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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

PITBULLS!

posted by on January 22 at 10:31 AM

This one’s for you, Bellevue Ave:

An [Eaton, Colorado] family is in distraught and asking questions after a police officer fatally shot their pit bull Monday morning after the officer said the dog became aggressive and charged the officer.

Capone was a 10-year-old full-blooded American pit bull. Olivia Huerta, Capone’s owner, said what happened was uncalled for.

Uh… the officer was responding to 911 calls about a pitbull running loose, found the dog outside and unleashed, and tried to grab the dog with a catchpole. When the officer fell on the ice the dog charged him. So the officer did what anyone with any sense should do when they’re charged by a pitbull: he pulled his gun and shot the damn dog.

RSS icon Comments

1

Dog owner should be charged with attempted murder of a police officer.

Posted by Touring | January 22, 2008 10:39 AM
2

Spellcheck, Mr. DE.

I wouldn't have stopped shooting until the clip was empty.

Posted by Mr. Poe | January 22, 2008 10:40 AM
3

*Spell check. OMG. FUCK!

I'm done for that day. *Sniff.

Posted by Mr. Poe | January 22, 2008 10:41 AM
4

You know, it's funny. As I was walking to work this morning I heard a bark and turned to see a pitbull charging me on a residential street on Capitol Hill. So I did what seemed to me to be the rational thing -- pulled out my knife and prepared to slice the fucker into little pitbull steaks. Then the owner came out and started yelling and the dog backed off.

The owner, a queer yuppie with a handlebar mustache, a baseball cap, and a $1200 leather jacket, was carrying an expensive leather harness rig and leash -- wadded up in his hand. He acted like I was some kind of fucking Nazi for pulling a knife when his precious little dog charged me.

And weirdly, I found myself thinking, "Dan Savage would love this scenario."

Posted by Judah | January 22, 2008 10:44 AM
5

Cops never lie about shooting.

Posted by elenchos | January 22, 2008 10:44 AM
6

You should have stabbed his dog on principal, Judah.

Posted by Dan Savage | January 22, 2008 10:47 AM
7

elenchos, how does feel to be so paranoid?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 22, 2008 10:52 AM
8

Gee Judah, you carry a knife? Like, all of the time?

That isn't very accepting of those who are around you. You're obviously passing judgment on everyone who walks by you with this act. And say someone tries to harm you, well shit, who are you to deny their beliefs that you need to die and/or get mugged?

Not very polite if you ask me.

Posted by Mr. Poe | January 22, 2008 10:54 AM
9

"So the officer did what anyone with any sense should do when they’re charged by a pitbull..."

Sense and a GUN. I would've just screamed and kicked a lot.

Posted by Gloria | January 22, 2008 11:02 AM
10

My sentiments exactly, Poe. That's why I don't carry a knife. I have a concealed weapon permit and carry a .45 instead. Judah's "friend" should be thanking whatever god he believes in that he ran into Judah and not me; otherwise he'd probably still be cleaning the shit out of his pants.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | January 22, 2008 11:03 AM
11

@8

Er. Have I written something here that would suggest that politeness is a special priority of mine?

Posted by Judah | January 22, 2008 11:06 AM
12

I'm a die-hard fan of dogs and have one of my own. But even so, it is important for people who own dogs to understand that one of the leading causes of death, if not *the* leading cause of death, of dogs is when they are put down either because they go after someone or, in this case because they were about to go after someone. Dog owners therefore have an enormous responsibility to make sure that their pets do not succumb to this leading cause of death, making sure that their dogs are under control at all times, especially in public.

That said, some people will misunderstand the approach of a dog as an attack when it is not necessarily. (I doubt that applies in the case of this story, but it's worth mentioning.) The friendliest dog in the world will run toward you to greet you or to be pet, but if you don't understand basic dog behavior you might mistake this behavior as aggressive. It doesn't shift the burden of the owner to make sure the pet is under control, but dogs are not necessarily this lurking murderous menace like al-Qa'idah.

Posted by S. M. | January 22, 2008 11:07 AM
13

Did he empty his clip?

Seriously, pit bulls can usually take more than one round to bring down.

I grew up with big dogs and various hunting dogs, it's not that I don't empathize with dog owners, but one should be realistic.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 22, 2008 11:14 AM
14

Knowing that dudes as tightly wound as Judah and Fifty-Two-Eighty are running around so well armed worries me a lot more than the odd biting dog.

