Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The Good, The Perverse and The Uplifting
DogsBite.org - Last year during National Dog Bite Prevention Week, we noted that there is no National Dog Mauling Prevention Week, an even weightier public health matter than dog bites. The tips and tricks offered up during this national week to prevent a dog bite hardly address horrific dog maulings, mainly inflicted by pit bulls, which will attack indiscriminately and continue attacking until shot to death or nonlethal human intervention succeeds in stopping the assault.
Neighborhood Safety Campaign
On April 25, DogsBite.org announced a neighborhood safety campaign with a new brochure in preparation for this year's National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The safety brochure, How to Keep Your Family Safe from Dangerous Dogs, contains 5 panels of important information, including images of dangerous dog breeds and the back reserved for U.S. postal mailing. The brochure was designed for parents, community activists and persons who work with children.
The response so far from activists has been powerful, one recently wrote:
"This is FANTASTIC. I am so excited about these. I can't wait to start campaigning in my neighborhood. This is a very powerful tool. Thank you for putting this in our hands."Order your 30-pack today and become part of this educational campaign!
In addition to the neighborhood safety brochure, DogsBite.org released a series of safety flyers that directly address the top two killing dog breeds in the United States: pit bulls and rottweilers. Each safety flyer contains photographs to help people identify these dangerous dog breeds, as well as national statistical data from DogsBite.org. The safety flyers are "print-ready" and free for download and distribution. We encourage readers to download and distribute them widely.
Download Safety Flyers
- Is it Worth the Risk? Children and Pit Bulls Do Not Mix
- The Presence of Pit Bulls is as Dangerous as Firearms
- Warning: Pit Bulls and Rottweilers
On April 26, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a pivotal ruling in Tracey v. Solesky. The case involves the parents of a young boy seeking damages for injuries inflicted by a pit bull owned by a landlord's tenant. The Court adopted strict liability in respect to attacks on humans by pit bulls and their crosses, holding pit bull owners and landlords financially responsible for injuries. DogsBite.org submitted an amicus brief in support of the young mauling victim.
As news of the ruling fell upon pit bull advocates and national humane groups, each began to raise their zealous voices. Betsy McFarland of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) called the Court's decision a "seismic shift in Maryland law" and suggested that the Court did not make a "measured, non-emotional" decision.1 McFarland promised to help create a "rational" policy that stops victims of violent pit bull maulings from having a civil remedy.
The poster boy zealot turned out to be Michael Markarian, Chief Program and Policy Officer at the HSUS and President of the Humane Society Legislative Fund (the lobbying affiliate of the HSUS.) On May 2, Markarian painted a picture of dark horror claiming the Court's ruling could create "packs of free-roaming pit bulls roaming Maryland neighborhoods" and "municipal agencies will bear the financial burden" of addressing this grave public health and safety problem.2
The amount of pro-pit bull propaganda in Markarian's post is tongue-tying. Loaded with words like "canine profiling" and distortions about the reliability of doggie DNA testing -- the top canine DNA lab in the country, Mars Veterinary states on their FAQ: "we cannot build a DNA profile for the Pit-bull." Markarian added that the Court's decision is not "anti-pit bull" but is "anti-dog," hoping to fire up other dog breed advocates, despite their being unaffected by the ruling.
Markarian topped off his post with an image of a pit bull licking a baby.
What to Remember About the HSUS
- The HSUS does not stand behind pit bull owners being held financially responsible when their dog attacks.
- The HSUS does not blame pit bull owners who surrender their dog due to the ruling, but instead blames the Court and victims.
- The HSUS and their lobbying affiliate, HSLF, are committed to overturning the high court of Maryland's decision.
- The second in command at HSUS and president of HSLF believes it is appropriate to publicize imagery of a pit bull licking a baby.
A Time of the "Usual" and Pandering
Upon the approach of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, as usual, the media released stories containing dog bite statistics and yearly data from the III. What was unusual this year, is that State Farm released parts of its national claim data. Blogger Pit Bull Attacks and Dogfighting in Illinois talks about this more, and notes that although basic data was given, such as, the number of claims filed in Illinois, State Farm "did not release bite counts or payouts ranked by breed."3
State Farm also made a point to pander to pit bull advocates during this national data release by stating, "it’s not about the breed, it’s the bite." The Illinois blog then points to a comment left at a recent Illinois pit bull attack news article: "I review homeowner liability claims and I can tell you OVERWHELMINGLY most bites to humans and other animals comes from pits ... Almost every day I pay claims to people injured or had their pets injured by pits," wrote Looselips.
