Pit bull on death row


For the second time in two weeks, an emotional story of relationships between animals and people has made local news. First there was the report of a local man who lost four pets – two dogs and two cats – in a fire that destroyed the west-side apartment building where he lived. Then another man pleaded tearfully for Franklin District Judge Kathy Mangeot to spare the life of his pit bull, which attacked and seriously injured a mailman in June.

In both cases, the owners described their pets as part of the family. The judge said she, too, is an animal lover and pet owner. But in a ruling she called one of the toughest she’s ever had to make, she decreed Bullasan, a dog David Noel has had since it was a puppy, must die. Because of Bullasan’s savage assault, a veterinarian at the Franklin County Humane Society Humane Society animal shelter would euthanize him at an unannounced date.

Chris Lombardi, the letter carrier who suffered severe bites on his arm and leg in the June 28 attack, still hasn’t returned to work. Frankfort Postmaster John Dampier said the bites were among the worst he’s seen in 22 years with the postal service. Noel is charged with harboring a vicious dog. Whatever penalty he has to pay if convicted obviously will be far more lenient than the ultimate punishment to be imposed on the animal he was responsible for feeding and sheltering – and keeping out of trouble.

Pit bulls – actually not just one breed of dog but multiple varieties originally bred and trained for fighting in pits around which gamblers assembled to place bets on the outcome – sometimes get a bad rap. We’ve known of individual pit bulls that seemed as placid as lapdogs. Others have performed heroic deeds, even saved human lives. But the behavior of any dog – like any human – is unpredictable. Police who visit schools with canine “units” allow children to pet their attack animals, which seem to enjoy the attention. Then the officer has an associate pose as someone threatening the dog’s master and the animal instantly turns into a snarling hound from hell. It’s a response handlers say they can turn on and off like a light bulb.

All pet owners take on more responsibility than they may have anticipated when they invited animals into their living rooms. Most find it a small price to pay for the companionship pets provide. But owners of pit bulls – or any other breed known for violent tendencies – bear a more weighty responsibility. They must take special care to ensure their dogs never threaten people. The stakes are high both for the dogs and for those who unexpectedly encounter them.

It’s a crying shame Bullasan has to die for doing what pit bulls instinctively do, but we still routinely euthanize shelter pets when owners let them down. This won’t be the last time an animal receives the death penalty for human irresponsibility.

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  • Charles, you are spot on! Pits were originally a "nanny dog" and were common in many homes. I have a photo dating back to the early 1920's with my grandmother and her sister on the porch, aged about four and six, with their faithful pit with them. Bulldog terriers, whether Pit, Staffordshire, American Bulldog, are smart and giving dogs. President Theodore Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, John Steinbeck, General George Patton, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Bogart, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, Mary Tyler Moore, Michael J. Fox, Madonna, Brad Pitt, Bernadette Peters, Alicia Silverstone, Linda Blair, This American Life host Ira Glass, Usher, Pink, Eliza Dushku, Anthony Robbins, Ashley Olsen, Orlando Bloom, Serena Williams, and Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen are just a few other celebrities who own or have owned a bulldog, whether pit, staffie, or bull terrier. Saying that pits are bred to be violent because PEOPLE train them to be violent, and put them in situations where they must be violent or die is like saying a particular race of people are violent due to breeding, rather than socioeconomic and issues with their formative years. I hit the big BS button on this.

  • What Debbie Bell posted about pit bull dogs is completely and utterly without any foundation whatsoever. I have rarely seen anything posted that was so riddled with errors and based on prejudices and nonsense. Pit bulls are great dogs, a loving breed that can be excellent family members. Pit bulls were once known as "America's nanny dog" for their superior behavior around children. Pits are terriers, and so are quick and reactive. They're also loyal, brave, loving and devoted to their families. Until the scum in this nation decided to take an interest in them, and increase the incidence of dog fighting, they were one of the breeds thought most desirable for families. In other times, and still to this date in other countries, other larger breeds, not pit bulls, are preferred for fighting. If pits were the 'dog of choice' for fighting they'd be used in those places as well. Every decade another breed is singled out for abuse and misrepresentation. In years before it was Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Dobermans. Now the attention of the thugs in this country has centered on Pit Bulls, and they're getting more attention. The VIck dogs that were rescued from a kennel devoted exclusively to fighting were almost all rehabilitated and placed in homes, which demonstrates that the BREED is sound. It's the HUMANS who abuse and misuse them, who encourage aggression, who are almost exclusively to blame. Calling for an end to breeding what is a noble, loving breed is just plain stupid.

  • Thank you DebbieaBell. Good post. There are pit owners who try to make their dogs mean. I walked up on such an incident a few years ago. The guys stopped what they were doing when they saw me and I asked them what in the h*ll they were doing. Sad thing to do to god's creatures.

  • Pit mongers are responsible for pit attacks, and also for what happens next. When the naive pit owners are told that pits are normal dogs and will only attack if abused or trained to attack, pit owners believe that garbage! Pits were created to attack without warning, attack without reason, attack without trying to avoid a confrontation first. They were bred to immediately do damage and to not stop easily. Pits remain THE choice of all US dog fighters. These behaviors were necessary for a dog to be a good fighting dog, but these behaviors also make the pit bull horribly handicapped. Pits disproportionately suffer and die from horrendous abuse, hideous neglect, heartbreaking abandonment. They are THE choice of all US dog fighters and also the choice of the worse, most abusive, dog owners. So ban their breeding. Mandatory spay/neuter microchipping of all pits, pit mixes, all dog aggressive dogs. Let these masters of mauling gradually become extinct. Pits are victims too! STOP being selfish! STOP MAKING MORE VICTIMS!

  • Somehow, we humans got the idea that we're the superior breed. As the owner(?) of several pets I often wonder about that.