Thursday, June 14, 2007

On The Mark -- Pit Bulls

It was a beautiful Monday morning. The sun was shining, the air was clear, and I was taking a break from work with my daily three-mile walk with my lab dogs, Miles (after Miles Davis) and Cady (after Elizabeth Cady Stanton). Cady, blind as bat from diabetes, was probably enjoying the walk more than Miles because her senses were at full-strength to make up for her lack of sight. Even though we hadn’t completed mile 1 yet, I was already looking forward to the enthusiastic thank you kisses I would be receiving once we arrived back home. Then everything changed in a flash.

I saw them first, across the street from the elementary school we were walking in front of. Three pit bulls on the loose and hyped up like they were on crack. Miles then saw them and Cady “felt” something wasn’t right. For a few seconds we stood silent hoping they would continue on and not see us. But a few seconds later I was flat on my back having been knocked down by one of the pit bulls, its teeth grinding into my calf, meeting bone and (as I would later learn) severing a major nerve in my leg. Miles was being attacked by the other two pit bulls. Heroically, he stopped defending himself against those two dogs and attacked the pit bull attacking me, leaving himself completely open to devastating injuries.

Once I got back on my feet, Miles was once again fighting off all three of them. One was ripping at his back legs. Another had an ear in its teeth trying to rip it off. Another had Miles by the neck. I was kicking and slugging them as hard as I could, to the point of a near heart attack, but I might as well have been hitting a cement wall, the effect it had.

Then one of the pit bulls turned its teeth on me again, knocking me down and attacking my other calf. But the calf wasn’t enough this time and it lunged for my neck as I lay prone. I was able to fend it off for a second with my left hand, but that was long enough for Miles to lunge at this piranha out of water and stop him cold. The beast had no choice but to stop its attack on me and defend itself against Miles, who was once again being viciously attacked on his back legs by the other two pit bulls.

Blood was flying everywhere. People were helplessly crowding around, calling the police. A plumber got out of his truck and came halfway across the street with a pole, then stopped in his tracks and said, “no way I’m getting them mad at me.” I screamed, begging him to throw me the pole, but he climbed in his truck and drove away. Forever a coward.

I then went down for the third time, blood pouring down my legs and from my hands, Miles squealing now with pain, his chest ripped open and hanging to the ground, blood pouring from his neck, ears, eyes, stomach and legs. He was tired, but not beaten. As I tried to get back to my feet Miles attacked again with ferocity that I didn’t even know he possessed. He pinned to the ground the pit that had knocked me down, forcing it onto his back. It was an unbelievable sight. Super powers unleashed. Maybe it was the new energy in the air or exhaustion, I don’t know, but the other two pits gave up and walked off to the side as spectators.

Then I made a mistake that will haunt me for the rest of my life. At this point, I thought the other dog, beaten and exhausted, would take off, too, so I told Miles to let go, which he did. In a split second the other dog got back on its feet and viciously attacked my poor, sweet, exhausted and life-threateningly injured Miles. It was then I realized this dog was trained to kill or be killed. My continued kicks and slugs had absolutely no impact.

Finally, a brave woman found a long tree branch and chased the remaining pit away. The police finally arrived and witnesses stated that the attack lasted at least 10 minutes, maybe 15. It seemed like an hour to me. People then starting streaming out of houses and the elementary school. A neighbor helped me rush Miles to an emergency vet hospital where he underwent more than 4 hours of surgery.

Miles survived. He spent weeks sitting in a single position, even when sleeping. For 5 days I slept near him feeling helpless as I listened to him cry and groan through the night. Cady, miraculously, didn’t get involved and stayed behind me the entire time. She’s a fighter, and strong as hell, but I’m sure felt helpless not knowing where or what to attack. My neurologist tells me that my left leg may be numb for the rest of my life.

Each day I pet Miles on the head and tell him he’s my hero. And thank him for saving my life.

I walk Miles and Cady with an electric cattle prod in hand now. Maybe once a week. And even that is difficult as I fight the feeling that I’m walking into a war zone, pit bulls behind every bush, ready to attack and maim. A horrible feeling.
Posted by On The Mark


Lorianne said...

Holy crap, this is awful! What happened to the pit bulls: were they tracked down & destroyed? Were their owners charged? Thank goodness you, Miles, and Cady got out alive...barely.

The Misanthrope said...

I am so glad you finally wrote this up. This was one of those frustrating stories/times when some one you care about needs help and you couldn't be there to help. I truly wanted to see these people pay for what happened. It's outrageous that the owners were not immediately hauled off to jail. I kept threatening to write On The Mark’s story, but I knew that I could never do justice to the horrifying event.

Jack's Shack said...

Wow. I am so sorry to hear about this. The owners deserve to be punished.

Jane said...

That's horrible! What is wrong with people?

One of my sister's neighbors was attacked by the chained pit bull of a tenant when he went to check on one of his rental properties.

