South Carolina 'Fertile Pit Bull' Bill is Back with Lower Fees and Support from Animal Shelters Across the State

fertile pit bull bill
The "fertile pit bull" bill has been reintroduced in South Carolina with lower fees.

Reducing Pit Bull Births
Columbia, SC - Last week, it was reported that House Bill 4094 was filed by Rep. Chip Huggins. The “fertile pit bull” bill only affects pit bulls that are not spayed or neutered in the state. If an owner chooses to keep an unaltered pit bull, the registration fee is only $25. Similar legislation introduced in 2019 required a $500 fee. The new fee reduces the incentive to sterilize, but at least there would be language in the state code that recognizes the uninhibited breeding of pit bulls.

Pit bulls "account for a disproportionate number of dogs both entering shelters and euthanized at an even higher rate in shelters," said Joe Elmore, president and CEO of the Charleston Animal Society. "It's simple supply and demand -- there are far too many [pit bulls] then there are homes. It's costing taxpayers and donors millions of dollars each year." Taxpayers have long footed the bill for housing unwanted pit bulls in public shelters, but as Elmore states, donors are paying too.

Huggins' bill is called “Jayce's Law," in honor of a boy killed in January by a stray pit bull his mother had recently taken in. His grieving mother live streamed on Facebook afterward, "My 6-year old little boy was attacked early this afternoon by the pit bull that I had been trying to find a home for. It had been abandoned on our property." She added, "I was an advocate, supporter for pit bulls. What happened, happened so fast that there was nothing that anybody could do."

State-Level Data

Included in the article is rare state-level dog bite data by breed. In 14 years, we have only come across one other state, Delaware, which has centralized bite reporting that includes breed data. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released the data. In 2019, there were 7,499 bites from known breeds. Of those, one-third, (2,433 bites), were inflicted by pit bulls and their mixes, three times more than the next top-biting breed, Labradors with 833 bites.

Unlike the 2019 bill, which sat untouched in the House Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs, House Bill 4094 was sent to the House Judiciary Committee. Huggins said he hopes the bill can pass the House this year and be sent to the Senate for consideration next year. As one would expect, pit bull owners and out-of-state lobby groups strongly opposed the 2019 bill. As a result, the $500 bill never even had a hearing.

While trying to defend the 2019 bill, Elmore penned a bold piece titled, "Endangered Species?" He wrote, in part, "No other dog breed or grouping of breeds poses the overcrowding problem for animal shelters as does pit bull type of dogs. It is critically important to distinguish this strategy as reducing the overpopulation, not advocating for a breed ban, which we all vehemently oppose." However, pit bull owners and defenders of the breed rarely listen to logical humane arguments.

"A mandatory pit bull sterilization law is the most basic safety step a community can take when pit bulls are disproportionally biting, disproportionally occupying shelter space and disproportionately being euthanized. This is the right side of the issue to be on." - DogsBite.org, October 24, 2019

Elmore also pointed out that mandatory pit bull spaying and neutering laws are already working in jurisdictions in South Carolina and across the country. Beaufort County, South Carolina enacted the first mandatory pit bull sterilization law in the state and shortly thereafter saw excellent results. After the ordinance passed in October 2015, the pit bull sterilization rate more than doubled in just 14 months. Jurisdictions in California and Michigan have seen similar successful results.

Lowest Sterilization Rate

Back in January, we published a letter from a person who previously worked at an open intake shelter who stated, "pit bull breeders seem to be less responsible with spaying and neutering their dogs." This has also been documented in a peer-reviewed study. A 2011 study examining the prevalence of castrations evaluated at US veterinary hospitals found the overall castration rate of dogs was 64% and pit bulls (27%) were the least likely of all dogs breeds to be castrated.

This is not a new problem, nor is it an unknown problem. Animals 24-7 has been reporting on the low sterilization rate of pit bulls for many years. Staff members of shelters and humane groups, who see intake dogs on a regular basis, know this. Pit bull rescues know this. As the 2011 study shows, employees at veterinary hospitals also know this. Yet, most shelters, humane groups, pit bull rescues and veterinarians strongly oppose mandatory pit bull sterilization laws.

The solution to this opposition, according to Elmore and Rep. Huggins, is to lower the cost of registering a fertile pit bull to $25, the cost of "one cheap bag of dog food," Elmore said. It seems a fee of $75 would send a much stronger message, certainly a fee of $150 would. State legislation is often a "baby steps" phenomenon. Likewise, it's better to have the pit bull problem codified into law than not. Expecting significant results from the $25 law, however, may be wishful thinking.

