UPDATE 02/19/09: DogsBite.org has located the two-part video. In Part I, the Plaintiff Rick Szeman of Jacksonville, Florida sues pit bull owner, Kenny Waters, for his medical bills. The 911 tape of the attack is played, and photographs of the victim's injuries are shown. Judge Judy says to the Defendant, "You buy a dog with the capacity to injure, and you buy it knowing that is has the capacity to cause serious physical injury, because of the unique way that it is made, then you are responsible."
In Part II, Judy clarifies her point further with the defendant, "Did you understand what I said to you? You chose this breed of dog knowing that if it turned on you, it could cause you or someone else serious physical injury. And you bought the dog knowing that and probably for that purpose." She also asks the Defendant, "What do you think would have happened if you had a little child that was playing with a hose in the backyard?"
Judy does hone in on the "structure" of the pit bull's jaws, which is debatable. What is inarguable is the power of the pit bull's jaws and determination to "not let go." Upon learning that the Defendant is keeping one of the dog's puppies, she tells him to not have children. She says, "The dog that is currently living with you is the product of that dog; has the same DNA; has the same brain chemistry; has all the same genes. Do you get it?" She awards the Plaintiff $3,750.
02/18/09: Judge Judy: On the Docket
Los Angeles, CA - On February 17, Judge Judy aired an episode about a pit bull attack. DogsBite.org did not see the episode, but pet owners and pit bull advocates are talking about the show on various forums. Apparently, Judy used the "locking jaw" phrase, which sent pit bull advocates into a flurry. Here are some dialogs we found about the show. The first provides a summary:
(Ianhimom) "There is currently an episode of Judge Judy on that involves a pit bull attack. A father and daughter are currently estranged. The incident happened at the trailer where the 18 year old daughter lives with her 23 year old boyfriend. The boyfriend claims he warned everyone there that day that the pit bull was afraid of water so to stay away from the dog if they had the hose.
The attack resulted in some pretty serious injuries. I have to admit the 911 call was pretty upsetting. The pit bull broke his chain. The boyfriend claims that animal control told him they did not have to remove the dog because he clearly broke his chain. To exhibit his care and to be responsible he did sign the dog over to AC. I am unclear as to what the fate of this dog was.
The young couple however still have a pup from the pit bull's last litter. The judge asked the daughter how she could keep the pup knowing that the same DNA is in the pup that caused the mother to turn. And after seeing the damage done to her father. She said she didn't care, that he was like her baby and he was a good dog. The boyfriend said he didn't care he was still keeping the dog. The judge told them not to have any children until the dog was gone."
(BullyBud) "I used to DVR Judge Judy every day and after watching that episode, I will NEVER watch it and have cancelled it from my DVR."
(gazar) "Now they are in Judge Judy's court and she is giving the guy who owned the pit bull what for for having a pit bull in the first place, "because don't you know that they, have jaws that will lock down and are bound to hurt some one. How could you get this breed of dog. Don't ever have kids as long as you own a pit bull. You need to get a Chihuahua."
(WhiteDove01s) "Oh yes, I saw that yesterday after I'd already had a long day. It led to a stress headache, a rant on my LJ (link below), and a determination to never watch her show again. She should be disbarred for bringing up an urban myth (the locking jaw thing) in court as if it were fact. Judges should know better. Otherwise we're a step back to the days when they used to decide if someone was a murderer by having them touch the corpse to see if it started bleeding again.."
In the Dangerous Dogs area of our website (myth #6), we talk about this myth. A pit bull's jaw may not physically lock, but the inherent fighting trait of a pit bull is to "lock and shake." This is why we consistently read in news reports that the dog would "not let go." During the Toldeo vs. Telling trial, a videotape of a tranquilized pit bull hanging from a steel cable was shown. The dog is unconscious and still does not release. Possibly Judge Judy has seen this clip.
09/29/08: Break Sticks: A Tool Used to Pry Open a Pit Bull's Jaws
03/28/08: Screwdriver Used to Pry Open Pit Bull's Mouth During Attack