ANIMAL WATCH-At the March 14 LA Animal Services Commission meeting, Brenda Barnette included in her GM Oral Report a short but very precise and lucid overview of the Animal Services’ widely publicized hearing held on March 1. This was the inquiry to determine whether two Pit Bull that killed a tiny Pomeranian and then inflicted injuries which may have resulted in, or contributed to, the death of the dog’s owner, Valentin Herrera, 76, should be declared “Dangerous Animals.” 

Barnette concluded with a clear and succinct statement: “Those dogs have been humanely euthanized.” 

She later told a CBS reporter that she may have been confused and claims she “misspoke.” However, Barnette was voluntarily summarizing one single event---not discussing a number of cases or under stress that might have muddied her memory. 

None of the Commissioners has experience in animal control, but they are thoroughly familiar with LA Municipal Code SEC. 53.18.5.  HEARING PROCEDURES AND LICENSE REVOCATIONS, since, with Commissioner Larry Gross presiding, they serve as the Appeals Board in Dangerous Animal and Barking Dog hearings and review these cases regularly. In fact, they had heard four such appeals that morning. 

But, with three attorneys present, not one asked about the euthanasia of the Pit Bulls prior to an appeal period. GM Barnette’s statement was delivered so unequivocally that no one raised the basic question to determine the right of LAAS to euthanize: “Did the owner relinquish the dogs?” 

On Monday, March 20, after my CityWatch article appeared, LA Killer Pit Bulls Euthanized…Are Dog Attacks Now an Epidemic?, which quoted Barnette’s statement, I received numerous communications from reliable sources that the Pit Bulls in the Lincoln Heights attack were very much alive and being held at North Central Animal Shelter awaiting the end of the owner’s appeal period on March 22. 

At 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21, I electronically submitted a California Public Records Act Request (CPRA) to Commission President David Zaft and GM Brenda Barnette, asking for the records in their database regarding the status of these dogs. 

Very promptly, at 2:20 p.m. I received all requested material, and a surprise! An entry by a shelter supervisor at approximately 3:45 p.m. on March 20, states: 

“Administration has notified me that (Redacted name) is appealing DA 171117 NC and the determination that her dogs are “dangerous” (A1679513 AND A1679514). These dogs are to be held until the appeal is decided.

How could Brenda Barnette, who has more than six years as General Manager at one of the largest animal-control agencies in the U.S. and is the person who signs the decisions made at all Dangerous Animal hearings, forget there is an appeal period before allegedly dangerous dogs can be euthanized under law? 

Also, there were two Assistant General Managers, Louis Dedeaux and Dana Brown, in the room at that time. Either could have slipped a note to their boss or whispered in her ear that she “misspoke.”  (Asst. GM Louis Dedeaux has over 25 years in field and shelter experience at LA Animal Services and is the person who approves ALL animal euthanasias in City shelters.) Since neither of them corrected her, there was no reason for anyone present or those listening to the "On Air" broadcast to doubt Barnette’s word. 

ALARMING INFORMATION FROM KENNEL IMPOUND 

Here’s a little more information garnered from the Kennel Impound Cards: The two Pit Bulls involved in the February 2 attack on Mr. Herrera and his dog are named, “Rocky” (60 lbs.) and “Blue,” (83 lbs.) Both have a DOB of 02/03/2015. Neither is neutered or microchipped. There is no indication of dog licenses. Their physical condition does not indicate any negative findings but the description for each under OBJECTIVE FINDINGS, reads, “Patient will not allow full examination – SCARED.” A note for Rocky’s skin condition states: “MUZZLE SOILED W/BLOOD O/W OK.” 

When CBS spoke to the grandson of the victim, Valentin Herrera, he was upset that the owner is requesting return of these dogs. However, an expert opined that it is possible the decision to appeal has as much to do with limiting potential civil liability. Simply allowing the dogs to be euthanized could be interpreted as an admission that they are dangerous, he said. The owner may believe there is a possibility of overturning the ruling by the LAAS Hearing Examiner, either on an appeal to the Commission or by filing an action in Superior Court. 

If the owner prevails, it could mean the dogs will be released to her and returned to the Lincoln Heights location or merely moved to a location outside the city limits. 

THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME GM BARNETTE HAS “MISSPOKEN.” 

Brenda Barnette -- who had no animal control or law-enforcement experience when she was appointed to be LA City’s “Top Dog” by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- has “misspoken” or “misinformed” on numerous occasions, with very costly results to taxpayers, animals and LAAS employees. 

