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The pit bull is under attack... again ...


June 4, 2005 -

The headline read:

"S.F. boy, 12, killed by his family's pit bulls"

A 12-year-old boy was mauled to death by his family's two pit bulls Friday in his apartment in San Francisco's Inner Sunset District, authorities said.

The boy, identified by school district officials as Nicholas Scott Faibish, was in his apartment at 711 Lincoln Way when the 80-pound dogs -- a male named Rex and a female named Ella -- attacked him about 3:15 p.m., authorities said.

The boy's mother, covered in blood, screamed, "Get them out of here!'' said a neighbor who heard the commotion and saw the woman through the apartment window.

Animal Control officers Elllie Sadler (center) and Vicky Guldbech (right) describe the scene to dog behaviorist Donna Duford (left) moments after they return to San Francisco Animal Care and Control with the dog named Rex.



A school portrait of Nicholas Scott Faibish who was a 6th grader at Roosevelt Middle School.

A police officer shot and killed one of the dogs, believed to be Ella, when the dog prevented him from entering the apartment in the building across from Golden Gate Park, a police spokesman said. The other dog was captured in the backyard and was being held by animal control officers.

Paramedics tried and failed to resuscitate the boy at the scene.

Another story continues:

Animal behavior experts have theorized that the attack could have been linked to different stresses on the dogs, including the family's imminent move to Oregon and the possibility that the female dog was in heat, triggering increased aggression in the male.

The incident has rattled San Francisco dog owners. Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Deb Campbell said that several people arrived at the shelter on Saturday to drop off their pit bulls.

"The pit bulls that killed the boy were described as friendly, and people start looking at their friendly dog and asking if it could do the same thing," Campbell said.


SO, this is where we are --

-- as I see it, two large dogs, branded "pit bulls" in the media stories -- one of them being 80 lbs.

-- from my limited background, "ideal" pit bulls are 40 lbs -- quite a bit smaller than the dogs described in this article.

It also appears that one or both of the dogs were unaltered -- a definite "NO" in my book -- hormonally, those traits affect dogs greatly, especially when in season.

Also, the incident -- what sparked it? What occurred?

I once heard a story of a St. Bernard that bit a family-member child -- a dog that had prior shown no signs of aggression -- autopsy revealed a pencil in the dog's ear canal that the boy had inserted --

A dog named Rex is brought in a cage to San Francisco Animal Care and Control.




This image shows one of the two pit bulls involved in a fatal mauling Friday.

I first heard about this story two days ago -- only to be phoned by my sister, a mother of three children under four, two days ago.

This story is of two very large dogs and a horrible experience -- this little boy should not have died -- he was a child, with a child's mind -- what was the exact circumstance of the attack? Was he being supervised at the time of the incident? It seems there were signs of temperament issues before the incident that went un-managed.

Now, on my side, my sister will not bring her children around any of my dogs -- ignorance, I feel, but for her, it's a blanket feel-good decision.

Dogs, like people, have their own personalities, which often transcend breed types -- thus, a pit bull, like Thor, can easily be less aggressive than a labrador or golden retriever.

Also, human aggression, as shown here, is NOT a pit bull breed trait -- sure, dog aggression is (which must be managed), but pit bulls were never bred for guard duty of human fighting.

We have to ask ourselves, "Where will this end?" Will the media sensationalism and the irresponsible owners overcome this breed? Will breed bans make owning this dog impossible, except to those that don't follow the laws anyway? Imagine what sort of creature they would create.

For positive press, Sue from Waterbury CT contributes these links:

pit bulls on the web

and this --


Mind you, positive stories like these will never be in the news, especially with a story like this one fueling the fury...



Sue continues with Kris Crawford's search and rescue dogs --

-- something I bet middle America never would imagine --

-- they're here --


... and then there's Neville, the Ontario, Canada pit bull sentenced to death, and then rescued to be trained as a K9 police dog in DC -- he's here -- and here --

-- these are stories America seldom sees, and ones that prevent people like my sister for realizing that these dogs are each individuals, many with very positive traits, and some with negative traits --




Are pit bulls for everyone? Heck no -- that's for sure -- just as sports-cars aren't for teen-agers -- this breed needs to be owned responsibly and attentively to flourish --

-- what IS worth noting is that multiple-dog families, as in this situation, have a very different dynamic than single-dog households. This is true, regardless if it's a pit bull or a lab -- here's a quote from a St. Louis story --

"I don't believe pit bulls are more innately aggressive to humans," Williams said. "They can certainly be more dangerous to pets. They can be wonderful dogs, very intelligent, but what you have is a dog that was bred to kill other animals."