More Wishful Thinking

Speaking of wishful thinking and recent legislative news, a top lobbyist for Best Friends Animal Society, Ledy VanKavage, recently showed her complete failure of due diligence regarding the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It's either failure of due diligence on her part or cultivating a lie. She's certainly capable of both. She falsely claimed on March 22 and April 1 that the NDAA signed into law by President Trump contained a "breed neutral" mandate.

On March 22, Ledy VanKavage, a lobbyist for Best Friends Animal Society, falsely claimed to Bruce Dickey that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2020-2021 forced the Department of Defense to eliminate long standing breed-specific polices within military divisions. The U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force have banned a small group of dangerous dog breeds from military housing—chiefly pit bulls, rottweilers and wolf-dog hybrids—for over a decade.

The final language of the reconciled NDAA that President Trump signed into law did not contain a “breed-neutral” mandate. Clearly, VanKavage, a top paid lobbyist for pit bull causes, never bothered to read the reconciled version of the Act. This is a failure of due diligence on her part. The removal of the “breed-neutral” mandate was in part due to advocacy by Responsible Citizens for Public Safety (RC4PS.org) and DogsBite.org. - DogsBite.org, March 22, 2021

Watch part of the March 22 interview where VanKavage makes the false claim on the Big Talk with Bruce Dickey show, and again on April 1, when she makes the false claim in the "unlisted" Best Friends Grassroots Advocacy video. Advocates for dog bite victims left comments on the latter video, stating that the breed neutral mandate was not signed into law and that VanKavage had failed to even read the reconciled version of the NDAA -- those comments have been deleted.

The part about U.S. Senator Duckworth (Illinois-D) sending a "demand letter" to the Department of Defense is the most amusing part. VanKavage has little congressional legislation experience (chiefly local and state), if she did, she would have understood that many changes are made during the reconciliation process. Until the NDAA 2020-2021, this nonprofit had little congressional legislation experience either, but we knew that monitoring the reconciliation process was critical.

Related articles:
01/22/21: 2021 Dog Bite Fatality: Mother Live Streams After Pit Bull Killed Son in South Carolina
01/04/21: Working at an Open Intake Shelter: Deliberate Breed Mislabeling, Aggressive Dogs...
10/03/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: 32-Year Old Woman Mauled to Death by Dogs in South Carolina

Shelter Dog Terms Targeting Unwitting Fosters and Terms Used to Describe Major Liability Dogs - A 2021 Addendum

major liability dogs - shelter terms
There are Liability Dogs like Rusty (smaller), and there are Major Liability Dogs (large and powerful), like Quincy, Dieter and Brutus (seen above) awaiting adoption at shelters today.


Unicorn Fosters
DogsBite.org - Last July, we published a special report that identified 125 behavior terms for shelter dogs decoded that mask aggression. We also categorized the terms into their meaning (e.g., impulsive aggression, anxiety) and risk level (e.g., very-high, high, mod-high). We continue to find new terms on adoption listings that mask aggression and other trends in deception, such as omitting long-term shelter stay information, previous returns by adopters and bite histories.

This series of terms focuses on fosters and Major Liability Dogs. Most commonalities include seeking low-level activity homes for shelter dogs with aggressive behaviors that contain no children or pets. The need for "breed experienced" owners is also highlighted, though many dog owners aren't qualified to make that assessment. Just because a person has owned a rottweiler previously, doesn't mean that person can handle "Dieter," a biter and resource guarder.

New Terms

One of the terms previously identified, "unicorn home," has evolved into a "unicorn foster." A dog that needs a "unicorn home" is so animal-aggressive, anxious and a resource guarder that it can only tolerate a "fantasy" home with zero stimuli. A "unicorn foster" has a home with no pets or children and is willing to accept "challenging," dogs riddled with behavior issues. What is unspoken is that a "unicorn foster" must also live in a rare and magical "unicorn neighborhood."

A "unicorn neighborhood" is non-existent. All neighborhoods have pets and kids, and often, at unpredictable times. These unicorn fosters will be expected to walk these behaviorally challenged dogs in public streets and parks. What is absolute and more common than a leash physically breaking is human error. So, a "unicorn foster" must have zero-margin of error 100% of the time when in public. This is not only unrealistic, it can endanger the foster and the community.

