Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cincinnati breed specific advocates cross state lines.

When we left Cincinnati in the last post, pit bulls were a hot topic in the news and justifiably so.  Cincinnati has seen more than its share of maulings since the breed ban was dropped in 2012.  Just weeks after pit bull advocacy declared victory with the fall of the breed ban Cincinnati had a fatal mauling.  Ronnel Brown was killed by his pit bull designer mix dog.  He owned the dog for several years but kept the dog under the radar. With the fall of the breed ban he had nothing to fear and obtained two more of the same pit bull designer mix keeping all three dogs in his apartment.  Brown's own dog killed him.

Cincinnati saw the serious mauling of a judicial candidate's wife as she was posting election signs.

The near fatal pit bull mauling of senior citizen Beulah Sheafe brought the underwhelming penalties to the the owner of the pit bulls, a $100 fine and an order to never have pit bulls on his property again.  Mrs. Sheafe has stated that pit bulls should be banned in Cincinnati.   

A near fatal mauling of a pit bull owner by her own three pit bulls made the headlines of Cincinnati newspapers.  Police stated that it appeared that Tammy Tucker was being "eaten alive" by her own pit bulls. Police gunfire was required to save Mrs. Tucker.  This was not the first time Tucker's pit bulls had attacked her, and they had bitten her husband as well.   Mrs. Tucker told a reporter that she was aware that her dogs were vicious but she tried to "change herself" but now realizes that it was the dogs that were the problem. 

Since the attack on the six year old Cincinnati child, and the attacks discussed in our last post, things have not been quiet in the Cincinnati area.  Just over the state line, In Covington KY a man was mauled while attempting to break up a fight between two female pit bulls.  The pit bulls were euthanized.    This comment was posted on the news article " Maybe they were walking home from the pro pit bull rally they just had downtown?? Lol here we go again!!"  The public gets it.  So does the media.  Below is the opinion of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Kathy Wilson writes at CityBeat.com I would ask all pitbull owners to pause all their emotional transference, all their misguided anger, the claims of breed discrimination and hatred, even and especially all their pitbull pride and think for five uninterrupted minutes about the terror, confusion and silence of Zainabou Drame, whose life was irrevocably changed when two pits latched onto her face, maimed her and stole her voice"

More from Kathy Wilson " Irresponsible pitbull owners fit a profileThere is something inherently ominous, mysterious, latently vicious and even irresponsibly deadly about pitbulls and their owners that most people are either afraid of or unable to name."

Here is a letter to the editor with the title "Pit bulls should be eliminated" .  Here is another titled "Reinstate citywide ban of pit bulls."   And another titled "City Council, reinstate the ban immediately."   More opinion from the public, this one is titled "Most attacks by few dog breeds"  (pit bulls are the big winner here.)   Still more "Place strict limitations on the problem breed."  Cincinnati.com asks "Should pit bull ban be reinstated?"   The words on the front page of the Cincinnati Enquirer are a quote from Bebe Wilker as she spoke to reporters after the mauling of her little dog by a pit bull that escaped from the yard of a neighborhood residence.  Wilker had to fight for her pet's life as the owner of the pit bull stood on her porch shouting "that's not my dog."  Per Cincinnati.com  "Bartles spent 10 hours in surgery and recovery and has since returned home. Bite marks from the pit bull's jaws are clearly visible on the back of his neck. "Bartles still has no use of his right front leg," Wilker said. He walks on three paws and "falls down a lot. It just makes me sick."

Pitt Bull part II 5.jpg

While controversy about pit bulls swirls through Cincinnati there is some good news for Zainabou Drame. She is now out of the coma and is now on a feeding tube.  An unnamed organization has offered to pay all Zainabou's medical bills.   This is a stunningly generous offer!

Given the political climate, one would think that Cincinnati's pit bull activists would hunker down and try to quietly ride out the storm. One would be wrong.  Cincinnati pit bull advocates are prancing across state lines to lobby in favor of pit bulls in Ft. Thomas Kentucky, a community with a long standing pit bull ban.  These pit bull advocates have a connection, that connection is the Cincinnati SPCA.

Here is a link to the officers list of the Cincinnati SPCA. Please note the names.   Remember the research we looked at in the last post?  "Ownership of High Risk (vicious dogs) as a Marker for Deviant Behavior" Please review the list of the authors of this 2006 material.  Herald Dates, head of the Cincinnati SPCA is listed. Barbara Boat, trustee of the Cincinnati SPCA is listed.   Andrew Mahlman of the Cincinnati SPCA is listed. Jacklyn Barnes and Frank Putnam are both affiliated with Cincinnati Children's Hospital, where Cincinnati's most recent pit bull mauling victim is being treated, are also listed as authors of the material.

What happened since 2006 to change the viewpoint of these influential individuals?  In 2007 the Michael Vick case brought pit bulls into the mainstream culture of the United States and with that brought the recognition that pit bulls and money are directly connected.  Best Friends Animal Society cashed in big time with millions of dollars donated in support of the pit bulls they accepted from the dispersal of Vicks dogs.    Pit bull advocacy is very profitable.  For example, in 2008 (the 2007 BFAS annual report was unavailable)  Best Friends received $35,763,158 in direct public support.   In 2012 (the most recent annual report available) Best Friends received  $57,473,171. Best Friends is a huge supporter of pit bulls.  The HSUS and ASPCA went into pit bull based fund raising overdrive and were rewarded.  Follow the money.

One might also consider following the blood.  The 31 year summary available at this link is a stunning visual. Since January 1, 2007 one hundred and fifty eight Americans have been killed by pit bulls and their mixes, this includes the two fatal attacks upon children from this past weekend. Please google any of the names to confirm the information.  In the seven year period from 2000 to 2007 eighty one Americans were killed by pit bulls and their mixes.

