Monday, January 20, 2014

Getting to know pit bulls, continued

A reader at Craven Desires recently left this comment, which we felt was too important not to share. Consider this a Public Service Announcement.

About 7 years ago, I was presented with a 10-12 week old apbt puppy. Actually, my brother in law left us his favorite pup from the latest litter for "a few weeks" in hopes we would fall in love and keep him and stupidly, we did.

For years before this, I had (wisely) regarded these dogs as unpredictable creatures that kill and maim, and was leery of being around them.

But having this dog left with me, and after some years of being exposed to the "pit bull community" (aka myths and lies) and having made many new friends who had these dogs, which always seemed friendly and playful, I started to believe the myths.

I was never totally snowed, I knew full well they could be dangerous and they are fighting dogs, but the myth of the "good owner" overcame this so, when my brother in law dropped the pup off, I figured "well, I know the breeder, the (dog) parents, grandparents, and I'm an experienced dog owner with a big fenced yard, no kids, and time to work with him. What could possibly go wrong?" The only objection was from my parents, who begged and pleaded for us to put him down for safety sake. but like any "too smart for advice" 23 year old, I ignored them.

As it turns out, a lot could go wrong….

The first year or so went well, we did all the "right" things: positive training, treated him like he was part of the family, walked and played vigorously, and socialized him, etc. He seemed to be a sweet dog, friendly, got along with the cats and the chihuahua. i didn't have kids then, but wouldn't have feared for them anyway. He grew into a little larger than average size, maybe 70 lbs with a big, but not massive, head. 

When the apbt was around 1 1/2 to 2 years old, I was asked by my friend to look after her mini pinscher, a smallish dog that was very friendly. I told her it probably was not a good idea, as I didn't think having a strange dog in the home was a good idea, even though he hadn't shown aggression to dogs. I also didn't want the extra work of keeping them separated at all times. But she begged me, claiming no one else would take him, so I reluctantly agreed.

So, my friend brought her little dog for me to watch for an extended period, and the morning after she'd brought him over, the apbt was in my room, and my friend's dog was in another. I took the little dog for a walk, and the neighbors pit bull rottweiler mix started barking and climbing the fence, so we rushed inside. I took off his lead, turned to go hang it up, and like lightning, my apbt burst through my door. I have no idea how he opened it, as it was closed when I went outside. I'd double checked.  

Before I could even react, and silent as a crocodile, the pit bull snatched up the little dog and shook it, snapping its neck. He didn't even have time to cry. It was so fast, I didn't have time to grab anything to try to stop it. I can't explain how fast and quiet it was. 

I screamed. I looked around, and cursed myself for not having a gun, bat, or anything useful. All I had nearby was my chihuahuas old collar, and that dogs small lead. I grabbed them, and tried to figure out what to do, while he was chewing on the dog. I was sick. I'd never seen anything like it. 

Then the apbt looked up at me. I knew I was next. Thankfully, he was distracted by his kill. My 30 year old brother came down the stairs, saw the scene and freaked out. He frantically asked "What to do? who to call? wheres a phone?" I told him we didn't have time for this, we had to act now. We were on the other side of the room at this time.

The apbt looked up, dropped the now chewed up dead dog, and started coming at my brother. As it lunged at him, I body checked it, and jumped on its back, like it was a horse. I guess my brother managed to move quick enough. I got the collar around its neck and started to choke it. It did everything to get me off. It was like being on a bucking bronco, but with teeth. 

I don't recall much, it seemed like time stood still. My brother was screaming and trying to hold the apbt's back legs, I was on it's back, using every bit of my strength to stay on, not get bit, and strangle my own dog. I was crying, screaming, and terrified. It's neck was so thick and strong, and my hands were tired, the collar was so small. I had my legs clamped around him as I pulled the collar as tight as I could.

I can remember my brother begging me not to kill it, to take it to the vet to be put down, instead. I remember asking him how he thought we were gonna get this killer dog in the car and to a vet safely? It was frantic, desperate, thinking, as we had never seen anything like this, nor killed anything before.

I don't know how long it usually takes to strangle something, but I swear it took forever. The size of his neck and my weakness made it drawn out. When I jumped on the dog, I was on one side of the large living room, but by the time the dog was dead, I had been carried all the way across that room, and half way into another. He was that strong, shaking to get me off the whole time. But when he stopped moving, then urinated and defecated, I hoped it was over. 

We weren't sure if t was dead, or just unconscious, so while I remained sitting on it, my brother went out to his car and got a thick chain and a lock. we tied him up, in case he woke up. that is how scared we were. it was bizarre, to tie up a dead dog, but we were seriously shell shocked and terrified of it, even in death. 

After about 10 min, we knew it was dead. I was still bawling. Vicious or not, it was my dog (and my husbands), which I had witnessed kill and eat another dog, attack my brother, and then I killed him with my bare hands. I was shaking. I called a coworker, who came over and wrapped the dogs up, and took the bodies for cremation.