No pets, no kids? That means YOU are a rare and magical unicorn and WE NEED YOUR HELP WITH FOSTERING! We have noticed a growing trend at Asheville Humane: dogs who, for various reasons, are a little more challenging to find that perfect match for than your average dog. These dogs typically don't enjoy the company of other animals and are a little "too much" to be placed in a home with children. Because of this, they tend to stay with us for weeks, sometimes months, waiting for their ideal adoptive home. It is not uncommon for these dogs to develop challenging behaviors as a coping mechanism, which only compounds the problem further. - Asheville Humane Society

The slick "unicorn foster" marketing campaign is from the Asheville Humane Society (AHS). In 2015, just days after AHS launched a July 4th promotional campaign, "I want you to adopt an American Pit Bull Terrier," featuring Uncle Sam and a pit bull, a 6-year old boy was killed by a pit bull Asheville Humane had adopted out 3-weeks earlier. That pit bull had passed a SAFER test in flying colors. Maybe their "unicorn foster" campaign portends the mauling death of a foster?

"Fospice" is a term for another type of foster. Notably, rescues are not just trying to make suckers out of adopters, they play the same emotional harp strings with fosters. Athena, a presa canario, has been "handed off to multiple homes," used for breeding, was diagnosed with bone cancer and cannot be around children. Kenway's Cause rescue was also willing to do a leg amputation, despite her estimated lifespan of only 3 to 6 more months. Thus, "fospice" is a hospice foster.

Athena is a case for humane euthanasia to end her suffering. One commenter pointed this out: "Please! No more handoffs!!! Do right by her for Christ's sakes!" Yet, Kenway's Cause was willing to amputate one of her legs, so she could be a 3-legged dog in addition to her having a terminal health condition and a pitiable "rough life" background. At some point, "kindness" stops being kindness. "Fospice," in this case, primarily fulfills a human need, not a need for the animal.


unicorn fosters - major liability dogs

"Unicorn fosters" is a deceptive marketing ploy to entice unwitting fosters into taking in behaviorally challenging dogs (aka aggressive) by making the foster feel "rare and magical."


Major Liability Dogs

When a dog has gotten "absolutely ZERO interest" from perspective adopters, and has already been in a shelter for four years (1,460 days), as Brutus has, one can assume the dog has severe behavioral problems. Brutus needs a "breed experienced owner" (pit bull), where he will be the "only dog in a LOW TRAFFIC" and adult-only household. Decoded, Brutus is animal-aggressive, can't tolerate activity in the home and is unsuitable for children. Only a "unicorn foster" will do.1

When a shelter dog is called a "meathead" that doesn't realize "how big he is" and "lacks manners," requiring an adult-only household with no other pets, one can assume this translates into total disobedience, plays extremely rough (body crashes), will harm children, will kill other animals and is large and powerful -- aka the dog is like a bull in a china shop. The Urban Dictionary meaning for "meathead" also indicates impulsive aggression and super-fast arousal.

"Meathead - An enormously muscular guy who cannot hold a conversation about anything other than weight-lifting and protein shakes. Gets upset very quickly when he cannot complete his own sentences and thoughts. Can be found at nightclubs wearing shirts that are 10 sizes too small (if at all). They are by far the most closely related human beings to that of apes, chimpanzees, and other primate. They are evolutionary hindered and are less capable of following directions than my dead hamster." - Urban Dictionary

When a dog saved from death row is "reactive" and "very teethy," whose new owner cannot afford the "surrender fees" or afford the training the dog needs -- run away, do not walk away. The dog needs "major training and rehab" that its owner is incapable of. This owner clamored onto the "saving a death row dog" train only to realize the dog was "much more than we can handle." Now she's asking for someone else to trick the shelter so that she can avoid paying euthanasia fees!

When a dog is "reactive to ALL new people" and "reactive to most dogs," this translates into stranger aggression, dog aggression and more. TK is also kennel reactive and "extremely selective" about who he "let's in his circle." TK has already bitten 7 people and has to be "muzzled and sedated" to go to the vet. Always and Furever Midwest Sanctuary admits TK is a "liability and risk and one mistake" will result in a person or animal getting hurt. Again, to error is to be human.

