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After the Attack: A Pit Bull Owner Speaks In Defense of Second Chance Rescue

| March 18, 2014

The author's pit bull, adopted from Second Chance Rescue. (Heather Andreu)

The author’s pit bull, adopted from Second Chance Rescue. (Heather Andreu)

A week ago–on March 12–at Second Chance Rescue in Bunnell, a 5-year-old girl and her 3-year-old brother were attacked twice by a pit bull, or a pit bull mix, as the children waited in a van for their mother, a volunteer at Second Chance Rescue. The dog attacked the mother when she went to her children’s rescue. The attack provoked an extended debate about pit bulls and Second Chance Rescue, prompting Heather Andreu to contribute the following from her experience with the shelter. For those interested in helping the family victimized by the dog, you may reach the children’s mother at this email address. Please do not contact her for polemical purposes, however.

By Heather Andreu

As a person who was recently bitten by a large dog that was wandering in my neighborhood in what was an unprovoked incident, I know firsthand how terrifying and traumatic the dog attack that occurred last week at Second Chance Rescue was for the victims. Rather than focus on the controversy surrounding the attack, I would like to share my own experience with Second Chance Rescue.

Heather Andreu

Heather Andreu

Last year I decided to adopt a dog. I ended up stumbling onto the website for Second Chance Rescue. While perusing the pictures and stories of available dogs, I found several that sparked my interest. I filled out a detailed application and was contacted immediately.

A volunteer, Dana Conway, spent a great deal of time communicating with me and examining all the dogs I was interested in. Since I already have a small dog, I expressed concern that I absolutely could not bring a dog with any aggression into my home. As a result, one of the dogs I had chosen was quickly eliminated, because Dana was honest and forthright as she explained how that particular dog did not get along with other dogs.

My list was narrowed, with most of my interest focused on a pit bull mix named Gigi.

Before she was taken into Second Chance, Gigi had been locked in an abandoned building and left to suffer what would have been a slow, painful death by starvation. By the time she was rescued, Gigi was so emaciated that the vet cautioned she might not survive. A meeting was scheduled, and I was introduced to Gigi, a happy, healthy, and friendly dog.

Over the next few weeks, we had several meetings and also introduced Gigi to my dog. The volunteers handled the proper introduction of the dogs, explaining dog behavior to me while assessing whether the dogs would get along. The entire time, it was obvious to me that the first priority of the rescue was finding the best match and ensuring that their animals went to the appropriate home. I adopted Gigi and am pleased to say that I brought home a socialized, well-trained, and housebroken dog. Gigi the pit bull is now a cherished member of my family.

Without Second Chance Rescue, Gigi would not have survived. Second Chance takes in some of the worst cases of abused and neglected animals, often bearing the burden of crippling vet bills. For these animals, Second Chance is not only a second chance. It is their only chance.

I recently spoke to Dana about the incident last week, and she was distraught. She was deeply concerned about the welfare of the family and had just visited them. Dana confessed that the tragedy was so unexpected that she still did not understand how or why it happened since the dog’s history was largely unknown to the rescue. Dana was also understandably confused as to why the media was focused on sensationalizing the story as a pit bull attack when the dog’s previous vet documents listed the dog as a Lab/Boxer mix.

She also said that the victim of the attack was recovering and was heartbroken over what had resulted over the incident. The victim bears no ill will toward the rescue and still supports Second Chance. My question is: If the victim of the attack still supports the rescue, shouldn’t we?

Heather Andreu is a student at Florida State College-Jacksonville. Reach her by email here.

Gigi's skin condition. (© Heather Andreu)

Gigi’s skin condition. (© Heather Andreu)

Gigi emaciated. (© Heather Andreu)

Gigi emaciated. (© Heather Andreu)

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31 Responses for “After the Attack: A Pit Bull Owner Speaks In Defense of Second Chance Rescue”

  1. Kendall says:

    I wish people would understand the dedication and sacrifices the people that run and volunteer for Second Chance have made. They have full time paying jobs and they have this mission. I too have been in contact with Dana and worked with her as a short term foster. Despite working a full time job she spends every Saturday at adoption events, she posts about available pups at the crack of dawn and into the night, and is emotionally invested in securing the best outcome for each animal entrusted to their care.

