The Fifth Estate: Documentary Asks ‘Should Pit Bulls Be Banned?’
A Canadian television show, The Fifth Estate, the Canadian version of the United States CBS News series 60 Minutes, released an eye-opening documentary titled “Pit Bulls Unleashed: Should They Be Banned?”
The Fifth Estate’s documentary, which you can watch above, comes just months after “the Quebec government introduced Bill 128, which will authorize the province to prohibit any person from owning, breeding or acquiring ‘potentially dangerous’ dogs, which includes pit bulls and Rottweilers, the two highest-risk dogs,” Barbara Kay of the National Post reported.
The show’s host, Mark Kelley, speaks in depth with Jeff Borchardt, whose 14-month-old son, Daxton Borchardt, was killed by his babysitter’s pit bull dogs. Kelley examines both sides of the pit bull “debate” and also speaks extensively with Daxton’s babysitter, Susan Iwicki, as well as a legislative attorney and pit bull lobbyist for Best Friends Animal Society, Ledy VanKavage. You can watch the documentary in its entirety above.
In the beginning of the documentary, Borchardt speaks about hearing of the news that his son was “bit” by Iwicki’s dogs. “And then he told me, the dogs bit Dax. The ambulance is there,” Borchardt told Kelley. “He’s being transported to Mercy, and so we’re going to meet him there. At that point, I mean, I was like, they bit him. You know? It’s a dog bite. I’ve been bitten by dogs before. How bad can it be? He’ll be OK.”
However, as Kelley stated, “…when Jeff arrived at the hospital he quickly learned that this wasn’t just any dog bite.”
So they brought me back there and the nurses were giving him CPR. I looked down at him and he was stripped naked. I mean, all of his clothes were ripped off. His face was just gone. I mean, from here down was just mangled. I mean, it was so bad. And…and just blood everywhere. I was just screaming at the top of my lungs, OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?! My wife was just silent. She didn’t say a word. She just sat there holding his hand.
When Kelley questions pit bull lobbyist VanKavage about why only this breed needs its own advocacy, the woman defends the dogs and states that they’re “misunderstood,” and also blames the media for “probably” making up fake news regarding pit bulls, causing a “hysteria.”
Pit Bull Lobbyist States ‘Fake News Is Probably to Blame’
Kelley goes over several pit bull attack headlines with VanKavage from only one month’s time, and asks her if she believes that all of the examples are “fake news.” VanKavage doesn’t address any examples that the talk show host just pointed out, instead partially blaming “media bias.” “I believe some of it is media bias, I do, I believe the hype has led people to have this perception of it,” she stated. “And again I think a lot of it is because of media bias or fake news.”
The talk show host then asks the pit bull advocate her thoughts on the death of 14-month-old Daxton, who was savagely ripped from the arms of his babysitter by two previously loving and well-behaved pit bulls. “Was that also fake news?” Kelley asked her.
“It is very, very tragic…I don’t know what happened that day, I don’t know if the child was crying…” VanKavage responded.
Heavy reached out to Daxton’s babysitter. Iwicki stated:
VanKavage is suggesting openly that pit bulls will potentially attack a crying child.
First, I MUST clarify that Dax was NOT crying prior to the attack. Even if he were crying, what kind of a ‘family pet’ attacks a crying child? What family doesn’t have a child that cries, at least on occasion? Let’s be real.
I have been asked endless questions surrounding the attack on Dax and myself. Was Dax crying? Was he screaming…did he have a dirty diaper or drop something….was I yelling? This is only a tiny fraction of the questions that I have had to personally address. There is no discernable trigger aside from their genes. For Daxton and I, it was a normal routine day…we were doing what we always do, and were making funny faces and being silly just moments before the pit bulls attacked us. Then I patted my leg, as I did everyday, to signal the dogs to come back inside. And they just exploded…these dogs that had never been aggressive…went on a rage fueled by their genetic background.
VanKavage’s words infuriated Colleen Lynn, founder of Dogsbite.org. “A hired gun for the pit bull lobby, Ledy Vankavage, equates a 15-minute horrific, deadly mauling of a child by two family pit bulls as a ‘reasonable’ response to a baby possibly crying. The dogs ripped off his face, crushed his skull and broke his spine,” Lynn told Heavy.
A Doctor Reveals the Data From Bite Studies
Kelley asked VanKavage if she believes pit bulls are more prone to attack, to which she responded no. However, that statement goes against statistics as well as a health care professional’s expertise. Dr. Michael Golinko, “who has looked thousands of attacks, cases by case.”
The doctor came to this conclusion after collecting data from two large bite studies involving the hospitalization of more than 500 kids from Arkansas and approximately 1600 in Atlanta. In the study 46 different breeds were identified. Golinko told Kelley:
What makes the pit bull different is it would bite and it would keep on attacking…and again as we said in multiple anatomic locations…two to three times more likely and any kid that went to the operating room, half the time, one half the time it was a pit bull, and the other half the time it was every other breed you can think of. So to me that said an overwhelmingly preponderance of data. Saying something is going on here and we can maybe intervene…this is the data.
Golinko concludes by stating that “the solution is simple.”
“Ban them,” he stated. “If you could prevent one death or one tragic injury where I don’t have to take a kid’s skull apart in the operating room because of a terrible bite then that would be worth it.”
Pit bull activists argue that it is impossible to identify the breed and make claims that other breeds falsely labeled as pit bulls are to blame for attacks. However, Daxtonsfriends.org, a website founded by Borchardt after the loss of his son to promote education and awareness, states otherwise:
Many pit bull advocate groups post a collage of dog pictures online and ask the public to “identify the pit bull”. What the public does not know is that the majority of dogs pictured are shot from camera angles deliberately designed to mislead. In addition, they show heads only, so size cannot be considered—this would not be the case when seeing the dog in real life. They also feature many rare breeds that are related to pit bulls, but which are extremely uncommon in the United States (e.g., the Dogue de Bordeaux, Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, and Ca de Bou). And one of the dog breeds that is included is an American Staffordshire Terrier which is the exact same breed as the American Pit Bull Terrier, but registered with another organization. Click here for an in-depth, illustrated article about this misleading test.
It should also be noted that many humane societies offer discounts on spaying/neutering of pit bulls. If pit bulls are so difficult to identify, then how do shelter workers identify who qualifies for the discount? There are also many pit bull rescues with the term “pit bull” in the organization name. How do these groups know which dogs to rescue?
The Statistics of Fatal Pit Bull Attacks
According to dogsbite.org, “31 U.S. dog bite-related fatalities occurred in 2016. Despite being regulated in Military Housing areas and over 900 U.S. cities, pit bulls contributed to 71% (22) of these deaths. Pit bulls make up about 6% of the total U.S. dog population.”
Heavy spoke with Borchardt, and he said that at the time of The Fifth Estate’s interview in late May of 2017, 103 people were killed by pit bull type dogs since Daxton’s death in 2013. That number now stands at a staggering 113.
“I started looking for answers as to what happened the day after Daxton’s funeral and that’s when I came across dogsbite.org,” Borchardt stated. “I had never heard of any dog related deaths before my son, and I just ask people to pay closer attention to the issue and to look at the facts and statistics. Unfortunately by the time someone finds dogsbite.org, it’s already too late.”