The sanctuary also admits, "today a mistake happened." TK "got into the yard with Sally and they fought." Sally wound up at the vet. A sanctuary committed to the welfare of their animals would never allow TK, a Major Liability Dog, anywhere near their animals. In this case, it's not that "TK's life matters" less. It's that TK's life matters more than all of the other animals at the rescue. Always and Furever is proud they "took the risk no one else was willing to take" by taking in this dog.

TK (Travis Kelce) is currently available for adoption. There is no mention of the 7 or more previous bites in his adoption listing. No mention of attacking Sally either, only that TK is "not good with small animals." There is no mention of TK being reactive to "all new people," nor that he is "extremely selective" and dog-aggressive. No indication that TK is a "liability and risk" and that zero margin of error is required -- one mistake results in people or animals (or both) being hurt.

The act of Always and Furever taking in dogs like TK (that no other entity will risk taking) is actually a marketing and fundraising differentiation from other rescues that offers the most "street cred." The more dangerous the dog one accepts, the more street cred one gains. Thus, they do openly talk about TK's reactivity and liability on their Facebook page to gain applause from their followers and donors. The most coveted rescues, in their minds, take in the most dangerous dogs.


major liability dogs - shelter terms

Quincy is described as a "meathead" and Brutus has already spent 4 years in a shelter. Both must be the "only dog in the home" in an adult-only household with "experienced dog owner."


Dieter Paradox

Most of the dogs we have featured thus far are Major Liability Dogs that require a Level 2 or 3 dog owner (Level 3 = dog trainers and professionals). The vast majority of adopters are Level 1 owners; they can't even teach the "Stay" command. Major Liability Dogs have already exhibited aggression and are capable of deliver devastating bites. Dieter, a rottweiler, is among these dogs. However, his adoption listing by the Lakeshore Humane Society is less deceptive than the others.

We first saw the December 16, 2020 adoption listing, which was explosive, a "resource guarding" rottweiler with a "bite record" then backtracked to December 13. The bite occurred between those dates. Dieter is dog selective, cannot be exposed to children or small animals, requires an "experienced rottweiler owner," a fenced yard and attending a training course is a mandatory condition of adoption. Who could actually adopt this dog? A retired police K-9 handler is our pick.

The name of this file is "Dieter Paradox" because it refers to the Shelter Dog Behavior Review that we published in March. Level 1 dog owners do not understand what it means to own a dog like Dieter. They may think they can handle a dog like Dieter, but have no basis or qualifications to make that assessment. The only people who do have that qualification will most often say, "No thanks." That's the paradox. So in the end, the adoption listing for Dieter is still deceptive.

"The only people really qualified to take a dog like that is someone who lived with a dog that had that level of aggression. And, anyone who has already lived with a dog with that level of aggression, will say 'No thanks' to their next dog having the same issues," Sternberg said. "That's the paradox. Once you realize that, you realize that all we are doing is duping someone into adopting a dog because they don't truly understand." - Canine Behavior Review, Fall 2020

Shelter Swapping

"Shelter swapping" is a term that came into full force in the lawsuit against a South Texas no-kill shelter accused of "dog laundering." Recently, there was an excellent example of this concerning a long-term shelter stay dog named Rusty, who was returned to the Waco Animal Shelter one day after being adopted. The dog had previously been in the shelter for 419 days with multiple unsuccessful adoptions and returns. The latest return involved Rusty biting the new adopters.

Rusty (A093077) was first surrendered in February 2020 (2nd home). He was placed into a foster (3rd home) then sent to a rescue in Idaho (4th home and shelter swap). The rescue returned the dog to the Waco Animal Shelter for being dog-aggressive. He was adopted in November 2020 and returned for being "destructive" (5th home). He was adopted in February 2021 and returned (6th home). On March 30, he was adopted and promptly returned one day later (7th home).

Throughout this process, Rusty was called a "staff favorite," as well as deemed "Zack and Jim's Waco 100 Pet of the Week" to help unload the dog onto an unsuspecting adopter. But here is the real whopper. When Rusty was returned to the Waco Animal Shelter on March 31, that date became his "start" date at the shelter. According to the adoption listing, this dog has only been at the shelter since March 31, 2021 and makes no mention of the many previous failed adoptions.

"Rusty - ID#A093077. My name is Rusty. I am a neutered male, brown dog that looks like a German Shepherd Dog and Catahoula Leopard Hound. The shelter staff think I am about 2 years old and 1 month old. I weigh approximately 50 pounds.

I have been at the shelter since March 31, 2021.