Here are just a few of the published examples: 

Aug. 5, 2011 -- Guns, Ammunition Seized at L.A. Animal Shelters as Probe Expands  

Oct. 21, 2011 -- Phew! All of L.A. Animal Services' Guns Are Accounted For, Audit Finds.  

Feb. 14, 2012 – Six Animal Shelter Captains Benched Pending Vending Machine Contract Probe  

June 13, 2013 – Los Angeles Animal Services Captains Cleared   

Mar 18, 2013 – Los Angeles Animal Services' Brenda Barnette: 'No Night Care for Animals in City Shelters’   

Jul 3, 2013 – LA Animal Services’ GM Brenda Barnette Says Shelters Need Puppies  

Sept. 28, 2015 -- Memo to GM Barnette and LA Council: LA Animal Control Officers are at Risk  

July 23, 2017 -- LA Animal Services' Employee Mauled by Pit Bull ... Who Cares? 

SHOULD “MISMANAGEMENT” BE EXCUSED? 

Barnette’s annual salary is now over $230,000 (Comparatively, Governor Jerry Brown makes $190,100, and the Assembly Speaker and Senate President pro tem are each paid $119,734, according to the LA Times.)  

Shouldn’t we expect that she would not “misspeak” or “misinform” (without correction) on a matter as serious as Pit Bulls that are alleged to have killed a man and his dog? 

Should the Commission (or anyone else) believe her on other issues -- including her insistence that Los Angeles is almost “No Kill,” although streets in many areas are rife with stray dogs and cats and thousands of homeless animals are merely being transported to other cities/states or “fostered” without a permanent home? 

After more than six years, shouldn’t Barnette be expected to know the basic elements that are a regular part of her job? 

Barnette’s “mismanagement” has systematically devastated a vital public safety department and endangered her staff, the public and animals; but there have been no consequences. 

Is that because Barnette is automatically excused from “misspeaking” or “misinforming?” Or, is it because the political leadership of Los Angeles does not want to bring attention to its own rampant systemic manipulation of the truth?

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

ANIMAL WATCH-LA Animal Services’ GM Brenda Barnette announced on the Department’s intranet messaging board on September 15 at 5:00 p.m., that new Assistant General Manager Derek Brown—hired in June--had resigned. Barnette stated that the job was “not a good fit” for him.

The job description clearly stated that the decision on hiring would be made by Brenda Barnette, and the person selected would serve entirely at the pleasure of the GM. 

Derek Brown (not to be confused with Animal Services Asst. GM Dana Brown) is the fourth highly qualified and experienced AGM to leave abruptly during Barnette’s six-year tenure (plus the sudden recent resignation of impeccable Commission Secretary/Management Analyst II Rita Moreno, whose loss prompted a Commissioner to comment that he proposed a motion to not let her leave).

That’s a lot of high-level professionals who apparently were “not a good fit” at LAAS! 

Derek Brown is a former 20-year LAAS employee who began as an animal control officer. He left in 2007, at the rank of Captain, to take on the responsibilities of Deputy Director at L.A. County Animal Care and Control. He remained in that position until, after a lengthy recruitment process, Barnette hired him as AGM to oversee field operations. He also appeared representing the GM at several Commission meetings. So, if, after three months on the job, he was “not a good fit,” it wasn’t because Derek Brown lacked experience or industry expertise. 

Although he is a very private person, close friends and colleagues say that, soon after Derek’s appointment, he became concerned about---what I will call—a difference between his “management style” and that of Barnette and Director of Field Operations Mark Salazar. 

Salazar was hand-selected by Barnette two months after her appointment in 2010. His experience as an animal control officer was very limited. Media reports (below) document his challenges as a manager after that and, according to L.A. City Personnel Dept., were known to Barnette. 

Let’s take a look at the public management histories of both Brenda Barnette and Mark Salazar--whom Barnette frequently praises publicly--before and after they took over LAAS.

Brenda Barnette was appointed GM in September 2010; however, the hiring announcement was first made at a media conference on June 17, by former-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilman Paul Koretz (who was involved in selecting her.)

Villaraigosa stated that, after a year-long, nationwide search, which he called “the most intensive he’s ever seen,” Brenda Barnette, CEO of the (very small) Seattle Humane Society, was most qualified out of a reported 120 candidates. Barnette, a WA resident, did not have the one mandatory prerequisite for the job--a CA driver’s license. She also had no prior animal-control experience. 