It's atrocious the way people mistreat animals, turn them vicious and get away with it.

Anonymous said...

On The Mark says: Thanks, everyone, for your comments. It's actually depressingly amazing the lack of authority officials have. The police followed the dogs home so we were able to find out who the owners were. The police said they couldn't do anything (besides write up a report) because the owners didn't force the dogs to attack. Animal Control scheduled a hearing long after the attack, but settled "out of court" the night before the hearing when the owner gave up the three beasts in exchange for being able to keep another one. A number of witnesses were called to testify, including the principal of the elementary school, and they showed up not knowing the hearing had been canceled. The dog owners have since moved.

Chandira said...

Arghh... The tears are flowing. That's the saddest thing I've read on line in quite a while.

And as well as the obviously sad thing about it for you and your own canine superheroes, is the fact that people train their dogs to behave like that, breeding aggression into them deliberately. The pitbulls are sometimes as much the victim as the people they attack. Dogs as you know, just want to be good, and if they've been trained to be like that, they're usually following the orders of some total asshole.

I'm usually a compassionate peaceful pacifist, but if I ever found anybody abusing an animal or training it to be vicious, that's another story. I could murder with little remorse.

I'm so sorry. Your dogs are superheroes, and finding that out is at least precious. Look at the huge love-bond there is between you now... Wow. That is the truly amazing gift in all this.

bitchphd said...

What a brave dog.

I hate worrying about pit bulls; they're not bad dogs if they're owned by caring responsible people. I hate that way that aggressive macho assholes latch onto certain breeds and create bad, dangerous dogs.

Renee said...

What a terrible story. I had a close call like that once. My little dog and I ran across a very vicious, off-leash Rottweiler a few years back. The only thing that saved us from being hurt was that we were near a house with a fenced yard and a very nice teenaged boy let is into his fenced yard while I called the cops. The Rottweiler's owner eventually came along to get his dog and the police gave him a summons. The Rottweiler's owner turned out to be just as aggressive as his dog, unsurprisingly.

Have you considered civilly suing the owner of those pitbulls? It seems like there will be no criminal consequences for these people. However, you were obviously left with some large medical and vet bills and lasting injuries and trauma. A civil suit may help you to get some closure, and perhaps deter these people from continuing to own dogs like that.

Anonymous said...

On the Mark says: Chandira, you're right about the bond with Miles. He's a tough dog, starting with a rattle snake bite he endured when he was only about a year old (about 8 years ago). It cost a ton to save him, but it was worth every penny. The vet said most dogs wouldn't have made it.

Bitchphd: Breeding to kill, unfortunately, is big business in Southern Calif. It's really a bit scary because what these people are really saying is "I want to kill, but don't want the consequences, so I'll do it through my dog."

Renee, I recently read an article about a woman who stepped out of her house at 6:30 one morning to walk her small dog. Before she could close her door she encountered two loose pit bulls that immediately attacked her hands forcing her to give up her dog (she had picked it up), which they dragged to her front lawn and killed in front of her eyes. Yes, I have an attorney and he's working on it.

panthergirl said...

Oh.My.God. Toner Mishap came over to my blog to tell me about this, and I am just speechless. I cannot imagine what you've been through... and poor Miles!!! What a brave boy. I was worried about Cady as I read the whole story and I'm glad she managed to stay out of harm's way.

The problem with pit bulls is that they are so powerful. One knocked me down at the dog park ("playfully") while the owner chatted with another person. I screamed for her and she yelled back "Oh, just put your knee up if she does that again." HUH??

I hope you sue the pants off these people. Those dogs really need to be put down. Next time, they will kill someone.

Chandira said...

OTM, you're right about that killer impulse people have that gets transfered to dogs. I think the owner should be legally as responsible in these obvious cases of malicious ownership/training, as if they had pulled a trigger on a gun themselves.

GLAD to hear you're going after it legally. So many people shut up and put up with it. Best of luck!!

Laurie said...

Wow Mark, this is the first time I've seen pictures of his injuries. That is awful!

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I'm so glad you and your canine heroes survived. How is your leg? My daughter "rescued" a pit bull who is extremely affectionate and NEVER allowed off leash or with other pets unsupervised. We wonder if he was one of M. Vick's dogs as he came from a shelter in "The South." Best wishes from a cat lady. (mostly)

On The Mark said...

Thank you Knitting Painter Woman. My leg is actually still numb, although it has improved. My dog is doing OK, but the attack clearly aged him a few years. I still have to walk my dogs with an electric cattle prod for fear of being attacked again. It stinks.

tomcon1 said...

Something is wrong about the Pit Bulls in this story. "They were trained to attack AND KILL", as a pack? Check with a breeder or a trainer. Any dogs trained to act this way are not Pit Bulls. Pack attack is not in a Pit's playbook. Not to say this attack didn't occur. But in the heat of the moment, specific breed ID was not in any priority.