Rusty is a great dog but he does take a little time to get used to 'strangers'. Once he bonds, though, he really enjoys being with people. A little patience and understanding will go a long way with him. He must have, though, had some negative experiences with children, as he is not comfortable with them and therefore is looking for an adult only family.

Currently he would be best suited as an only dog until he has had time to adjust to a new home and feels relaxed and loved and bonded, so he is more open to other dogs. Rusty is such a super cute and smart fellow, he would make the perfect addition to committed adopter family2 that shows him that their world can be a fun place with him in it." - City of Waco Animal Shelter, April 1, 2021

Intake Records

When adopting from a city or county shelter, we advise all members of the public to request all "intake" and "outcome" records for the dog. These records will show every time Rusty came into the shelter, left the shelter and was returned to the shelter. These records are not typically easy to read (you have to get used to them). See pages 2 to 6 for an example. "Rainbow" was surrendered by four separate owners. The dog was eventually euthanized for "severe behavior."

Quality of life for dogs like Rusty -- in and out of 7 or more homes and often a year or longer in a shelter -- can be quite poor. Unfortunately, we can't easily turn the masses of Level 1 dog owners into Level 2 and 3 dog owners either. Rusty's last adoption was a disaster; it lasted one day. Rusty's adopters said he was "too much work." The dog also bit them. On April 2, we saw that Rusty's adoption listing was gone. He was apparently adopted again thanks to the media's help.3

Summary

As this selection of shelter terms show, not all are targeted at unwitting adopters. Some are targeted at unwitting fosters too. A "unicorn foster" for a dog with aggression is a fantasy that can endanger the foster and the community where the dog is placed. "Fospice" is a miserable term that turns humane euthanasia on its head. Humane euthanasia is painless; its primary purpose is to end an animal's suffering. Fospice, in some cases, extends this suffering unnecessarily.

Terms like "absolutely ZERO interest" after a 4 year shelter stay or "LOW TRAFFIC home only" or "reactive to ALL new people" or "adult-only household with no pets" indicates dogs with aggressive behaviors that no Level 1 dog owner can handle. These are Liability Dogs and Major Liability Dogs. The "Dieter Paradox" shows us that Level 2 and 3 dog owners, who have managed a dog with aggressive behaviors in the past, typically never want to undertake the task again.

Finally, the best way to detect "shelter swapping" and the number of intakes, returns and outcomes for dogs like Rusty is to directly request these records from the shelter. This information is rarely in the adoption listing. While omitting this information in the listing offers a better chance for the dog to be adopted again, it is unfair and unethical to the new adopters. The quality of life for dogs like Rusty are often low too, all to achieve the no-kill single metric 90% "save rate."


major liability dogs - shelter terms

Dieter and TK are Major Liability Dogs with bite records that require a Level 2 or 3 dog owner. Dieter is a resource guarder and TK has excessive stranger aggression and dog aggression.


1Brutus also found a home with the help of the media. The public will never know if that home worked out either. These are often "stunt rescues," a short term rescue that fulfills the need of a "happy ending" story, or, as in the case of Rusty, a failed adoption because the Level 1 adopters had no idea what they were in for!
2The "committed adopter family" phrase implies that none of Rusty's previous adopters were "committed." That is an unethical guilt trip. The fact is, the adopters were lied to about the dog's behavior. Rusty was "too much work" and a "biter." Perhaps none of the adopters knew how many homes Rusty had been recycled to either.
3As we were getting ready to publish, more information on Rusty came in. Thanks to the media article, "hundreds" of people are now trying to adopt this dog. Paula Rivadeneira, the executive director of the Humane Society of Central Texas, which runs the Waco shelter, is now telling people: "Rusty isn't the dog you're envisioning. It's a kind thing to do, but he's going to be a problem" and Rusty "plays well with some dogs. Around others, he's lethal." For now, reports Patch, Rusty has been "taken in by a local rescue partner" to "identify and overcome the behavioral issues that have caused guilt-ridden families to return him to the shelter." Despite this PR promise, dog-killing aggression cannot be rehabilitated. It can only be controlled through separation measures.

Related articles:
03/01/21: Webinar: Shelter Dog Behavior Review with Sue Sternberg and Gia Savocchi
02/24/21: Lawsuit Against South Texas No-Kill Shelter Alleges "Dog Laundering" After Bite
07/31/20: 2020 Edition: 125 Behavior Terms for Shelter Dogs Decoded that Mask Aggression
05/11/18: Shelters Often 'Encode' and 'Conceal' Aggression in Adoption Advertisements
09/20/16: What's Behind the Clickbait Web Advertisements of Aggressive Shelter Dogs Available?

