Friday, January 9, 2009
Victims Advocate of the YearWendy Blevins
Mother and Community Activist
There is hardly a person in 2008 that touched and inspired more citizens within a community, a state and perhaps across the U.S. than Wendy Blevins. On June 25th, Wendy pulled an attacking pit bull off of her 15-month old daughter, Charlotte Blevins. Part of Charlotte's scalp was ripped off in the attack. In the months following the incident, Wendy, bravely led an effort to pass a fair and preventative new dog ordinance for the City of Omaha. While faced with the emotionally and financially devastating trauma of her daughter's injury, Wendy worked tirelessly to ensure that a future family and child would not have to undergo what she and her family did. The powerful light of Wendy and Charlotte shined the truth for all to see: Pit bulls are different than other dogs and we, as a community, need to address this issue now. Only three months after Charlotte's attack, the City of Omaha passed a progressive dog ordinance that combines anti-tethering and breed-specific laws. DogsBite.org is honored to name Wendy Blevins, Victims Advocate of the Year 2008. Through her courage and determination, she has shown hundreds of thousands of people the real meaning of love.
Dog Warden of the YearTom Skeldon
Lucas County, Ohio
Tom Skeldon's dedication to protect the residents of Lucas County and other people across North America through his consultation, education, and testifying for other jurisdictions facing their own epidemic of pit bull attacks reflects greatly upon him, the Office of the Lucas County Dog Warden, and all of Lucas County. Through his efforts, hundreds of communities are better protected from these inherently dangerous dogs, resulting in the prevention of several fatal and near-fatal pit bull maulings. DogsBite.org is honored to name Tom Skeldon, Dog Warden of the Year 2008. (See full press release)
Council Member of the YearBrian Powers
Councilman Brian Powers proposed and passed a ban on new pit bulls in Lakewood, Ohio, one of the most densely populated cities in the nation. Powers stood his ground in the face of tremendous opposition by pit bull groups and did not waver. He also authored a masterful Pit Bull Ban FAQ that DogsBite.org asks every council member in the U.S. to read. Through his steadfast leadership and written contribution, Powers will always be remembered and admired by DogsBite.org and our readers. We are honored to name Brian Powers, Council Member of the Year 2008.
County Judge of the YearJudge Vernon E. Scoville
16th Judicial Circuit
Jackson County, Missouri
In June of 2008, the Honorable Vernon E. Scoville, County Court Judge for Jackson County, Missouri, awarded Alan Hill $7.25 million after suffering a brutal attack by several pit bulls in 2006. The judge ruled that the defendants should have known of the dogs' vicious propensities, which led to the permanent disfiguring, disabling and near death of Hill. On the 12th day of June, and after two years of Alan and his family enduring the devastation of a catastrophic pit bull attack, Judge Scoville brought as much closure to this tragedy as the law allowed. DogsBite.org is proud to name Judge Vernon E. Scoville, County Judge of the Year 2008.
Federal Judge of the YearJudge Wiley Y. Daniel
U.S. District Court
In November of 2008, the Honorable Wiley Y. Daniel, Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, ruled in favor of the City of Aurora (kudos to Dana Spade, Asst. City Attorney for the City of Aurora) and upheld their Fighting Breed ban. By rejecting the claim brought by pit bull owner Florence Vianzon Sasek and the American Canine Foundation, Judge Daniel's ruling once again confirmed that well-written breed-specific laws are constitutionally sound. Sasek and other Aurora pit bull owners must continue to muzzle their dogs when they are taken off-property to prevent a person or pet from being attacked unprovoked by a pit bull. DogsBite.org is honored to name Judge Wiley Y. Daniel, Federal Judge of the Year 2008.
Prosecuting Attorney of the YearDavid L. Morse
Livingston County, Michigan
Prosecutor David Morse successfully brought charges in two tragic and emotionally charged trials. Through his skill and perseverance, Diane Cockrell, 52, was ordered to serve a minimum of 3 1/2 years to a maximum of 15 years in prison after her loose dogs killed Cheryl Harper and Edward Gierlach in a double fatal attack. In a separate trial, Morse effectively prosecuted David Clyde McGalliard as well. The Defendant, and owner of two pit bulls, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution after his dogs broke into a barn at Red Rock Arabians Farm and viciously mauled a Polish Arabian mare. DogsBite.org is proud to name David Morse, Prosecuting Attorney of the Year 2008.
Internet Advocate of the YearArtist Zupf
Video Artist and Activist
Lastly, DogsBite.org would like to recognize YouTube video artist Zupf. In the year 2008, Zupf created over 90 video clips that depicted victims of pit bull attacks. The artist's unremitting commitment to these victims and to share their voices with all who traverse the World Wide Web, earns him the DogsBite.org Internet Advocate of the Year award for 2008. The number of people Zupf's videos have educated about the growing epidemic of violent pit bull attacks can only be measured as breathtaking, incalculable and monumental. Through his actions, U.S. citizens and individuals across the globe will not forget these victims' stories.
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