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Pit Bull Kills Therapy Dog

By Dr. Andrew Jones


This is a difficult story to hear about.

This wonderful small dog was attacked and killed by a pit bull on Saturday in Vancouver.

Pit bull kills therapy dog in Vancouver
Source: CBC News

The owner of a miniature pinscher says her dog was attacked and killed by a pit bull in Vancouver on Saturday.
Mia Johnson says she is devastated by the loss of her dog, Yuri, and was shocked when a Staffordshire bull terrier — a breed commonly referred to as a pit bull — lunged at her two miniature pinschers while she was walking them on Dunbar Street at 10th Avenue.

“How would you know if it would be a violent dog you meet, how would you know?” she asked CBC news Monday.

‘We couldn’t get it to let go’

Johnson says she was out for a walk with her daughter and two dogs when a woman walking a pit bull approached.

‘I just held him against me. I held everything in with my hands, against me…’- Mia Johnson, recounting pit bull attack aftermath

Johnson says the larger dog was on a leash, and appeared to be wearing a muzzle but also seemed out of control.

She says the dogs’ leashes became tangled, and at some point the larger dog’s muzzle came loose, allowing the pit bull to grab her much smaller dog in its jaws.

“We couldn’t get it to let it go, I remember I was banging it on the top of it’s head as hard as I could,” she said.

Johnson says once the dogs separated, she was horrified to discover her dog appeared to have been disemboweled, and was howling in pain.

“I just held him against me. I held everything in with my hands, against me, and he was alive. He was just letting out these terrible screams, and I just kept holding him as hard as I could,” Johnson said.

Johnson says her daughter, Laurel, who has Asperger syndrome and an anxiety disorder, chased the pit bull’s owner.

“My daughter was running after her, screaming, ‘You’re a murderer, you’re a murderer.'”

She says Yuri was a therapy dog for Laurel, who has spent the last two days holed up in her room, trying to process the loss of her beloved pet.

“She just has so much trouble with anxiety that she couldn’t really do anything, and he made her feel like there were two of her, and she wasn’t doing everything alone.”
Miniature Pinscher killed by Pit Bull

Yuri was not only a comfort to Laurel, but was also a volunteer therapy dog at a Vancouver palliative care centre.

Johnson says Yuri was also a volunteer therapy dog at a Vancouver palliative care centre, who would comfort patients on his weekly visits.

“He would get up on their laps and he would just sit there, and just be loving them, and sometimes he would lie on somebody’s bed next to their head if they were in their final stages. He was just a calm little dog,” she said.

The City of Vancouver confirms it has seized the pit bull and bylaw officers are investigating.

Dangerous Dogs

TO me the issue is about responsible dog ownership, and having dangerous dogs adequately controlled.

NOT about Pit Bulls.

A recent study reviewing serious dog attacks, though does point towards pit bulls as being a special concern.

Dog Attack Deaths and Maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to December 31, 2013

By compiling U.S. and Canadian press accounts between 1982 and 2013,1 Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, shows the dog breeds most responsible for serious injuries and deaths.

Study highlights

The combination of molosser breeds, including pit bulls, curs, rottweilers, presa canarios, cane corsos, mastiffs, dogo argentinos, fila brasieros, sharpeis, boxers, and their mixes, inflict:

81% of attacks that induce bodily harm
76% of attacks to children
87% of attack to adults
72% of attacks that result in fatalities
81% that result in maiming
Embody 9.2%+ of the total dog population

dog bites

Best Wishes,
Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

P.S. Obviously certain dog breeds have been bred for fighting, and when they attack, they cause serious damage. Then of course there is the owners of these particular dogs which at times likely encourage the aggression.

Good dog, bad owner?

Likely some of that which then turned a potentially good dog into a dangerous one.

No real good answers.

P.P.S. My NEW Natural Animal Care Web Seminar is happening next Wednesday Nov 12th- Mark the date and stay tuned for the invitation to come in your email.