As usual, I have digressed, back to the Cincinnati SPCA advocacy in Ft. Thomas.  From Ft. Thomas Matters "Another voice from Cincinnati addressed council Monday night, as well. Cincinnati-based attorney Jim Tomaszewski, who was instrumental in overturning Cincinnati’s breed specific legislation two years ago, explained to council that his experience has shown “no correlation between between breed specific legislation and public safety."  Mr. Thomaszewski is a member of the Board at the Cincinnati SPCA and was a driving force in the campaign to drop Cincinnati's breed ban.  As we have seen from editorials and letters to the editor, dropping the breed ban in Cincinnati has become exceedingly unpopular recently.

Why is the Cincinnati SPCA so fixated on bullying Ft. Thomas to accept pit bulls? Possibly the numbers of pit bulls languishing in the Cincinnati SPCA might have something to do with it.   On 7/22/2014 the Cincinnati SPCA has 25 adoptable dogs listed on their website, 23 of them are pit bulls, one is a VERY pit bull looking "Labrador Retriever" and one GSD. The Cincinnati SPCA places animals in "the tri- state area" which includes Ft. Thomas.  

Shana Brockelman, dog trainer for the Cincinnati SPCA, residing in Batavia Ohio made the trip to Ft. Thomas to speak.  Minutes of the meeting do not indicate that Brockelman disclosed her connection to the Cincinnati SPCA. Brockelman was strongly in favor of pit bulls.

Another high profile Ohio resident voicing an opinion on Ft. Thomas law was Cinnamon Dixon DO.

Cinnamon Dixon, DO of Cincinnati is named as an authority on dog bites and she feels that a ban on pit bulls is not necessary.  It is important to point out that Dr. Dixon is a pediatric emergency room doctor at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  It is also important to remember that Zainabou Drame is a patient at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.  Please note that this letter is on hospital letterhead stationery and dated May 31, 2014, just days before the near fatal attack on Zainabou Drame.

Did Dr. Dixon change her opinion after the attack on Drame, or soften her approach?  Nope, she doubled down and partnered with Dr. Brit Anderson to write this opinion published on Cincinnati.com "  We agree with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s assertion that “a well-planned proactive community approach can make a substantial impact.” This approach does not include breed-specific legislation, but rather a well-organized multidisciplinary strategy tailored to the community. We must move past the breed debate and focus efforts on common-sense, effective strategies that work for our community." 

Brit Anderson, MD, and Cinnamon Dixon, DO, MPH, are emergency medicine physicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

 Please follow the link and read the whole piece.

I find Dr. Dixon's claim to be an "expert" on dog bites as claimed by Councilman Jay Fossett, a stretch.   A google search for Dr. Dixon's research brings up two papers, one of them turns up with two titles but is the same material.  In this paper Dr. Dixon and her research partners surveyed 300 pairs of parents and children in the Emergency Room for non-urgent problems of any kind, only 11% were in the emergency room because they had been bitten by a dog.  The questions related to knowledge of behaviors exhibited by children and how those behaviors might impact the chances of being bitten.  There was no mention of any dogs being simply dangerous and that prevention strategies might be ineffective.  This smacks of blaming the victim.  This research was published in 2012 but Dr. Dixon et al cite material published in 2000 for numbers of fatalities per year, and material published in 2001 for the numbers of dog bites seen in the Emergency Room.  This is deliberate manipulation of data to minimize the problem.

In this paper  Dr. Dixon DO is listed as Cinnamon Dixon MD,  what is her actual title?  Cincinnati Children's Hospital lists her as a DO. Can she make up her mind?  In any case, she partners with  Barbara Boat PhD, if you  go back to the link to officers of the Cincinnati SPCA you will find Boat listed as a trustee of the Cincinnati SPCA.  This paper looks at just 34 pediatric dog bite victims, all non urgent, none injured badly enough to be admitted to the hospital.   These patients were contacted one month after medical treatment and enrolled in the study.  After parents completed a brief questionnaire they were given a book titled "Good Dog! Kids Teach Kids About Dog Behavior and Training," a dog training book written by children.   After interaction with patients and their parents the researchers concluded that children may experience PTSD following dog bites and that more dog bite education is needed.  Still no indication that the bite may not be the fault of the child's behavior but rather the result of an interaction with a simply dangerous dog.

Dr. Dixon made this statement to a reporter for the Dayton Daily News.  “The summertime is definitely are more significant time for dog bites,” said Cinnamon Dixon, DO, MPH, pediatric emergency physician and assistant professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Children usually are bit by their own dogs or another known dog. They may be walking through a neighbor’s yard and the dog may feel threatened and attack.”  The dog may feel threatened and attack?  This is blaming the victim and for a physician who acknowledges PTSD after a dog attack, a very inappropriate remark.

Just a week or so after the article written by Dr. Dixon and Dr. Anderson appeared, another article appeared, written by another doctor at Cincinnati Children's. This doctor is far senior to Dr. Dixon and he does not share her opinion.  Dr. David Billmire is professor and director of the Division of Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery at Cincinnati Children's Hospital and Medical Center.   His opinion?  There is no need for pit bulls.  Please read the entire piece but here is Dr. Billmire's conclusion.
Based on my extensive experience, I believe that the risk posed by pit bulls is equivalent to placing a loaded gun with the safety off on the coffee table. In my opinion, these dogs should be banned. I know this is an unpopular stand in some circles, but how many mauled children do we have to see before we realize the folly of allowing these dogs to exist?
The arguments made by advocates of these dogs are the same arguments made by people who feel that assault weapons are an essential part of daily living. There are plenty of breeds available that peacefully coexist with human society. There is no need for pit bulls.
 I expect we may return to Cincinnati and to Ft. Thomas.  Interesting times.