ANIMAL WATCH-At the LA Animal Services Commission meeting on July 25, long-time Best Friends' Animal Society volunteer Layne Dicker, new Board appointee of Mayor Eric Garcetti, submitted 17 items he wants considered for revisions to LAAS policies or practices. Sadly, not one was related to public safety or enforcement of humane laws. Most sounded like they were copied from the Best Friends' website, where Mr. Dicker has his own page, Dog Volunteer Work Leads Los Angeles Couple to Utah.
Perhaps attorney Dicker is not aware of the thousands of victims of Pit Bull attacks on the streets and in homes nationwide, often dogs adopted from rescues or acquired because of the hype of being "Nanny Dogs" and "misunderstood." He may not be aware of the abuse and neglect Pit Bulls experience in backyards and unsuitable homes all over Los Angeles.
Or, maybe, he -- like GM Barnette – is only concerned with getting Pit Bulls out of shelters so they won't count in the euthanasia stats.
But the Commission has seen numerous photos of wounds provided at dangerous animal hearings, and heard desperate pleas by victims or witnesses of horrible attacks resulting from failure to admit the unpredictability of Pit Bulls -- not because they are "mean" dogs, but because of their genetic drive to dominate and "win" over perceived challenges, which may be another animal, a child, a family member or an unsuspecting neighbor. Winning often means death.
The following are just a few of the most disturbing incidents reported in the U.S. last week. Then we’ll take a look at what GM Barnette and Commissioner Dicker are suggesting for LA Animal Services.
On July 26, a neighbor’s Pit Bull seriously mauled the minority leader of Maryland’s House of Delegates, Nic Kipke, while he was walking near his Pasadena, MD, home with his wife and poodle, Tucker. Kipke was pushing his 2-year-old son in a stroller when his neighbor's unleashed Pit Bull launched a completely unprovoked attack.
Wearing an arm-sling and covered with bandages and claw and bite marks, Kipke told WJZ that the attack left physical scars on him and emotional scars for his family, who watched it happen.
The dog clamped onto Tucker’s back legs and then bit the legislator, who described the severity of a Pit Bull “bite” compared to a typical dog: "The typical bite leaves puncture wounds -- this looks like "somebody took a chainsaw to my arm, down to the bone," he told Amy Yensi of WJZ.
Dog attacks in Anne Arundel County, MD -- many of which were Pit Bulls -- are rising rapidly, jumping from 1079 in 2015 to 1099 in 2016, and already exceeding 500 this year.
Three years ago, pet owners/activists succeeded in stopping the Maryland General Assembly from singling out Pit Bull breeds as more dangerous than others. However, after a French Bulldog was mauled to death by a neighbor’s pit bull, the Anne Arundel County Council voted in April to require officials to euthanize any animals deemed vicious.
An 8-year-old boy was hospitalized Thursday, July 20, with serious bite wounds to one of his eyes and his mouth after a Pit Bull lunged at him in the community of Home Gardens -- the second such incident involving the same dog in about a month, the Press Enterprise reports.
The 6-year-old, unaltered, male Pit Bull has been impounded and will be euthanized. The dog should have been secured, said Riverside County Department of Animal Services' spokesman John Welsh, because it was deemed “potentially dangerous” following a June 24 attack on a neighbor.
After the first incident, Welsh said, the dog’s owner received two citations for failing to vaccinate and license the dog, with fines totaling $419. The dog still had not been licensed or vaccinated before Thursday’s attack. The owner signed for the dog to be euthanized.
On July 21, two Pit Bulls attacked an 11-year-old girl near Branson, MO, while she walked to a friend's house. Amanda Prichard suffered severe lacerations and damage all over her body, including her head, according to Branson Tri-Lakes News.
“After 5 hours of surgery, they addressed over 45 wound repairs…while she is healing physically, she will have emotional scars that will take time to heal,” her aunt said. “She is a very brave little girl. She tried to fight off the dogs by poking at their eyes and even played dead to no avail, the attack continued for many minutes.” A nearby neighbor heard the girl’s screams and saved her.
The two dogs were euthanized by Taney County Animal Control, according to the Health Department, which reported there have already been 14 Pit Bull dog bite quarantines in 2017 in Taney County.
A July 27, a report by Ville Platte Today (LA) on an attack by two Pit Bulls, quoted the release by the Chief of Police, who stated that, on July 17, 2017, officers responded to an animal complaint at Mercy Regional Hospital and learned that a 12-year-old female was attacked by the dogs while riding her hover board on North Chataignier. She was being treated for injuries to her lower back and buttocks area.
After officers and detectives made contact with the owner of the dogs, they “learned that the homeowner had multiple Pit Bulls, some of which had gotten away from the residence.”
According to the Chief, the dog owner willingly surrendered the animals and received nine violations.
On July 27, 2017, charges were filed against the owner of two pit bulls in Chatham, VA, following a June 24 attack that injured a Labrador Retriever and Beagle-mix, according to the Pittsylvania County Administrator.
Jonathan P. Lee was charged with two counts of having dangerous dogs, two counts of failure to vaccinate and two counts of failure to have dogs licensed.
There have been three incidents with Pit Bulls attacking since December, and as many as a dozen pit bulls live in the area, according to residents.
Another dog was attacked and killed Monday on Mitchell Road in Chatham, the release stated.