    It’s easy to cast stones or get hung up on a specific breed but the good this organization has done not only for our Flagler County community but beyond the state of Florida as well cannot be quantified. They never give up on the dogs they take in. One of my fosters had been at the rescue for more than 6 months and was finally homed in December. Another sweet foster that I will never forget was rescued after being abandoned in The Everglades and adopted by a wonderful woman in Brevard county.

    Instead of wasting energy criticizing breeds or volunteers or a not for profit entity, donate money to SCR or to spay & neuter organizations so there will be fewer unwanted dogs or better yet donate some time to help improve the property or invite a foster into your home. I can assure you the experience is incredibly rewarding.

    • Reaganomicon says:

      My wife and I adopted an older female dog from second chance. Second chance had her for several months, and when we got her she had balding spots on her haunches from sitting in a kennel day in and day out and she had really, really bad GI parasites. It’s my understanding that these animals are cared for and see vet treatment for issues, but we literally felt like we were rescuing her from a rescue.

  2. Mary Cannady says:

    God bless you Heather. and Second chance Rescue. Shame on the humans that abuse/neglect their pets. We too rescued a dog from a Florida rescue group. She has brought us so much joy. I hope your story will wake up the public to the real “animals” out there.

  3. Ron says:

    Heather – Thank you for sharing your first-hand experience with Second Chance Rescue, and for giving a loving home to Gigi.

    It’s always been my opinion that problem dogs are a direct result of irresponsible and clueless owners. Clearly, you’re neither.

  4. confidential says:

    I agree here that as community we the one’s that can afford a little or a lot should help Second Chance Rescue and the local Humane Society by contributing with any $$ we can donate or volunteer work just to save the lives of these innocent animals that others discard or can no longer afford to sustain, given the bad economic time.
    The boxer black and white mix that bitten so bad those two children and their mother is up to be euthanized and that if Debbie Root at Second Chance Rescue wants it back can be saved. I will be willing to contribute the $150 if will save its life know is not much. I was told that the dog has a friendly behavior and also switches to the opposite unexpectedly. I think maybe a farm owner or rancher looking for a good guardian to his land could adopt him and save his life and have a loyal guardian even if restricted to a large pen or long leash with a dog house. C’mon our country boys and girls with plenty of ranch land…lets save this black and white boxer mix and you know the Almighty always rewards us for being compassionate. Lets get together and save him. He is at the Humane Society 445-1814 waiting for someone to fight for his life. And I am willing to contribute the $150 as unfortunately I already have a rescued dog and do not have the room for him. My big recognition to Debbie Root of Second Chance Rescue and also to Amy Wade Carotenuto director of the Flagler Humane Society, two very loving animal ladies!

    • ryan says:

      As someone who hates to euthanize a dog that is good, I must say that after personally seeing the dog at the FHS, he is not savable, and must be put down. As sad as it is, this is the kind of dog that has been ruined already by certain “types” from Bunnell, where the dog is from.

  5. Concerned says:

    Perhaps in a general concept sorta way what you say is true, but my little dog and I were charged by a pit bull in their control at the Farmers Market. No bites, thankfully, before we were rescued by a different volunteer than the one who lost control of her in the first place – tho I think my dog would’ve been seriously injured had I not swung him into my arms by his harness when I caught a glimpse of what was about to happen and reacted. Perhaps more attention to control is needed before general public access is allowed???

  6. A.S.F. says:

    While I admire people who rescue abused animals, I know of some animal rescuers who, unfortunately, in their zeal, do not always employ common sense. One woman of my acquaintance, a fervent animal lover and “rescuer”, saw a cat near a storm drain and, thinking, it might be in danger, went to pick it up and got severely scratched. Within a day, her entire arm was swollen and discolored. At the urging of several of her friends, she went to the emergency room and started a course of treatment that was to last several months. She almost lost part of her arm. Some accidents are unavoidable, let alone unpredictable. But it pays to be very careful when you approach, or are approached, by an animal you are not familiar with. And, when a Pitbull bites, it can turn ugly, simply by virtue of the size of their jaws and the tenacity of their grip.

