Written by Richard Prince
We were frustrated. The accounts of human deaths by pit bulls (or fighting breed dogs) did not seem to be syndicated across the country via the mainstream media. The public did not seem to know about the high recurrence of these tragic events and the mounting number of fatalities. The word was just not getting out about this epidemic.
Meanwhile, the pit bull advocates continued to spread myths and disinformation that consistently are repeated by mainstream media. This propaganda contributes to the risk of the innocent and unsuspecting members of our communities who adopt “pit bulls”. Some of the very real consequences of pit bull attacks are life flights and trauma center stays by victims on a daily basis. One American death occurs every 9-15 days.
Someone had an idea. The pit bull advocacy planned a rally and march in Ohio at the state capitol building. This lobby wants the great state of Ohio to eliminate “all” restrictions on pit bulls. We are talking about a lineage of fighting breed canines that are responsible for more human deaths than all other breeds and types of dogs combined.
In contrast, our contention is to place more restrictions on these dogs. We demand (or call for) constraints and regulations on breeding them, owning them, selling them or banning them outright.
Our essential idea was to obtain a permit to present an exhibit that memorializes pit bull victims and bring it to the Ohio statehouse on the very same day that the supporters of the pit bulls were scheduled to have their event. We had just the memorial, created by a Michigan artist, Joanie Kowal. Joanie’s exhibit was a tribute which she designed herself to honor victims of vicious canine attacks. This exhibition was created in 2014 and displayed at “Art Prize” in Grand Rapids Michigan during the same year of 2014.
The legislators in Ohio need to know that the true majority of Americans do not want to see these fighting breeds of dogs continue to multiply unchecked and un-regulated. Most Americans do not even want them to exist in our neighborhoods and society. The recent referendums in Aurora, CO and Miami-Dade, FL are clear signs of this. These two large counties in America voted by referendum, by the will of the people to keep pit bulls out of their communities.
I live in Connecticut. The memorial was stored in Michigan, and the event occurred in Ohio.
I volunteered to help but Joanie, the artist, told me that her memorial was severely outdated. The numbers were no longer accurate. In the past 17 months there had been nearly another fifty deaths of humans inflicted by pit bulls. More crosses and plaques needed to be constructed to complete the project. Questions rang in our ears.
“If not now, when? If not you, who?”
An executive decision was made. “Just do it!”
Determined, I set about constructing the crosses the next day and placed them in my compact car disassembled and unpainted.
Joanie set out to obtain the permit to display her art on the sidewalks of the Ohio statehouse. There was much to be done in preparation for the exhibit. The tasks included creating and printing the plaque content and victim information, cutting plexi-glass and collecting the permit for the correct sidewalk placement.
To have maximum effect we knew it must be near the “pit bull” parade. We were cautious about sharing too much information with the people who were in charge of issuing the permits. The pit bull lobby has a lot of money and could sabotage this memorial if they had a “heads up”. Pit bull advocates had physically blocked this very memorial a year prior when it was shown in Michigan and we didn’t intend for this to happen again.
This is when an angel appeared. His name was Jeff Borchardt, founder of the respected non-profit called “Daxton’s Friends For Canine Education & Awareness”. Jeff vowed to sponsor the trip and contribute to the cost of moving the memorial. He promised to help spread the word and have fliers available to hand out to the public. He also said he would provide banners and posters to display at the event. This windfall also presented some unique challenges on such a short notice. It was especially difficult considering that Monday before was Memorial Day. We had little time to prepare.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Quickly I loaded my car, built the crosses and changed the oil in my old car. Finally, I was on the road leaving Connecticut for Michigan. The permit situation was still in the works. My crosses still had no paint on them. The memorial plaques for the newest victims still were not created. We still had little to no volunteers. The whole thing stood a chance to be derailed or sabotaged by the well-funded and demented pit bull lobby.
The truck rental would be nearly $900 dollars and we did not have anywhere close to this amount of cash to spend. While the oil was still dripping from the oil pan on my car, we put out a plea for help through out our victim advocacy network. I was amazed at how quickly the pledges rang up. Within minutes we had $600 dollars pledged. Two years ago this may not have been possible. Today, our support is growing.
I knew in my heart that if we could not get enough money something would happen. I am a firm believer in the cliché that originated in a movie called – Field of Dreams.
“Build it and they will come!”
- On a wing and a prayer I left Connecticut.