Dangerous dogs are defined in the Pittsylvania County Code for Animals and Fowl as "a canine that has bitten, attacked, inflicted injury on, or killed a person or companion animal."
Dangerous dog registrations must be purchased from either the Treasurer or animal control for $50, and the dog must wear the collar and tag at all times, the Code states. This registration must be renewed annually, with proof of a current rabies vaccination and that it will be confined.
Each dog also will have to be registered with the Virginia Dangerous Dog Registry within 45 days, and notify animal control if the animal gets loose, injures or attacks another person, or is sold, given away or dies. When relocating, owners must notify local animal control within 10 days of the new address.
Bozeman Dog Owner Pleads Guilty to Charges in Fatal Dog Mauling
On July 25, the Billings Gazette reported that the owner of two Pit Bulls that fatally attacked a 65-year-old woman in Montana last month pleaded guilty to multiple charges stemming from the incident.
Wayne Bartlett appeared Friday in Gallatin County Justice Court, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of vicious and dangerous dogs and two counts of failure to have rabies vaccinations.
A “vicious and dangerous dogs” citation carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine. Failure to have rabies vaccinations are punishable by a $50 fine for the first offense, $100 for the second and $150 for the third.
On July 28, a 4-year-old Wayne County, MS, girl was airlifted to a Jackson hospital after she was attacked by a Pit Bull. Wayne County Sheriff Jody Ashley told Newscenter 11 (WTOK) the little girl was bitten repeatedly in the face by the dog. The Pit Bull was euthanized.
Ashley says there are conflicting reports as to whether the dog was secured or running loose at the time of the mauling. The investigation is continuing.
Free Adoptions at LA Animal Services Centers
Not to be outdone by Best Friends' program discounting adult pets as a 2-for-$10 pair during July, or because of increasing desperation for "no kill," the LA Animal Services' website shows (with a photo of what appears to be a Boxer-mix): Free Adoptions August 4-6. No restrictions are shown for the adoptions, nor is there any mention of spay/neuter, microchips or licensing.)
There is more.
This is apparently part of a national campaign to "Free the Shelters" by Prai Beauty Products. A Pit Bull is shown on their announcement page, which states:
Our national campaign" to "Free the Shelters" is sponsoring adoption fees and saving animal lives from coast to coast. We are breaking down the barrier to adoption at animal shelters across the country until they’re all empty. Shelter pets can be pedigree or mutts, young or old…THEY'RE ALL PERFECT and they need to find good homes. (Emph. added)
New Commissioner Suggests Not Identifying Pit Bulls as ‘Pit Bulls’
In order to avoid reciting the entire 17 issues Commissioner Dicker wants discussed as his priorities, and to not risk misinterpretation, here is the link to his bio and the audio of the meeting for those interested in his complete presentation.
However, regarding Pit Bulls, Dicker's Google images and photos at Best Friends sanctuary indicate that the Commissioner is enamored of Pit Bulls, so why would he suggest removing breed identification on kennel cards?
Since Pit Bulls are the largest dog population and, if they are truly the great pets he describes, calling them by their “breed” should increase adoptions!
He also wants to eliminate the word "attack" in Dangerous Dog hearing reports.
Where’s LA’s Plan? – Plenty of Warnings
After experiencing a string of Pit Bull attacks in LA, Barnette could have issued a statement to the media, similar to El Paso TX Animal Services spokesman Ramon Herrera when a four-year-old boy was viciously killed by a pack of dogs on July 27.
Herrera advised the public to immediately call 311 before an attack and report any dangerous/menacing animals, or animals not being properly treated, in their community." (This can also identify dogs being kept/trained for fighting.)
"If you're in doubt, go ahead and report it, we'll take a look at it," Herrera said. "Depending on the severity of the situation, the pet owner will be guided to follow certain curriculum -- and we'll follow up with you. The follow-up happens." He added that sometimes getting guidance can create a more responsible owner.
Barnette could be exploring tough backyard breeder inspections and, under State law, could prohibit the breeding of Pit Bulls (and chihuahuas) -- the most euthanized dogs in the city -- rather than allowing uninhibited production of these dogs.
LAAS GM Brenda Barnette, Commissioner Dicker and Best Friends should take a realistic look at the plight of Pit Bulls and admit that they are not all suitable for adoption and should not be held an insufferable and cruel amount of time just to prove that Nathan Winograd's "No Kill" philosophy is the law of the land.
"No Kill" is not an excuse for the rising number of innocent victims losing their lives or suffering lifetime debilitating injuries and scars (physically and mentally) from attacks by dogs bred for fighting, and not as pets. The cruelty of confining these high-energy dogs in kennels for months or years (regardless of Commissioner Dickerson's penchant for "play groups") is inexcusable.
Frank McMillan, Best Friends' lead veterinarian, told National Geographic when Best Friends took the Michael Vick dogs, "If an animal is suffering – whether it's physical discomfort or emotional -- and can't be healed to the point of generally enjoying life, we're not going to continue to harbor them in a sanctuary just to make the claim that we don't put any animals to sleep."
GM Brenda Barnette and Best Friends should heed the wisdom of Best Friends' own veterinarian, who shared his thoughts about the mercy that should be shown toward Pit Bulls warehoused in LA shelters and elsewhere, as well as toward those humans and pets who might become victims of dogs who already demonstrate aggression.
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.