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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

She Must Have Provoked That Dog Somehow

posted by on September 30 at 8:46 AM

Pit bullsóthey’re so good with children!

Pit Bulls can be safe with kids despite what all the articles of pit bull attacks suggest.

Using common sense, watching your dogs behaviour, and keeping an eye on all interactions between kids and your pit bull will go a long way to preventing any possible accidents or problems.

And finally, Pit Bulls love kids and the two make a perfect combination. High energy wired up kid + high energy wired up Pit Bull = loads of fun and laughter for all involved. :o)

Just make sure your high-energy, wired-up kid doesn’t bump your high-energy, wired-up pit bull, okay?

katya.jpgA 5-year-old girl attacked by a pit bull in a family friend’s backyard in Simi Valley has died, authorities said Monday….

Katya’s mother Katia Todesco said she and her daughter were visiting a friend who was taking care of the pit bull Tuesday. The little girl and the friend’s 13-year-old daughter were playing in the backyard when the 5-year-old bumped into the dog, then was mauled. Her mother heard screams and came outside to find the dog latched on to her daughter.

“It was a horrible attack,” Todesco said Monday. “With my own hands I was pulling the dog’s jaw.”

UPDATE: Sounds like pit bulls are popular dogs in Ventura County

It was only the second time a dog has killed a Ventura County resident in Jenks’ 36-year career with the county, she said. The only other time Jenks could recall was in the mid-1990s, when a family’s pit bull bit and killed an infant in the living room of an east county home, she said.

On the night Katya was attacked, a different pit bull killed another dog on Lysander Avenue in Simi Valley, and yet another pit bull bit a woman on her legs on Ballard Street, Jenks said. Both dogs were taken to the animal shelter, and the owner of one immediately agreed to have it destroyed. Simi Valley police did not report any of the attacks to the media.

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That site you linked to is hilarious, with its handy-to-remember rules like

Make sure all your dogs prized items are put away

-- to prevent kids from taking your pit bull's chew toys and provoking a killing rage, presumably. In fact, all the risks associated with pit bull/child interaction are presented as problems with child behavior and not dog behavior, except when they are portrayed as problems with perception of pit bulls. You see, other parents might have read all those hysterical news reports and be worried, because they don't understand pit bull behavior like
To clarify, it wouldn't' be out of malice or viciousness the dog would get a finger or two. It would be by accident

I can't imagine why any parent would be worried. Apparently pit bulls are perfectly child-safe as long as they are rigorously trained, they are observed at all times, they are not feeling "weird" or "apprehensive, and they are not provoked by children who fail to observe proper protocols.

Evidently the rules for managing pit bull/ child interaction are easier to master than the rules for proper apostrophe usage.

Posted by flamingbanjo | September 30, 2008 9:11 AM

I had a pitbull run-in last night. I was walking my dog (a 30-pound beagle-inspired mutt) when I heard barking coming from a yard we were passing. Two dogs walked out to the road, barking at us aggressively, but they were in a car's shadow so I couldn't see what they looked like.

My dog and I slowed down, and the dogs stepped out of the shadows: growling, barking pit bulls. My dog and I stopped walking, and they stopped about six feet from us, still barking. I yelled "GO AWAY, DOGS" loudly, hoping their owner would hear, and fortunately, the owner opened the door and called the dogs back inside.

As the dogs were running inside, the owner yelled at them and punched each of them in the head. The owner said nothing to me before closing the door.

I wonder if it'd have turned out differently had I not had my own (stupidly brave, totally useless in a fight) dog with me, standing in front of me and getting ready to face down the pit bulls. *shudders*

Posted by Christin | September 30, 2008 9:18 AM

And the pro-pit bull apologists' backlash begins in 3...2...1...

Posted by COMTE | September 30, 2008 9:21 AM

Dan! I'm so disappointed.. You totally missed the the other shocking angle to this story:

"Simi Valley Police said they did not announce the attack or subsequent death until getting questions from reporters Monday because they were not pursuing criminal charges and wanted to respect the family's privacy."

