November 16, 2007

Apocalypse D'oh!

The horror... the horror! [Photo from Itchmo.]

Congo is innocent! Cue sobbing children. Cue death threats. Cue barf bag, because I think I'm going to hurl.

"God makes them, they find each other," my dad used to say about folks like the Congo supporters in the photo above. Actually, what he used to say was, "Dios los cría, ellos se juntan," which is an adage I'm reasonably sure Guy James has never heard in his life. Guy James owns Congo, the Iggy du jour, and I suspect James "speaks Spanish" the way George Bush "speaks Spanish," which is to say that I suspect he doesn't speak much Spanish at all.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This week's top story:
A fast-moving variant of mad cow disease has incapacitated many of the internet's dog bloggers and pet lovers. According to a CDC spokesperson, the disease " temporarily disables areas in the front of the brain known as 'managerial knowledge units,'" sometimes called the "sense God gave a goose" region. Symptoms include severe anxiety, nativism, repetitive email-forwarding and a strong aversion to the behavior that journalists, back in the day, used to call "verification."

For what it's worth, here are the first news articles published in The Times of Trenton about Congo's severe mauling of a landscaper. All were written by Debra Friedman:

Man attacked by pack of dogs in Princeton Township
Posted by The Times of Trenton June 05, 2007 4:54PM
Categories: Crime, News
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP -- A man is in serious condition after being attacked by five dogs early Tuesday morning, officials said.

Giovanni Rivera, 42, arrived at a residence on Stuart Road West at about 7:05 a.m. with a landscaping company to begin work when he encountered six German shepherds roaming free within the fenced back yard of the home, police said.

According to the township's animal control officer, Mark Johnson, Rivera became startled when the dogs began to growl and he ran toward the house in order to get the homeowner's attention. The dogs pursued Rivera and five attacked him, police reported. The home owner eventually contained the dogs and called 911, according to police.

When police arrived, Rivera was found with his shirt and pants ripped off and was bleeding heavily. He was treated by paramedics for multiple dog bites and taken to the University Medical Center at Princeton.

His condition was unknown Tuesday evening.

Johnson said he issued three summonses to the dogs' owner for failure to license and vaccinate the animals. The dogs did not have a history of aggressive behavior, but as a result of the attack, they will be declared dangerous and are being quarantined for the next 10 days while the investigation continues, he said.

5 dogs in custody after attack
Posted by The Times of Trenton June 06, 2007
Categories: News
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP -- Five German shepherds that attacked a landscaper Tuesday morning have been taken into custody by Princeton's Office of Animal Control, animal control officer Mark Johnson said Wednesday.

The animals, which belong to Elizabeth and Guy James, badly mauled Giovanni Rivera after he and four co-workers arrived at the James' home on Stuart Road West to work on a patio.

A sixth German shepherd owned by the Jameses did not take part in the attack and was not impounded.

Johnson said all six dogs were unlicensed and four were not vaccinated. He said the animal control office has issued three summonses to the dogs' owners for failure to license and vaccinate the animals.

Rivera, 42, of Trenton underwent three hours of surgery Tuesday afternoon to repair the damage caused by the numerous dog bites he received during the attack to his abdomen, legs, back and right arm.

He is recovering from his injuries at the University Medical Center at Princeton.

Landscaper back in hospital with infection
Posted by The Times of Trenton June 19, 2007
Categories: News
PRINCETON TOWNSHIP -- The landscaper who was attacked by five German shepherds nearly two weeks ago at a residence on Stuart Road West is back in the hospital because of an infection that has developed from serious wounds received during the incident, according to his attorney, Kevin S. Riechelson.

"He has scars all over his body, from his ankles to the top of his head," Riechelson said.

Giovanni Rivera, 42, of Trenton was severely mauled by the dogs when he arrived at the residence of Elizabeth and Guy James with a landscaping crew to work on a patio. Upon arrival, the dogs allegedly began to chase the landscaping crew, catching up with Rivera and biting him all over his body.

"The only part of him that was not bitten were his feet, face and throat," Riechelson said.

Yesterday, the fate of the dogs was supposed to be decided in Municipal Court. However, due to new evidence in the form of photographs of the victim's wounds, the judge postponed the hearing in order for the James' attorney to examine the evidence before the case proceeded.

Yet even with the evidence, the timing of events appears to be the most central element of the case.

According the initial police report, the attack took place just after 7 a.m. on June 5.

The James' told police that the landscaping crew was not scheduled to arrive until 8 a.m., which is why the dogs were allowed outside.

But in an interview on the night of the attack, Rivera said his landscaping crew had confirmed with the James' the previous day to come an hour earlier, in order to make up for lost time caused by rain at the start of the week.