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Topics: Dog Care, Pet Care | 10 Comments »

10 Responses to “Pit Bull Kills Therapy Dog”

  1. Avatar Jo MacDonald Says:
    November 6th, 2014 at 8:02 am

    I am an animal lover for sure. My brother, wife and child have a Pit Bull they got at a rescue. My niece and her boyfriend also have a young pit bull the got as a puppy in Florida and have trained very well. I really believe that Pit Bulls are not to blame it’s their damn owners. That womyn shouldn’t have even have, let alone have on a leash an animal she has not control over. Don’t blame animals for what humans have given to some breeds. People need to understand you need the space in your yard to exercise them. It should not be walking down a street or taking them in someplace to show them off. I foster rescues and they do not run free unless I know they are secure and then it’s not down town and I can control them at all times.

  2. Avatar Teresa Tanasi mello Says:
    November 6th, 2014 at 8:03 am

    I have lived through GSD,dobes, rotties and now Pitts being the Choice dogs of the moment to bash or love and kill at pounds. Believe me, in the 1970’s at pounds on te east coast you would find GSD’s and mixes on death row rather than all of the Pitts an Pitt mixes. I have a Pitt mix now. He isn’t the 35 pound dog of the 1920s so endeared to the public. He is 105 pounds and I met him four eyes ago after a great neighbor of mine, dumped him in an agricultural area with a shoot to kill law on dogs. I met him as he attacked a 30 pound puggle mix of mine. I NEVER in 50 years of being a dog person AND NEVER getting bit saw such a blank aggression as he tried to kill my dog. You may ask why he is still alive, he is big black and bully and would surely be put down and that day I beat him senseless trying to get him off of my dog( who recovered nicely and I still have) I have acres of land and the Pitt has a completely enclosed area with re enforced fencing. He is people gentle BUT horrid around other animals as MOST terriers are. I have neighbors who have 9 chows and they fight( I cannot deal with dogs fighting but some people seem less worried about it) I have neighbors who have 6 blue heeler a and they fight. ALL terriers do the neck shaking thing with their prey. I know of a woman who has two westies and they fight bad. They are NOT large dogs BUT are terriers. I have small dogs as well and in between dogs. I live in a rural area and dog dumping is rampant( all of my dogs from a bichon to a chi to a heeler to the Pitt to the puggle… All dumped!!! Point is one of the biggest reasons owners surrender pitts( I challenge you to look on Arizona Friends’s of Shelter Animals on Facebook) Pitts ARE animal aggressive as are ALL terriers I have ever encountered. My heeler was about 4 months when I found him. He bearded my goats the first time he saw them. He had this bred into his breed for generations. Pitts that showed ANY human aggression in the height of tour love affair with them were culled immediately. I am NoT anti Pitt. I am anti-a-hole. I NEVER would own. Pitt if I could have placed him with a good home that I knew would make sure he would never be around another animal again. This is long and no one will read it BUT it is DISGUSTING when people do NOT admit responsibility. ALL Pitt owners look like hood rat idiots with no compassion in their heart to see this happen to someone else’s beloved pet… And make excuses. I for one think this is a tragedy. There are some dogs who should NOT be out in public with other dogs!!! Period. I own one!!! Not willingly BUT I know he is animal aggressive. If I put him a risk to show his inborn animal/ dog aggression instead of doing everything I can to protect other dogs Lives and in turn my dog’s life, I am an irresponsible asshole!

  3. Avatar Katie Says:
    November 6th, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Pit bulls are dogs and being big dogs with a lot of muscle behind need to be firmly, not brutally, controlled. Owners of dogs like pit bull should show that they can control and take responsibility for their dogs. Dogs are more like children, they never grow up and it is up to the parent or dog owner to teach or train her/his dog so it does not pose a threat to other living creatures. Yes, pitts have been bread primarily for dog fighting and are aggressive towards other animals, especially other dogs after all it’s their job. It’s the stupidity and money greed of men that put the dog into the highlights of bad dog. There should be more information about the character of dogs and centers teaching people how to handle a dog properly, run by dogpsychologists and owners. Some do exist but they are payable and a lot of people can’t afford them again this little word greed plus there are different oppinions and so called profesionals who seemed to know all about dogs and flounder their personal prejudicm. It’s a shame a dog was killed and another will be killed based on human ignorance.

