Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rescue or Recycling?

Laws are written for a purpose, to protect the rights and safety of the public.  Some people do not care for a particular law and simply ignore it.  A recent dog mauling death, the remarks of an attorney specializing in dog bite cases, and an Ohio woman who rescues pit bulls bring insight into the dangers of willful violation of law. 

Celine Brotherton of Miami Township in Clermont County Ohio feels that the zoning laws in her community should not apply to her.  She runs Our Gang Rescue, specializing in pit bulls, out of her tiny three bedroom home.  Please watch the video, she has no fences or fenced dog runs and she has kept as many as 19 dogs inside her home, she is down to 13 dogs now, eight of them pit mixes.  Miami Township zoning regulations limit dogs to no more than three per household.

Brotherton has said "For me, it's all about having the dogs in loving homes you know."  She feels that the Township has no constitutional right to limit the number of dogs she may house.  "It's just me and a three bedroom house. As long as the dogs are being taken care of what's the issue?  They're not outside, they're not causing a nuisance."  Not so much...

Township Zoning Administrator Lou Etheridge says it is all about the law, "It's not personal.  It's the potential for harm and danger that's out there to the residents of the community, that's what we are concerned about."  Mr. Etheridge was, sadly, proven 100% correct.


Another dog advocate, 23 year old Rebecca Carey of DeKalb County Georgia, rescued dogs too. Her specialty was vicious dogs.  In addition to the dogs she placed, Ms. Carey kept five dogs in her home, two pit bulls, two Presa Canerios and a boxer mix.  This is a lethal canine cocktail.  Carey was killed by one, or more of the dogs.  Her body was found by a friend, sent to check on her when when she failed to show up for work. The official cause of death was sharp lacerations to her neck and upper torso.  Carey bled to death.

Neighbors of the victim stated that the dogs had sometimes been at large prior to Carey's death but "you could tell them to go back to their yard, they would go back."  It must be kept in mind that Carey was only 23 years old, it is not likely that she owned a residence.  Who owned that residence and did they know what she was keeping there?  These dogs killed their owner, was the community aware of the danger posed by these dogs?



Attorney Ken Phillips, a specialist in dog bite cases had a great deal to say about the death of Rebecca Carey.  His remarks also give insight into the Celene Brotherton's case. 

Phillips recognizes that rescue dogs come with no history. "One must wonder why the dog was abandoned.  Was there a reason why it was sent to the animal shelter?  It is folly to assume that only bad people abandon their dogs.  When a dog is violent toward people, good parents, good animal control officers, and good cops send the dog to the shelter.  Not all abandoned dogs are good dogs." 

I cannot say this better than Ken Phillips, I will simply quote him.

"As one of many rescuers who have been injured or killed by dogs in the recent past, Rebecca Carey has helped to prove two other points. One is that we need to enact restrictions on the number of dogs that can be kept at a residence. 
There are laws that forbid people from having more than a certain number of dogs. Generally these are considered to be zoning restrictions but such laws also are safety laws. Not only for the safety of the person who has the urge to hoard animals, but also for the safety of friends and neighbors. It has been established that there is a pack instinct in dogs and that normally docile dogs can become aggressive toward humans when the dogs act in concert. For that reason, and to prevent a person from going out on the street with 5 leashes attached to 5 muscular dogs, I have urged the enactment of laws restricting the number of dogs that can be present at a residence, with the number being sharply reduced in the case of larger, more muscular dogs, including pit bulls, Presas, Rotties and the like.
The other point is that adoption and rescue groups need to be licensed.
I am hearing, almost daily, about unsuspecting people who adopt a dog, get attacked by the dog, and then learn that the adoption organization knew that the dog was violent toward people but did not provide a warning about the dog. People like Rebecca Carey -- I call them "humaniacs" -- do not recognize the dangers inherent in such dogs. For that reason, I am urging the enactment of laws that regulate adoption organizations, to the extent necessary to make all of them accountable and to prevent the humaniacs from recycling known dangerous dogs into communities."