Permanent nerve damage. [From The Princeton Packet.]

So, five months after the mauling [which lasted some three minutes, according to court documents] Guy James says that when the landscapers "arrived an hour early," he leaned out the window and shouted to them in Spanish to wait in the car until he finished taking his shower.

Does Guy James speak fluent Spanish? Dunno, but one vowel makes the difference between "wait in the car" and "they're waiting in the car," and darned if Mrs. James and her son didn't show up in her car fifteen minutes after the landscape crew arrived: one of the dogs had escaped the yard, and they'd been out looking for it. I suppose it's possible that Guy James leaned out the window and shouted [in Spanish], "I'm about to take a shower. My German shepherds are loose --- stay in your truck until I come downstairs and lock them up," but I doubt it. If he shouted anything, I imagine it was more along the lines of "Wait fifteen minutes in the car."

Or "They're waiting fifteen minutes in the car," depending on that vowel.
Mr. Johnson, did confirm, however, Mr. James’ charge that Mr. Rivera changed his account — of exactly where he was when he was attacked — immediately following the incident.

However, Mr. Johnson said the different details came from three different nurses who were interpreting for Mr. Rivera at the hospital.
Were any of those nurses fluent Spanish speakers, I wonder.

Others have pointed out that Guy James seems to be a textbook backyard breeder. [Neuter Congo!] And it's good to know that not everyone believes the victim was a "scam artist" who deserved his injuries for "beating" Mrs. James. How predictable, though, that the victim's ethnicity brought the bigots out of the woodwork.

Meanwhile, back in Ohio:

Tears fell down Elizabeth Rhay’s face and she gasped as she listened to the judge’s words.

Rhay’s fiancé had just gotten a 180-day jail term (which was suspended) and was ordered to do 100 hours of community service and pay a $100 fine.

When it was Rhay’s turn to stand before Municipal Court Judge Mary Falvey, she got a similar punishment with 50 hours of community service work.

Their crime?

Walking their dogs down a city street.

“I’ve never been in trouble before. I didn’t mean to do anything wrong,” Rhay told Falvey, who paused while the 27-year-old regained her composure. “I was trying to be a responsible dog owner.”

What kind of people own pit bulls, anyway?

It would be pretty indeed if the Ohio insanity triggered just half the public outrage of the Congo "jailing," but I'm not holding my breath.

Onyx, Lab/pit bull mix. Onyx has never bitten anybody.


Christopher said...

Bringing bigots out of the woodwork? I don't think that's really the issue.

The only race bias I see is you siding with the Spanish speaker because he is a Spanish speaker and with the pit bull owners because you are a pit bull owner.

Furthermore, are you suggesting that Congo is racist? The public support you criticize was for the dog, not the owners.

The owners are culpable because they invited the workers on to their property and didn't properly restrain their dogs.

I find it odd that you'd be a "punish the deed, not the breed" type of person, a.k.a. Pit Bull Apologist... yet your sympathy ends at your front door.


Luisa said...

The issue, if I may quote myself, is the aversion to the behavior that journalists, back in the day, used to call "verification." The issue is the uncritical acceptance of everything the owners and their attorneys are now saying about the attack. Congo’s fans are demonstrating in support of a carefully-crafted image shaped by the defense, and that image may have very little in common with the actual dog.

We’ve seen this sort of thing before:
When Max, a 2-year-old golden retriever who lived in Watertown, was happy, his whole body would wiggle when his tail wagged. Like many dogs, he was a face licker and a ball chaser, and it was his gentle, joyful demeanor that persuaded so many people, including the attorney general and the former governor, to come to his defense when the town's animal control officer said the dog was dangerous and must be destroyed after seriously biting a boy in 2003.

Read the rest here:

The man and woman in Ohio, on the other hand, were victims of a law based on ignorance, hysteria and urban legend. They were placed in a holding cell with real criminals. They were given [suspended] jail sentences and fined. All this for walking their leashed dogs – dog that have never growled at, harmed or threatened to harm anyone – without muzzles. One of those dogs is a Lab mix. Dunno about you, but the fact that this can happen in the U.S., to law-abiding citizens with good dogs, scares the crap out of me.

Caveat said...

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don't really care about the facts around a case.

These people have some serious denial issues. They also merrily crosspost the latest 'cause' without knowing the facts.

There are negligent, incompetent and even criminal owners who create dangerous dogs. It's really that simple.

The people in this case have a large pack of GSDs (breed is irrelevant of course) yet they don't seem to understand pack dynamics. They let the dogs range around the property at will which is OK when you are supervising them but a bad idea when you're not. In one article you posted, they were actually out looking for an escapee - that tells me the dogs were not being managed.