Posted by elenchos | January 22, 2008 11:15 AM
15

Not that everyone's going to jump at the opportunity to experiment, but running from or backing down from any advancing and barking dog will be what gets you bitten.

You're supposed to face the dog and stand your ground.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | January 22, 2008 11:20 AM
16

@11

Well, I won't get into handguns, but as far as knives go, that's just an example of poor risk assessment on your part.

In 2003 there were 159,780 knife assaults reported in the United States, as compared to approximately 4.7 million dog bites, of which approximately 800,000 were serious enough to require medical attention.

So you're much more likely to be bitten by a dog than you are to be attacked by a person with a knife. But I guess you'll worry about what you're going to worry about.

Posted by Judah | January 22, 2008 11:26 AM
17

Or rather, @14

Posted by Judah | January 22, 2008 11:27 AM
18

Dan,
your position on this issue really surprises me. I usually agree with you on nearly everything, because you're so down to earth and realistic about the risks of many behaviors, and that's really encouraging.

So I'm trying to convince myself that this pit bull thing is a weird blind spot...there are tens of thousands of pit bulls out there in this country, and very, very few dog attacks. Statistically, you're far more likely to be shot on the street in America than you are to be attacked by any breed of dog. You're more likely to contract HIV in America than you are to be attacked by a dog.

Pits are a very popular breed, and if they were the slavering monsters the media paints them to be, we really would be in trouble. But the evidence (i.e. the fact that there are so few dog attacks) suggests that this is a small issue, being blown out of proportion by a story-hungry media. Let's get a little perspective here, shall we?
And for all the dog owners out there, there is no excuse for letting your dog roam. A responsible dog owner keeps their dog leashed or behind a fence at all times, no matter how "good" they are. There are no excuses for this sort of thing, and it is your fault your dog was killed. If you want to own a Pit Bull, you do have certain responsibilities.

Posted by Poecile | January 22, 2008 11:32 AM
19

I eagerly await Charles's Marxist analysis of pitbulls and the people who love them.

Posted by Smade | January 22, 2008 11:38 AM
20

I want to know how judah has stolen my heart. is it using words like risk assessment? yes.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 22, 2008 11:40 AM
21

So I was out for a walk around the neighborhood when this cop started chasing me, waving a large pole. He wouldn't let me alone, so by the time he tripped and fell, I had had enough, and was going to grab the pole and run off with it. But the bastard shot me. The End.

Posted by pitt bull in heaven | January 22, 2008 11:59 AM
22

Maybe the dog was channeling Huckabee and was about to tell the officer what he could do with the pole.

Posted by w7ngman | January 22, 2008 12:06 PM
23

Letting your dog run loose in the first place was uncalled for, Huerta.

Posted by Gomez | January 22, 2008 12:23 PM
24

This reminds me of that scene in "No Country for Old Men"

That scene is awesome.

Posted by Mrs. Field | January 22, 2008 12:38 PM
25

@21:

Dan Savage is Beowulf. The pit bull is Grendel.

Posted by Ryan | January 22, 2008 12:50 PM
26

@18 - "Pits are a very popular breed, and if they were the slavering monsters the media paints them to be, we really would be in trouble. But the evidence (i.e. the fact that there are so few dog attacks) suggests that this is a small issue, being blown out of proportion by a story-hungry media. Let's get a little perspective here, shall we?"

That's a very good point.

Oh, and by the way - when you have a sec, get me those latest figures on poodle/dachsund/spaniel/terrier deaths, will you? I need to update my spreadsheet.

Posted by Woof woof | January 22, 2008 1:16 PM
27

also, Dan Savage made my day by dedicating this post to me!

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 22, 2008 1:23 PM
28

I like how when it's pit-bull hate at stake, the officer's version of what happened is accepted at face value. If some police officers lie about people, why on earth isn't there at least a moment taken to wonder if the story about the dog is legit?

"The dog charged" = "It's coming right fer us!"

Posted by torrentprime | January 22, 2008 1:26 PM
29

These stories always make me sad, but this one especially since it was some filthy pig that almost got mauled.

Posted by Mike in MO | January 22, 2008 1:28 PM
30

@18, sadly, the statistical arguments don't seem to fly around here. We've tried.

Posted by tsm | January 22, 2008 1:29 PM
31

A friend of mine who's a mail carrier for USPS in Tacoma was attacked right before Christmas by a pitbull. The attack was unprovoked and the dog used its head as a battering ram to knock open the gate to its yard. My friend's forearm was sliced to the bone and his doctor still isn't sure if he's suffered permanent damage to the ligaments, tendons and nerves. The dog was seized (it wasn't the first time it had attacked a human) and put down like it should have been a long time ago.