As Certain Legislators Jockey to Pass a State Preemption Bill, Rolla Boy Sustains Life-Threatening Injuries in Pit Bull Attack

Rolla Pit Bull Attack
A 13-year old Rolla boy suffered life-threatening injuries in violent pit bull attack.

Police News Release
Rolla, MO - On March 22, the Rolla Police Department reported a violent pit bull mauling that left a 13-year old boy with life-threatening injuries. The attack in Rolla came as certain members of the Missouri legislature, once again, attempt to pass a preemption bill that will bar cities and counties from enacting breed-specific laws. Nearly every year since 2014, the Pit Bull Lobby has introduced preemption bills in this Midwest state. So far, these special interest legislative efforts have failed.

"Upon arrival, officers found a 13-year-old male who had life threatening injuries due to the attack. The child was delivering cupcakes to his next-door neighbor when the Pit bull got off his chain and began mauling the child. The owners of the Pit bull began attempting to restrain it, but the Pit bull had the child pinned to the ground while biting the head, neck, and face of the boy. Several adults began pulling the Pit bull from the boy, but the Pit bull was able to break free again and returned to mauling the boy. After repeated attempts, the adults were able to remove the Pit bull from the child and get him to safety, the family and another neighbor began life saving measures by administering first aid." - Rolla Police

Real Lives & Studies

Since 2011, over a dozen peer-reviewed retrospective medical studies from Level 1 trauma centers spanning all major geographical regions in the United States -- Northeast, Southeast, South, Southwest, Midwest, West Coast and Northwest -- all report similar findings. Pit bulls are inflicting a higher prevalence of injuries than all other breeds of dogs. The majority of these studies also report that pit bulls are inflicting a higher severity of injuries compared with other dog breeds.

"The data showed that compared with other dog breeds, pit bull terriers inflicted more complex wounds, were often unprovoked, and went off property to attack ... The probability of a bite resulting in a complex wound was 4.4 times higher for pit bulls compared with the other top-biting breeds ... and the odds of an off-property attack by a pit bull was 2.7 times greater than that for all other breeds." (Khan 2020)

"Our data were consistent with others, in that an operative intervention was more than 3 times as likely to be associated with a pit bull injury than with any other breed. Half of the operations performed on children in this study as well as the only mortality resulted from a pit bull injury. Our data revealed that pit bull breeds were more than 2.5 times as likely as other breeds to bite in multiple anatomical locations." (Golinko, 2017)

What do these findings look like when reading a police or news report of pit bull violence? They look exactly like the attack in Rolla. "Noah suffered extreme injuries during the dog attack. His throat, arteries and voice box were exposed; tissue, skin and muscle is missing from his face" and "Reconstruction will require extensive additional surgeries … doctors will have to graft skin and tissue from his thigh to reconstruct his face." The teenager also suffered a collapsed lung.

We recently wrote to Missouri legislators about this attack because it clearly illustrates why some cities adopt breed-specific laws: 1.) The severity of injuries inflicted by pit bulls and 2.) The inability for nearby adults to quickly stop the attack. Rolla police stated: "Pit bull was able to break free again and returned to mauling the boy. After repeated attempts, the adults were able to remove the Pit bull from the child." One adult also sustained a dislocated shoulder during the attack.

"Repeated attempts" are indicative of a pit bull biting in multiple anatomical locations (Golinko, 2017). The West Virginia study (Kahn, 2020) even went further by assigning a definition to a "mauling event" (≥ 3 complex wounds in different anatomical regions). Of injuries inflicted by pit bulls in the study, simple wounds represented 16.3%, complex wounds 83.7%, fractures 36.8% and "mauling" injuries 24%. Pit bulls inflicted 71% of all mauling injuries in the Kahn study.


Subject: OPPOSE SB 107 - National dog bite victims' group

Dear Honorable Senate Leadership Members,

My name is Colleen Lynn and I am the founder of DogsBite.org, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation established in October 2007 and incorporated in December 2009, becoming the first national dog bite victims’ organization in the United States dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks.

