  He had a kind of aloof dignity that I just adored, and respected.

Because of Rhett’s shy idiosyncrasies about going potty, I had no luck in getting him to relieve himself on walks.  A friend told me about the Dog Park, so I thought I would give it a try. At the dog park, Rhett was minding his own business, investigating the grounds and marking the trees, when a pit bull cornered him and would not let him pass. Then the pit bull grabbed him by the neck. I came over and kicked the pit bull, the pit bull owner came over and the dogs were separated. I remember she said that her pit bull was “correcting” my dog’s behavior.  I’m not sure which was more disturbing - the pit bull or it’s owner. Thankful that no blood was shed that day, I put Rhett on a leash, and never returned to the dog park.

About a week later I was walking Rhett and Scarlett, our other Chow mix, when we were attacked by an off-leash pit bull. Another horrible, crazy owner.  A couple of weeks later we were attacked by yet another pit bull. Reports were increasing in my neighborhood of  people being attacked and injured, of their pets being killed, by pit bulls - a little girl’s Chihuahua mauled right in front of her.  A neighbor’s beautiful Chow attacked and seriously injured while on a walk. A neighbor’s home was invaded by a pit bull. A child attacked while sharing Easter Candy. The nephew of another neighbor had his testicles bitten off by a pit bull. One evening when I came home, a loose pit bull chased me from my car to my front door. It was surreal, a war zone.

On Memorial day, around 7:00 in the evening, I was feeding Scarlett, alone in the house, as she was on medication.  She began howling and carrying on, and I knew something was wrong  I looked out the back French door, and was horrified to see the whip of a tail attached to a giant white pit bull.  Rhett had assumed from what I read is a “submissive” posture.  He had surrendered to this pit bull which somehow got into my back garden. I ran inside and called the police, then ran to my front door and called for help. Several neighbors ran to our help within seconds. One of the young boys knew that the pit bull belonged to a man across the street, and he ran to get him. Another neighbor asked for my gate key, while two other neighbors went for golf clubs and a shovel, in an attempt to stop the pit bull which was still attacking Rhett.

The owner of the dog arrived to see his pit bull wagging its tail, covered with the blood of my dog, as if everything were fine. As my dog lay wounded, this owner couldn’t stop grinning - was it some twisted sense of pride? He took the pit bull and left without a word. My next door neighbor helped me pick up Rhett, and she drove us to the emergency hospital while I held him and put pressure on the wounds.

Rhett survived the initial attack, but would never again be the same. He was profoundly disabled, his behaviour that of a stroke victim. He walked at an angle, he drooled, and he would fall while going around corners. He had a haunting, defeated, humiliated, and confused look.

I  didn’t understand how the pit bull was able to enter my seemingly secure back yard, which is surrounded on all sides by a dense, 10 foot high bottle-brush hedge and a masonry wall, until we noticed that the two bottom rungs of the wrought iron gate had been damaged, so that with enough force, a determined attacker could push through. This pit bull had escaped from its yard to ram himself through a locked wrought iron gate. This beautiful garden, which was meant as a restful oasis of peace, had been violated by this hideous creature, transforming it into a slaughterhouse, a nightmare and a lingering sorrow.

My Rhett, my handsome friend, continued to suffer strokes as his condition deteriorated. I could see that he was barely existing, and so I had to make the heart breaking call to my vet. Choking on the tears, I went to the kitchen to get a glass of water, and Rhett started to follow me, as he always did. I could see a strange, faraway look in his eyes as he stood there. I ran to him and held him. My handsome boy died in my arms. We’d had a bittersweet, 3 week goodbye. When the vet called back I gave him the news that Rhett had already passed, and he gave me the phone number to the pet crematorium.  

I shed a tear for Rhett every day.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guns are regulated, why not pit bulls?

Well, October is pit bull awareness month - and I just stumbled across an article by Bob Confer of the Niagara Gazette, who has put into words some thoughts that have been swimming around in my head for awhile. What do you think - does he have a valid point, or not?

CONFER: Pit bulls need regulation » Opinion » Niagara Gazette:

'via Blog this'
Also posted at Craven Desires

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rancho De Chihuahua - a worthy cause!

I recently learned about Rancho de Chihuahua, a dog sanctuary in New Mexico which has been doing really good work, rescuing doomed and hopeless dogs and nurturing them in a healing environment. Some of the dogs have special needs, some are "lifers" and some will be placed in homes.

Here is an introductory video: Chihuahuamercial - Chitastic!

I discovered this little community some months ago. While I was browsing books on, the cute and soulful image of a supplicant Chihuahua caught my eye -

Naturally, I bought a copy of "a small furry prayer" and reading it kept me up way past my bedtime. I was taken on a quixotic journey - I found myself captivated by the sheer sweetness of their vision, and moved by their bittersweet experiences in living it out.

This highly readable tome is really two books in one. On the one hand it's the story of their rescue, and on the other, it's some really deep philosophy about dogs. Mind you, I'm not saying I agree with every single idea that Mr Kotler has ever had, but I have to say that some of his insights are genius - simply going where no one else has even thought of going before.

