Published in the Vancouver Province among others…

nanny dog myth pit bull lori welbourne jim huntTyler Trammell-Huston was violently mauled to death by his half sister’s three beloved pit bulls and people are outraged.

As always with pit bull attacks, the victim and the owner are being blamed. Pit bull apologists are saying Tyler must have done something to provoke the dogs, and people in general are saying Alexandria Griffin-Heady should never have left the nine-year-old boy alone with them on Jan. 4, in the small RV in Yuba County, California, where they lived.

Hypocritically, many of those crucifying her are the very same individuals who promote pit bulls as safe family pets and who “educate” others with various untruths such as the nanny dog myth. Griffin-Heady was part of their advocacy.

On Oct. 7, 2014, she posted on Facebook a video of a baby in its bouncy chair and a pit bull puppy jumping up to cuddle. Above that picture she wrote these words verbatim: “Too all pit haters, or people who dislike the bread due to being violent., here is a fun fact. Anybody know what they were originally bread for? Anybody? The nanny… to look over and protect the babies. #Lovemypit”

The video came from entertainer Josh Paler Lin, whose post was shared over 2.5 million times, often accompanied by similar sentiments to those expressed by Griffin-Heady. There are people who truly believe the type of canine that has been ripping children apart since at least the 1800s was bred to be a nanny dog.

This claim, along with loads of others presented by the influential pit bull lobby, is a complete lie. It appears to have started from an article written in 1971 in The New York Times in which Lilian Rant declared they were a nursemaid dog. Rant was the president and magazine editor for the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America and was trying to polish up their image.

What she shared was a fable. For hundreds of years pit bulls were purpose bred for bull and bear baiting and then dogfighting. Explosive aggression without warning is their genetic specialty. That’s why they’re the No. 1 choice for dogfighters and the No. 1 killer canine of people and animals.

The notion that Griffin-Heady should be exonerated for subjecting Tyler to her dangerous pit bulls because she believed the nanny myth is not acceptable to many. They think she should be charged with child endangerment, manslaughter or second-degree murder since she was repeatedly informed of the facts and chose to ignore them.

Others argue she’s an unwitting victim of the powerful pit bull lobby, brainwashed to deny the truth as countless others have.

It’s preposterous to some that anyone could believe the nanny myth with the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but even university-educated, mature individuals, some of them famous,  have publicly shared this belief.

In 2013, the pit bull advocacy group Bad Rap debunked the myth. This admission came right after a two-year-old was ripped apart and nearly decapitated by his trusted family pit bull of eight years. It also came in the wake of over 100 children being torturously mauled to death by pit bulls since 2000. Despite their well-publicized announcement, the term nanny dog is still used incessantly, and children continue to be needlessly killed and mutilated.

“My dog will only lick you to death” is another common statement expressed by pit bull fans who balk at undeniable proof such as dead and mutilated bodies. In a video titled “I want to eat your face,” Alexandria was licked by Noah for nearly five minutes as she giggled. Pit bulls can go from kiss to kill in the blink on an eye, but she was either unaware of that fact or felt she could control the situation if his genetics kicked in. If he’d started an attack in that moment, it’s highly unlikely she would have survived.

Pit bulls can be adorable, goofy, clownish and lovable, and millions have experienced only that side. This makes it difficult for many to imagine their pets ever acting on their genetics and doing what they were created to do. Most pit bulls will not attack, but there is no way of knowing which ones will and which ones won’t.

In the eight years since the pit bull lobby ramped up their promotion and propaganda of the “misunderstood breed,” there’s been an 830 per cent increase in disfiguring and fatal attacks on humans in the U.S. and Canada. In 2007, there were 78 attacks. In 2015, there were 648.

The human fatalities from dog attacks totalled 41 last year; 33 were inflicted by pit bull-type dogs, two by Rottweilers, and six by breed unknown, which are usually pit bull types.

Without a doubt, the case of this preventable death belongs in the courts. Griffin-Heady’s lawyer said charges could be laid against her, but prosecutors would have to prove she wilfully allowed the attack to happen. Child Protection Services should be sued for allowing Tyler to live with inherently dangerous animals, and legal action against organizations and individuals from the well-funded pit bull lobby should also be taken.

Pit bulls were purpose bred for jobs that are now a felony across the U.S. and Canada. The breeding of them needs to be outlawed, and the owners of grandfathered pit bulls need to carry six-figure liability insurance and abide by regulations to keep the public safe.

Less than three per cent of the population owns pit bulls. Politicians who knowingly put the special interests of this group’s risky desire to own a dangerous dog ahead of the lives of others should be expelled from public office.

At the end of November, Griffin-Heady posted on Facebook her gratitude for the opportunity to raise Tyler. “I know he will do amazing things. God wouldn’t have made such an amazing boy to just be ordinary. In my life during all the bad I wondered why I was here … I know now it was to care for him.”

She will not be able to care for him anymore, and he will not be able to grow up. But his tragic story will help save the lives of others who will instead choose a safer breed of dog. Tyler Trammell-Huston will never be forgotten, and hopefully his devastated sister will help spread the truth.,,,