Posted by Kirsti Thomas | January 22, 2008 1:31 PM
32

We're not talking about dogs, torrentprime. We're talking about Pit Bulls.

It doesn't matter if the dog needed to be shot. What matters is that the dog was shot.

Justice.

Posted by Mr. Poe | January 22, 2008 1:31 PM
33

didn't most people grow out of hating cops at some point, like age 17 or so?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 22, 2008 1:50 PM
34

@26,

The trouble with reports of dog attacks is that cops and reporters aren't trained in determining dog breeds-and the powers that be only record dog bites/attacks in general-and pay no attention to the breed. And "Vicious Pit Bull Attack" sounds so much more impressive than "Vicious Mixed-breed Dog Attack" doesn't it?

So unless you talk about dog attacks in general, as I did, you don't have a leg to stand on. No one really knows how many Pit Bull attacks vs. Poodle attacks there were last year, precisely because we don't have accurate breed information.

Of course, if you're bitten by a large breed, it's more likely to be serious, (requiring the owners of large breeds to be that much more responsible!) and many large/working breeds have gone through a period unfortunate popularity. My grandparents remember Airedale Terriers as the "bad breed," and in the mid 80s, my parents told me to watch out for those dangerous Doberman Pinschers. Both breeds were popular with the kind of people who wanted a tough dog, and suffered from being over bred and badly socialized by people who wanted a status symbol rather than a family companion. As their popularity faded, the reputation of the breeds improved.

This hasn't changed. The cops in my neighborhood tell me that they're seeing a lot more Akitas than Pit Bulls causing problems these days, another working breed with courage, tenacity and a ton of spirit. They're considered a national treasure in Japan, and are beautiful, loyal dogs, and I hope they don't suffer as much as Pits have for their popularity.

If you're worried about dangerous dogs, check out the American Kennel Club's sample dangerous dog law. It's not breed specific, but it sure gets the job done. Anyone who is a halfway responsible dog owner won't have any issues with it. People whose "family pets" have a history of aggression would be in trouble. Which is exactly as it should be.

Posted by Poecile | January 22, 2008 1:59 PM
35

Does this mean we're going to have to start shooting Akitas, too? Really, people with small packages should just go buy Hummers. Or hummers.

Posted by Smade | January 22, 2008 4:06 PM
36

@33,

No, real world experience leads many of us to grow into hating cops later in life.

Posted by Abner Louima | January 22, 2008 4:09 PM
37

The fact that its owner decided to name it "Capone" tells me all I need to know.

Posted by Fnarf | January 22, 2008 4:25 PM
38

Capone? The dog was a tax evader?

Posted by CP | January 22, 2008 6:13 PM
39

@34 - So you're telling me that there is a vast dog-wing conpsiracy out there, and there are golden retrievers and collies that are dismembering postmen and swallowing up babies every day - and we're just not hearing about those? Gee - learn something every day, I guess! Thanks for the tip!

Oh, I almost forgot - you fucking douchebag.

Posted by Wowza | January 22, 2008 7:11 PM
40

@39:

When I was a kid I had a paper route. I was attacked twice by two different dogs. One was a German Shepard and the other...wait for it...was a Lab. I jumped off an 8 foot high retaining wall to escape the German Shepard where I laid in a heaping mess until an ambulance was called. The dog, being smarter than me at the time, didn't jump off the wall but instead stood atop the ledge barking. It was terrifying.

When the Lab attacked, I jumped onto the top of the cab of a pickup truck until the owners finally got curious and came out to look for their dog. I dented the top of their truck and told them to go fuck themselves when they appeared upset. After all, it was their Labrador Retriever who attacked me.

There was one Pit Bull on my route and she ignored the hell out of me. I learned that dogs, in general, can be unpredictable. It doesn't matter the breed. I also learned that Pit Bulls, if they have responsible owners, probably aren't dangerous.

Unfortunately, much like guns, when in the hands of irresponsible owners, Pit Bulls can be very dangerous. This Pit Bull debate is analogous to the gun debate in a myriad of ways. Anyway, that's my story. In summary, to me, you look like the fucking douchebag, not 34.

Posted by Ryan | January 22, 2008 8:25 PM
41

Thanks Ryan, I couldn't have said it better myself! Most of the Pit Bull hype is just a few dog bite stories being blown out of proportion. Animal attacks are scary things, and make great news headlines, in part because they don't happen all that often. The bottom line is that any dog can become a bad dog, or a good dog, and what they become depends on the behavior and dedication of their owners.