  7. lee77 says:

    Every time there is a serious pit bull attack, someone always comes forward with some ridiculous story about what wonderful pets pit bulls are. I would like to know what Heather Andreu received in exchange for (1) adopting a pit bull, and (2) writing this asinine story.

    FlaglerLive: You should be ashamed of yourself for posting this nonsense when a little boy has just been maimed and injured for life by one of these frankemaulers. How would you feel if someone goes out and adopts a pit bull based on Andreu’s preposterous claims and another child is attacked and badly injured, or perhaps killed?

    • FlaglerLive says:

      lee77, Ms. Andreu wrote an honest and affecting account of her experience with a pit bull and with Second Chance Rescue that lends a necessary perspective to the discussion triggered by last week’s attack. Andreu’s column in no way diminishes the viciousness of that attack. But to call her account “nonsense” and “preposterous” uses terms better applied to your misplaced attack on Andreu.

    • ryan says:

      Well lee, it is you who are spreading nonsense. You must realize that this was a hood dog that was made to be a mean dog, and what kind of fabricated word is frankemaulers? And secondly, why bash a kind hearted person such as Andreu. Unlike many in this town, she is being honest. You are the one who should be ashamed, not FlaglerLive, since you do not have the courage to put the blame on the real problem, and that is who ruined the dog in the first place.

  8. pcer says:

    I will never understand why some people are so adamant about apologizing for these monsters. When a dog kills it’s news, not sensationalizing but news. How many horror stories have to happen before this stupid fad is over. I’ve seen hundreds on the news and know someone personally who was attacked by a friends pit bull, and they got this dog as a pup not some hard case. There is always a dim wit willing to get a snake or pit bull to make up for mental shortcomings.

  9. Debbie Bell says:

    Pits are misunderstood, by pit owners and pit bully people.

    Normal dogs bite but normal dogs need a reason to attack and maim. That means normal dogs do not fight “well.”

    Good pits were created to travel silently to a distant pit and upon arrival, immediately attack a stranger for no reason and then not stop.

    So in order to create good fighting dogs, normal behaviors had to be changed. The pit breeders succeeded and created the best dog for fighting.

  10. Kris says:

    Sadly, I think that Second Chance Rescue is deluded about Pit bulls, as many rescues are. Years ago, I tried rescuing pit bulls, but quickly learned that you cannot change their DNA. These dogs were bred for fighting, and are not meant to be pets. Placing them in the community is irresponsible and contributing to many deaths of other pets, as well as the mauling and killing of people. Too many nice dogs that were never bred to kill are losing their lives every day to keep placing pit bulls. It is also irresponsible to place dogs in homes with pit bulls, because very few people will supervise them properly. And, even if the owner is in the same room, pits can kill other pets before they can be stopped. People have been mauled or killed trying to stop pits from killing other animals. The organizations and rescues that are promoting pits are family pets all share in the blame for the damage these dogs are leaving in their wake. No one can tell by looking at them when they will snap. Some are fine until they are 11 yrs old. Others are killing their littermates at 5 or 6 weeks. If you become educated about the breed, you will realize that the breed needs to go extinct, not only for their well-being, but for the well-being of others.

    • ryan says:

      This is not in their DNA. The behavior is either taught by encouraging aggression or not socializing them properly. I wish you would encourage more harsh punishments for animal cruelty rather than trying to ban a breed. The problem is that the dangerous dogs come from the same place as the drug dealing and gang activity, but no one expects you to put a spotlight on that now. God forbid. And how dishonest can one get by saying that 6 week old puppies are killing each other? I have raised 3 and my brother has raised 2, and we have never had problems with them. The one I currently have is scared of the nasty little yappy chihuahuas across the street from me.