Leadership members may soon be reviewing SB 107 (companion bill HB 365), which will prohibit local governments from regulating specific dog breeds, primarily pit bulls. Over the weekend, a 13-year old boy in Rolla, Missouri was terribly injured by a pit bull in the “head, neck and face” and illustrates why some cities enact breed-specific laws.

I urge you to oppose SB 107/HB 365.

The GoFundMe for Noah describes his injuries further:

"Noah suffered extreme injuries during the dog attack. His throat, arteries and voice box were exposed; tissue, skin and muscle is missing from his face. The dog ripped out Noah’s parotid gland (spit gland) and fractured his jaw. Doctors are uncertain if Noah will regain feeling in the right side of his face or his mouth … He is in Children’s ICU undergoing extensive medical treatment … early surgeries are focused on cleaning and stabilizing the areas impacted by the attack, and mapping the nerves and arteries in his face. Reconstruction will require extensive additional surgeries … doctors will have to graft skin and tissue from his thigh to reconstruct his face."

There are nearly always two elements in a violent pit bull mauling: severe injuries and the inability for nearby adults to stop the attack. In the Rolla attack, "Several adults began pulling the dog from the boy, but it broke free again and returned to mauling the boy … one of the adults sustained a dislocated shoulder during the attack."

Please oppose SB 107/HB 365.

The State should not interfere with the right of local governments to proactively protect their citizens.

Sincerely,

Colleen Lynn
Founder & President
DogsBite.org

Noah's Fundraiser

So far, the GoFundMe for Noah has raised over $32,000. That is close to covering the cost of the airlift to Children's Hospital in St. Louis, which can exceed $30,000. Ambulance air transport (which states cannot price cap1) is often not covered by insurance plans or is subject to the deductible and co-insurance clause. Given the "major injuries" the teenager sustained to his "head, neck and face," his treatment costs will likely be a quarter of a million dollars or beyond.

Certainly, the owners of the pit bull will not pay a dime. Who thinks a home with a chained pit bull has a homeowner's policy covering canine injuries? Missouri is a strict liability state, but if the dog owner is uninsured or underinsured, there isn't a legal case to pursue. Noah was attacked while "delivering cupcakes" to his next-door neighbor. Up until that time, he had his whole life ahead of him. Now, for the foreseeable future, he will be in an ICU bed due to someone else's pet choice.

Missouri Attacks

We seldom write about fatal or nonfatal pit bull maulings in Missouri. For many years, that state, along with Iowa and Kansas, have held the highest concentration of breed-specific laws in the country. That could change this year in Missouri if legislators pass this preemption bill. The city of Rolla never opted to have a pit bull ordinance, but 85 other jurisdictions in the state have. Those jurisdictions want to prevent damaging "first attacks" by a dog breed with well identified risks.

Noah's attack also involved a chained pit bull, which we hear about less often in modern times. Since 2010, chained dog attacks comprised 5% of all fatalities. During the CDC study period of 1989 to 1994, they accounted for as high as 18%. A great number of anti-chaining laws have been adopted since. This pit bull also broke its chain to attack. We have known since 1987 that pit bulls are 14 times more likely to break constraint to attack than all other dog breeds combined.

Summary

Noah is under the care of amazing specialists, but he still has a long road ahead of him. He was repeatedly attacked by a pit bull in the head-neck region that took several adults multiple attempts before they could free the child from the dog. He suffered "extreme" injuries in the attack, including bites to his head, face and neck, a fractured jaw and a collapsed lung. Doctors will have to graft skin and tissue from his thigh to reconstruct his face. The definition of a "mauling event."

Meanwhile, certain Missouri legislators are once again jockeying to pass a preemption bill that will prohibit local governments from preventing damaging "first attacks" by pit bulls. Such legislation only protects pit bull owners, including irresponsible pit bull owners like this one, whose dog was unvaccinated and chained in the owner's yard. We hope Missouri legislators make the right choice by continuing to allow local governments the authority to proactively protect their citizens.


Rolla Pit Bull Attack

The child's grandmother has been keeping family and friends updated on Noah's condition.


1Air Ambulance transport operates in federal airspace, so states are preempted from regulating the price. Though this ConsumerReports document is from 2017, and a summary from insurance companies is from 2019, they sum up the current dismal state of affairs. Congress actually has to DO something, which is unlikely. One attorney noted that there is little reason to take a dog bite case involving an airlift because the cost cuts so deeply into the settlement. Pit bulls have long been the official "LifeFlight dog," requiring more airlifts than all other breeds combined. So, in addition to most of their owners being uninsured, victims are also stuck with a massive airlift bill.