I have to admit, until I started reading all of these stories about pit bulls, I would have fallen into the "breed bans probably aren't necessary, etc." camp. But the more I read these, the more i'm shocked that there isn't wider outrage... or at least coverage. But if police departments aren't willing to go to the news, or even make reports available without being prompted, then this will never get more coverage. I'm still trying to get past looking at all of these isolated incidents to see the bigger picture, which always seems to drown the horror of these attacks in a "well other dogs bite too" mass of data. There's got to be something that shows in a clearcut way that not only do pitbulls bite and attack more often than others (and to a significant degree), the attacks themselves are WAY more damaging and fatal. Maybe they could come up with a Safir-Simpson scale of dog attaks, and then rate them all. That might help clarify how bad pitballs are. Or aren't. I'm willing to keep an open mind.

Posted by Deric in LA | September 30, 2008 9:33 AM

"Both dogs were taken to the animal shelter, and the owner of one immediately agreed to have it destroyed."


Posted by Angelika | September 30, 2008 9:35 AM


Make sure all your dogs prized items are put away.

Wow, it says that? It really, really says that? I scanned the article but didn't really read it.

That runs counter to ALL the dog obedience/behavior training that I have had over the years. ANY of the dog's owners or accepted guests should be able to take away ANY treat or toy from your dog--and if that's not possible, then your dog has a behavior problem and should NOT be trusted around children (or actually unknown adults, or other dogs). By which I mean the dog should be controlled (in other words, crated) when anyone unknown is around, and only taken out in public in a VERY controlled way. Period. End of story.

My DOGS' "prized items" are MY "prized items". I give and I take away, blessed be the name of me. Any sign of rebellion in the house is put down HARD, (I use a dominance roll if necessary--IOW, I put the dog on his back) and I live with two intact male Shelties (and a 13-year-old neutered male Sheltie who is, in fact, the top dog in most situations--nobody challenges him).

I would think it would be especially important with terrier breeds to make sure that they know who's boss.

Posted by Nora | September 30, 2008 9:46 AM
Posted by Dan Savage | September 30, 2008 10:00 AM

i'm always attesting to all the submissive rescued pits i've met. well, there is one problem dog i've met...she's a lab/pit mix and she has always treated small children and puppies as prey, and has no proper understanding of dog ranking hierarchy when she encounters mature dogs, and starts fights with them (and re-initiates). she's my brother's dog, aged 4.5 yrs. he and his wife continue to believe that they can train the dog out of this behavior. they are at least smart enough to keep the dog muzzled around small children so far. but now they plan on having a child and KEEPING THE DOG. must...avert...eyes.

Posted by ellarosa | September 30, 2008 10:10 AM

Hey Dan, did you know that half of all news stories about "pit bulls" aren't actually about pit bulls at all, but dogs that vagely sort of maybe look something like what the reporter or witnesses (or owner(!)) *thinks* a pit bull looks like?

"Pit Bull" is newspaper slang for "attacking dog that is mid sized with a broad stubby snout". Sometimes. For example, sometimes a "pit bull" is really a white tiger.

Posted by K | September 30, 2008 10:26 AM

Forget a ban, just make sure the fucking owners go to prison for manslaughter. End of story.

Posted by keshmeshi | September 30, 2008 11:02 AM

@9. you are completely wrong. you have to tell yourself that in order to believe your position.

the stats which have been provided countless times, of course, are all flawed as well, according your belief system.

Posted by infrequent | September 30, 2008 11:25 AM

@10. i agree, that is the first and necessary step (not just for pit bulls either).

and if that does not work, the next step would be to require a special license (as you would for any other dangerous animal or material).

and, finally, if that too fails to protect people, the ban goes into place.

Posted by infrequent | September 30, 2008 11:46 AM

@7: And in other bad advice:

And finally, Pit Bulls love kids and the two make a perfect combination. High energy wired up kid + high energy wired up Pit Bull = loads of fun and laughter for all involved. :o)

People with herding breeds know that "high energy, wired-up" situations are NOT good. Packs of children (or even one child) running around and screaming send your average herding dog into herding mode, which means "prey drive" mode (because that's what herding is--modified prey drive without the kill at the end). Herding dogs chase and nip in that situation--which works great when you're chasing a big ram who doesn't want to follow orders, but not so great when you're chasing a child. Terriers, bred to kill vermin and small animals, are likely to bite harder. And a pit bull IS a terrier.