The circular nature of this post returns to Celine Brotherton.  She is hoping to get a job in Kentucky and move her rescue operation, and her dogs, across the state line.  She thinks she is leaving the problem behind, but she takes it with her. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

More pit bulls in the news, 8/13/2012

Time to clean up the back log of pit bull news.  From Newark Ohio, a city council Safety Committee will discuss the possibility of removing pit bulls from the city's dangerous dog list, but without much enthusiasm.  Service Director David Rhodes stated in June that the city plans to keep its existing ordinance which labels pit bulls as vicious.  Ohio is a home rule state and communities may have laws stricter than state law but not less than state law.  Ohio's recent capitulation to breed specific advocacy has emboldened local pit bull owners to request changes in local law.  "At least two residents" requested the city change local law to match the lenient new state law.  Safety Committee Chairman Marc Guthrie is not so sure about this proposal but does feel that council should provide a forum for discussion.  Mayor Jeff Hall is inclined to keep the city regulation, in addition to the state law, as Rhodes and Safety Director Bill Spurgeon suggest.  The Safety Committee Chairman stated with great common sense "It probably makes some sense to see how the Ohio law works (before making a change).  A grand plan, Cincinnati dropped their breed ban to soothe the hurt feelings of pit bull advocacy and had a mauling death within just a few weeks. 



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From Dayton Ohio, home base of vocal  HB 14 advocate and Montgomery County Dog Warden Mark Kumpf, another outrageous pit bull attack.  Mark has been lucky of late, police have shot the pit bulls during attacks, saving Mark the trouble of wading through the legal maze that Best Friends animal rights lawyers created in HB 14. 

Dayton police shot a pit bull/boxer mix after it attacked a woman and a cat INSIDE a 1995 Buick parked inside a garage.  Police responded to a call and found a 51 year old woman trapped inside the Buick, with a seat belt wrapped around the dog's neck.  Her 911 call included her statement of the problem "I have a dog that has attacked me and my cat, I can't get him out of my car.  He is in my car, I was trying to get in the car to get away."   She told police she was afraid to get out of the car because, per newstalkradiowohio.com "she would have to let go of the seat belt strap she had wrapped around the dog's neck to keep it at bay and from attacking her and a cat that was also apparently inside the vehicle."  Officers attempted to use tasers (pit bull owners always want to know why their mauler was shot during an attack instead of tasered, here is why)but after it was let out of the Buick it charged after the woman.  At this point common sense kicked in and an officer fired two rounds from a .40 caliber handgun "striking the animal in the chest and lung."  After being tasered, and shot twice, the dog ran off and later charged another officer, "who used a shotgun to stop and kill the animal."

It is a damn shame that Dayton residents have to attempt to take refuge in their cars to protect themselves from attacking pit bulls.   I'm sure Dayton residents thank Kumpf for his efforts to deregulate these dogs.


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More from Montgomery County!!!  Huge shout out to Montgomery County Dog Warden, and HB 14 advocate Mark Kumpf for the "improved safety" of his community. 

In Huber Heights, two women were bitten as they attempted to break up a fight between two pit bulls inside their house.  A responding police officer also attempted to break up the dog fight and (again) attempted to use a taser on one of the pit bulls.  The second pit bull charged at the officer and he fired one round, killing the dog.  Kumpf's staff at Montgomery County Animal Control also responded.  There were children in the home but they were not awake to witness the dog fight.  One can assume that gunfire inside the home did wake them.  An investigation is in progress.  Mr. Kumpf, you must begin the process of declaring the remaining pit bull dangerous, you might want to thank Ledy Vankavage for the hoops you will have to go through to do so to protect the residents of Montgomery County.


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A Canton 9 year old is recovering after being attacked by two dogs, a pit bull and a boxer.  Billy Harvey suffered multiple bites, the worst to his upper thigh.  Neighbors heard the boy screaming and rushed to help him.  Tamikka Dotson stated "I'm getting closer I hear him screaming and crying and I didn't even see the dogs at first until I got right here and I said he is getting attacked by two dogs. I have got to do something."  Dotson said she pulled the dogs off Billy as he struggled in the grass, the two dogs biting him.  "They were still coming at him, even with me being right here and I'm trying to stand in front of them and kick the dogs back because I didn't have any shoes on or anything."  Dotson was able to get the dogs off the boy as a man, possibly the dog's owner grabbed the dogs and ran away.  Personally, I would bet money on that being the dog owner, classic irresponsible owner response to seeing his dogs maul someone, grab your mauler and run.