Barnette, a self-described former dog breeder, had another position in Seattle. She was Legislative Representative for the American Kennel Club (AKC), which, she told the press, meant merely hitting the “forward key” when the world’s largest purebred dog-breeding registry sent her issues to oppose or support. 

Brenda Barnette was beleaguered by labor issues at Seattle HS, according to an Oct. 20, 2009, media release by the Animal Control Officers’ Guild (ACOG), “The SHS with around 70 staff has had over 60 employees turnover in the last 18 months, this is over 75%! Staff fears this is not just the nature of the job but from a complete lack of attention to training, employee retention and morale by management leading to a lack of continuity in care of animals.” 

On Oct. 10, 2010, GM Barnette announced to her employees (via the internal message board) that after an extensive interview process that included answering three essay questions in advance, answering two question at the interview, and an in-person interview, she had decided to hire outsider Mark Salazar as the Director of Field Operations (DFO) in charge of law-enforcement and field services. Barnette explained in the post, “My job, as your General Manager, is to lead and leaders do not always get to make popular choices….” 

So, what was so special about Mark Salazar that would cause new GM Barnette to emphasize her “leadership” in hiring him, and bypass many experienced, fully qualified officers already managing field operations? (Although he is called “Commander,” for some undisclosed reason, Salazar has reportedly never worn a badge at LAAS.)   

Here’s Mark Salazar’s public management record before joining LAAS: 

A January 7, 2016, article in the Press Enterprise reports a new lawsuit: RIVERSIDE: City Workers Allege Harassment.  This article reviews a similar suit filed against Mark Salazar in 2008 in great detail, stating: 

It’s not the first lawsuit to allege harassment and other impropriety in the city’s code enforcement department. In 2008, five former employees sued the city and former code enforcement manager Mark Salazar, who they said harassed and discriminated against them based on age, sex and disabilities. (Emph. added) 

“In those cases, workers alleged Salazar inappropriately touched them, made sexual and insulting comments to employees and retaliated when they complained, including sending three of them to work out of a dirty, dangerous metal shed in the city yard. 

A suit filed in March 2008 by Mary Furfaro, Todd Solomon and Steve Livings was settled in 2010. Livings, who had been fired, was reinstated to his job with back pay.” 

Now, let’s look back at what was published about Mark Salazar in 2008. 

Mark Salazar was verified as the code enforcement supervisor named in the following lawsuit: 

Former Riverside code enforcement officers cite discrimination in suit – The article describes allegations against Mark Salazar of inappropriate touching, discrimination, harassment and retaliation, including having them work from a metal storage shed, with stored hazardous materials, no air-conditioning, no heating or drinking water. (These incidents allegedly occurred in 2005/2007.)  (The Press Enterprise, 3/19/08)    

2 more former Riverside code enforcement officers sue city” – Two more former Riverside code enforcement officers sued the city claiming age and sex discrimination. “The main accusations in both suits are against Mark Salazar, the city’s former code enforcement manager.” 

According to the City of Riverside, Mark Salazar “stopped working as a city employee in February and was given a contract as an advisor on code, which ended in August,” the article states. 

Mark Salazar made headlines again as the Executive Director of the Northeast Texas Humane Society in Longview, TX, in 2010, where he had reportedly worked for only nine months, and where he stated in his own report, with his photo, The Northeast Texas Humane Society has a euthanasia rate of 80%. 

Dispute grows over contract with Humane Society - Mark Salazar refused the request of the city which funds the Humane Society to perform an audit of finances in Oct. 2010... (LongviewNewsjournal.com, 10/14/10) 

Open the Books: Humane Society’s unwillingness to open records raises questions (Longview Newsjournal.com 10/17/10) 

Humane Society director resigns - “Mark Salazar, executive director of the Humane Society of Northeast Texas, has resigned and will be returning to Los Angeles to work in that city’s animal services department.” (Longview News-journal.com, 11/24/2010)  

Following is the short list of the Barnette/Salazar management-team decisions (and City embarrassments) since 2010: 

8/5/2011 - LAPD, City Seize Guns at 6 L.A. Animal Shelters  Plainclothes LAPD officers are reported to have taken about 120 weapons, including shotguns, rifles and .38-caliber handguns from the six animals shelters, the LA Times explained, “The city's 75 animal control officers are issued firearms to kill wild animals that are too injured to transport to shelters.” 

