Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Peter Strauss Injured In Pit Bull Attack

By Bret Bradigan
Ojai actor and citrus rancher Peter Strauss spent nearly half an hour in a dance of life and death with a raging pit bull.
Strauss survived. But the outcome was very much in doubt.
Interviewed Tuesday, his voice hoarse from shouting for help, Strauss was making a routine inspection of his orchards on Sunday at noon, when he saw the brown pit bull mix scrabbling against the boards that blocked him into the neighbor’s yard on Avenida Del Recreo.
“I could see him pull his head through, and thought, ‘My God, this dog is going come for me,’” Strauss said. The dog charged the 32-foot distance in seconds, but left the orchard owner — armed only with clipboard — plenty of time to imagine his peril. “He leapt at me, and I hit him with the clipboard, as I moved back toward a tree.”
The dog grabbed Strauss’ leg, furiously shaking his head and tearing and puncturing the calf. “I knew if I went down to the ground, I was dead. I thought, ‘I’m going to die on my own farm like this.’”
Strauss was able to grab a piece of wood to swing at the dog and fend him off. “I hit the dog as hard as I could, and it just wasn’t enough. I would hit him, and he would just shake his head.”
He broke off one chunk of wood on the dog’s head, but was able to pick up another piece, as the tense and brutal dance continued for 20 minutes. “He would either try to jump up, or go for my leg.”
Strauss alternated between shouting for help, and yelling at the dog to go home. Neither strategy brought results, though he later learned that his pleas were heard, and that people attempted to come to his rescue.
After the standoff, the dog eventually backed off, and Strauss was able to get to Soule Park and make the call for help. The Animal Control officer, Mark Wisma, arrived 25 minutes later and the pair went searching the Siete Robles neighborhood for the errant dog. “The dog flew out of a different corner of my property,” Strauss said. As the dog continued its vicious lunging and snarling, both Strauss and Wisma, he said, felt vulnerable. “I was terrified. The dog couldn’t be caught.”
The dog eventually ended back at its owner’s house on Avenida Del Recreo. Wisma ordered the owner to collar and leash the dog, which he did. Strauss described the dog’s owner as remorseful and cooperative.
Kathy Jenks, director of Ventura County Department of Animal Regulation, said the owner signed a release and the dog would be euthanized this morning. Its brain will be removed and sent to a lab to check for diseases, though it reportedly has had its rabies shots.
The dog, a neutered male adopted from a Los Angeles County Shelter, had no previous record of attacks, though Jenks reported that it bit someone else that day.
“Dogs like this don’t belong in this community,” Strauss said.
He found a card in his mailbox the next day from neighbors, who have their names as Dennis and David. They had heard his shouts for help, but were unable to pinpoint his location.
Strauss said he was ably treated and released from Ojai Valley Community Hospital’s emergency room with lots of stitches and a course of antibiotics. He said he was determined to keep an appointment to make a presentation to the Ojai City Council Tuesday night.


Anonymous said...

that could have been a child... we hope fines are imposed on the owner so he/she doesn't ' rescue' another one!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Pet Psychic will write about it. I'm glad Peter Strauss is ok, that is a horrible thing to have had to endure.

Anonymous said...

that's one tough dude.

Anonymous said...

That's totally messed up!. Here's wishing Mr. Strauss a speedy recovery

Anonymous said...

I wasn't here that day, but If I'd been home, my impulse would have been to run into the orchard and shoot the dog. Does anyone know if, had I done so, I would be in jail now? The rules are a little hazy. Thanks.

bitbypit said...

Pit bull advocates consistently say that pit bulls are "animal-aggressive," not people-aggressive. Yet, on a daily basis, pit bulls break free of their property lines and attack human beings unprovoked. They attack people walking down the street, while gardening on their own property, while taking out the trash and while checking their mailbox.

DogsBite.org hopes that Mr. Strauss can give voice to the many victims that have suffered at the hands of pit bull attacks simply because they were participating in their normal daily routine. It is time to put an end to the myth that pit bulls only attack animals.

Anonymous said...

