By Pam Cyran
Who loves pit bulls? A lot of people – And they’re banding together on Facebook.
In light of dog fighting rings, especially the case of pro football player Michael Vick, there’s been a rapid increase in pit bull advocates and pit bull rescues. This is causing those that don’t like pit bulls to come together to stop the pit bull “nutters” as they call owners of the breed.
This battle is being fought viciously on both sides, and social media is only making it easier and more ruthless.
Support Pit Bull Bans is a Facebook group run by 34-year-old Jonathan Felosi of Chattanooga, Tenn.
“My family has already had to change their numbers over harassment and death threats,” Felosi said in a Facebook message.
Felosi said it’s because pit bulls have the ability to cause “great harm” that they should be banned – or at least legislated against, such as mandatory spay and neuter.
“I would say that it’s not that we do not like pit bulls,” said Felosi. “I have nothing against sharks but I don’t want them in my swimming pool.”
Felosi knows the harm pit bulls can cause first hand. He was attacked by his old roommate’s pit bull named Bud. Felosi and his roommate had different work schedules and he would often take care Bud when his roommate wasn’t around.
Fast-forward a year, and Felosi was met with a growling Bud. “He latched onto my shin, biting hard. Oh God, it hurt so bad.” said Felosi, whose struggling only made the dog angrier.
Felosi grabbed his pistol, which had wadcutter target ammo in it – a softer flat lead pellet typically used in competitions – and shot Bud twice. When Felosi went to check on the dog, Bud attacked again.
“He lunged at my neck and got my arm, knocked me down,” said Felosi. “Eventually I laid on top of him screaming ‘help help!’ until police came kicked down the door and shot him again.”
Felosi called the experience a horrible one, especially when he, the victim, was blamed for the attack. And Felosi still gets harassed to this day, not for what happened with Bud, but by pit bull advocates in general.
But the harassment goes both ways.
The Facebook group Dogsbite.org, a “national dog bite victims’ group dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks,” harass those coming to their group who don’t believe in everything that they say. The Facebook group is public and does not require an account to see what the group posts.
“Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing… and always remember that the first description of a pit nutter is – They lie and lie and lie,” wrote JoAnne Thomas, a member of the Dogsbite.org group.
“The pit people are truly unbelievable,” said Alexandra Semyonova, another member. “It’s becoming more and more evident that having or liking or defending the pit bull type dogs is a sign something is seriously wrong with the person, both cognitively and as far as personality structure goes.”
Pit Bull advocates will try and post on the website, and an all-out war ensues, complete with name-calling and obscenities. Nether side will listen to each other. Any pro-pit bull comments are then removed.
However, some members of the group have more to say than just harassing pit bull owners. Dogsbite.org is a place for dog attack victims to come together for support.
Group member Lucinda Hollingsworth Boutin from Manchester, NH, is a victim of a pit bull attack. She sheds some light on why the two sides just do not get a long:
“When someone is attacked by a pit bull, it is the most horrifying and traumatic event and you will have trouble finding attack victims to speak with because they are either dead, or forever traumatized. It is the inherent and primal drive in the dog that is so dangerous. After the attack, if the person does survive, they usually reach out to people for answers and for help. But what happens next we called the “attack after the attack”. Pit bull advocates are extremely uncaring and unsympathetic towards attack victims. In fact they go so far as to make threats, hurl insulting comments on the Internet at the victims, and most often blame the victim for the attack. So yes, we would like to share our stories of these attacks but we are afraid. Our lives are forever changed. After people are attacked by a pit bull, their lives are never the same. We must be vigilant in protecting ourselves physically from another attack and verbally from attacks by pit bull advocates. That is why many of us are hesitant to speak to people that we do not know, or cannot trust about the traumatizing and horrific attack we experienced. If you are familiar with Plato’s cave narrative, we look at pit bull advocates and owners as being in the cave. Pit bull victims have been dragged out of the cave into the light. As much as we have tried to tell our stories in the past, it falls upon deaf ears. There is nothing that we can say to you that will make you understand.”
She makes these recommendations for those that still decide to own a pit bull:
- A $1,000,000 insurance policy to cover the pit bull for any injuries it causes.
- No pit bulls or rottweilers allowed in tenement buildings.
- Mandatory spay or neuter.
- When a pit bull is outside its home, it must be properly leashed or contained and most importantly, it must be muzzled.
- Registration fees should be significantly higher for pit bulls, $250 per year per dog. This might encourage people to choose a safer and more appropriate breed for a pet.
- Once a pit bull has attacked or killed a human or another person’s pet, it must be humanely euthanized. No second chances.
Felosi said he doesn’t deny that pit bull owners are telling the truth that their dogs are friendly and well behaved. Felosi said the problem lies within the breed’s genetics that can cause a quick change in temperament with little to no warning.
“They may be normal for years and snap, or may never,” said Felosi. “It’s a roll of the dice that the rest of the community does not need to risk.”