Separately, one insurance group is facing a lawsuit this month over a dog bite. Ohio father Nelson Cope, whose 12-year old daughter was permanently injured in a dog attack, sued State Auto Insurance, attorney David Herrington and the Law Office of Kerns and Proe. The claim alleges that after gaining approval from State Auto Insurance, Herrington and Kerns and Proe hired a private investigator to pose as a "friend" on his daughter's private Facebook account to snoop.4
Cope alleges that between February and March 2011 the investigator viewed his daughter's private Facebook page, "[and] accessed at least 221 pictures of Cope and her other minor friends ... [and] accessed at least 1,000 posted messages between Cope and her other minor friends." Cope and his daughter seek compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the Stored Communications Act (18 U.S.C. § 2701), civil conspiracy and more (See: Full complaint filed).
Insurance groups and attorneys already have a bad reputation for online deceptive investigatory tactics -- something to keep in mind dog bite victims!
Lastly, involving more pandering to pit bull owners by major corporations, United Airlines recently lifted a ban on the transportation of pit bulls and other large dog breeds. There is a reason why pit bulls are banned by some airlines. Pike's Peak Flyer, out of Colorado Springs, shows photos of the damage done in 2002 to an American Airlines jet by a pit bull during a cross-county flight. The pit bull chewed through a fiberglass bulkhead and wires in an electronics compartment.5
A Time of Irony and More Maulings
The signaling of National Dog Bite Prevention Week also brings other developments to the State of Ohio. Back in February, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, another zealous pro-pit bull group, helped push through legislation to repeal the longstanding state law that declared pit bulls "vicious" and required owners to carry $100,000 in liability insurance. Fatefully, as this week unfolds, most new Ohio pit bull attack victims will no longer have this legal remedy.
As noted in this Columbus Dispatch article, the passage of the new state law does not affect any city that is a charter city (under home rule) in Ohio. For instance, Bexely, which bans the breed, can continue doing so. The City of Lakewood also announced that their pit bull ban would continue. "There’s a home rule issue here," Councilman Brian Powers said. "We can have laws as a municipality. I don’t know of anyone on council who wants to change that law."
On the morning of May 18, as pit bull advocates in Ohio awaited a Saturday celebration sponsored by Best Friends marking the adoption of the new state law, news broke that a 3-day old infant was killed by a pet pit bull in Monroe Township, Ohio. Given the loss of the state's pit bull law, even if some municipalities continue to retain their existing pit bull ordinances, the face of the Ohio Fatal Pit Bull Attack State Map is expected to become dotted with many new red balloons.
Finally, Something More Uplifting
Going back in the Internet Archive to November 2007, one can see the then small website named DogsBite.org. Take a close look at the Links page back then and note how few dog bite victim websites existed. This is untrue today. Three recent website additions, Sitting Bull, which addresses its Australia audience, Confessions of Pit Bull Victims and Walk for Victims of Pit Bulls - Tucson, especially mark increased activism on behalf of this very important cause.
