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Re-Consider the Pit Bull

Corrections to James Gardner’s Article in Seattle Met Magazine

Yet again, in “Consider the Pit Bull,” a reporter in Seattle has refused to cover the most important aspect regarding the ownership of Pit Bulls. The February article published in Seattle Met, is riddled with inaccuracies, distortions and false quotes. Not only are there many untrue and half-true facts, but there is also a serious omission in the article, “Consider the Pit Bull,” by James Gardner.

Whenever I am interviewed about the attack I sustained in St. Paul Minnesota in 1982, I always explain the most traumatizing part: finding out that there was no way to collect any money for my medical bills. This frequently happens when fighting breeds attack -- the owners are judgment proof (financially insolvent). In my particular case, the plaintiff was judgment proof because Thor, one of the dogs who attacked me, already had a case pending for a previous bite, (after the first bite, insurance companies ALWAYS cancel coverage on the liability clause of the homeowner’s policy for that particular dog).

Since the owner of the dog, a descendent of a clan of petty criminals, had no legal source of income, no cars or other assets I could seize, and never paid the doctor’s bill, my medical insurance had to pick up the cost. Not everyone in the U.S. is fortunate enough to have health care coverage, and at the time in 1982, Pit Bulls had not yet become the "drug-dealers dog of choice."

Most of the information I gave to James Gardner was not included in the February published article. For example, the brother of the owner of the dog told me that they had the dogs to “get the blacks.” He also told me that if I succeeded in getting the dogs euthanized that they would “just get another pair of dogs and train them to be just as vicious.” In St. Paul at the time, there was no legal mechanism to stop them. When I saw the dogs sprinting towards me, while I was walking (in clogs) on the sidewalk, I ran into the street. The dogs got me from behind. But as soon as I turned around and waved my shoulder bag at them, they backed down. Would a Pit Bull have done that? Highly unlikely. I would have been mauled, maybe even to death without the intervention of police officers or neighbors with baseball bats.

Gardner also neglected to mention how the owner presented himself at the dangerous dog hearing. It was the second bite, the dog did not have a license, and at one point, thinking the owner was defending, said: “Well if I didn’t pull the dog off you, he’d still be on you today!!” I have no doubt, if this person is not currently incarcerated, that he probably has a pit bull or two or three (a typical backyard pit bull breeder).

Dog bite injuries in the United States are real. According to the CDC, over 4.7 million Americans suffer a dog bite each year. 800,000 of these victims seek medical help and of these, over half are children.

Gardner also never mentioned the clauses of the proposed Protection of People and Animals Act, which mandate that every owner of a fighting breed dog must have a $250,000 insurance policy to cover dog maulings. Usually homeowner policy’s liability clauses cover dog bites, but only a very few insurance companies will cover Pit Bulls. If a victim is to collect, when injuries are incurred, it pre-supposes that all pit bull owners have homes with insurance policies. Insurance policies on homes are only mandatory if you have a mortgage, once the mortgage is paid off, the homeowner may or may not have liability insurance. Many pit bull owners are renters and have nothing to lose in the first place. The tax-paying base picks up the bill more often than not. If a dog bite victim is living on disability and the owner of the dog has no assets-or declares bankruptcy and leaves the state before the case comes to trial, the tax-payer, in the end, picks up the bill.

Since Pit bulls were selectively bred to fight, and frequently target the victim's face and neck, reconstructive and plastic surgery can run up to $1 million, plus lost wages, assuming the victim didn't have his whole neck ripped out and died.

In Seattle, many people worship the "Pit Bull God," the Nanny dog that protects children, despite the fact that no other dog breed has EVER killed more children than pit bulls. Then, the worshippers proclaim that Pit Bull dog-aggression is different than human-aggression, and thus OKAY. The fact is, the majority of Pit Bull victims are dogs that also get their necks ripped out by Pit Bulls.

A nurse in Alabama had her beautiful Weimarer mauled by two neighbor’s Pit Bulls on her own property; she paid $800 to the vet before her dog died. Her story is very heart wrenching and is reported at a vastly quicker pace than attacks on human victims (See more: Alabama legislation needed to address pit bulls).

Some of the biggest supporters of FDAFB.org (Families and Dogs against Fighting Breeds) as well as the Pro-leash movement are in fact dog-owners whose dogs have been attacked and been stuck with medical and vet bills, or worse burial fees.

Perhaps the biggest omission concerned the case of the infant who lost his genitals to his parent’s Pit Bull. The relevant thing for the general public is that the massive medical bills have been, and will always be, paid by the tax-payers of Nebraska, since the victim will need testosterone shots for the rest of his life.

It is unfortunate that James Gardener did not write objectively, nor include the picture of Colleen Lynn’s broken arm, which occurred after one bite from a Pit Bull, instead of a picture of a Pit Bull. The public in Seattle needs to know exactly how much our tolerance of Pit Bulls is costing us.

Ellen Taft


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