The following day Billy and his  mother went to Ms. Dotson's home to thank her, she responded "I just want you to know there are people around here who care."  Dotson also said "People if you are going to have your animals then keep control of them.  There's kids running around this neighborhood all day every day." 

This Canton neighborhood is fortunate to have Tamikka Dotson!


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I ran out of time before I ran out of pit bull attacks.  More to come soon... God help us.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ohio Pit bull roundup, August 10, 2012

I am WAY behind on Ohio pit bull news. Nothing for it but to get started.

Cincinnati fell to the pressure of pit bull advocacy and dropped their pit bull ban in May. Just a few weeks later they had their first pit bull mauling death. A grown man was killed, in his own apartment, by his own pit bull/designer mix dog.

The newly "breed neutral" city is now experiencing dog fighting. Here is the shocker, the dogs involved are not Goldens or Labs, but the newly welcomed pit bulls! Five people were arrested as they attempted to run from police who responded to the call about fighting dogs. An animal control officer was bitten by one of the pit bulls that were released by the dog fighters in their rush to escape. Dog fighting is a fourth degree felony in Ohio. A conviction can bring up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Congratulations Cincinnati, looking good!



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This from the Chagrin Falls Police Blotter, scroll on down to "Animal Bites, Bell Street". Two pit bulls ran out of their owner's yard to attack a dog being walked by a peaceful resident out for a pleasant evening walk. The pit bulls blasted through an electric fence and through traffic to attack the other dog. The peaceful citizen was able to kick the dogs identified in the article as both pit bulls and American Bulldogs (which are pit bull designer dogs and are considered "dogs commonly known as pit bull dogs" by Ohio law). The owner of the attacking dogs stated that his fence was "apparently not working" and that this behavior was "uncharacteristic" of his dogs.


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From Springfield Township Ohio.

Clark County deputies attempted to serve an arrest warrant on Keith Mumma. Per wohiotv.com "The warrant was issued from domestic violence and assault charges earlier in the day." When police entered the yard Mumma released his pit bull out the back door and went back inside the house. Per wohiotv.com, Deputies stated "the dog came at them, and they were barely able to get out of the yard." The Clark County Humane Society was called and was able to secure the dog. Now Mumma faces the original charges of domestic violence, assault, AND two charges of felonious assault on a police officer. Some poor choices were made by Mr. Mumma.


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From Columbus Ohio comes the story of 34 year old Andre Barker, wanted for a parole violation. In 2006 he pled no contest for allowing his dogs to attack and kill two dogs and maul a third dog. As part of his sentence Barker was ordered to pay restitution to the owners of the killed, and mauled dogs. It is now 2012 and restitution has not yet been paid, nor have fines and court costs been paid. Per wohiotv.com "Baker appeared a fugitive safe surrender last year in an attempt to get his warrants waived. However, authorities said they believe he may have left quickly after realizing he owed six months in jail for failing to comply to the terms and conditions of his parole."

In May of 2006 Barker's dogs (one wearing a chain around its neck and displaying stitches that were not done by a veterinarian) entered a neighbors yard and killed the neighbor's dog, named Shelby. Police reports state that Barker's dogs dragged Shelby's body around by the neck, then went on to menace children and other dogs in the neighborhood.

Fast forward two weeks and Barker's dogs killed another neighbor's dog, a maltese and yorkie mix that the owner had inherited from his late mother. This quote from wohiotv.com, "According to reports, Baker entered the victim's back yard during the attack and yelled at the owner to get back in his house as the dog mangled the lifeless 'morkie' in his mouth."

The very next day one of Barker's dogs entered the SAME neighbor's house and attacked yet another dog in the living room of the home. This mixed breed dog, named Bernie survived but required surgery.

Assistant City Prosecutor Bill Hedrick stated "While the years have passed, the scars - both literally and figuratively - remain." Barker was prosecuted for these attacks. Barker's criminal record includes multiple counts of domestic violence, assault, felony drug possession, felony theft, criminal trespass, aggravated menacing, resisting arrest, receiving stolen property, obstructing official business, trafficking crack cocaine and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

You will be shocked to know that Barker's dogs were not Beagles or Poodles, but were described as ...pit bulls.

Columbus authorities ask anyone with information on Barker to contact the prosecutor. I would also add, do not confront this man.