      • Robin says:

        Several statements in your comment are so common and predictable. They are the same ones told over and over and over. The Chihuahua across the street is more dangerous than my dog! Lol! Awwe, that’s sweet. You’re cute.
        The dangerous dogs come from the gang members and drug dealers? Really? Wow! It’s not too often I’m at a loss for words, but that comment really stumps me. I’m just not sure if you’re serious or you’re trying to get a rise out of people because that’s just so obviously silly that you can’t really believe it.
        Please do a little research and you will find that it is in fact in their DNA. From several 100 years ago…
        It needs to be bred out just like it was bred in.

    • Stacy says:

      I must disagree. Animals only become what they are taught. The same for any breed. I have known pit bulls who were very docile because they were trained that way. Many who get them do so because of the reputation and encourage “bad” behavior.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are breeds for a reason. Pit bulls were bred to fight other dogs to death in a “pit”. Collies herd, Labs retrieve, and pits attack. They don’t have to be trained to attack, it is in their breeding. Many pits from wonderful homes have “turned” and suddenly killed. Pits are dumped in massive numbers between the age of 1 and 2, which is when most start showing aggression. They are often sweet and loving until they are not. Darla Napora was a member of Bad Rap and believed the way that you do. Her beloved Pit mauled her to death when Darla was 6 months pregnant. Many others have been killed as well by their Pits. It is the ignorance about the breed that is causing death, because people want to believe that fighting dogs are just like any other dog. They are not. No amount of loving kindness will turn off their DNA. Years ago, I emailed a vet who was studying sudden, unprovoked pit aggression. She had a list of hundreds of dogs that had been disemboweled by Pit bulls. Normal dogs stop attacking when other dogs submit. Pits continue the assault until after the animal or person is dead. Ignorance may be bliss but it is unrealistic.

  11. John McElle says:

    Taking pictures of you pit does not mean it won’t attack. Nor does it wipe away the horrific injuries that the kids endured. I hope you have insurance in case Gigi does attack.

    To all of you that encourage people to send money to Second Chance Rescue,
    How about sending money to these kids instead

    I can find plenty more!

  12. ryan says:

    I would also like to say that sometimes, because of her big heart, when it comes to some dogs, Debi does not know when to quit and focus on dogs that can be saved, rather than those who may be aggressive or have health problems which no one can afford to fix. Sometimes, it is better to focus on the healthier dogs that have good temperaments, not a 12 year old dog that might need thousands of dollars worth of medical treatment. She definitely is a wonderful person that cares greatly for the animals.

  13. Heather Andreu says:

    As the author of this article, I would like to respond to some of the comments. To those of you who responded positively about Second Chance or rescues in general, I would like to say thank you, even if we differ in our opinions on pit bulls. For some of you, I believe your intense, emotional reactions to the topic of pit bulls obscured your judgment regarding the purpose of this article. This is not a persuasive article meant to change your opinion on pit bulls, and in no way am I suggesting that everyone go out on a whim and adopt a pit bull.This article was merely meant to illustrate the time and dedication that Second Chance Rescue put into saving this dog’s life. The fact that she is a pit bull mix is somewhat secondary to the purpose of the story. I believe that as decent human beings, we can all agree that no animal deserves to suffer the way Gigi did.

    Regarding pit bulls, like any other of the strong-willed, powerful dog breeds, pit bulls need a responsible, dedicated owner. These dogs require an owner who is gentle yet very firm. In order to thrive, these dogs need constant guidance and unwanted behaviors must be immediately corrected. I never let other people around any of my animals unsupervised. Although I have a fenced in backyard, my dogs are never left unattended in the yard. I think it is important to acknowledge that although we love our pets, we also need to realize that they are animals reacting to things instinctually. For instance, if some children tossing a ball accidentally toss the ball over my fence and hastily decide to climb the fence to retrieve the ball, I can’t expect the dog to comprehend that the children are not a threat. This is just one example. Dog bites happen with frightening frequency and most minor bites are never even reported. When we take an animal into our home, we are not only responsible for the welfare of the animal. We also have a responsibility to our community.