(I'm putting aside pit bulls AS pit bulls here. This advice is bad for ANY dog owner with ANY dog, not just pit bull owners--but especially bad for pit bull owners. I mean, come ON!)

Posted by Nora | September 30, 2008 11:59 AM

Special license? What the hell? Is there a secret clause in the Constitution I missed out on that says your right to own a killer dog that eats the neighbors shall not be infringed, but maybe licensed? How about this for a special license: if you're caught keeping a pit bull, the dog is destroyed and you GO TO JAIL. There'd be plenty of room if you let the dopers out.

I'm sick of hearing these fucking dogs defended. Every dog that ever lived put together isn't worth the life of that one beautiful girl, who will now never grow up, and never enliven anyone's life ever again. FUCK YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR GODDAMN DOGS.

Posted by Fnarf | September 30, 2008 12:17 PM

ha! well, i like fnarf's view best. i was trying to be practical and compromising... but that's not for blogs!

Posted by infrequent | September 30, 2008 12:57 PM

There's a difference between being a pit bull apologist, and being anti-banning. Breed bans don't work. We need another solution.

Dan, the only thing you're accomplishing here is fear mongering.

To quote Lucius Accius, "Let them hate so long as they fear."

Posted by Lavode | September 30, 2008 2:14 PM

I grew up around bully breeds my whole life (one pit bull and three american staffordshires, respectively) and will agree that pit bulls can be agressive towards other animals and protective of their owners. But when I was a teenager, playing tug of war and even "bumping into" one of these dogs would never have elicited an attack, and for the most part, the dogs were big loving lapdogs. Of course, we never hit them or bred them for fighting, so that may have had something to do with it.

To be frank, I don't think most families with small children (by "small children" I mean "under 9" or so) should really have any domesticated animals, aside from fish or small things that are constantly kept in cages. The kids themselves don't really know when the animal is becoming agitated or annoyed. It's like a child who torments a cat and then doesn't understand why the cat scratched him/her. In most instances, better to just not have pets with younger kids around.

Posted by Jeff | September 30, 2008 2:59 PM

I dont know why there is such a debate about these dogs!!!! I wish all the pit bull loving owners would just admit that these dogs have the tendency and ability to flip their moods and seriously F@#% you or a small child up

Posted by notmyname | September 30, 2008 4:07 PM

@10- Agreed.

@16: A local group meets with King County Council this week to discuss alternatives to BSL. These alternatives have the potential to:

1)Reduce the # of dog bites in our community 2)Raise money for Animal Control3)Reward responsible dog owners while punishing the irresponsible ones.

After the proposal has been submitted, I'd be happy to share the details of it with any sloggers who care. Most probably don't and would prefer to just bitch about pit bulls.

BSL does not work and this has been proven OVER and OVER again (U.K., Netherlands,Spain,Aurora,Colorado,Italy,Australia......)

Posted by Julie Russell | September 30, 2008 5:18 PM

This poor child was the 49th American killed by a Pit Bull in the past 33 months...The million dollar question is:

Who bred and sold this Canine IED, and is he still liabilty free to peddle dangerously defective product?

That's why we hear "It's the owner", when it is clearly a breeding issue.

The $40 Billion per year US Pet Care Industry doesn't want breed/breeding tied to civil liability. It's bad for business...Think Tobacco companies in the 60s.

Posted by John Winston | October 1, 2008 2:16 AM


You have a VERY good point. Pit bulls weren't always this unstable. Just like narcoleptic dachshunds and chihuahuas with underdeveloped lungs, these unstable dogs were created through breeding; the damage can be undone through breeding.

Licenseur for breeders and owners, I say. And I say this as an owner of a wonderful pit bull who was abandoned because he wasn't "game" enough. Disgusting.

Posted by Christine | October 1, 2008 9:52 AM

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