  4. Avatar Kathryn Says:
    November 6th, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    It’s SO Simple. Keep your LITTLE Dogs away FROM ALL Big Dogs, Keep Your BIG Dogs away From ALL Little Dogs, and MOST Other Big Dogs. I have Little dogs and I do not mind telling Other dog owners to Back OFF and CURB there Animals, I only take Mine to the Groomer and Vet, NO dog Parks are Any other Place, they have a 8ft. fenced in Back yard to play in where there safe. This should of NEVER Happened ,MS. Johnson Did YOU Not see the other dog was Muzzled, THAT SHOULD Of Told You, NOT A NICE DOG and the owner of the Large Dog IF Your DOG Has to be Muzzled, What were you doing with it out around other People and Animals, YOU Had NO Right Having That Animal Out where something like this could happen, Because of YOU and Your OUT of Control BEAST, YOU Caused THIS and NOW that YOUR DOG has MURDERED Another Animal It HAS To Be PUT DOWN. I do Not care WHAT Breed the larger Dog IS, Anyone that CAN NOT CONTROLL Said Animal, BY LAW Should NOT Be able to Own ONE, It’s like having a Loaded weapon or ticking time Bomb. I do Hope that MS. Johnson IS Going To SUE YOU For Everything she can Get and IF Nothing but the Law Preventing YOU from EVER having another Dog, EVER. It’s Owners LIKE YOU, That OWN Large MURDEREST BREEDS That GIVE ALL Large Dogs a Bad NAME and There OWNERS Look As DUMB,As DURT !!! MS. Johnson IF Your Ever Blessed with another little Fur Baby again, PLEASE, Keep Your HEAD IN The SUN , Fresh AIR, and OUT OF Your ( the Sand ) PROTECT IT, That’s YOUR JOB, Keep It away From Other DOGS, and There STUPID OWNERS !!!

  5. Avatar Robert Bell Says:
    November 6th, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    We had a rescue mail rescue dog in the UK it was a Jack Russel/Staffy Cross.
    It was a rescue dog and was used as a PAT DOG that worked within a mental health environment for thirteen years.

    The animal was sometimes a very quiet pet although the patients were really found of it and when it died through a cancer in the paw caused by pollution the centre patients/members were very distressed and missed their friend and centre pet.

    The dog was not dangerous and could tell when a person was distressed with their condition.

    Now I look on this cross and breed very loyal and loving even to other people who had an infinity to it The dog retained its loyalty to its family and never attacked anyone throughout its life

    It is not the animal who is dangerous it is the numpty who trains it

  6. Avatar Cindy Says:
    November 6th, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    The only thing worse the poor media reporting is people that repeat said biased journalism without doing any fact finding on their own! The entire story is sad but I can bet you we do not have all of the facts. Was the owner of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier irresponsible? The dog was muzzled per Canadian (archaic) law. How do we know that the Therapy dog was not acting out on actions of it’s owner or the hysteria of the moment. Perhaps the Therapy dog charged the Staffordshire Bull Terrier? But we don’t know the facts. There are so many numerous scenario’s on what might have caused this incident but you can bet the media never gives the full nor accurate account. Either do you Dr Jones because you didn’t research facts either; the only thing worse is your “apology”. Which makes me doubt your expertise in other area’s. Where else do you take short cuts? Just as an aside you may want to read this on “DOGBITES.ORG”, another expert at misreporting and skewing information.

    Here is another well researched site you can quote with the knowledge that the information is accurate.
    As for me, I am unsubscribing from your blog and your website; I will not be purchasing your book either. I don’t believe in rewarding people that use sensationalism to promote themselves and that is just about all your blog boils down to. Sign me…DISGUSTED.

  7. Avatar Arya Says:
    November 6th, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    While I am sad about the incident and that the little girl lost her beloved dog, the owner of the minipins should have stayed away and not approached the staffordshire if she already saw that it was muzzled and hard to control.

    You are correct, this isn’t about the breed. It all boils down to responsible pet ownership – but not all owners are responsible or have common sense.