An audit was requested by Animal Services head Brenda Barnette, according to the Daily News.  Lt. Troy Boswell said they were unaware of any concerns. The police handed workers at the East Valley Shelter a note from Barnette and then took .38-caliber handguns from the premises. "We were given no explanation," he said.

10/21/2011 Phew! All of L.A. Animal Services Guns Are Accounted For, Audit Finds   “Thursday, officials announced the audit determined that all of the department's weapons were accounted for…”, the LAist reported. 

2/14/2012 – Six Animal Shelter Captains Benched Pending Vending Machine Contract Probe

“The city has sent home six animal shelter commanders pending a police probe into shelter vending machine contracts,” the Daily News has learned. “The six captains were placed on paid administrative leave Sunday by Brenda Barnette, general manager for Los Angeles Animal Services.” 

“Each captain earns up to $75,000 a year. Each has been ordered not to speak with each other or the media.” 

“The vending machines had been employed by the commanders since the 1950's to provide petty cash ($20-30/mo.) for shelter decorations, prizes and pizza for workers and volunteers. The practice was codified by the department in 2008. Barnette signed another amendment early last year granting captains permission to earn shelter money through recycling or machine vending, as long as they kept records,” the Daily News reported. 

The captains were being investigated by the LAPD's Burglary Crimes Division, “their crime, explained to them by a police detective: They had eaten shelter pizza they'd helped buy by contracting for the vending machines.” 

"We have a plan of action," Brenda Barnette told Daily News reporter Dana Bartholomew. "We have been working with the city psychologist on how to manage change."

6/13/2012 Los Angeles Animal Services Captains Cleared 

Six Los Angeles Animal Services captains returned to work this week after being cleared of any wrongdoing for improper vending machine contracts during "Pizzagate”…. The cost of their combined paid leave: $426,000…,” the Daily News announced, adding, “Barnette did not return calls for comment.”

Mar 18, 2013Los Angeles Animal Services' Brenda Barnette: 'No Night Care for Animals in City Shelters’  

“The on-going tragic implosion of Los Angeles Animal Services continues in an undated communication from General Manager Brenda Barnette, entitled, “Graveyard Shift Change for Animal Services,” … She states, “At the end of this month, Animal Services will not have Animal Care Technicians (ACTs) in the shelters from midnight until 6 AM…” 

Jul 3, 2013 – LA Animal Services GM Brenda Barnette Says Shelters Need Puppies  

After supporting an ordinance to prohibit pet stores from selling puppies, kittens, dogs or cats from puppy mills or local breeders, former dog breeder Brenda Barnette, issued a report…recommending that the Department stop spaying late-term pregnant dogs and foster them with rescuers or fosters until the puppies are eight weeks old, when they would be returned to LAAS to be adopted out for additional revenue. 


Oct 26, 2013
- Brenda Barnette's Daughter is a 'Responsible' Dog Breeder, Says Best Friends-L.A.’s Director   

Brenda Barnette’s daughter--Mary Alice Davis--was hired by Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles after Barnette arranged the $1-per-year giveaway of the new $19 million Northeast Valley Animal Shelter to Best Friends. (Plus, the City provides $200,000 a year in maintenance while Best Friends occupies the shelter.) A dog show roster dated May 23, 2013, shows Brenda Barnette and her daughter Mary Alice Davis listed as co-owners of a “Puppy Bitch” in competitions at the Southern California Portuguese Water Dog Club.                                        

When questioned about this, Marc Peralta, Director of Best Friends-LA, wrote back to advocate Daniel Guss: “Mary Alice Davis is not an adoption coordinator, rather she is the foster care coordinator at our pet adoption center in Mission Hills….While Best Friends always advocates adoptions from shelters or rescues for those looking for a pet, we do acknowledge that there are responsible and caring breeders (with definitions attached). Mary Alice falls into the category of responsible breeders. (October 8, 2013 e-mail from Marc Peralta, Director of Best Friends-LA)

Sept 28, 2015 - Memo to GM Barnette and LA Council: LA Animal Control Officers are at Risk ...  

On September 16 the City Council’s Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee heard a dismal report on the condition of LA Animal Services’ fleet of Animal Rescue Vehicles (ARV’s.) None of these animal-collection trucks have been replaced since 2000-2003, according to General Services Asst. GM Angela Sherick-Bright and Fleet Services Manager Richard Coulson. 