I was bitten by a dog back in 2001 when I was out walking my Sheltie. The chow/pit mix that got a piece of me actually went after my dog and I had to rescue him...getting bitten in the process. I don't know if Mr Strauss still has his Jack Russels, but he's fortunate that they weren't out that day. They wouldn't be around anymore. What a harrowing experience. Let's outlaw Pits if people can't control them. One has to wonder why anyone would want a breed of dog that can be so unpredictable. It's a lawsuit for the owner and death for the dog.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr. Strauss that pit bulls and dangerous breeds don't have a place in Ojai. I constantly hear owners defending their dogs... but it's like having a loaded gun in the house.

I'd love to see a law banning pit bulls and rottweilers from Ojai. It's long overdue.

Anonymous said...

Watch out for the Pit Nutters! They will come and slam this blog post with a hundred posts! You have been targeted.

Anonymous said...

I think the law allows you to shoot pit bulls, not other breeds, if they are unleashed, because they attack so much. So, you would be in the right to shoot a pit bull even if unprovoked. Hope this helps you!!

Anonymous said...

My sympathies to anyone who has suffered an attack by a dog, or who has seen their dog attacked.

Be cautious, though, about banning specific breeds. While YOU may think ill of Pit Bulls, others would willingly ban German Shepherds, Rotties and Dobies amoung others. Check some of the breed lists that insurance companies use to refuse coverage to dog owners. Banning is not the answer.

Looking at the photo, this dog was probably bred by someone who had hoped to use him for fighting - exceptionally heavy front end, large head. It could also be the angle of the photo that makes things look that way. Outlaw dog fighting and the numbers of these dogs will drop drastically.

Requirements for mandatory spay/neuter might also be a less discriminatory way of preventing poorly bred dogs who often find homes with unsuspecting owners when their temperament for fighting is found wanting.

This is human problem, not a dog problem.

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

This is a breed problem and pit bulls own the spot light for a reason. Virtually every dog slips out the gate at some point in its life, and we've encountered a variety, including German Shepherds. The only dogs that refused our attempts at kindness or couldn't be called off their pursuit of horses were pit bulls. Prior to our first experience with a pit bull, we never had a reason to own a semi automatic weapon. It's a shame we were left to manage the pit bull issue on our own, but we like the AR15 style by Bushmaster, chambered in .223. One of the features we like about this weapon is that it will never slip out the gate and go on a killing spree all by itself.

Painted Hand Farm said...

Glad to hear you're alright, Peter. You know, when I left Ojai to buy my own farm here in Pennsylvania, I thought it was kind of a 'local' thing that everyone on the farms around here 'packed heat'. It didn't take me long to understand the importance of having a fire arm in an area that has a high rabies infection rate. Today, I don't give taking a side arm a second thought when I go out on the farm to work or even when I go riding my horse in the neighborhood. While some people might call it an NRA mentality and rant about gun-toting wackos, I'd rather be called names than be bitten by some of the rabid animals I've shot while out working on fences or moving my livestock.

Anonymous said...

I was attacked by a dog once and fought it for about ten minutes until my cries for help were heard. Guess what saved my life. MY PIT BULL of 10 years that never attacked a human. I will say it growled at a few of them for getting to close to mu daughter which he played with everyday and loved dearly. Want to read the best part it was a rott/doberman mixx that attacked me. Not all of one bread is evil.

James Hatch said...

While B Dawson might use spell check, she should think about hypocrisy check instead: It's not the breed, but this dog has heavy front end and large head. Isn't that the breed???

For every anectdotal story about the pit bull being the hero, there are hundreds of others where the pit bull is the villian.

Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to display specific mental and physical characteristics, (correct me if I'm wrong, B Dawson), among them the pit bull to be a ferocious and aggressive fighter.

While not every pit bull is going to attack a human, pit bulls have attacked enough and with such frequency that a law should require special handling and ownership restrictions. B Dawson, if attack rates by pit bulls are matched by those of german shepards or rotweillers, the same restrictions should apply. I am sure you will admit that they're attack numbers are proportionately miniscule.

Anonymous said...

It's been quite a while since I read the AKC standard and I am certainly not a qualified AKC judge, but I believe the standard calls for a well balanced dog. The front heavy dogs are the ones preferred by dog fighters. Most folks are simply used to seeing poorly bred ones and assume that is how Pit Bulls, or more properly, American Staffordshire Terriers are supposed to look. The slang "Pit Bull" arose from the fighting of the dogs.