  8. Avatar Jenny Arthur Says:
    November 6th, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    One thing that utterly dismays me when stories like this are reported, is the disregard for truth and facts. I expect this from the Media, but now most Veterinary practioners seem to also fall into this category. While I do not expect them to have the same knowledge as Dog Judges, they should know the basics and also not refer to an animal as 3 different breeds within the one story !
    The head study in your story is clearly a Staffordshire Terrier, yet the article talks about a Pit Bull Terrier and the media is loose with the interchange of names.
    The Staffordshire Terrier – is an old English breed and worldwide this is the name given to this registered breed. This name is only used in conjunction with the English breed not the American one (which is given the whole of its name or Amstaff)
    The American Staffordshire Terrier (or Amstaff) is a larger, longer-legged breed and is recognised as a separate breed in the showring.Properly bred and trained it makes an excellent family dog. Indeed the first registered Seeing-eye dog was one of these and owned by the famous Australian Helen Keller. The famous dog on the War Poster saying that Uncle Sam Wants You featured one of these dogs.
    The Pit Bull Terrier is the unregistered version of the above breed and is the one that is usually the cause of the troubles and attacks as they were bred for the Fight and other Arenas and maintain their own register and “strains” such as Jeep and Red Nose etc.
    There are a number of other names that some groups are using to set up their own Registers and “breeds” but these are the main and recognised ones – Ban dogs, Aussie Bulldogs, etc etc
    Let me know if you want any info. We are senior ANKC judges, Govt Breed Identifiers for the Dangerous Dogs and many other things. Every Dog and Cat in NSW has to be Microchipped as a baby, by Law and all other States are following suit.

  9. Avatar Robert Bell Says:
    November 7th, 2014 at 5:25 am

    When we lost the Staffy cross we again went for a rescue dog. This time it was a Border Collie Cross. This animal is from Ireland and was removed from its Mother at five weeks. The dog was ferried to the Uk, Scotland and passed down the line to a pound 300 miles away, injected and put up for adoption at twelve weeks. We fell in love with the animal as it was the most friendly of animals, in fact so much so was at a danger to itself. Still the dog will frieze when out walking when it sees other humans approaching it for a stroke, it always ends up on its back for a tummy rub no matter who the person is. We have tried for three years to stop this procedure as all dog owners know many do not like being familiar with strange dogs.

    When we got the animal it had a severe infection of the gut, it took over eighteen months for the dog to recover.It took all that time for an insurance to cover vet bills

    We now live in the English countryside, our immediate neighbours love the animal who does the rounds meeting its Fan Club.

    All I can say regarding all dogs, many rescue animals no matter what breed or stock can be trained to be a good, loyal pet even when its past is so severe that the animal has issues. If you train the animal well and not shout, there hearing is more astute than ours, and be considerate in how the animal is approached you can get an animal that becomes a wonderful pet and member of a family. Dogs can be very forgiving.

    One of our next doors has a STAFFY, before the animal was homed it was trained to be a dog fighter. This dog was given to a Vicar by the young man who had been training it. Sad to say this dog at five years old cannot be introduced to other dogs because of its past, My wife sometimes calls in to look after the Bitch and she has no problems with it. It is very sad that it can not be introduced to other animals although it now seems to be becoming more tolerant after a long period of time.

    Remember generally it is not the dog/bitch that needs the training it is the people who have a dog as a badge of honour and credibility, the dogs needs run only secondary to that of the owner.

    One thing more our old Staffy Cross was a wonderful animal and initially we were looking for a terrier replacement, We ended up with our Collie Cross as we saw the dogs Potencial when we first saw it

  10. Avatar Mia Johnson Says:
    January 5th, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    >>the owner of the minipins should have stayed away and not approached the staffordshire
    We were walking on a neighbourhood street, a friendly, tree-lined street in a quiet neighbourhood of Vancouver, where scores of people walk little dogs everyday. The pit bull crossed our path, and with no provocation lunged at our dogs. Its leash broke and its temporary muzzle – the type used for grooming – came undone as it attacked. There was no way to predict what happened. Thank you Dr. Jones for bringing this article to the attention of other people who may benefit by knowing. I wish I had known about these dogs.


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM