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Shooting A Child is a Crime – Should Owners of Pit Bulls That Kill Children be  Excused? 

 ANIMAL WATCH-Multiple cases of gunshots killing or severely maiming a child have occurred in the past year in the U.S.—one of the latest and most publicized was on May 21,2021, in Orange County, CA, when a six-year-old boy, Aiden Leos, was killed in an alleged case of road rage against his mother, who was driving him to school.  

But when 3-year-old Aziz Ahmed was savagely murdered by two Pit Bulls that escaped a neighbor’s yard in Carteret, NJ, in May 2020, law-enforcement determined that there is no local or State law that can be used to establish owner accountability for the dog’s actions.

Why should gun owners in America have a higher level of responsibility than Pit Bull owners for allowing a weapon they own from taking a life? And, also, why are owners of a dog involved in a serious or lethal attack not held equally accountable under criminal law for the restraint, control and actions of their dog as a gun owner is for his firearm? 

 “ROAD RAGE” BLAMED FOR SHOOTING OF BOY 

Six-year-old Aiden Leos died after he was hit by a single bullet, which had been fired at the trunk of the car in which he was secured in the backseat, according to reports. The incident occurred around 8:00 a.m., on the northbound 55 Freeway in the City of Orange while his mother was driving him to school, California Highway Patrol Officer John De Matteo told NBC News4.  

 According to another driver who stopped to help, Aiden’s mother told that her that she was driving in the carpool lane and, “when she tried to switch lanes to exit, a white sedan with a man and woman inside cut her off. She gestured to them and proceeded into the exit lane, and that’s when the shooting occurred,” the Los Angeles Times reported. 

 As I was merging away from the carpool lane, I heard a loud noise and I heard my son say ‘ow,’ and I pulled the car over as soon as possible, and he had been shot. I tried to save him by calling 911, but he was losing a lot of blood – he just didn’t deserve that. No one deserves that,” the mother told NBC. 

Donations to a reward fund for information leading to identifying the shooter are already at $325,000, and Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, made a public comment through the media to those responsible for Aiden’s death, “we never stop, and we never rest until we put the person into custody and get justice.” 

DEATH BY PIT BULL GETS NO JUSTICE FOR 3-YEAR-OLD BOY 

On May 18, 2021, a pair of Pit Bulls that had already “been an issue” in the community of Carteret, NJ, broke through a fence that separated two residential properties and brutally killed an innocent 3-year-old boy and severely mauled his mother, leaving her hospitalized in life-threatening condition, when she threw her body over him to protect him in their own backyard.   

“Dogs that killed boy were menace to New Jersey community, neighbors say”

A May 19, 2021, ABC News report provides direct statements by neighbors about the Pit Bulls.  One told reporter Toni Yates, "Those pit bulls bit people all in this area…” 

Three-year-old Aziz Ahmed, was in the backyard of the family’s new home in Carteret with his brothers and mother, Shabana Mohammed, on Tuesday afternoon. They had not been able to play there since moving from their Brooklyn apartment in February because of the extreme cold winter weather which had not allowed the snow to melt. 

Plus, the entire family had reportedly just recovered with COVID and Tuesday was the last day of their quarantine. K 

 Tanveer Ahmed, the husband and father of the victims, who was at his job at Coney Island Auto Parts, had told coworkers they were happy to move out of a crowded apartment to raise their children. But this is where the deadly attack occurred while the mother and her sons were playing in the backyard of their home when two Pit Bulls suddenly broke through the fence. 

 The mother told her older boys to run inside the house, but little Aziz was too young to escape. His mother threw her body over him to protect him as the dogs ran toward them and began attacking them both. 

No one was home to respond to her screams for help, so her 10-year-old called the police. First responders arrived and both victims were airlifted to the hospital, but Aziz did not survive. The mother remained hospitalized in critical condition, officials said.  

I’m sure many times she has cried out as did the mother of Aiden Leos in Orange County whose young son was killed, “Aziz didn’t deserve that. No one deserves that.” 

In a March 31, report WABC7 stated that “the dogs were shot by police following the incident.” 

 According to a police report, officers had picked up the dogs previously and took them to the station, and released them to the owner, who picked them up although they were not registered with the City. 

THE AMERICAN DREAM….

The father’s boss described the family to Patch.com reporter Carly Baldwin, as "hard-working, kind and wanting the American Dream." 

 "They came here from Pakistan and (the father) had worked for us for more than 15 years. He's the supervisor in the Avenel warehouse and part of their decision to move here from Brooklyn was to lose that long commute," he said. "In our industry, it's long hours and six days a week, but he's very hard working. He is the most soft-spoken man you ever met and a real family man. He came here for the American Dream to provide for his family." 

 Mayor Daniel Reiman said that according to municipal records from the Board of Health, the dogs were not registered with the town, as required by law, but his only solace was, "We pray for this young mother and family in this time of unimaginable grief." 

Prayers are important, but changing laws to prevent future attacks and deaths is also needed. 

 NO CHARGES AGAINST PIT BULL OWNER FOR BOY’S DEATH 

On March 28, the announcement was made, “Authorities won’t file criminal charges against owner whose pit bulls killed 3-year-old boy.” NJ.com shared photos of the vigil for Aziz Ahmed, and reported, “The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office won’t be filing criminal charges against a Carteret dog owner whose pit bulls attacked and killed a young boy, according to a letter written by the prosecutor.” 

 In a March 23 letter, Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone said investigators did not uncover “intentional, knowing, or reckless criminal conduct.” 

“In this case, based upon the information known at this time, it would appear as if no law has been violated.” “Thus, despite the well-intended demands for justice, no charges will presently be filed…., she wrote.” 

 KILLING A CHILD -- NO LAW VIOLATED IF IT’S DONE BY PIT BULLS?  

Oma Morgan, a co-worker of Aziz’s father Tanveer, told NJ Advanced Media reporter Avalon Zoopo that the news was “devastating” and “lawmakers are being called on to pass a law in Aziz’s memory that would allow for the criminal prosecution of owners whose dogs cause fatal injury.” 

 “If there is no law, we will fight to make a law... It’s unfair,” Morgan said. “They hold people accountable for jaywalking or letting a dog poop on your front lawn... that doesn’t cost someone their life.” 

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez, who represent the 19th district, which includes Carteret, said they plan to review existing laws in New Jersey regarding dog attacks. 

 “In New Jersey, there is no criminal charge specific to a dog attack. If authorities believe charges are warranted, they have to fit the circumstances into existing laws against recklessly causing death or injury,” they explained. 

 IN ADDITION TO NO CRIMINAL CHARGE… 

There also appears to be no deterrent against the owner replacing the Pit Bulls. The lawmakers, themselves, are not absolved of accountability do not put in place deterrents to stop owners from merely turning in dangerous animals and getting replacements. The City needs to strengthen and enforce its registration law. (Police should not be merely returning unlicensed/unregistered dogs without issuing a citation and a time limit for compliance. This is a basic issue of public safety for humans and animals.  

LACK OF LAWS REGARDING FATAL DOG ATTACKS NOT JUST IN NJ 

A tragic fatal Pit Bull attack occurred in Stockton, CA, in 2020, and took the life of 2-year-old Brice Sanders on June 1, and got no publicity. Again, no charges were broughtDogsbite.org shows the tragic details and photos here.   

(See Dogsbite.org and National Pit Bull Victims Awareness for the shocking media reports on Pit Bull, and other, dog attacks nationwide and in Canada) 

TWO-YEAR-OLD KILLED BY PIT BULL IN STOCKTON, CA

A tragic fatal Pit Bull attack in Stockton, CA, in 2020, took the life of 2-year-old Brice Sanders on June 1, and got no publicity. Again, no charges were brought. 

Dogsbite.org reports the tragic details and photos here.   

The Pit Bull, named Rocko, who killed little Brice reportedly was so vicious that it had “Taser needles in his hind right backside and neck,” indicating that police had to use this method of attempting to subdue him after the attack. But there is no mention of charges. The dog was reportedly later considered an “owner surrender” and euthanized. 

In both instances, a “lethal weapon” caused the death of a child (although any dog can inflict injury, the jaws of Pit Bulls are genetically structured to kill) but the laws of responsibility and accountability from that of gun owners are vastly different. Why? 

It doesn’t seem to be a matter of proving intent. There are many areas of law where “intent” does not determine responsibility. Bartenders are responsible for any actions of a customers served after they show the initial levels of intoxication; car owners are held liable for any occurrences involving their automobile, whether they or someone else is driving.  Gun owners are responsible for any criminal act committed with his/her gun.  The concept of owner responsibility is a major part of criminal and civil law and includes proper restraint and confinement---why is it excused in cases of Pit Bull attacks? 

 BOY SHOT WHILE PLAYING IN FRONT OF HOME – SUSPECTS CHARGED 

On May 25, attempted murder charges were filed against two people accused of a  February 14  shooting of a 10-year-old boy who was playing outside a Pasadena, CA, home, officials announced.  

 Los Angeles County Superior Court records show that two men are being accused of attempted murder and mayhem. (Mayhem is permanently maiming or disfiguring a victim.)

 “There is nothing to indicate the 10-year-old was the intended victim of this senseless act of violence,” Pasadena Police said in a news release. 

 3-YEAR-OLD BOY SHOOTS HIS 2-YEAR-OLD BROTHER 

And on August 17, 2020, KSTR5 News in St. Paul, MN, reported that a 3-year-old boy was believed to be the person who fatally shot his 2-year-old brother in Brooklyn Park the week before. Police confirmed that the boys' mother and grandmother were arrested for covering up the crime and the mother's boyfriend was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment. 

WE'LL TALK MORE ABOUT THIS... 

 In ALL incidents involving a firearm, law-enforcement officials declared immediately that charges would be filed. This would include both the perpetrators and/or the gun owner.

The person(s) responsible for owning or having possession of a gun were charged criminally for the harm whether or not the actual crime was premeditated and whether or not the victim was the intended target. 

But if a Pit Bull in anyone’s possession kills a helpless toddler or anyone else, merely turning it in to the animal shelter often absolves the owner of criminal liability.  If a gun owner shoots someone and then turns in his weapon, does that absolve him/her of the crime? 

 There is something wrong with this picture!  Isn’t the issue the tragic death of a child (or an adult)—not whether or not the owner subsequently relinquished the weapon?

 

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