Sunday, August 5, 2012

The impact of HB 14.

The Wapakoneta Daily News recently published an article on the impact of HB 14.  This article is a breath of fresh air, it considers the safety of the public. 

Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey stated, per the article "In my opinion, this law was a mistake."  "There are some state officials who have predicted we will see a steady increase in pit bull attacks." 

Critics of the law feel that the new law creates more red tape for dog wardens and allows dogs "one free bite" before dogs are considered dangerous.  This law was written by lawyers at Best Friends Animal Society, an animal rights PAC headquartered in Kanab Utah.  The law was not written to protect the public, it does exactly what it was designed to do, it creates a legal nightmare for any community attempting to declare any dog vicious.

Supporters of the bill, like State Senator Keith Faber, R-Celina, and Auglaize County Humane Society Director Sandra Harrison feel that the new law bases legal action on behavior rather than breed.  A victim must be created in order to find a dog dangerous or vicious. Insurance will not be required until AFTER an attack.  Too late for the victim,and with no requirement for insurance, the victim pays the medical bills. 

Harrison goes on to the foolish and stale pit bull talking points "We feel the legislation is more correct.  I don't think it is fair to label one breed of dog.  There are many breeds of dog that bite.  If they can label one breed without a dog performing a vicious act, wouldn't that be like profiling? I think it is very much like profiling, and we shouldn't do that in this country."  Possibly Harrison has not considered that dog breeds are developed for a purpose.  Pit bulls were bred for an activity that is so violent that it is a felony in all 50 states.  It is not profiling to acknowledge the purpose of the breed.  No dog fancier considers it "profiling" when Border Collies participate in herding trials.  Nobody considers it "profiling" when Bloodhounds are brought in to search for a lost child. 

Breed specific legislation has proven to make communities safer.  Here is the experience of Council Bluffs Iowa:
2004 - 29 pit bull bites
2005 - 19 pit bull bites and a breed ban is passed
2006 - 7 pit bull bites
2008 - 2 pit bull bites
from 2008 to 2010 - 0 pit bull bites.  Statistics like these are repeated in many communities with BSL. Nearly 400 communities and counties across the United States have some sort of BSL.  All US Army and Marine bases, twelve Air Force bases, and 3 Navy bases have BSL

Laws regulating pit bulls in some manner have been passed in Omaha NE, San Francisco CA,  Springfield MO and Reading PA.  These communities are well satisfied with the results, in addition to drastic reductions in bites and attacks, shelter euthanization of pit bulls falls too.  Everybody wins, safer communities and fewer pit bulls die.

Per the Wapakoneta Daily News article, in Ohio "St. Marys and Wapakoneta have breed-specific legislation.  Buckland and Cridersville both are currently discussing the passing of legislation to restrict or ban specific breeds. Waynesfield Police Chief Nathan Motter said he is considering making a proposal in the future at a Waynesfield Village Council meeting."

Both Auglaize County Dog Warden Russ Bailey, and Mercer County Dog Warden Tom Powell feel safety gets lost when considering which animals attack more.  Powell had this to say about the new Ohio law "I hated to see it done."  He went on to discuss a recent pit bull attack in his district where a pit bull owner was attacked by his own dog, causing severe injuries.  Three pups of the female dog involved in that attack also became aggressive.

Bailey went on to state "I've handled dogs since 1982.  I have completely changed my opinion in this matter based on what I have seen since I have been a dog warden.  The dogs in our area that have been involved (in attacks) have shown no signs of abuse."  "If that prey drive kicks in and a pit bull attacks, you are at its mercy until it decides to stop."

Both Bailey and Powell have said that they do not support the new law and they feel that "time will tell if the new legislation provides ample protection for the public."  Auglaize County Commissioners also feel that the issue will need to be revisited in the future."

One can hope that the Ohio County Dog Wardens Association will consider Dog Wardens Bailey and Powell for leadership positions.  OCDWA President Matt Granito and Treasurer  Mark Kumpf have sold out the safety of Ohio families by their active participation in the promotion and passage of HB 14.  In the first four and a half months after passage of the bill two Ohio residents were killed by family pit bulls.  In the 24 years of pit bull regulation in Ohio there were only four actual pit bull mauling deaths.