Pit Bull Trait Discussion: Unprovoked, Disinhibited Aggression
After a violent facial pit bull mauling, the victim shared a thank you video with her supporters.
DogsBite.org - On March 20, a fundraiser organized by Tregonie Mount began for an adult female who suffered a violent facial pit bull mauling. Currently, the photograph at the top of the GoFundMe is exceptionally graphic. Please do not click on the GoFundMe link if you are unprepared to see these graphic facial injuries. On March 21, the victim posted a thank you video. "Thank you for the prayers and willingness to give and help me in this time of need," she wrote.
According to the GoFundMe, Latoya, who is a flight attendant for American Airlines, suffered a broken leg in December due to air turbulence mid flight. "One of the most scariest things to happen to someone flying," states Mount. While recovering from the broken leg injury, she was attacked in the face by a pit bull while on her way to rehabilitation. "Words cannot describe the emotionally traumatic, physically devastating and spiritually testing time it is for her," states Mount.
No information was provided about the owner of the dog or if the victim knew the dog. So far, we have seen no media reports about this attack.
"Today was the first of many surgeries she will need on the road to recovery," Mount continues. "The deep wounds from the dog bite also carry a high rate risk of infection. So it's very important that medical treatment is sought out in a timely fashion to lower her risk during this horrifying world crisis (coronavirus)." Mount also explains the other devastating reality Latoya faces. "Not one family member has been able to be with her during this, due to hospitals being on full lock down."
Mount states that Latoya will need, "primary reconstructive surgery, secondary reconstructive, cartilage grafting, skin grafting, fat grafting, flap reconstruction, debulking and laser resurfacing." Mount also asks donors to come together: "I ask that you show her how the world can come together to uplift those in the community which is in need. Let's not allow her to fall into depression," but be a beacon of hope for the next person who suffers "this unfortunate incident."
Even the most minor facial attacks inflicted by a dog can cause serious disfigurement, such as the partial loss of an eyelid, nose or lip. Yet, this is still an "inhibited" aggressive response by the dog. The difference with pit bulls is that they often exhibit sudden disinhibited aggression, which is always a disproportionate response to the stimuli. Thus, the routine act of an owner bending down to kiss his pit bull can result in sudden, unbridled aggression causing catastrophic injury.
This type of unprovoked and disinhibited aggression is also called "impulsive aggression." As animal behaviorist Alexandra Semyonova states in her 2006 analytical paper, "It's also not realistic to pretend that impulsive aggression is not pathological. The environments (the fighting pit, the baited bull, the escaping slave) for which these behaviors were selected as an adaptive response are so extreme that in fact there is no appropriate context for these behaviors in normal life."
"There is such a thing as normal aggression in animals (and dogs). Maternal aggression, territorial aggression, predatory behavior, for example, all depend on different neuronal and hormonal mechanisms, and they are all normal coping responses in a particular environment. These behaviors in the dog have been accepted by humans in the process of domestication, as long as the behaviors can be foreseen. Abnormal disinhibited behavior is not functional, and it is unpredictable. Although high arousal and sudden attack can be functional in certain environments, this behavior is pathological in a safer environment, where a high level of arousal and aggressivity aren’t necessary and only lead to unnecessary attacks and injuries." - Alexandra Semyonova
Earlier this month, we linked to the video of the vicious facial attack of 92-year old Norma Graves, a resident at the Village Green Alzheimer's Care Home, by a rescue pit bull. One sees that this pit bull does offer signals of "discomfort" that many adults would recognize as a warning, but Graves had no ability to recognize this. However, nothing in her behavior (petting the dog) warranted the extreme disproportionate response by the pit bull, which launched a full-scale frontal assault.
For additional context, let's review an acutal routine act of an owner bending down to kiss his pit bull of multiple years that resulted in sudden, disinhibited aggression that caused catastrophic facial damage. This video, like the Graves video, is difficult to watch, though the resulting injuries are not shown in it. When this video was trending last month, we were able to locate a photograph of the pit bull owner's severe facial injuries. Before clicking this link, please do brace yourself.
As one Youtube commenter mentions, "Hardwood floor probably saved the rest of his face." No, the hardwood floors probably saved his life.
As we just witnessed, the coronavirus crisis is not going to reduce violent pit bull maulings, especially attacks carried out by family pit bulls upon household members and their friends. Like Latoya's story, however, attacks during this pandemic are not likely to receive media attention. In February, just before cities and states started locking down, Lauren of San Antonio was viciously attacked by a friend's pit bull. She's now being treated at University Hospital trauma center.
Sadly, none of these victims likely had any understanding of impulsive aggression and that breeders of fighting dogs selected for this trait -- the willingness to attack unbridled in the absence of species-specific signs that normally provoke aggression. The heritability of abnormal aggressive behavior, which Semyonova argues in her paper can no longer be denied, is the same reason why pit bulls appear so frequently in severe and fatal maulings compared with other dog breeds.
11/17/17: Rescue Pit Bull Attacks, Kills Woman in Virginia Beach Hours After Being Adopted
01/02/17: Pit Bull Named 'Scarface' Mauls Family Members After Owner Tries to Put Sweater...
05/05/09: Alexandra Semyonova: Heritability of Behavior in the Abnormally Aggressive Dog