In my last column “Pit bull propaganda is deadly” I described how canines bred for hundreds of years to be champion dog killers are not a safe family pet. I supported facts such as pit bulls kill and severely injure more humans and animals than all other breeds combined with links to comprehensive studies, essays and statistics from several reputable sources. I also made the prediction there’d be an onslaught of hostility over my ignorance and demands that I do my research. Within moments of the article being published there were countless online comments and emails stating exactly that. It was obvious many hadn’t even bothered to read what I wrote.
I was inundated with the usual rhetoric: pit bulls get a bad rap; it’s all how you raise them; blame the deed not the breed; pit bulls are harmless wiggle butts; they were bred to be nanny dogs; it’s impossible to identify a pit bull; the media only reports pit bull attacks; poodles (or insert any other breed) bite more; you’re a dog racist; you’re a dog hater; all dogs bite; all dogs kill; cars kill more people; people kill more people; coconuts kill more people; and the list went on.
The familiar myths were often written in the most aggressive language and tone imaginable, and not one person provided any evidence to dispute the thoroughly researched facts I presented.
As vile as some of the messages were, they failed to surprise or intimidate me – but that’s only because I’ve written on this topic before and I’ve learned what to expect from previous feedback, as well as from reading comments under pit bull attack stories in the news.
My first glimpse of this combative crowd came four years ago after a pit bull sunk his powerful jaws into the face of my friend’s eight-year-old son leaving a gaping wound in his cheek, requiring 40 stitches and scarring him for life. According to the pit bull apologists, the boy, who had simply pet his friend’s dog, must have provoked the attack. The pet’s owner was faulted as well.
“There are no bad dogs, only bad owners,” was repeated incessantly. It’s one of their most popular mantras, but how do they explain all the tragedies caused by pit bulls raised from puppyhood by good, responsible owners who trained them to be safe family pets?
People like Susan Iwicki believed this myth until her two pit bulls destroyed the precious life of her friend’s 14-month-old son who was in her care at the time. How could this have happened when she had done everything right? She’d neutered and spayed her pups as soon as they were old enough, she socialized them, gave them lots of love and attention, and her three-year-old happy, friendly dogs had never shown any signs of aggression before they suddenly assaulted her while she was holding Daxton on her hip. Without any provocation or warning their genetics kicked in and they attacked her and savaged him for 15 torturous minutes, leaving him grotesquely disfigured and then dead.
His parents were shattered beyond repair, and, like every victim of one of these horrendous attacks, they were blamed for it, as was the owner. But who was really at fault? Believing the myth that it’s all how you raise them is what killed the innocent toddler. Did the pit bull advocacy camp take any responsibility in that? Of course they didn’t.
Like vultures, many of their hardcore members preyed on the grieving mother and father with “I’m sorry for your loss, but it’s not the dog’s fault” type messages. When Jeff and Kimberly Borchardt failed to be silenced and continued to share their story, warning others not to believe the lies they’d believed, the depraved vitriol spewed at them was appalling.
One sicko posted a picture of Daxton with the caption: “my dart board lmfao.” Another poorly written online post stated: “Let’s play kickball with jeff’s son head. He dead so not like he will need it.” An additional nutter tauntingly named his pit bull after the deceased little boy.
Since their beautiful son’s horrific death in 2013, a large part of Jeff’s time has been committed to learning as much about canines as possible and sharing actual facts about the genetic and physical make up of pit bulls in the hopes no one will endure the unspeakable sorrows his family has. Tragically, the killing and severe attacks on children, adults and animals by pit bulls continues at a sickening rate.
Despite the never ending stalking and harassment of the bereaved couple, their dedication to honour Daxton’s life by debunking the pit bull propaganda lives on. A multitude of attack victims and victim advocates have joined them in their “Won’t Back Down” movement with the non profit organization Awareness for Victims of Canine Attack (AVOCA).
Their mission is simple: to educate the public about dangerous dogs, primarily the fighting and gripping breeds since they’re by far the biggest risk to human and animal safety.
As stated in my last column, enforced breed-specific legislation (BSL) works. It prevents maiming and deaths, and that includes the deaths of a million unwanted pit bulls euthanized in U.S. shelters every year due to over breeding.
No birth equals no kill, so let’s make sterilization mandatory, impose stronger dog regulations and finally end this escalating victimization and heartache for the protection of all.