For days, I have been reading headlines like “Woman Loses Limbs After Pit Bull Attack” and “Pit bull likely ate owner’s hands” after 65-year-old Anne Murray was brutally attacked by a so-called pit bull at her Wilton, Connecticut home on Monday morning, November 11, 2013. The dog was shot and killed by responding police.
But, while all this hysteria is blowing around, the truth and the mitigating circumstances have gotten lost. For instance, the headline indicating that the Wilton, Connecticut woman in question had her arms torn off is untrue. She had one arm severed and one hand severed, and maybe up to her elbow depending on which article you read, and it is believed, not proven, that the dog did eat her hands.
Now, what would cause a dog to engage in this type of behavior? The public will collectively conclude that it’s just pit bulls being pit bulls, and of course there’s the media ever ready to disparage a pit bull and say the attack was “without provocation” and offer a list of recent pit bull attacks that were also supposedly without provocation or that were as a result of a dog attacking its own owner. But what the media seldom ever reports is that there are always mitigating factors in dog attacks.
Indeed, the kind of extreme behavior exhibited by the so-called pit bull that attacked Anne Murray will almost certainly have an explanation that is likewise full of extremes. How do we know? Because no canine acts that way unless something extreme has been done to it, typically some kind of animal cruelty or even drug dosing. It is sad but true, but I have read articles before about dog fighters dosing their dogs with certain drugs to make the dog more aggressive. But does this make the dog bad, or the owner an animal abuser? Regardless, the dog paid with his life.
While initial reports had it that a “Wilton Woman [Was] Attacked by her Dog,” this is false. The dog was owned by one of her two sons who was living with her. Now why would a grown man be living with his mother other than for something like financial hardship? It makes me question what the son was into.
Murray’s son had been arrested several times before, and the police had been to the home twice before because the dog in question, Tux, had been free-roaming, though without incident. If the dog was as vicious as people are now claiming, wouldn’t he have attacked before now? Aggression tends to escalate, but this attack was out of the blue. It makes me wonder, given the son’s criminal activity, if, besides the possibility of the dog having been abused, if the dog wasn’t the target of some kind of criminal revenge.
For instance, could the dog have been given bath salts, a drug akin to amphetamines or cocaine, as some kind of retribution? We certainly know that humans who ingest this street drug have gone crazy and even eaten people’s faces. What if someone who had it out for the woman’s son dosed the dog with something? The dog was frequently free-roaming so anyone could have had access to him.
Regardless of what actually happened, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to explain away the dog’s behavior out of some vain attempt at a pit bull apologetic. But this story makes no sort of sense unless there is some kind of human intervention; it’s far too extreme.
So what’s going on here? The town of Wilton, Connecticut itself is an affluent city with home prices averaging $1 million. Yet Anne Murray and her sons live in a more rural location. The Houston Chronicle described the scene:
Range Road is in a neighborhood of tidy suburban homes, but the red house at number 77 has fallen on hard times. The garage door is mostly missing; a picket fence covers the opening. The electricity meter has a shut-off tag affixed to it.
On the front stoop is a large plastic tub, partially filled with water, into which a winter coat was draped. The front yard is covered in brambles and the mailbox hadn’t been emptied in days.
Clearly Anne Murray and her sons are having some kind of financial difficulty, which, if my hunch is correct, had something to do with the dog mauling, whether directly or indirectly.
The point is, there is more to the story than what we’re being told via the media or authorities, and so until we get some definitives, all we can do at this point is conjecture. Still, the media and the public should refrain from slamming the dog, or calling for a pit bull ban or some other form of breed-specific legislation (BSL), when it is clear the dog was not kept very well by his owner, and may very well have been a victim of abuse himself.
Photo courtesy of Fox Connecticut and the NY Daily News.