I won't spoil the plot here - I'll recommend that you just go buy the book - or watch the trailer first to help you make up your mind.

Visit Rancho de Chihuahua

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Death gets a BAD RAP

In retrospect, the matter was summed up succinctly by one blogger who wrote: "A pit bull killed it's owner. Again. End of story." But as the story broke, the identity of this particular victim made things rather uncomfortable for the pit bull promoters.

On Aug 11, Bad Rap member Darla Napora was mauled to death by her pit bull, "Gunner". The last time Greg Napora had last seen his pregnant wife, she was asleep, in bed with their 2 pit bulls. When he returned home at noon that day, he encountered a grisly scene - his wife, unconscious and bleeding from multiple wounds, on the floor, with the pit bull standing over her. She died shortly thereafter, and the pit bull was shot after escaping from the yard and threatening police officers. 
Greg and Darla Napora
The actions of Darla's husband here seem rather puzzling. His first actions after making the grisly discovery were reportedly to call his wife's employer to let them know she would not be coming to work, to shut down their facebook page which had featured pictures of Darla and the animal that killed her, to secure the services of a lawyer, and to issue a statement, not so much lamenting his deceased wife and child as to praise the animal which had just killed them, and to make a stand in defense of pit bulls in general. His actions offer insight into the mindset of hard core pit bull advocates.
On cue, pit bull activists took to the internet to begin the damage control process. The normal strategy in the aftermath of this type of horrific mauling appears to be to blame the owner, minimize the attack, or claim the animal was not actually a pit bull. In this case however, the owner was one of their own, the deaths of mother and child made the attack rather difficult to minimize, and the dog was a well publicized pit bull.
Pit bull activist Cindy Marabito
Pit activist Cindy Marabito crafted a story alleging that Darla Napora was not killed by her pit bull, but had instead suffered a fatal fall from a ladder, and the pit bull was merely trying to wake her up. This story, with no justification or basis in fact, gained traction and was echoed and amplified by other online pit bull activists such as Melanie Coy.

The coroner's report, however, made it clear that Darla Napora was mauled to death in her home by her pit bull. There was no ladder. The ladder stories have since been removed without explanation.

While pit bull defenders continue to search for some scrap of evidence on which to blame the attack, there does not seem to be any real mystery about it. There is nothing to distinguish this particular attack from any of the other pit bull maulings that have occurred over the past 150 years, aside from the identity of the victim. Given the well documented tendency of pit bulls to attack their owners, it was simply a matter of time before some well known pit bull advocates were maimed or killed by their own animals.

Last month (Aug 2011), 3 different pit bull owners were killed by their own pets. More deaths will follow in future, as surely as day follows night, and some of those deaths will be innocent bystanders who never owned, nor wanted to own, a pit bull. Innocent family pets and beloved personal companions will continue to be killed by pit bulls.

If we can simply get across the point that pit bulls are lethal and unpredictable animals, even to some small fraction of the people who read this, we will have saved lives, and that is why we speak out. For more on this story, has information here, and  Craven Desires has some good fact-checking  here and here.

Additional links below - Pit Bull: 'She Fell Off a Ladder' is PR Spin Darla Napora, Pregnant Pit Bull Advocate, Mauled to Death By Her Pit Bull

Friday, July 29, 2011

Great Moments in pit bull history - December 2010 (updated)

What could be a more worthy cause? The man is unjustly threatening to kill the service dog of a wounded Iraq combat veteran, fabricating trumped up charges and generally making life miserable for a distinguished war hero.

The reaction from the Ft Worth Weekly was both shrill and eloquent.

Pit bull activists immediately went on the attack without doing any fact checking - condemning, accusing and threatening those responsible if the pit bull was not saved and returned intact to Mr Woods. Online communities rallied to the cause, word spread, and $17,000 was raised to save the pit bull.

But as it turns out, not only was Mr Woods not injured in Iraq, he never served in Iraq. The pit bull breeder had served briefly in the Arkansas national guard but had never been deployed outside the country. Armed only with his fabricated story, he easily garnered support for his cause, i.e. to allow him to keep a so-called "PTSD service dog", in actuality an ordinary pit bull which had attacked several individuals in the past. The fraud was soon discovered:

Durango Texas blog: Steven Woods
Dogsbite blog: Steven Woods fraudulent
Craven Desires blog: Pit grifters
Mauser Girl blog: Steven Woods - Dirtbag

In view of his eloquent yarn about his service in Iraq, his war injuries and PTSD, can we we really take anything he said about his pit bulls at face value? More importantly, what does this whole episode say about those who rally to a fraudulent cause without any hesitation?

Update 20110729 - Steven Woods pit bulls attack again - (thanks to craven desires for bringing this to our attention)

Monday, July 4, 2011


Pit bull advocates often stick two claims together. First is that "pit bulls are the most abused breed." Second is that "they're the most forgiving." Remember that these are the same people who generally frown on breed favoritism and label such things as discrimination.