The Ohio case is a little closer to my heart. We have been fighting Ontario's onerous dog ownership restriction for over three years now. We go to Appeal soon to get the rest of the law (hopefully) tossed.

Toledo's ignorant dog-catcher has admitted in testimony that it's all about the physical appearance of a dog rather than its behaviour.

These laws violate civil rights. They expect us to accept that the government has the knowledge and worse, the right to tell us what kind of dog we can own. The precedents set by these discriminatory laws are now being used in other arenae, as expected.

I suggest that everyone, regardless of their breed or mixed breed of choice (Dachshund and Brussels Griffon owner here), supports a legal challenge in their area. The work is being done, it's money that is needed.

Denver, Ontario, Ohio are all being sued right now. Until these laws are overturned, the domino effect will continue.

These laws have nothing to do with canine behavioural patterns and everything to do with warrantless entry, reverse onus, presumption of guilt in the absence of wrongdoing, search and seizure without due process and restrictions on mobility.

It's too bad one of the finest red herrings of all time, the mythical and elusive 'pit bull' has been so effective at blinding citizens to what is really happening.

Great post, I love your blog, keep it up!!!

Luisa said...

Caveat said: These laws have nothing to do with canine behavioural patterns and everything to do with warrantless entry, reverse onus, presumption of guilt in the absence of wrongdoing, search and seizure without due process and restrictions on mobility.

It's too bad one of the finest red herrings of all time, the mythical and elusive 'pit bull' has been so effective at blinding citizens to what is really happening.

Huge, huge Amen.

Bill Fosher said...

The fact that these dogs -- including Congo -- were destroyed after they "jumped on" a white member of the family does make one wonder whether the perhaps there was an element of racism in the response to the attack on the landscaper.

He was probably illegal anyway, right?

Luisa said...

Heh. Here is a leenk... er, link to a discussion on the Itchmo forums: Proposed Bill Could Save Congo's Life. [One well-meaning soul actually quotes this blog, for all the good it does him.] "Send that parasite back to Mexico!" Rivera was Honduran, but whatever.

Apparently Rivera was an "illegal" at the time of the attack, and apparently he is still living in the U.S., which makes me wonder how much of a papers-not-in-order case this was. The whole thing blew up into a rant against "those people" -- I know Pet Connection removed a comment or two and warned everyone that racism wouldn't be tolerated.

IMHO there was a clear amount of bigotry involved, and a huge amount of stupid. Fave quote, from some thread or another: "It should be against the law to enter this country unless you are fluent in English!" Because tourism, international trade and foreign relations don't matter, dammit! Save Congo!

AngelMyne said...

hum, with the sheps, if he was expecting someone, the dogs should have been put up and his stupid behind would never have run into this problem in the first place. Its called Being Responsible. However I wouldn't walk my happy butt into a yard with 6 grown german sheps either! Stupid kinda hurt on Both ends of that one lol.

2, who owns a dog and Never vaccinates it? not someone who cares what happens to it. I mean common' they cost 7bucks at BigR, not even a vet visit. Theres just NO Excuse.

But as to the Muzzle law on the Pit mix...

So how long is it before they attack a Service Dog Team? Should a Service Dog, which being largely shepherds but of all breeds be also subject to being treated as Dangerous?

I know many who use Pit or Pit mixes as Service Dogs. Not a mean bone in them.

I say a dog team aught to test that theory and then put people Back into perspective.

Rolls eyes-the world has been over run by the Painfully Inept! fact of life number 1, their Stupidity Only Hurts Responsible dogs and breeders. It Should Hurt Them.

Maybe Obamas not so bad for this country after all....The stupid will think twice before walking into a yard fulla teeth. And owners with a medical cap wont want to risk injuries.

People whine More about Dogs then Child Rapists-its sadly Pathetic. Focus your energy where it Belongs Stupid People. On the Truly Important Issues. 2 people a year make news from a dog bite or a mauling,

BUT- * 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18. (96)
* 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. (96)
* 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the internet. (30, 87)
* Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under. (76)
* An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today. (1)

* The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old. (64)
* More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8. (76)
* Nearly 50% of all victims of forcible sodomy, sexual assault with an object, and forcible fondling are children under 12. (74, 76)

BUT, no one cares about The Real Monsters. Just a Stupid Dog! No less, those that aren't even worth the concern to notice them.

ahhhh Fear Me, Me and My Ball!
You Pathetic Stupid Humans!

AngelMyne said...

ooo btw, cross a lab and a boxer, and you get a dog that looks Exactly like a Pit Bull! looks like one, but isnt one, hummmm spose its time to set your community up to fall on the dog laws.

when in doubt, use ur head!

There is More then 1 way to skin a cat as it were.