I picked up some healthy foods for the ride and headed out. I stopped in Pennsylvania that night and checked in with the team. I felt really heartened to learn that the donations were pouring in. Within hours, even more pledges were made. Pay pal was our friend. Our advocate friends were pulling through for this event. Many of them do not have a lot of money. We collectively have
nothing when compared to the big war bucks of the pit bull lobby. Every dollar given was the equivalent of the animal lobby spending millions.
I set up my tent in a KOA that night and learned that the permit process had been completed. At the same time, the print shop in Michigan was rolling out the fact sheets covering the victims that had been killed in past eighteen months.
I stepped back out of the office and sat in my car and made a phone call and instantly had a volunteer to be our press liaison. Liz Marsden, who was a former dog trainer volunteered immediately. Most notably, Liz was one of the handlers and trainers of the Michael Vick “pit bulls” after his arrest. She stepped up and took the time to write the press release for Daxton’s Friends. She assembled a long list of Columbus press contacts. This transpired very late in the week with less than 24 hours to go to the launch of the event.
We needed to contact the press agencies in Columbus Ohio. The press release would be ready on time. I was assured and it was!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2015
Contact: Jeff Borchardt ###-###-####
Richard Prince ###-###-####
“Out of the Blue” Exhibit Aims to Shatter Myths about Fatal Dog Attacks
The state capital in Columbus may be a hotspot of controversy tomorrow, May 30, beginning at 9:00 a.m., when volunteers for Daxton’s Friends for Canine Education & Awareness unveil an art exhibit depicting more than 40 U.S. victims of fatal dog attacks within the past 17 months. The majority of the lethal dogs were pit bulls. Midday, a pro-pit bull group plans a rally to promote its own cause – ending “breed specific legislation” (BSL) in Ohio and wiping out communities’ right to home rule and public safety regarding known dangerous dog breeds. Ohio has been the location of several fatal and disfiguring pit bull attacks, and more than 70 Ohio municipalities currently restrict their ownership.
Ohio towns would no longer be permitted to restrict dog breeds known to inflict fatal or maiming injuries if an anti-BSL law is passed, as has happened in several states. Concerned Ohio residents and victims’ rights advocates from other states joined efforts to bring “Out of the Blue” to Ohio in order to separate fact from propaganda.
“It’s time for people to start being honest about pit bull type dogs,” says Jeff Borchardt, a founder of the non-profit education group DaxtonsFriends.com and father of one of the victims, 14-month old Daxton. “I was led to believe, through widespread media and lobbying campaigns, that pit bulls are no more dangerous than other dogs. My son is now dead because of that deception.” Borchardt believes that the general public is being told “a very dangerous set of myths” by animal shelters and “rescue” organizations whose only goal is to place pit bulls into the homes of average families. “When a pit bull attacks, it isn’t comparable to a Beagle, or a Chihuahua, or even a Doberman or German shepherd bite,” Borchardt says. “Those breeds usually bite once and release. Pit bulls were bred to grip and hold on, to shake, to do as much damage as possible in a short period of time. Their purpose is to fight other dogs to the death.”
Last year, when “Out of the Blue” made its debut appearance in a Grand Rapids, Michigan Art Prize exhibition, pit bull owners arrived with their dogs in an attempt to block visitors’ access to the showing.
Volunteers want visitors to the exhibit to see the faces of those who died as a result of a dog attack, and to understand the differences in various dog breeds. Contrary to what people hear, it is definitely not “all in how you raise them,” says Borchardt. “Many of the dogs that killed the people featured in this exhibit were well-raised, friendly dogs with no prior aggression. Their fatal attacks were literally without warning; completely out of the blue.”
Borchardt explains that just as pointers are likely to point, shepherds to herd, and Labs to swim, pit bulls are much more likely than non fighting-breed dogs to seriously injure or kill. They are responsible for more than two-thirds of all mauling deaths year after year; more than all other breeds combined.
And the numbers are rising, Borchardt says, as well-funded animal “rescue” groups push these dogs into communities where the average person doesn’t know the truth. “We’re bringing them the truth.”
Sitting on a picnic table in the campground, I finished up the phone call with Liz and checked the news. The news was tragically sad to hear at that very moment. A 5 year old boy in Chicago had been killed by a pit bull on Memorial Day. Even as we struggled to organize this memorial and bring it up to date, the pit bulls kept forcing us to slip behind.
I placed another phone call to Joanie, the “Out of the Blue” creator and we spoke in detail about the recent death of the 5 year old boy in Chicago. She would have to make yet another trip to the print shop.