And @34, your grasp of prose is absolutely stunning. "Dog-wing conspiracy" and "you fucking douchebag" I mean, it's just so devilishly witty that I'm shaking in my boots here, sweetie. I'm sure the ladies beat a path to your door just to hear more of your deathless wit. Now, be a dear, and think twice, or maybe even read a little bit about a subject before you call people names, won't you?

Posted by Poecile | January 22, 2008 9:41 PM
42

This story is nothing! Have we already talked about the young woman in Louisiana that was killed by her two pit bulls on Sunday? Brace yourself, it is yet another instance of blaming the victim.

"Relatives tell reporters that Kelli suffered from seizures. They believe she may have had a seizure while sleeping and the dogs reacted to it, either trying to wake her up or attacking her when they became startled. Biting her enough, mind you, to kill her, leaving wounds from her head to feet."

So, did the seizure cause the attack or did the attack cause the seizure?
http://www.dogsbite.org/blog/2008/01/fatality-victim-kelli-chapman-killed-by.html

Posted by Shaver | January 22, 2008 9:52 PM
43

@40 - You need your glasses checked, since...

@41 - Spoken like a true douchebag.

Posted by Wowza | January 22, 2008 9:56 PM
44

@43, Sweetie, no one likes name-calling, especially from someone who doesn't have an argument, or any evidence. You're like a five year old calling people "poopy head" when you don't like what you hear. If you have an actual argument to put forward, everyone would love to hear it. But name calling is for little kids on the playground, don't you agree? It's kinda cute-if you're 12-but most of us are grown-ups around here. So do try to learn something about how grown-ups have a civilized discussion, won't you?

Posted by Poecile | January 23, 2008 6:44 AM
45

Pssssssssssssssssh - squirt - dribble....

And don't call me sweetie, dollface. You should be so lucky.

By the by - what's your pit's name?

Posted by Wowza | January 23, 2008 8:35 AM
46

#34- Animal Control does take specific stats on dog breeds in most areas.

Individual studies go on, too- take them with a grain of salt. To quote http://www.dogbitelegalcenter.com/resources/dogbite-statistics.html - "Rottweilers and Pit Bulls were involved in 60 percent of the 27 dog bite fatalities that occurred in 1997 and 1998. Rottweilers were involved in 10 deaths, and Pit Bulls were involved in 6." @40- I suggest you look at the statistics on dog bites. They happen ALL THE FUCKING TIME- over a million cases a year.

I was knocked down on my back and bitten by an Akita three years ago. I needed stiches on four different parts of my face. The owners were very responsible with their dog (I knew them personally) and the dog was generally sweet. The dog had also bitten a 7 year old girl and the only reason he wasn't euthanized was because I went to court and rallied against it. The dog no longer can leave the confines of their fence (10 feet high). I've wondered if I should have ever stuck up for the owners. The dog has a probation officer, just like a person. Awww...

Of course most dogs can be good with the right training but many of the larger, stronger, fiercer breeds have not been historically bred for longevity. Maybe a young akita is provoked easily and loses control or maybe the dogs brain degenerates later in life. Some veterinarians attribute aggression in many breeds (esp pit bull, dobermans) to senility, which can set in on larger breeds with lesser life expectancies at very young ages. Coupling this with protective instincts and aggressive leanings and anyone should be able to see that certain dogs CAN be dangerous and there is no crime to look at breed types in this scenario, as long as the law is not made to penalize upon the ground of breed type. That's a very fine line that many people don't mind crossing, esp. those who have been attacked.

Arguing that people are morons for being wary of this is the height of stupidity. I've workied in Humane Society kennels (including rabies quarantine wards) and veterinarians and have seen the sheer number of dogs that have bit and harmed people of all ages- owners, strangers, babies, other dogs. There are breed patterns, and whether that is a genetic problem or based on upbringing doesn't matter when I see a pit bull or akita on the street.

So where is the problem with people defending themselves if a dog breed that they know have an aggressive bent?Some studies site over 1/3rd of dog attacks coming from pit bulls and pit bull mixes, however that's measured in an unregulated breed. I've known pits I've loved. If I don't know them and they run up to me, damn right I'd be wary. If I encountered that constantly, I'd be sure to carry a gun.

Posted by Scot | January 23, 2008 11:51 AM

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