Related articles:
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01/20/21: Victim Shares Account of Vicious Pit Bull Attack on Christmas Day at Seahurst Park
08/07/20: Teenager Suffers Critical Injuries, Crushed Trachea, in Violent Pit Bull Attack in Georgia
05/17/20: Pit Bull Mauling Victim Undergoes Life Changing Surgery 23 Years After Attack

2021 Dog Bite Fatality: Pocket Bully Inflicts Bite to Head, Killing Baby Girl in Springfield, Illinois

Pocket bully kills baby
A’Myrikal Jolynn Hull died after being bitten on the head by a "pocket bully."

Bull Breed Kills Baby
Springfield, IL - A 1-year old girl is dead after being bitten on the head by a pocket bully, which is a squat "designer" pit bull hybrid breed. The breed name is misleading, as these dogs can be quite large (weighty) due to their heavy muscular build. There is an "extreme" version as well. " The pocket bully variety, "is simply shorter than the standard American bully," according to the ABKC website, and "are not to be penalized for exhibiting heavily muscled, massive, bulky body type."

The attack occurred in the 800 block of Indiana Avenue. Family members said the baby got too close to the dog while it was eating from a food bowl. Two teenage uncles has to pry the dog off her, indicating the bite was far more disastrous than a bite-and-release. The attacker was a female pocket bull. Family members said the dog had no violent history with humans or other dogs. Family member Cory Painter said she was in disbelief. "The dog [has] never snapped before."

EMS rushed the baby to HSHS St. John’s Regional Trauma Center. She was pronounced dead at 9:26 pm. The Sangamon County Coroner, Jim Allmon, issued a statement confirming her death. An autopsy will be scheduled. The coroner's office and the Springfield Police Department are investigating her death. A GoFundMe identified the baby as A’Myrikal Jolynn Hull. "Unfortunately tragedy hit tonight! And she was attacked by the family pet of 4 years," states the fundraiser.

Last year, also in Illinois, there was significant media attention after a shorty bull, -- a "designer" bull breed unrecognized by the AKC and UKC -- attacked and killed its owner, 52-year old Lisa Urso. That dog had a history of aggression, including attacking her boyfriend twice in the weeks leading up to the fatal biting incident. Many newspaper headlines declared at the time that a "French bulldog" killed this able-bodied 52-year old female. Those headlines were inaccurate.

Suspected Dogs

One of the child's grandmothers is engaged to a man affiliated with "Antwaun Kang Kennels Readus," a Springfield-based pocket bully breeder. These two dogs are seen on her fiancé's page. Given their age of at least 4-years old, both are likely suspects. The fawn colored dog is a female.1 The sex of the tri-colored dog is also female. The grandmother commented on both dogs, "My baby," and "Mommy fur baby." It was reported the child's mother lived at her grandmother's home.


Pocket bully kills baby

Suspected pocket bullies in the grandmother's household that are at least 4-years old.


Household Confirmed

As we suspected above, A’Myrikal lived with her grandmother Bobbie Jo Stengel (Bobbie Jo Franklin on Facebook), according to a report by The State-Journal Register. Stengel is also the child's guardian. Cory Painter, who organized the child's fundraiser, told the Register the dog's behavior was out of character. "The baby walked by the dog as she was eating and reached for her food," Painter said. "This is nothing new. The dog would eat snacks out of the baby's hand."

However, on Thursday, the dog latched onto her head and would not let go. The child's two teenage uncle's had to pry the dog off of her.

Painter has known Stengel for 17 years and lives close by. The two share a 6-year old grandson, who witnessed the violent attack on his younger sister. The boy is now staying with Painter. She said he did not sleep after the attack and believes that counseling would be beneficial. "He doesn't understand all of this," Painter said. "So I think that getting him the right kind of help immediately is going to be very important." The dog is currently being held by Sangamon County Animal Control.

map iconView the DogsBite.org Google Map: Illinois Fatal Pit Bull Maulings.
1"Kang's Tiny" is so elite, she has her own Facebook page and is pictured on the kennel's marketing materials.

Related articles:
01/03/21: Baby Dies New Years Eve After Man Reports Finding Dog on Top of Her in Dayton, Ohio
05/12/20: 2020 Dog Bite Fatality: Woman Found Mutilated and Dead After Attack by Own Dogs


Baseline reporting requirements:
Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.