These high-mileage trucks are driven by solitary Animal Control Officers to animal-related emergencies and humane investigations, 24/7, throughout the 469 square miles of urban and rural Los Angeles. Following are a few of the alarming ARV mechanical/equipment failures that have been reported by officers...(read more) 

May 23, 2016 - LA Animal Services: Pit Bull with a Violent History Attacks Potential Adopter...  

A Pit Bull named Sammy with a prior record of repeated aggression, and who had just bitten a Los Angeles Animal Services kennel worker in the abdomen, was released on April 28, 2016, to NovaStar Rescue, at the personal instruction of LA Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette. 

On May 15, Los Angeles Fire Department and LAPD responded to a house near downtown LA at approximately 9 p.m., where a pit bull was attacking a woman who “was visiting the dog to determine if she wants to adopt from the rescue who had been fostering the dog.” That dog was later identified by LA Animal Services as Impound #1608123, “Sammy.” “Sammy” was alive but had been stabbed 19 times by a neighbor who heard the victim screaming. 

Also: LA Animal Services Removes Animal Control Officers from Harbor Shelter: Staffing Shortages or Poor Management?   

Mayor Garcetti OK’s $800,000 for Feral Cat Report While the City’s Homeless Struggle

LA Animal Services Brenda Barnette Hiding theTruth about Coyote Attacks and Rabies or Clueless 

Unfortunately, these are just a few of the alarming and embarrassing public 'errors' made by Brenda Barnette and Mark Salazar. It is unforgivable for taxpayers to pay for this gross mismanagement and for LA’s homeless animals to be victimized by the waste of LA Animal Services $46-million budget designated for their care.

Maybe “not being a good fit” with the current upper-management status quo at LAAS is a good thing!  

But this begs greater questions: Is anyone managing the City of LA? And, why is this undisputable history of incompetence being allowed to continue?

(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to opposingviews.com.  She lives in Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams. 

ANIMAL WATCH--Let's say you’ve discovered some mouse droppings, maybe even seen a mouse or rat scurrying by one night.  So you decide to get some rat poison and put it out confident the problem has been solved. The rat eats the poison and makes its way across the yard where it catches the eye of a cat, a hawk, an owl that move in to catch this easy prey because it has slowed down or is moving erratically.  Let's say the neighbor’s cat catches it, eats it.  A few days later the heartbroken neighbor is posting signs wondering where their cat has disappeared to while a distraught neighbor a few doors over is calling dead animal pick up for the cat lying under the bushes. 

This is not an unusual scenario.  Using poison to kill rodents creates a serious hazard to cats and local birds of prey. 

From PetMD – 

Strychnine is a very strong and dangerous poison that is often added to bait for killing rats, moles, gophers, and other rodents or unwanted predators. Having a very short duration of action, the clinical symptoms of strychnine poisoning typically appear within ten minutes to two hours after ingestion, resulting in sudden death.

Patients often will die due to spamming of the muscles involved in respiration, resulting in strangulation. Cats of all ages are equally susceptible to the adverse effects of strychnine.

The following are some of the symptoms of strychnine poisoning:

- Limb rigidity
- Stiff muscles
- Uncontrolled violent seizures (sometimes in response to bright lights or noise)
- Severe spasms leading to arching of the head, neck and back in extreme hyperextension (opisthotonus)
- Elevated heart rate
- High body temperature
- Breathing difficulties, inability to breathe,
- Vomiting

So how do we get rid of rats without creating lethal danger to our wonderful local cats, hawks and owls, all of whom provide the BEST way to kill rats and mice?  

First of all a message to all the kind people providing food to their local feral population, do NOT put food out and keep it out.  Put it out at specific times in the day and pick up whatever the cat doesn’t eat.  That food attracts other creatures as well. Cats will know when the food is coming especially if you call them every time. 

We also discourage the use of glue traps as it is a particularly cruel and inhumane, time consuming way to kill a rodent.  The mouse runs onto it, sticks, and is terrified while its struggles to escape. It will either die slowly of dehydration or starvation. The traps can rip off fur and skin while they struggle, and rodents have attempted to chew through their own limbs to get free. Other animals can get trapped on it as well. 

There is now a popular, new and effective trap that is being used by responsible residents. An electric trap. Small box with lure at back. Only mice and rats can fit in and are immediately zapped.  More humane and less messy than the old fashioned snap traps. Just Google electric rat traps. 

Here are some websites that give excellent instruction on ways to discourage rodents from visiting at all including the use peppermint oil - Add 20-30 drops of peppermint essential oil to each cotton ball and lay strategically around your home. Refresh every week or so, or whenever you notice the smell is fading.) Did you know rodents hate to cross aluminum foil? 

MORE INFO 

 

(Dianne Lawrence is a dog trainer and the publisher of The Neighborhood News. Reach her at: whatagooddogla.com/) 

-cw

ANIMAL WATCH-GM Brenda Barnette announced at the LA Animal Services’ Commission meeting on March 14, that the two Pit Bulls impounded after the tragic attack which killed Valentin Herrera, 76, and his small dog last month have been euthanized. 

Mr. Herrera and his 5-year-old Pomeranian were walking in the 2600 block of Lincoln Park Blvd. near his home on February 2, when two male Pit Bulls which had escaped from a nearby yard grabbed the tiny dog, "shredding his body like a piece of material,” according to a neighbor. An eyewitness said that the owner of the Pit Bulls saw the dogs attacking but took no action to stop them.

When he tried to save his best friend, Mr. Herrera was also attacked, suffering severe injuries to his head and arms. 

He underwent surgery but remained in a coma and never regained consciousness. According to a statement by a family member on their GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses, "...after about 3 weeks of being in the hospital the doctors have told us that his brain is no longer functioning. The family and I have decided to let him go and rest, because we know he has been through so much."

Mr. Herrera died on February 28, just before a scheduled hearing on the attack by the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services on March 1.

Brenda Barnette told the Commission that because the hearing was so emotional for both the victim’s family members who attended and the owner of the Pit Bulls, reporters were allowed in the room but no cameras were permitted inside.

KABC reported that, although the owner of the dogs did not want to be on camera, “at the hearing he said he was on medication at the time and in shock.” 

A disabled woman, who claimed she lives on the same property as the owner of the Pit Bulls, previously told KABC  that “the dogs were her ‘security’… against intruders who invaded the yard to steal fruit from its trees.” An earlier report stated that the dogs were not licensed. 

Another resident of Lincoln Heights, Stephanie Grizelle, informed CBS that the same two Pit Bulls had killed her small therapy dog, Tulula, four days earlier, as her two young children watched. She added that both children required therapy. 

Valentin Herrera was a steelworker who came to Los Angeles from Jalisco, Mexico. He purchased the home in Lincoln Heights in 1996. His son, Luis, described his father as a strong, loving man and wonderful father. Mr. Herrera leaves behind his wife of more than 50 years, Anita, children and grandchildren, and a shaken and grieving community.

THE INDIRECT VICTIMS OF DOG ATTACKS 

Pit Bull attacks or other severe dog attacks, whether fatal or not, affect far more than the obvious victim. They impact neighbors and others who witness the grisly event or the aftermath. A family is often robbed of a parent, child, spouse, or animal companion. Even if the victims live, they may be permanently grossly disfigured and mentally traumatized -- unable to recover a previous lifestyle or continue a career. If a child is severely injured or killed, future hopes and dreams are lost forever. 

Additionally, the family of victim of a dog attack can often suddenly find themselves with overwhelming unexpected veterinary, medical and/or funeral bills.

ARE PIT BULL ATTACKS BECOMING EPIDEMIC? 

A prior CityWatch article about the attack on Valentin Herrera cited numerous recent local Pit Bull attacks, but this is not a problem unique to Los Angeles. 

Here are just a few of the many attacks reported across the country from December 2016 – March 2017: 

Woman undergoes surgery after attack by 2 pit bulls 

On March 16, 2017, a 63-year-old woman underwent surgery after she was attacked by two pit bulls in Pembroke, NC, according to the Red Springs Citizen. Both dogs were euthanized for rabies testing. The woman’s identity and condition were not yet disclosed because the case is also being handled as a “communicable disease investigation." 

Early during 2016 a pit bull attacked and killed a Lumberton child, the report said, prompting the city to adopt an ordinance targeting dogs deemed “vicious.” A Pembroke woman lost an arm after being attacked last year by a Pit Bull. 