I couldn't even look at the small dog as he was being wrapped up, he was mangled. what a sweet little guy he was, I felt horrible, evil, for his death. I have never felt such guilt, and haven't since then. Next I called my husband, and told him I'd killed his dog. I told him a short version and he cried. Still hysterical, I called my mom, and said "I know, you told me so! I feel like a fool", but she comforted me and talked me down. my brother just sat, shocked, for hours. 

My house was covered in blood, all over the carpet, plus the contents of both dogs intestines and bladders. it was very hot, and the smell was unique, awful, and penetrating. I called a carpet cleaner, and in tears, explained what happened, and they rushed over. An hour later, the rug was clean, and I scrubbed the walls. It was cathartic. Both dogs were cremated that same day as well. 

Never had I been so scared, so guilty, and never had I felt like such a damn fool. I knew I had done everything right, so why had this happened? My dog killed a dog in my home, busted out of a door to get to him, and then lunged at either me or my brother (we were next to each other, so I'm not sure, its hazy). We were lucky to escape physical harm. Had I been alone, I don't know what would have happened. Why had my well trained, well loved, socialized, etc, dog turned into a monster, a killing machine?

To this day I thank heavens that the apbt was so engrossed with his kill that he did not immediately attack us, and I had time to get my brother, the collar, and make a hasty plan. Had he not been intent on eating/dismembering the dead dog, we wouldn't have been able to get far enough away, and may have been mauled, instead of just lunged at.

Anyway, I've never been through anything so traumatic. I've had a terrifying, near death motorcycle accident, seen all kinds of horrible things, been attacked and beat up, and also raped twice, but nothing was like this. This gave me nightmares and made me doubt my own judgement, as I proved I was totally ignorant in having that dog in the first place. 

I think of how many times it could have happened, how close I was to what was basically a land mine, and I cringe. I think of all the other victims that have been killed or disfigured, all the kids changed forever, if they even escaped with their lives. This was not reported to anyone, thus did not figure into the statistics.

I have never written it down, but this seems like a fitting place to do so. I hate thinking about it, but people need to know:
No matter how awesome you are with dogs, no matter how careful you are, no matter how much you love, no matter how well you train, no matter how well socialized the dog is, no matter how responsible you are - I even had insurance - its a killer. crocodile jaws on a dogs body. You cannot train or love away the fighter in them.

The apbt is a quick, stealthy dog that greets you with a smile and a tail wag, then tries to tear your face off. I've been told I'm "mean", that I shouldn't blame the breed (whatever that's supposed to mean), or that its my fault for having a little dog in the apbt's territory (locked behind a door???). all I say to that is: I hope you don't have to learn the hard way. 

Why have a dog that can kill you? Especially when there are so many types of cool, good natured, dependable dogs that would never maul you to death. 

Well, I did own one, and I was a damned fool, an ignoramus, and a totally misinformed jackass that put lives at risk just by owning such an animal. I was 23 years old, and at 130 lbs, thin, and not super strong, I could never have stopped it if it had gone berserk in public.

The guilt over the deaths has never gone away. but now I know better.

I haven't added any identifying info because it's possible the owner of the little dog could read this. She doesn't need the horrible details of how her dog died.
Reference: The original discussion thread was here

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Tale of Patrone the Pit Mastiff

We are passing along this reader-contributed poem for your edification:

Patrone was a dog, and a very fine boy
Of muscles and satiny coat, a real joy
to his doting fur-mommies he was just like a child
But Pat was a dog and they thought he was mild...

Those Mommies they pouted, they preened and they posed
Whilst the Bull doggy heart of poor Pat was confused.
They wanted a lap-dog, a lover, a mouse
So they loved on this Mastiff as one would a spouse
Pat slept in their beds as a good lover should but
Sometimes he bit them and tasted their blood.
Now blood to a Bull dog is honey and wine 
To the palate of man when he sits down to dine
Patrone got a regular taste for the stuff
To the point where it seemed he could not get enough,
And he sent his fur-mommy to work cut and bruised
She said he had bit her, but then got confused
and said she was savaged by canine unknown 
So Patrone the Pit Mastiff stayed cosy at home...

We cannot blame Pat in the heart of this story
Although his finale was bloody and gory
His fur-mommies loved him, their precious best boy
Of muscles and satiny coat, a real joy.
The people nearby locked their doors and their gates
The fur-mommies said they were just full of hate
For their Pat was a sweetheart who'd lick them to death
And not some foul beast who would steal their last breath...