I do not know what statistics to which you refer therefore it is impossible for me to agree that other breeds have miniscule bite reports. Many insurance companies are actively attempting to deny coverage to owners of German Shepherds, Rotties, Dobies and others. They cite statistics to support their rational.

I admit I'm perplexed that the dog was adopted from an LA shelter. Either the OVN got it wrong or misunderstood where the dog came from. Dog rescue folks of my acquaintance say that LA will not adopt out Pit Bulls.

Your comment on a "hypocrisy check" is completely lost on me. How are my comments hypocritical?

By the way, Mr. Hatch, I believe you meant to type "their", and not "they're" in your last line. Oh those darn typos!

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

One should always excercise caution when judging others. This was an unfortunate incident however, these things seem to happen with poorly bred dogs. The dog was rescued from a shelter. We should all be sure of the breeding of our pets because that is usually the problem with most breeds: the breeding. It's nice to "rescue" pets but even the shelter in this case thought the dog was OK to adopt out. And banning breeds is often proposed by the narrow minded who often think it's "cute" that their small breed dogs "thinks he can take on a bigger dog". It's not one or two breeds. Anything with a mind and teeth can attack.

Anonymous said...

Bad behaviour is not the sole property of poorly bred animals. AKC champions have been known to have personality flaws and highly acclaimed breeders can be guilty of allowing dogs with issues to be sold as family pets. I still believe that rescuing/adopting dogs is a compassionate and sensible act. I would not want this to put anyone off adopting from shelters or rescue agencies. Most of them are extremely careful about testing their dogs for social skills.

You are correct in saying anything with a mind and teeth can attack (just read a few blogs!) but something usually sets them off-someone taking a toy away or playing too rough for example can touch a nerve in an unstable animal. I'm left wondering why this particular dog felt that it was now time to dig under a fence and attack a human. I live in the Recreo neighborhood and have not heard one whisper about a loose or dangerous Pit Bull. People walk their dogs (mostly on leash) all the time through here. No one has seemed wary at all.

Hopefully the OVN will follow-up on this story and let the public know if the necropsy showed any abnormality that may have contributed to this sad event.

B Dawson

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that any person has ever had an experience like that of Mr. Strauss. But banning "pit bulls" or any other breed will not solve the problem. Any dog has the capability of biting and doing serious harm. While this is not an excuse or justification by any means, I urge people to learn more about animal behavior before condemning the actions of individuals. Media hype and over breeding has put the pit bull in the spot light for the last 10 years or so. Before that it was Chows, before that it was German Shepherds, then Rotties, then Doberman Pinchers. Besides that, many mixed breed or undetermined breeds are labeled "pit bull" because there are 20 + breeds with similar physical charateristics.

For those that don't know much about the subject of Breed Specific Legislation and dog behavior you can find a lot of information and statistics from the Humane Society and other organizations. Here are some interesting article links too: http://www.hsus.org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/dangerous_dogs.html


In the interest of full disclosure I am a owner of an American Pit Bull Terrier who was rescued from a shelter and I live in the Ojai Valley - so you can say I am biased if you want. But I know I am responsible for her behavior ultimately, just as the owner of the Jack Russell or the German Shepherd or any other dog is responsible for keeping others safe from harm. People need to focus on individual dogs and their owners' care of them and not blindly outlaw a single breed.

Anonymous said...

I will admit the incident that happened to Mr. Strauss is horrible, and that the dog should be euthanized, but banning an entire breed is not the answer. I am the proud owner of a pitt bull, and do believe that the owners actions and care for the dog, will be a direct reflection on the dog itself. My child was bitten by a Mini Schnauzer, which broke the skin, but has never even been growled at by my Pitt. Any dog, regardless of size or breed, is capable of biting, so supervision is always required by the owners. The picture of the pitt that attacked Mr. Strauss shows the dog not only confined to a cage, but also leashed. Say you put a human in a jail cell and also chain that human up, desocialize the human and keep that human there for looks. What would the human do? Most likely lash out and hurt someone. Dogs are social animals, need companionship and love. If one is not prepared to make that commitment, then you should not have a dog. This is a classic case of human error, and the owner should have to face strict consequences for his/her actions.

edrury70707 said...

Pit Bull advocates refuse to face facts and in their own self interests actively spread misinformation to the detriment of society.