But look at how the chorus swells for Patrick the pit bull. For in their eyes, almost nothing can compare to his suffering unless it's another abused pit bull.

Meet Star, a mixed breed dog. She was short 40 times with a pellet gun and buried alive with her legs tied with what's presumed to be wire.

Although not seen in the first photo, part of her snout also seems to have been tied in wire at one point. It is not known how long she was under the earth, but the poor dog was horribly withdrawn.

The mixed dog was being fostered and seemed to be making emotional progress as seen by this last known photo of her. Sadly she suffered pancreatic problems and began to vomit. Although surgery was performed, she died soon after.

In my opinion this dog suffered a worse fate than Patrick. It is unknown how long she was being abused by her owner prior to being found, and what makes the situation worse is that not only was she neglected, but she was beat, hog tied, shot multiple times, and buried. She also was never fortunate to know a good life that Patrick know has the pleasure to experience.

Despite all her suffering, she has far less recognition that Patrick has. Accumulating 51% less support on facebook and only receiving .002% commentary and recognition compared to Patrick's plight. A plight that  constantly pushes the agenda of showing how sweet pit bulls are and who misunderstood the breed is. Although keep in mind Star was rescued two months after Patrick.

Amazingly Star did get one mention on Patrick's facebook page. A brief mention overshadowed by over 10 posts of Michael Vick, many pit bull plights, and BSL.

I find it amazing that no other breed advocacy group utilizes and exploits their breed of choice as much as the pit bull community.

Every pit bull rescued in their community becomes an everlasting hero in their eyes. They seem to view them as tally marks as though to say, "see?! This pit bull was abused and turned out just fine!" They do not hold up the dog because it was a dog, they hold it up and exemplify it because it was a pit bull.

It's just amazing to see how almost every rescued pit bull is commercialized to sell anti-BSL propaganda and mythos.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dog attack report by breed - updated June 2011

The animal people have updated their comprehensive and meticulously researched dog attack report with additional attacks since June 2010. Pit bulls have not only held onto the spot as the number one killer, but are widening their lead over other breeds in this deadly race. The number of people killed by pit bulls and close pit mixes in the US since 1982 has now surpassed 200. 

This represents a sharp increase in violent pit bull attacks over previous decades. Rottweilers are a distant second place with 77 deaths over the same period. The only other breeds responsible for more than 10 deaths over the same time period are Huskies (21), Wolf Hybrids (19) and German Shepherds (11).

Pit bulls also lead in the number of violent attacks with approximately 2000 during the period studied. Rottweilers, with 476 violent attacks, were the only other type of dog with over 100 attacks recorded.

Download the full report (PDF)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Discussions with the pit bull community: media reporting

Whenever I've spoken to members of the pit bull community about the relatively high number of pit bull attacks compared to other breeds, it always comes down to one of a few standard responses - either flat-out denial, anecdotal non-sequiturs about wonderful pit bulls, or conspiracy theories.

I'm not one to rule out conspiracies, but as a rule of thumb I hesitate to assume a conspiracy when more plausible (and obvious) explanations exist. For instance, consider the oft-heard claim that pit bull attacks are over reported by the media - a media eager to report such attacks, while ignoring attacks by other breeds.

First of all, attacks in general are under reported from what I can see. Several people close to me have been attacked by pit bulls, and none of the attacks ever made the news. You may try in vain to google them, but they are below the radar. It's a fact that not all dog attacks are reported, and that's no evidence for a conspiracy - and it's only natural, for instance, that a life threatening dog attack is more likely to make the news than a nip from an ankle biter.

However, if  someone is killed by a dog - any breed of dog - it makes the news. So we have a level playing field when it comes to fatal dog attacks, because every fatal attack is reported. This affords us an opportunity both timely and unique: to tally the breeds involved in such attacks and find out once and for all which breeds are responsible for the most deaths.

As it turns out, a number of dog attack studies have been done over various time periods. The most comprehensive study to date was done by Clifton Merritt for the animal people, and covered dog attacks in the US over a 28 year period between 1982 and 2010, broken down by breed, type of victim, and severity of attack. We can examine the breed by breed death totals discovered in this study to arrive at a clear picture of the comparative threat posed by various dog types. The full report is available here but the highlights are shown below. Let the facts speak for themselves:

1982-2010 chart:

BreedBodily harmChild VictimsAdult VictimsDeathsMaimings
Pit bull terrier1552691529166859
Wolf hybrid826841946
Bullmastiff (Presa canario)582221931
German shepherd795220950
German shepherd-mix37268724
Pit bull-mix1024421751
*Chart ordered by number of deaths; includes only a portion of breeds listed in report.

Discussion notes:

  • Even if the pit bull category was "split three ways," attacks by pit bulls and their closest relatives would still outnumber attacks by any other breed.
  • Pit bulls are noteworthy for attacking adults almost as frequently as children, a characteristic not shared by any other breed.