Pit bull attack in Bensenville IL leaves man with 30 bite marks   

On March 13, 2017, Chris Kazmierczak, 22, was walking to his car with a friend in Bensenville, IL, when he said he heard something running up behind him. "...(I) turned around to see what it was and next thing I know the thing was on my arm," he told WGN-TV. He described the attacking dog as a white Pit Bull, wearing a collar. His friend was finally finally able to kick and pull the dog away, but Kazmierczak will need to undergo rabies treatment if the animal isn't found. 

Also, there is a gaping wound on his left arm and about 30 bite marks. Kazmierczak does construction for a living and said he won't be able to work with his hands for at least two months. 

Joliet’s Pit Bull Problems So Bad Police Dept Hires Dangerous Dog Officer  

Feb 22, 2017- Joliet will hire a part-time police officer whose sole job will be to follow-up on dangerous dog calls. Last year in July the city revealed that they had 11 dangerous dog hearings concerning 17 dog attacks in 7 months. The city admitted that most attacks were committed by pit bulls, but would not give exact numbers. In August, after that city report on dangerous dogs, another serious Pit Bull attack left a woman nearly dead.


Cape Cod, MA, records that Pit Bulls are top in dog bites  

So far this year, Yarmouth has seen at least three pit bull attacks on small dogs, one which led to the death of a 3-year-old terrier named Doc….the type of dog known as Pit Bull shows up more in reported attacks across the Cape than any other breed, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Between January 2016 and February 2017, Yarmouth logged 19 Pit Bull bites on dogs and people, according to data from the town's Board of Health. Not included was a recent incident in which a Pit Bull bit its owner, severing the top part of her finger when she tried to break up a fight between it and another Pit Bull, according to Yarmouth Deputy Police Chief Steven Xiarhos. 

Across the Cape during the same period, towns reported Pit Bull bites on humans and dogs 58 times. Pit bulls represented 12.6 percent of the breeds listed in the bite reports, but make up only 1.2 percent of the registered dogs on Cape Cod.  

Police Fatally Shoot Two Attacking Pit Bulls in Bushwick [NY] 

On March 11, 2017, police officers shot and killed two Pit Bulls that were mauling a man, according to the NYPost.com

NYPD reported that multiple officers rushed to an apartment near the corner of Hancock Street and Bushwick Avenue at roughly 10:30 p.m., where they found a 50-year-old man inside being attacked by the two dogs. The injured man, identified by the Post as Paul "Nitty" Davis, was rushed to Kings County Hospital.  

The dogs belonged to Devon Dixon, 26, a roommate of Davis, who said he had rescued them from a neighbor's yard after they had been abandoned, the Post notes.  Dixon recalled trying to beat the dogs back with a two-by-four board, but was unable to stop them until police arrived and shot both dogs. 

“But they had to, Nitty was losing a lot of blood," he told the Post

Pit Bull seriously injures four-year-old boy in Pocatello  

On Sunday, December 4, 2016, a four-year-old boy in Pocatello, Idaho, was attacked by a Pit Bull owned by his mother’s boyfriend, reports KIFI. The mother has custody of the child. 

The boy’s father explained that the “…attack damaged two of the boy's facial nerves, which control movements, like smiling. Other wounds damaged the spit glands, the upper lip and below one eye.” Surgery to repair the boy’s face took six and a half hours and more than 1,000 stitches, according to the father. He said the surgeon told him it was one of the worst cases he’d ever seen and they don’t know if his son would ever get back functionally and he will have a big scar. 

THE NATIONAL PIT BULL AWARENESS VICTIM page shows the faces and tells the stories of Pit Bull attack victims all over the country. The organization also provides the following statistics that show the increase in attacks: 

Pit bull attacks on humans in the U.S. have reached an epidemic level, increasing 773 percent from 2007-2014. In a 30-year study of dog attacks in Canada and the US, 3394 people were attacked by dogs in a fatal and disfiguring manner. 2,113 or 60% of the attacks were by pit bulls and pit bull mixes

FATAL PIT BULL ARCHIVES:   

From 2009 to 2016, the most recent 8-year period, pit bulls averaged 22.9 deaths per year, a 690% increase, according to U.S. Pit Bull Fatalities. 

Following are the listed attacks from June 2016 - Feb 2017: 

Valentine Herrera is the 508th American killed by a Pit Bull. 

  1. February 2017, Los Angeles County, CA
    Valentine Herrera, 76
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. January 2017, Fulton County, GA
    Logan Braatz, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. December 2016, Cabell County, WV
    Isaiah Franklin, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. October 2016, Staten Island, NY
    Daisie Bradshaw, 68
    Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s) 
  1. September 2016, Shawnee County, KS
    Piper Dunbar, 2
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. August 2016, Jefferson County, CO
    Susan Shawl, 60
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. August 2016, Clark County, NV
    Derion Stevenson, 9
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. August 2016, Screven County, GA
    Michelle Wilcox, 30
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. July 2016, Honolulu County, HI
    Crisencio Aliado, 52
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. July 2016, Navajo County, AZ
    Kayden Begay, 3
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. July 2016, Wayne County, MI
    Elizabeth Rivera, 71
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. June 2016, Fresno County, CA
    Susie Kirby, < 1
    Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s) 
  1. June 2016, Penobscot County, ME
    Hunter Bragg, 7
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. June 2016, San Joaquin County, CA
    Earl Stephens Jr., 43
    Fatal pit bull attack 

    (See more at U.S. Pit Bull Fatalities)

DogsBite.org provides Google State Map:  “California Fatal Pit Bull Attacks” 

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams. 

THE DOG BLOG-- Dogs do not understand the connection between the tightening of a collar around their neck and you at the end of the leash.  All they know is that something is digging into their neck and since dogs can tolerate a lot of pain, they just pull harder. 

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to see dogs on regular or choke or spiked collars pulling forward as I watch the collar dig into their neck while their owners pull back. For some reason the pet parent thinks the dog will stop pulling because he is choking and then gets frustrated when they see it isn’t working. Most will feel guilty because they know the dog is hurting while others think the dog deserves it because he won't stop pulling. Either way the dog continues to pull. 

Vets don’t like choke collars and tell us the trachea can be damaged or eventually tighten making it difficult for the dog to breathe so choke collars should never be used on breeds with short snouts. And importantly, choke collars should never be left on at home. If the collar gets stuck on something the dog can literally choke himself to death as he gets into a panic trying to pull himself away. 

Frankly, I don't think they should be used at all, unless you have an exceedingly aggressive dog (not just the typical excitement a dog exhibits when it sees other dogs) and even then you should have an experienced trainer who has worked with aggressive dogs, show you how to properly use it. 

They will tell you to make sure the leash is always loose and when it tightens you simply give a “correction” which is a sharp and quick (not harsh) snap of the leash while using your voice to tell the dog what you want him to do. I like “no pulling!”. The tightening of the collar should last less than a second. Do Not Ever jerk the dog back or yank it hard!. The tone of your command should be firm not angry. This way the dog can connect the pressure on her neck, to you and your voice, calmly, firmly telling her what to do. The leash is not just something we use to keep the dog from running away. It is a tool to get the dogs attention focused on you and your commands. 

But if you are using a choke collar simply for a pulling issue then throw it out and listen up… 

The absolute best way I have discovered in getting dogs to walk at our pace is a no pull front harness. It is a harness that attaches the leash to the front of the chest and doesn’t involve choking or pain of any sort. I love this harness and have never put it on a dog without instant results. I have seen dogs go from pulling their pet parent’s arm off, to instantly becoming docile and relaxed while walking alongside them. If they do pull forward a bit a slight tug and command and they slow right down. 

There are two main companies that sell it, Halti and EasyWalk. I like Halti because it has a clip that attaches to the collar for added protection but Easy Walk has a wider variety of sizes.  Don’t be intimidated by the design. They are actually very easy to adjust and put on. You can order it online (cheaper) and bring it to a pet store for help putting it on if you need it. 

If I hear an owner complain the harness isn't working it is usually because they are so used to the dog pulling and the leash being tight, they continue to tighten the leash out of habit. I instruct them to let the leash be loose while they're walking and watch what happens.  To their delight and surprise the dog just walks along with them. I can't tell you how often I've heard “WOW! I can't believe this!” If the dog starts to speed up just a slight tug and “no pulling” and they instantly slow down. 

So if you have a dog that takes you out for a drag I can’t recommend this enough. Email us with your success story. I love hearing dogs and owners get over an obstacle to greater love and appreciation of each other. Never thought you’d hear yourself saying “I love walking my dog” did you?

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Have a topic you’d like to see addressed or a question you’d like answered?

Email us at info@whatagooddogla.com

 

Check out our website for information about our training program and rates.

http://www.whatagooddogla.com 

For a free phone consultation call 323-734-9119

 

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(Dianne Lawrence is the dog whisperer at What a Good Dog LA. She can be reached at 323-734-9119.)

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