This story must end as most fairytales do 
When princesses frown and their crowns go askew
Reality beckoned one day for Patrone
When his resident Mommy did something so wrong
And opened the door for the Mastiff to roam
Not safe in a yard or watched from their home
Big Pat took a tour of the streets in deep joy
The pride of his fur-mommies and their bestest boy
Their licky-lick lover and gentle sweetheart
Took a shine to a stranger and tore her apart.
He took Bull dog kisses of cervical spine, and
he opened her throat to release the rich wine
He chewed on her legs and took flesh from the bone
Quite simply forgetting his Mommies at home,
Quite simply remembering all that he was,
Patrone, my dear friends, was a Pit fighting dog,
No lover, no daddy, no lap-dog was he
No bed-sharing, joy-giving, life homily
Patrone the Pit Mastiff with blood on his teeth
And his tail wagging hard in genetic release.

The moral contained in this tale is quite clear
If you look and you learn and you hold your life dear
You stand with your canine as mistress or master
You make him your child, you court a disaster
You choose your pet wisely and always avoid
Those dogs with the teeth, and the muscles, the maws,
The deep-chested, dead-eyed, goof-grinning jaws....
You'll look, really look, and you'll know what you see
Is purpose-designed with a dark history
Ignore it, deplore it, explain it away,
And call it a sweetheart for all and a day
And bed it, and love it, and praise it as mild
And smooch it, caress it, and call it your child
But that dog is a Fighting Pit Bull Dog, and thus
It is all that it seems, and it is as it looks.


Patrone was removed from the scene of his crime
And his fur-mommies wept at the thought of the time
That their poor boy would spend in the pound, all alone,
Pining and yearning for love, life and home,
But this does not end very well for Patrone...
The Pit Bull Dog Mastiff did not use his brain,
And could not exert normal canine restrain,
He bit his assessor, got labelled as crazy
And now, like most Pit Bulls, he's pushing up daisies.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dog attack report by breed - December 2013

The 2013 year end statistics from the multi-decade animal people study of fatal and maiming dog attacks on humans have been released. Bull Mastiffs have moved up to edge German Shepherds out of the top 5 offenders, while pit bulls have increased their lead over all other breeds to further solidify their position as the most harmful domestic dog of all time. 

One particularly disturbing trend noted in the report was the sharp increase in fatal or disfiguring attacks by pit bulls compared to previous years. In 2013, pit bulls committed 572 fatal or disfiguring attacks on humans. (the number of fatal or disfiguring pit bull attacks on animals is orders of magnitude higher).

The top 5 offenders at a glance

Note that the statistics in this study pertain to attacks on humans only. A comprehensive study of dog attacks on animals is due in the Feb 10th issue of the animal people magazine. A preview of those findings can be found here

Reference -
Dog attack deaths and maimings Sept 1982 - Dec 2013


You speak of Pit Bulls, I block and parry
And mightily chirrup my hostile parody of
Protectionism and fear, borne on a swathe of
Hordes alike, the brethren of the Bull Dog, with
Eyes made bright like reptiles, shaking our tried
and tested phrases at you and your tears, we emit
our jeers and paste our memes, our gladly mesmerised
heads excitable & sweaty with Pit Bull dreams.

He moves apart from me, and yet is the sum of me
constrained by my hope & the leather cord, he
glances at me & my lost heart loves him so,
although I know, I know and know, that constant,
the last vestiges of my former conscience murmurs
like the buzzing of a picnic bee, the wasp in the bottle
that I raise to my lips, 'you are his creature'
He could evade your hopes at any time;
Gift a deadly sting of blood and truth and terror.

Lord of the streets, people fall away in whispers
Disapproving, changing directions, crossing streets,
Glancing, avoiding; clutching their pets to their
breasts or their flanks, panicked and panicking,
He knows & I see his chest burgeon & his eyes
Lighten, I speak & his ear turns but between the
stinking rope that binds us, I feel his joy & the
Weighty sum of all his blood & all his ghosts
The furious, fast, ferocious past & his inheritance
Bound to me in my cosy home, this dog of death and bone.

Iconic outlaw; he is me and I am him, rejected
Dejected, misunderstood – my frail psyche found
Peace in his dangerous face, his smiling jaws, he plays
On me as fearless as a loveable rogue, boundless energy
And the muscles that swathe him compel me to run my
Hot hands over him in some spell-binding fascination; the
awful power of him that sleeps at my hearth; I touch
Him with a prayer – do not hurt me, do not deliver all
that you are; do not become all that you wish for.

You speak of Pit Bulls, I lie and obscure
I quote and yarn, quarrelsome & querulous, deny
Your truths, the weeping wounded & the broken bodies,
I speak of mixed breeds, curs & mongrels, chained brutes
Of no good measure & made for violence, kicked & cursed,
Ignored & used, a thousand names for the abused, any
Name that leaches into the ether & forms on my lips
I will use; and failing that I will consort with hordes
Of my own kind with their own canine Lords, and
Together we will form a wall of fury to wipe away
The blood & the questions, 'til truth be smothered
Under tons of Pit Bull dog flesh, & all their Lovers.