The Sitting Bull website's purpose is to educate and inform the public of the current dangers Pitbulls present to a Civilised Society. The problem is a silent epidemic and more is needed to help prevent "future" attacks on unsuspecting citizens. The Ultimate Aim of this site is to see Pitbull Attacks on both animals and humans minimised or eliminated entirely. A further aim is to help provide support and comfort for the current Victims of Serious Dog Attacks. The author of this website is convinced Pitbulls are dangerous and the withholding of this information is anti-social, unethical and continues putting many lives at risk. - Sitting Bull
This blog has been created to allow a safe site for victims of pit bull attacks to express their feelings and thoughts about their incident. This site will be heavily moderated to protect those who wish to voice themselves, and not need to fear being attacked by the owners of these animals who have unfortunately worked their ways in to their lives. There is no place here for anyone who wishes to defend the breed or their owners. We are victims of this breed and understand the pain and suffering. - Confessions of Pit Bull Victims
Please come and join us, and show your support by walking for the VICTIMS of pit bull and other dangerous dog attacks. Most often when these dogs attack, maul or kill children, adults or family pets, the support seems to be misplaced onto the attacking dog/s to be euthanized, rather than where it should be...on the VICTIM. It is time that the voice of the VICTIMS and their families be heard to promote public awareness and help reduce the number of these attacks. - Walk for Victims of Pit Bulls
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2United States citizens have already been living this "dark horror" depicted by Markarian for over 30-years, paying with permanent scaring injuries and the loss of limbs and lives. The number one reason why we have been is due to national humane groups, like the HSUS, that refuse to stand behind even the most modest pit bull laws, such as mandatory sterilization, which directly targets the source of the pit bull shelter overpopulation problem: Those who are breeding them. The founder of DogsBite.org sounds off on this issue in a May 4, 2012 Gazette.net article.
3Apparently, State Farm wanted more PR bang for the buck this year during National Dog Bite Prevention Week by releasing state data. Newspapers from many states ran stories featuring State Farm's "name" and data.
4Herrington, a licensed attorney, was employed by the Law Offices of Kerns and Proe during all times relevant to the allegations in the complaint. Kerns and Proe is described as "a captive firm controlled wholly by State Auto."
5The revised United Airline container requirements for shipping pit bulls. Interestingly, this web page does not seem to exist on the United Airlines website. It's unknown what type of container these two pit bulls busted out of to attack each other at a Dulles Airport cargo facility. Police shot and killed both dogs.
04/30/12: Maryland Court of Appeals Holds Pit Bull Owners and Landlords Accountable
04/25/12: DogsBite.org Announces Neighborhood Safety Campaign
03/12/12: Pit Bulls Lead 'Bite' Counts Across U.S. Cities and Counties
05/21/11: Texas Doctors Produce Study: Mortality, Mauling and Maiming by Vicious Dogs
05/15/11: National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 15-21, 2011)
Labels: Best Friends Animal Society, Brian Powers, Court of Appeals, Fatal Pit Bull Attack, Humane Society of the United States, Landlord Liability, Maryland, National Dog Bite Prevention Week, Strict Liability, Tracey v Solesky
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| 5/22/2012 8:58 PM |
I'm enjoying the increase in activism. Seems as if, in the last year, people all over the world have passed the tipping point.
They're tired of living in fear of being attacked by pit bulls. And they've had enough with how shabbily the victims are treated.
And now we're doing something about it.
| 5/23/2012 10:48 PM |
I agree! People are speaking out now like never before!
The HSUS criticism of the Solesky ruling as "emotional" is completely laughable. The "seismic shift" is nothing more than a "strict liability" law that many states have already implemented.
| 5/24/2012 10:18 AM |
Speaking of seismic shift, it appears to be happening in my very own neighborhood.
Newly moved in renters have a very muscular pit bull and a pit mix. The pit bull is muscular to the point of looking like a doggie version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Wonder if it's being trained for dogfighting. People involved in that activity tend to like strong, beefy dogs.
The seismic shift relates to the truck that's parked out in front of the neighbors' house. It's animal control. Doing an investigation, perhaps?
| 5/24/2012 9:58 PM |
I agree with you all, that there is a definite shift. I've noticed it in comments on attack articles. 3 years ago, the nutters outnumbered the anti-nutters 20 to 1. Not anymore! And so many of the comments are "Blah blah blah, we're tired of hearing it!" Of course, there is still the occaisional article where the nutters have obviously rallied each other to post "my pittie is wonderful" stories. But I have definitely seen a change. Kudos to Colleen for being the torchbearer! I'm sorry you were ever put in this position, but think it is so very admirable that you have turned your personal attack into public service.
| 5/25/2012 2:42 PM |
Tucson's pit bull advocates must be getting nervous. News story:
The First ABKC Bully Roundup will be held Saturday in Tucson.
Money quote: "It's just about the training," she says. "You need to socialize them with other animals and with other people. Don't shelter them and make them to be this 'guard dog' that everyone wants them to be."