Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pit shelter and euthanasia stats

Merritt Clifton, Editor at Animal People recently shared some pertinent information about the number of pit bulls in shelters and their ultimate disposition. I think it bears repeating because it refutes the idea that "BSL" is somehow to blame for all the pit bull deaths.

The current U.S. pit bull population is about 3.2 million, and it has been about three million for about 10 years now, according to the annual ANIMAL PEOPLE surveys of classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption. About one million pit bulls per year enter animal shelters, about two-thirds surrendered by their keepers, most of the rest impounded for dangerous behavior. Most of these dogs have already been through three homes -- their birth home, the home that bought them, and a subsequent pass-along home, before they arrive at shelters.

An average of just over 900,000 pit bulls per year over the past 10 years have been killed in shelters after flunking behavioral screening, with a peak of 967,000, a low of 835,000, and 910,000 killed last year. This is about 60% of all the dogs killed in U.S. shelters today, up from about 50% in 2003. The average age of pit bulls killed in animal shelters is about 18 months. So what we have at any given time is a third of the pit bull population having not yet reached maturity, a third (at most) in homes they will still occupy at the end of the year, and a third flunking out of homes and being killed -- which translates into a 50% failure rate among adult dogs in homes each & every year. Among all other dog breeds combined, about 5% enter shelters each year.

Animal people news

Monday, July 15, 2013

Getting to know pit bulls, continued

This article appeared as a comment in a discussion of a news article and we felt it was worthy of bringing up again, since it addresses a number of points which the pit bull advocacy would rather you not think about. 

I was an upper middle-class pit bull owner just like you. My husband is a doctor and I am a stay-at-home soccer mom and we live in a lovely suburban neighbourhood. We got our dog as a puppy from a reputable breeder and put her through puppy classes and basic obedience. She was spayed and properly vaccinated, stayed indoors and was very loved. I used to defend the breed to everyone I met, just like you. I used to think I knew my dog inside and out, and I was sure she would never, ever hurt my child. 

Then my dog turned 3 and, literally overnight, her dog-aggression came out. She tried to attack the neighbour's poodle through the backyard fence (she had been in a fenced yard beside this same dog literally thousands of times with no show of aggression). When my 8 year old daughter tried to pull her away from the fence, our pit bull locked onto her forearm (she only got her forearm because my daughter threw it up to protect her face, she was going for the face) and it took 8 minutes for my husband to beat her off, he eventually wound up using the weed whacker, after a baseball bat broke over the dog's back without even being noticed by her. My daughter lost partial use of her right arm and she is still relearning all of the basic skills with her left. Her life will never be the same.

We have been accused of being at fault for not "being there to call off the dog". Well, we were there, we were sitting on patio chairs watching my daughter throw a ball for our pet, who she had spent three years playing with and which had never shown so much as a lip lift to anyone or anything up to that point. We couldn't, physically, call off the dog. We couldn't physically BEAT off the dog for over 5 minutes. After the dog was off my daughter, my husband was on the ground struggling with it to keep it from going at her again as I pulled her into the house. There was so much blood that I kept sliding on it and falling down. There are still blood stains on the patio almost 2 years later. All the dog wanted was to get back on my daughter and finish the job. The dog didn't make any noise while she was attacking and her tail was wagging faster and harder than it had ever wagged before. I believed then, and I believe now, that that dog was the happiest it had ever been when it was locked onto my daughter and trying to kill her.

Let me tell you, you have no idea - none - how completely different pit bulls are from normal pet dogs. When that dog was triggered she went from being a goofy pet and companion to being a cold-blooded predator in a millisecond. You cannot imagine what it is like knowing that your dog is trying to kill your child and knowing that it might just succeed because it is stronger than you are. There is nothing like it in the world. 

There was no news coverage of my dog's attack on my daughter. None. So much for the overhyped media aspect, huh?

You are insane to own a fighting dog when you have children. Absolutely insane. I wish we had been protected from our own stupidity by legislation. What is worse is that you are also, by your own admission of a picket fence the dog could easily escape over, putting other people's children at risk. Fighting dogs are not pets and we need laws in place to protect people from them.

Many thanks to Craven Desires for their efforts towards raising public awareness of the pit bull problem. The original comment, in context, was found here

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Getting to know pit bulls, continued

A US reader sent this story - and sadly, this sort of thing and worse is happening to people regularly -


I have two Boston terriers. I'd researched every breed of dog, looking for the one that best suited my life, had minimal health problems, and was, in particular, great with children, dogs and people in general. I looked everywhere for the dogs. I had health concerns about breeders and rescues, but after some months of search, I found Dixon (4 years old in October), and Helena (just turned 2). Both dogs were at the dog park on the big dog side playing with large dogs at 4 months old. Dixon even played with American Bulldogs, Pit Bulls, Boxers, Mastiffs, etc. None of us had any fear of big dogs.


I rented a condo in December of 2011. The management told me two dogs would be allowed, so mine wouldn't be a problem. In August of 2012 my next door neighbors with a common wall brought Zulu home. Zulu is a 2 year old, 130 lb "Razor" pit bull. When they first brought him home they walked him with a muzzle and I thought it was just due to him being in a new environment or something. At times they would stop while walking, when another dog was present, and I thought it was just a training exercise. At the time, I was under the impression that dog attacks rarely if ever happened, and when they did happen, it was some fault of the owners, and being so rare, it would never happen to me.


The Event:

My life took a change for the worse on March 15, 2013. I was getting ready to leave for work and to take the dogs out for their last morning walk. I had a temporary cast on my right hand and had just gotten back from taking the trash out. I must not have latched the gate properly and Dixon ran out. I was right behind him, when all of a sudden Zulu grabbed Dixon by the neck, less than five feet from my gate. As soon as I saw what happened, I jumped on top of Dixon and held him between my legs to stop Zulu from throwing him, while trying to pry Zulu’s mouth open with my cast. Zulu was being walked by his owner, Elaina Maxwell, on a leash. Elaine is a professional MMA fighter and a purple belt; she was punching the dog in the face the whole time trying to get it to release us. I don't know how long the attacked happened, but my screams still echo in my mind. Somehow we all ended about 20 feet up a grass hill. Zulu still had Dixon by the neck, Dixon was still between my legs and the dog was pulling us up a hill! Finally Zulu released and I immediately pulled Dixon to my stomach; as soon as Zulu released Dixon it went for my face. Fortunately, Elaina was able to pull Zulu away at that moment, and took him into her house. I ran into the bathroom with the dogs and locked the door until I could catch my breath and my head stopped swimming.

After a close call

I went to the ER and Dixon went to the vet. He had numerous punctures around his mouth, and a gash in his neck. I had punctures (one if it was any closer to my eye would have made me lose my eye) a broken nose (broken in two places), and broken teeth. The dog pretty much bit into my mouth, covering my nose and getting the right side of my face. The ER filed a report with animals services. Animal Control came out on Sunday, the attack happened Friday! After meeting with me, seeing everything the dog did, and then talking to Elaina and her husband, THEY LET THE DOG STAY NEXT DOOR! The officer’s reason was that “it saves the owners money.” I told the officer that I didn't feel safe with that and he still let the dog stay.

They City of Milpitas deemed the dog a level four danger and the owners appealed it. They lied in court, swearing that Dixon started the attack, but the appeal judge didn't fall for their story. The best thing of all was seeing the letter sent to Elaina declaring in bold letters that her pit bull is deemed a level 4 danger. In a way, though, I feel violated by the city for allowing the dog to remain there. The only thing that we had separating us from a dog that wanted to kill us was a wall. I had to sit and listen to that dog barking every freaking day! Two weeks after it attacked me, Zulu broke out of its muzzle and went after another dog, and I have statements from that dogs owner.

In the aftermath of the attack, I was officially diagnosed with PTSD. I was in a support group and counseling, and it's been a struggle, but I graduated last week. Now I'm just dealing with the flashbacks, anxiety, being paranoid 24/7. I have only let the dogs be around one dog. I can't let my dogs out of my sight. So, I'm basically a mess. Both of my dogs are on anti/depressants and anti-anxiety medication. Dixon broke down at the vets when he heard a big dog barking, it was so bad he peed himself in the middle of the room. It saddens me to know that I've tried hard to do things correctly but this one day has altered these poor dogs for the worse.

When I finally hired an attorney, he showed me the the CCCR for the condo. The owner of the place had never shown them to me. Two items of interest are that (1) you can only have one dog, and (2) pit bulls are strictly verboten. The condo owner didn't have insurance, and of course Elaina didn't have insurance, and had filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy the year prior. So now we have to try to go after the HOA and the security company (the security guard knew about the pit bull and never notified the HOA). Kaiser won't fix my nose, even though they said I needed it (gotta love HMOs). Elaina Maxwell and her husband had to pay a mere $500 for what their dog did to me. It's almost always the case that the victims of pit bull attacks get nothing.

The end of April I moved to house 65 miles away from the attack, built on a hill, on a corner, with a fenced yard, and only one neighbor on one side, who has no dogs. I don't know how things will get better; I just know they will. I don't know why this happened to us; I just pray that it all happened for a reason.

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger; I would have gladly gone my whole life without getting this particular dose of strength. Me and my dogs are very lucky. We walked away with minimal damage, things could have been much worse. I'm grateful but I ask why: Why do people show so little care; why do they make excuses for these dogs; why don't we start protecting people instead of protecting an animal? 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Getting to know pit bulls, continued

Julia, another UK reader, shares her experience with us:  

I'm in SW London within a short drive of Wimbledon Common, where I walk my dogs (1,100 acres of grass and woodland, all off leash - bliss!). 

I used to love Staffs. My best friend got her first one in the 60s, when they were very rare, and I loved it. I even thought one day I'd get a Staff but over the years I began to go off them. I thought it odd the way my friend's dogs swung from the branches of trees and once when I put my face too close to one there was a sound of teeth clacking together as it lunged at me and just missed my nose

Years later, in the late 90s, I finally I got my own dog, a Sussex spaniel. By then Staffs were everywhere and I became concerned about my dog's safety after he was nearly ripped apart by two of them. It was the way they ran up and jumped on him, like two lions bringing down a deer, that made me realise there was something really sinister about this breed. My dog hadn't even seen them coming. He was ambling along in the evening sun, with my partner and I strolling behind him. He only survived because the two owners ran over and eventually managed to detach them both, even the one that had "locked on".

I was working as a reporter on a South London local paper and taking phone calls from people who had been attacked and writing up the stories. But whenever I wanted a quote from somewhere like Battersea Dogs Home or a behaviourist I came up against the prevailing political correctness (blame the deed, not the breed, etc). At first, I was amazed none of them agreed with me that these dogs were dangerous and nor that they were different from other dogs then I decided they were as good as brainwashed.

The more I looked into it, the angrier I got, especially when people started telling me that it was the media's fault for "demonising" the Staff. Yes, even our Kennel Club says that. 

We have nothing like the amount of pitbull-type dogs that you have in the US - I'm including our souped up Staffs, which are virtually the same dogs - and nothing like the number of fatalities but we do have a lot of maulings and endless killings of other dogs and attacks on animals like horses and cows.

One of the worst attacks I wrote about, which made the front page of our paper, was when two Staffs tore up to a woman who was wheeling her toddler up her own garden path and wrestled her to the ground. The child was thrown clear but the mother so badly injured she had to spend weeks in hospital having plastic surgery. She was a concert pianist and had to cancel all her bookings at the Royal Festival Hall.

Then there was the poor policeman who went to arrest a criminal in our area and was attacked by his Staffs . He was rushed to hospital with 14 ghastly wounds and would have died if his colleague had not managed to rescue him and call for a marksman to shoot them. (Our PCs don't have guns!)

So many heart-rending stories of small dogs being killed by Staffs when out on a walk near their home and some low-life character running off with the killer dog. So much sadness. 

The best thing about being nearly 70, from the point of view of talking to nutters, is that I can tell them that when I was young no-one ever heard of anyone being killed by a dog, let alone mauled by one. Most of us didn't even know what a Staff was. And we children played with dogs unsupervised, because we had ordinary, friendly dogs, not ones that would savage us.

I'm so glad that more people are beginning to resist to all the nonsense spouted by the nutters and the welfare organisations. I didn't know all this was happening until relatively recently and it's so cheering.

Well done Alexandra, 
Merritt Clifton and Colleen at Dogsbite and other brave people for standing up to the bullies.