    Lastly, to the few people who made comments that were somewhat rude, I will not bother to defend my intellect or justify my decisions. I will simply say that I hope in your day to day life, you extend more courtesy and respect to people even if they have opinions that differ from yours. What I have learned from rescuing animals is that in a relationship with an animal, like any other relationship, you tend to get back whatever you put into it.

  14. learn the facts before you judge says:

    It is ludicrous to hear false claims of this wonderful breed. I understand that everyone is entitled to an opinion, however, making claims about something that they really know nothing about, is out of line. In regards to those who state the this “breed needs to go extincted”, you should do their research before you post inaccurate data so the public can see. I have included a website to show myths and facts of this breed in hopes to clarify this misunderstood fad relating to this breed. Personally I rescued two bully mixed dogs from the shelter. It was the best choice I have ever made and till this day can not find an aggressive bone on them. Please do your part and research credible sources of data before you post something that is preposterous.

  15. MJC says:

    After this attack, Second Chance Rescue posted on Facebook that the dog in question was not a pit bull, but rather a “Lab-Boxer-mix.” Various people copied the Facebook post and it is available for all to read on certain websites. However, Second Chance Rescue had previously advertised the dog, which was named “Ruckus,” for adoption as a PIT BULL-Lab mix (also copied and available on certain websites). Obviously, this “organization” isn’t above lying and is more than willing to allow the adoption of dangerous dogs such as Ruckus. Yet, Heather Andreu writes, and FlaglerLive posts, an article praising this organization, which, in light of the recent attack, is in very poor taste!

    • Kris says:

      Most of us that are making comments are well-acquainted with this breed. I used to rescue them, but stopped when it became painfully obvious that they are bred for aggression, and no amount of training or love will take away that drive. I have talked with many former pit owners and former pit rescuers who also found out the hard way. The people are least educated and knowledgeable about this breed are the pit advocates who claim that “it is all in how you raise them”. It is “preposterous” arguing that pits are just like any other dog. Even the UKC states that most pits will exhibit some degree of dog aggression. Pit Bull Rescue Central states that Pits should never be left alone with other dogs. I have known Pits to kill other dogs in the household with the owner present, but the attacks were so vicious that the pits could not be stopped. Just because a pit has attacked, doesn’t mean that it won’t, and deep down, that is what so many of you pit advocators are afraid of. Many pit owners that thought just like you are dead at the jaws of their wigglebutt.

      • Ryan Moore says:

        Uh statistically pit bulls are less likely to attack than other dogs. And there have been pit bulls who save lives. Yes there have been cases were well trained dogs attack; they are rarer than if dogs were either abused or laxly trained.

    • Robin says:

      I suppose the breed of the dog depends on which article is being considered! Lol!!
      That is too funny.

  16. confidential says:

    C’mon stop beating a “downed” horse. Second Chance Rescue does what it can given their resources. So does Humane Society. Any dog can bite at a given time and occasion. I have my own sad experience to that. Not 100 percent of dogs are 100% predictable. Lets give recognition and credit of what these two organization do for these sadly discarded animals as we should be appreciating and collaborating with these ladies and all their volunteers .Direct your ire to the individual owners that discard heir pets instead.

  17. ryan says:

    Thank you, confidential. So many seem to hold anger towards those that do good these days.

  18. ted bundy says:

    pit bull owners are soooooooooooooo sad..too bad you dont love your fellow man..

  19. Signus says:

    I hate to ‘lump sum’ the owners here- have met some really nice pits that were lovey dovey! But….the argument of “it’s the owner, not the dog” is basic insanity at it’s best. The breed is a fighting breed. The dogs who attack and kill/maim people are not “trained” to do so, as most bully-breed supporters would have you believe, but just do so out of instinct/boredom/aggression/whatever.

    If you own a pit, great! Keep it inside, don’t expose it to children. As a former owner of venomous snakes, I kept them LOCKED UP and APART from any human contact. No one ever got injured, or even knew I had them. Pit Bulls/mixes CAN (not always!) be deadly, so leaving them with children unsupervised is the same as asking your kids to please play with a loaded gun.

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