I went on Facebook from my tent that night and friended the mother of the deceased little boy. I just wanted to express my sympathies to her. I wanted to tell her so much more. I wanted to apologize to her that we have not been able to do better to beat back the propaganda that consistently leads to so many deaths in America. I wanted to tell her so many things, but I didn’t. She was a mother who had just lost her son. The politics of it all had no place in my brief correspondence with her. She politely thanked me. Somehow it felt like it I gave an empty promise although I promised her nothing. How could we possibly help to beat animal lobbies that have millions of dollars? How could we bring her son back?
Early the next morning I packed up my tent and spotted a sign in the campground. They did not allow pit bulls in their campground. I stopped in the office of the KOA and thanked them for their care and concern. Some people do get it!
No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis
- On the road again.
Fast forward. I arrived in Grand Rapids and began visiting the U-haul and Budget truck rental outlets. I found a trailer and pickup truck that was almost half the price of the straight truck we had planned on using. I rented it and proceeded to the place where the exhibit was stored. I met Joanie and was eager to load it up and head to Columbus Ohio. There was still one big issue. We still needed to paint my crosses and build the new boards. The synopsis sheets, which were laminated needed to be glued onto the wood. We left hours behind schedule Friday evening.
Our arrival in Columbus was at 3:30 AM on Saturday morning, which was just 2 and a half hours prior to the time we were to meet our Ohio contacts and to set up the memorial at the Statehouse. We were friggin’ exhausted and almost decided to start setting up at the capitol building immediately. We decided against this and grabbed a hotel in town.
Our heads hit the pillows. The alarms were set. Both of us were afraid we would sleep through the alarms. With an iPad and an iPhone, I set about 15 alarms, all spaced out by about 2 minutes. It worked.
No breakfast! No time! We bumped up on the sidewalk on High Street in front of the capitol building and began setting up the exhibit. We observed that there was a bus stop there and that was a good thing. After a couple hours of setting up the memorial, we were approached by a woman. She had been waiting for the bus. She asked us what we were doing. We told her. To our amazement she told us she had been Klonda Richey’s neighbor!
She told us she was terrified of the dogs that killed Klonda. She used to walk past the house where the dogs lived that killed Klonda. She told me several of the neighbors were terrified of the dogs and completely irate at the animal control division in Dayton for doing NOTHING to protect the citizens. Even after 16 complaints by Klonda herself and numerous other complaints by neighbors these dogs still killed Klonda. May she rest in peace.
I personally believe the animal control officers in Dayton should be replaced with professionally trained and compassionate public servants that do not pose for pictures with the leaders of the propaganda machine. To me this is beyond disgusting. Dayton should be ashamed for giving this country a black eye. Klonda Richey’s loss of life was so preventable!
“With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” – Ziglar
Our Ohio contacts arrived, led by Carol Miller. By “noonish” the memorial was nearly finished being put together. We observed the pit bull supporters as they began to arrive for their speeches and their march. Some pit bull supporters began to give us a hard time, forcing us into heated debates even as we were still setting up.
A policeman approached us. (The first attempt at sabotage by a pit bull supporter.) There was a “complaint” about our U-haul truck on the sidewalk. We knew immediately which person made the complaint. A pit bull supporter who was shouting at us earlier was completely irate that we were setting up this memorial. To her dismay I’m sure, our permit was clear and the officer allowed us to leave the truck there.
Not long after that a state police officer approached us. My first thought was some sort of sabotage of our memorial by the pit bull crowd. They already tried once with the complaint about our truck.
The police officer informed us that we had to dismantle the memorial because we used zip ties to secure the memorial crosses to a fence and that we were not allowed to use it. We did this to keep the crosses from catching the wind and falling over to hurt people. The policeman made it very clear that this was no grey area.
We had a plan B for this. We had actually stopped at a home store en route to Columbus and bought more lumber, because we thought we might need to implement a plan B.
Plan B was going to require hours of work. I told the police officer I would start to remedy this immediately but to do it safely, it would be a little bit of a longer process. He agreed.
I came up with a plan “C” as I began that would take only an hour or two.
An hour into it, the police officer was appreciative about the direction I had taken. He seemed to be very pleased that we were there and standing up to the bullies. He did not say anything to lead me to this belief. It was just a feeling I had.
The press showed up, Channel 4 from NBC. He listened to us and filmed the memorial for nearly 90 minutes. The reporter spent a lot of time with us. It took us the whole hour and a half to explain to him in the briefest way possible about all of the roadblocks, censorship and harassment that we usually encounter in our endeavors. He seemed open minded. I highly doubted this man was anyone who could be fooled by propaganda. I began to have a glimmer of hope that we would get this story to reflect the truth. Most often the stories in the press focused on the spew and propaganda of the pit bull crowd. With a free thinking reporter we had a chance for the truth to be heard.
All day long the public viewed the memorial, spending time with us and reading the memorials of the people who did not survive their pit bull attacks.
The pit bull crowd had their silly, little speeches on the steps of the capitol. From my perspective, the public displayed little or no interest in them. Their audience seemed to consist of only members of their rally and one lone security guard or bus driver and the two police officers who were assigned to the capitol building for security.
People thanked us all day long. During our time spent with the exhibit I saw the shock and surprise in the faces of the people as they learned that so many people had died in only 18 months. They had no idea. The lack of national press coverage on these deaths are keeping the American public blind to this epidemic of pit bull maulings and deaths.
The majority of the viewing public thanked us sincerely. One man knelt as he read about several of the victims, then stood up. His exact words were, “This is disgusting.” He was angry and began to speak of pit bull owners as misguided, ignorant and selfish children. I was certain this man was a preacher or reverend of a church. He had that aura about him.
The time came to begin dismantling the memorial. The pit bull march melted away avoiding us. They were gone. The State police had left. We had no security to help protect us from their usual wrath. I tried to pick up the memorial but could not bring myself to do it. I refused to pick up and continued to speak to the people who stopped to visit. The voiceless had a voice here and their voices were louder and stronger than they could ever be on the internet. Picking them up and putting them back in the dark, closet-like box truck seemed almost criminal. I was strongly contemplating staying until dark.
A thunderstorm suddenly hit before dark. We scrambled to put some of the things away and to lay the crosses flat down as the wind began to threaten. Then, it was over. The storm was over. The crosses all lay on the ground as low as they could go. Everything was wet.
After the storm passed, we packed up and left.
We found a Steak And Shake and ate for the first time all day. We were exhausted. Murphy’s law kicked in here. We needed a hotel. We were soaked to the bone from the rain and quite tired. We could not find a hotel anywhere nearby. It was no wonder, the Rolling Stones were in town. There were no vacancies anywhere. We hit the highway and headed north towards Michigan stopping every few exits to find more hotels with no vacancies. The Rolling Stones became a band we no longer liked. It must have been 50 miles north of the city before we finally found a room.
We settled in to our beds just in time to catch the 11:00 news on Columbus NBC 4. The story appeared on our hotel tv screen. We could not have been more pleased that they elected to air the story. We were ecstatic that the feature reflected our efforts accordingly and truthfully. We could not be more pleased and fulfilled. The voices of the victims were finally heard. (In Ohio at least.)
Within hours a fellow advocate defined what had happened. We had never really thought of it in these terms but once defined, she was clearly correct.
“We had hi-jacked the pit bull event from the well-funded animal groups, and more importantly we hi-jacked the press coverage.’’
Public safety has emerged victorious, and the voices of the victims were finally heard and heeded, loud and clear. Thank you Channel 4 for allowing the victims’ stories to be heard.
Out of the blue website: http://www.caninevictimsmemorial.com/index.html
Ohio pibble march Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OhioPibbleMarch
AVOCA website: http://voicesofthevictims.org/
Manchester, TN – Victims of pit bull attacks make demands to Animal Planet – The “P” Word Tour: Villalobos Rescue Center (Written by Pame Ashley): http://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2015/05/p-word-tour-tia-torres-pit-bull-attacks-demand-animalplanet/
An open letter to Tia Torres – By Jennifer Kim: http://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2015/05/jennifer-kim-manchester-tia-torres-shameless-promotion-pit-bulls-victims/
Victims’ Stories: http://www.daxtonsfriends.com/victims-stories/
15 Dog Bite Related Fatality
10 by Pit Bull/Pit Bull Mix
1 by Rottweiler
By Age :
By State :
NM – 1 death
MD – 1 death
FL – 1 death
IA – 1 death
AR – 1 death
PA – 1 death
W. VA – 1 death
TX – 3 death
SD – 1 death
AR – 1 death
GA – 1 death
NV – 1 death
IL – 1 death
Names and ages of the deceased:
Unidentified Native American – about 40 y,o. – Gallup, NM – Pack of Feral Dogs [1.2.15]
Eugene W. Smith – 87- Frederick, MD – 1 Pit Bull [1.7.15]
Declin Moss – 18 months – Brooksville, FL – 2 Pit Bulls [1.19.15]
Malaki Mildward – 7yrs old – College Springs, IA – 2 Pit Bull/Bull Dog Mix [1.22.15]
Fredrick Crutchfield – 63 yrs old – Johnson county, AR – Pit Bull [ 2.4.15]
TayLynn DeVaughn – 2 yrs old – Pittsburgh, PA – Pit Bull [2.22.15]
Roy Higgenbotham – 62 yrs old – WHEELING, W.Va. – Pit Bull [3.8.15]
Betty Wood – 78 yrs old – SULPHUR SPRINGS, TX – Rottweiler [3.12.15]
Julia Charging Whirlwind – 49 yrs old – WHITE RIVER, SD – Pending [3.14.15]
Detrick Johnson – 36 yrs old – JEFFERSON COUNTY, AR – 7 Pit Bulls [3.21.15]
Neta Lee Adams – 81 yrs old – WASHINGTON, GA – Pending [3.31.15]
Kenneth Ford – 79 yrs old – NYE COUNTY, NV – Pit Bulls [4.14.15]
Brayden Wilson – 2 months old – Dallas, TX – Pit Bull [4.19.15]
Gaege Anthony Ramirez – 7 yrs old – NEW BRAUNFELS, TX – Pending [5.2.15]
James W. Nevils III – 5 yrs old – Chicago, IL – Pit Bull – [5.25.15]
The ‘bull and terrier’ type was originally developed in England in the early 19thcentury. The lineage goes back to the mastiff / molosser types, including what we now call the Olde English Bulldogge, that were used for bear-, bull- and horse-baiting from the 12th through the 18th century. This isn’t the bear-baiting we think of today, when hunters feed bears in order to bring them out in the open to shoot them. Rather, the bear, bull or horse was confined in a public arena where the mastiff ‘bulldogs’ would slowly tear them apart alive for the public’s amusement1,2,3,4,5.
The popularity of this ‘sport’ declined as education became more emphasized in urban society of the Industrial Revolution and literacy among the population grew (from about 30% in the 17th century to 62% by 1800)6. The ‘sport’ was banned altogether by Act of Parliament in 1835.
The lovers of blood ‘sports’ turned to dogfighting to satisfy their fancy, breeding the large, mastiff-type bulldogs to smaller working terriers to get dogs both smaller and more agile, easier to keep and to hide, but just as willing to attack and fight to the death. With the rise of the kennel clubs and the desire to distinguish dogs by looks and pedigree as well as by performance, this ‘bull and terrier’ type eventually divided into many official breeds. They all share the same ancestry and function, distinguishing themselves mostly by slight differences in appearance.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is, like all the ‘bully’ breeds, one of this group of descendants of the British ‘bull and terrier’ type fighting bulldogs. Once imported into the United States, it was bred up to be bigger again, and again used in baiting animals and in dogfighting. The American Kennel Club (founded 1884) was unwilling to register these fighting dogs, so in 1898 the United Kennel Club was founded specifically to register working pit-fighting dogs and to promote dogfighting. In order to be registered, a dog had to first win three pit fights7,8,9. The American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) became a ‘breed’. As dogfighting declined in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, Colby (the most famous and prolific breeder of these dogs) began to search for a new market and began promoting the APBT as family pets10,11. This despite the fact that his breeding lines included child killers12.
The APBT is of medium intelligence, and it is athletic. They have plenty of energy and exuberance for life. They are affectionate companions are often referred to as a “nanny dog”, which leads many families to believe that they are suitable companions for children. Many can live happily with children and never have an issue, but there are many cases of the family pit bull suddenly attacking or killing a child in the household. The Pit Bull advocacy group BADRAP recently retracted their original “nanny dog” statements (https://www.facebook.com/BADRAP.org/posts/10151460774472399)13.In 2013 and 2014, in the United States, 27 children were killed by Pit Bulls and their mixes. Most of these children were killed by family pet pit bulls that had never been neglected or abused and had always loved the child. As with all breeds, the traits needed for their original tasks remain in the dogs – in this case, the sudden explosive aggression that was necessary to survive in the fighting pit. An APBT may never show this aggression, but if it does there will be no warning and the attack will not be easy to stop. Extreme caution should always be taken when this breed interacts with children. They are fun loving dogs that have “clownish” behaviors. Despite, their many positive qualities, this breed may not be suitable for everyone. Their high energy requires a family that can accommodate and appreciate this aspect of their personality. They usually do best with active families. Many American Pit Bull Terriers get calmer as they age and an older dog may work for a more reserved family.