On August 15th, 2018 at about 4 pm, 8 year old Sacha Pchelenkov heroically protected his 2 year old brother from a pit bull attack in Munster, IN. Tatiana Moore was with her two children, 2 year old Micha Moore and Sacha on a neighbors porch when two pit bulls ran up and one of them pinned the 2 year old to the ground with it’s paws and was licking and biting the toddler. As Tatiana began struggling to get the dog off of Micha, Sacha bravely jumped in and began attempting to pull the dogs off. That’s when the dogs turned their attention to him.
Neighbors tried to put Sacha on the hood of a car, but the dogs wouldn’t stop attacking. It wasn’t until another neighbor came out with a bat that the adults managed to chase the dogs back to their home. Sacha suffered a deep puncture wound on his thigh, as well as multiple lacerations and puncture wounds on his face. 2 year old Micha suffered no injuries.
The pit bulls were quarantined for 10 days, the owner cited with the dogs being off leash and had the dogs returned after the 10 day quarantine was over.
It isn’t clear what exactly happened after the dogs were released from quarantine, but somewhere between August 25th and September 14th, they found their way 20 miles away from Munster, IN to Park Forest, IL where they attacked 8 year old Nadia Esco. Nadia was saved by her neighbor Clark Roberts as he beat the dogs off of her, but she still sustained 32 bite wounds, going from her shoulder blades to her knees.
The current owner was cited, although specific citations aren’t currently listed (although it’s probable it’s just another dogs off leash citation) and claims they didn’t know the dogs had previously attacked just last month. The dogs are currently being quarantined, but there’s been no public release about what will happen to the dogs.
How Does This Happen?
How do two pit bulls who previously attacked a child get smuggled across state lines, adopted to another person, then attack another child in one month? Why were the dogs not euthanized after the first attack and allowed to attack another child a state away?
Indiana has a “one free bite” law, where a dog typically isn’t deemed dangerous after attacking for the first time, and the owner isn’t liable for the attack if they didn’t have knowledge that their dog was aggressive. Dogs are often returned after their first attack to the owner. And as was the case for two aggressive rottweilers that attacked a child, animal control is often puts “saving them all” above public safety.
There’s no federal laws banning the transportation of dangerous dogs across state lines. There’s no central registry that tracks dangerous dogs, no permanent paper trail with bite records that follow dogs around. Munster Animal Control should have put the dogs down, but they were under no legal obligation to do so. The previous owner shouldn’t have pawned his pit bulls off endangering another community and should have had them humanely euthanized, but he was under no legal obligation to do so.
In the quest to “save them all”, individuals, organizations, and government agencies excuse the actions of dangerous dogs to try and “rehabilitate them”. Public safety is put on the back burner to live release rates, communities are put at risk, and children like Nadia suffer the flesh price just so people can feel good that they didn’t euthanize the dog. Nadia is not the first person to have to suffer at the hands of “save them all” dangerous pit pushing, and if laws and regulations don’t change, she wont be the last.
The Story of Blue The Pit Bull
Photos courtesy of Dogsbite.org
On May 31st, 2017, Margaret Colvin was attacked by her daughter’s recently adopted pit bull Blue. She died a few hours laters after in the hospital. Her daughter had adopted Blue from Forever Home Rescue & Rehabilitation just six hours before the fatal attack.
Blue had been shuffled through five rescue programs in the span of 6 months before the fatal attack. He was initially surrendered to Animal Care Centers of New York – Manhattan (formerly animal care and control) for biting a child. ACCNY receives government funds and is responsible for animal control and public safety, yet instead of euthanizing a known dangerous pit bull who had already attacked, they pulled him for rescue with their New Hope Adoption Program.
Blue was shuffled around to a few different rescues in different states before ending up in Virginia February of that year. He was first adopted out by FHRC in late April of that year by Tia Walke before being returned just two days later after an aggressive episode with Tia’s nephew. Even after previously being returned for aggression, they still adopted him out on May 31st where he would later kill a woman.
Blue had managed to rack up multiple victims in multiple states in a short time span, until he was eventually put down for the fatal mauling. While most of the rescue and rehabilitation organizations that dealt with Blue were private non-profits, ACCNY is a government funded facility tasked with animal control. If they had done the right thing and euthanized a surrendered aggressive dog with a bite history, Margaret Colvin wouldn’t have suffered and died in that horrible of a manner. Ultimately, ACCNY decided the life of a dangerous dog was more important than the life and safety of humans, and Margaret Colvin had to pay the ultimate price.
What Should Be Done To Prevent This
On an individual level, dangerous dog owners need to take responsibility for their dogs. If you own a dog that attacks, don’t rehome them or surrender them. Don’t try to train them, “rehabilitate” them, or think that you can magically fix their behavior. Have them humanely euthanized and stop the body trail there. Dogs that attack at high level bites WILL attack again. The best thing you can do it have the dog put down.
If you donate to animal rescue organizations, stop donating to ones that try to “save”, “rehabilitate”, or adopt out known dangerous dogs or who don’t support behavioral euthanasia. Stop donating to organizations that put animal lives above human safety. Before donating, make sure you know what programs the organization does and supports. Instead, consider donating to victims funds or Scars Kids.
Preventing additional victims of dangerous dogs would be relatively simple. We need laws that prevent the resale, transportation, and release of known dangerous dogs. If a dog bites a human with a level 4 or greater bite, it should automatically be humanely euthanized and unable to be released to any individual or agency. Government funds and tax dollars shouldn’t go to saving dangerous dogs and putting human lives at risk. States without strict liability laws should adopt them and no longer allow a free pass to dogs that attack. Write to your local and state representatives to encourage them to pass laws holding shelters and rescues (as well as individuals) liable for adopting out dangerous dogs.
But the goal should be to prevent the first victim as well. The vast majority of severe attacks are caused by pit bulls. Even just regulating the ownership of pit bull type dogs alone can help drastically reduce severe dog attacks. Adding in some of the other dangerous breeds, and the problem becomes negligible. Common sense BSL restrictions can help save lives and prevent children from being scarred for life. Support BSL efforts in your state/municipality and prevent the first victim, as well as the second.