If one of the dogs became unexpectedly aggressive, it's possible the other followed suit, Williams said.

"A pack mentality is always possible when you have more than one dog," Williams said.

In 2001, 10-year-old Rodney McAllister of St. Louis died when he was attacked by a pack of stray dogs in a St. Louis park.


Did you know...

... that less than one percent of all dog bites nationally are from pitbulls?

Just like any breed of dog, there are going to be some that are not suitable for children or just don't have good temperaments (whether it is due to no socialization, bad experiences, or bad breeding)


Ashley writes to me in an email:

"My point was to let you know that I completely believe that the pit bull breed is a victim- a victim of media misrepresentation, a victim of its own appearance (that makes it desirable to "tough guys" that wish to exploit its strength and tenacity) and  a victim of unscrupulous breeding tactics.

It is truly unfortunate that such an American breed should be banned in any part of its own country, especially with all the current pro-American propaganda. If I had the living-space, I would definitely foster some babies of my own."




She continues:

"I'd like to finish up with a quote from The New Encyclopedia of the Dog, by Dr. Bruce Fogle, DVM: "Hysteria is now associated with this breed's name. Banned in Sweden, neutered, muzzled, and micro-chip-identified in Great Britain, and prohibited from entering some parts of North America, this breed is as much a victim of the media as it is of its historic breeding to fight other dogs... When trained from an early age to obey commands, the majority of the breed prove to be companionable, even gregariously fawning dogs."




So, with that, I would encourage those who support this breed to remind the nay-sayers that YES, incidents DO occur with ANY and ALL breeds -- with the pit bull, it is sensationalized by the media without mercy --

-- are these dogs strong? YES -- are they for everyone? NO

-- are they a suburban "I've got my dog, my SUV and my life's perfect as it is" dog?

NOT NECESSARILY -- these dogs need integration in to the family and constant care --




So, for me, I'm back at square one with my family -- I have my sister avoiding me because of the media story, and my parents saying, "You give up too much for these dogs" --

-- when I hear that, I think back to the many wonderful homes that I have been blessed to find out there for these dogs --

-- people from all walks of life who are committed to their pup and to this breed -- who know the ins and outs of their pup, and who know there's nothing better to be woken up in the morning by a soft muzzle against your neck, with your best friend, your pit bull, spooning you with a smile on her face as she gently sleeps.

As a "what can I do about this" note, be savvy about dog-bite prevention -- starting here.



This is not a breed-specific occurence -- it can happen with all breeds -- from abcnews.com --

May 8, 2005

 Two-year-old Samantha Black of Detroit, Mich., was mauled to death by a Siberian huskie and an Alaskan malamut on Friday. The female dogs were untethered at the time, and both have since been euthanized.

Already in 2005, there have been 11 dog-related fatalities in the U.S. There were 20 dog-related human deaths in 2004, and roughly 154,000 children under the age of 14 go to emergency rooms annually in the United States due to dog-related injuries.



Brian Kilcommons, director of training at the New York City Animal Training and Control, said preventing dog-related injuries begins with parents who must assume responsibility for their dog's behavior.

"It's not one breed," Kilcommons said. "We need to look at how people are raising their dogs."




Kilcommons said unneutered male dogs are most likely to inflict injury, and chained or isolated dogs can become dangerous as well. But dog owners need to pay attention to the warning signs.

"One dog attack is unnacceptable," Kilcommons added. "And the people who own a dog need to look at how to be responsible."

Tips for Preventing Dog Danger

Kilcommons most recently co-authored the book "Childproofing Your Dog" with Sarah Wilson, and outlined these tips from his book for controlling your dog.



SUPERVISE: Supervise kids and dogs especially kids under 10. If you can't supervise, then seperate them with child gates or some other device.

ANTICIPATE: Don't dismiss problems with dogs that may be warning signs of trouble to come.

EDUCATE: Educate dogs and kids. Teach kids about dogs and how to treat them, and educate dogs by socializing them early on especially during their first 16 weeks, which is a critical period. Make sure to introduce the dog early on to any young children in the household.