Thursday, 18 August 2011


“Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals love them. But those who respect their natures and wish to let them live normal lives, love them more.” - Edwin Way Teale

We heard a rather distressing news item this morning on the news. A four-year-old girl was fatally mauled by a pit bull terrier, which rushed into her house and killed her while she was clinging to her mother’s leg. This happened on St Albans, one of Melbourne’s Western Suburbs, which are traditionally denoted as “working class” and “disadvantaged”. This may seem to be beside the point, but these suburbs often are bad-mouthed (and sometimes even by people who should know better, like politicians!) and all sorts of social ills are supposedly incubating in these locales.

In any eventuality, the sad case of Ayen Chol in one that is independent of location and class. A small child had her life cut tragically short and her death was horrible, with her last minutes in agony as the dog lunged at her. The animal, which belonged to a neighbour, wandered into the Chols’ house at about 8 o’clock yesterday evening, attacking the child and her cousin aged 5 years. The mother of the girl and Daniel Atem, a cousin aged 30 years, tried to get the dog away from the 5-year-old child, which was attacked first. They managed to save this older child, but the dog then lunged at Ayen who clung to her mother’s leg.

The dog tore the girl away from the mother, mauled her and caused her to die. The dog then slunk away and its owner came and took it away. The child’s father was overseas, working in the Sudan. The scene discovered by the police must have been horrific. The mother of the girl would have been inconsolable as she looked at her dead girl’s mutilated and bloody body and knowing that she had been there and unable to save her daughter’s life.

The State Government was motivated by this latest attack to announce that it would end an amnesty on dangerous dog owners and would allow Council staff to enter properties and destroy the animals. State government records of attacks show that between January and March a total of 721 people were attacked - meaning bitten, chased or harassed. Debate in parliament is expected to centre on whether the Crimes Act should be amended so that owners of killer dogs should face consequences similar to culpable drivers who can be put in gaol of up to 20 years.

The name “pit bull” for these dogs comes from fighting in pits. They are thrown in a pit with another dog and the two of them fight to the death. They are bred for fighting and their killer instincts tend to be preserved, even if cross-bred. If these killer dogs see something like another dog or a cat or a small child, move quickly they attack it with an instinct to kill. That some people choose to not only keep these dogs but also encourage these killer instincts in them is a sad fact of the human psyche. Animals are animals and they rely on instinct to motivate their actions. Humans have a brain and can think, they know right form wrong, they have intellect, emotions, a moral sense. That they can counter all of these and function in an inhuman way is perverse, criminal and amoral.

The dog in this case is acting as animal acts, and should not be blamed. It is an animal that acts out its animal instincts on which its survival hinges. The owner of the dog is the one to blame and if the lawmakers do the right thing, he should be the one to pay the price that justice should exact for the death of a little angel.

maul |môl| verb [ with obj. ]
(Of an animal) Wound (a person or animal) by scratching and tearing: The herdsmen were mauled by lions.
• Treat (someone or something) roughly.
A tool with a heavy head and a handle, used for tasks such as ramming, crushing, and driving wedges; a beetle.
mauler noun
ORIGIN: Middle English (in the sense ‘hammer or wooden club,’ also ‘strike with a heavy weapon’): From Old French mail, from Latin malleus ‘hammer.’


  1. When I moved to North Carolina in the early 1980's I knew immediately that I was totally out of my cultural norm. The news on the radio as I drove into Winston-Salem was about the Sheriff of the county being released following the raid on his barn where a pit bull "event" was in process. Evidently it was the gambling and not the fight that was illegal.

    Six months later I bought a great 75 year old house to renovate in a quiet and well kept up neighborhood not knowing that my neighbor to the rear raised pit bulls. Every Saturday he went to the pound and bought kittens which he threw live into the pens to teach his pits to kill. It was a horrible sound.

    We are currently trying to get the raising of pit bulls made illegal in our state. And ban the importation of any members of the breed. But the larger problem are the owners. It is a definite sub species that will toss a live kitten into a cage with a dog raised to kill.

    And it is a totally stupid and/or irresponsible woman that would leave her door open when she had small children (if for no other reason than they can wander off) when she knew her neighbor had such a killer dog that was not chained or penned. She ought to be cited for child abuse, the dog put to death, and the owner banned from ever owning a canine again.

  2. This is a sad tale indeed. I can't imagine the pain that poor little mite suffered. These dog owners are selfish bastards and idiotic enough to bring pit bulls into the family home, raising them with their own toddlers. They try to reason with:

    'it's not the breed but how you raise the dog that counts'

    Bollocks! You're spot on with the dog and it's instincts but trying to get owners to believe that never come until it's too late! It's reported that 75% of all dog attacks come from the family pet. Even a dog with the nicest of nature normally can have its off day. It can't reason, or judge, so it reacts.

    I would fully support the banning of pit bulls altogether, or at least making it illegal if there are minors in the household. God, bless that poor, poor child.

  3. Oh and Jaqui - how distressing it must have been to hear the sound of those poor little kittens! Sub species indeed.

  4. I am a dog lover... have always owned a labrador or collie. But we are not talking about ordinary beloved dogs here. This concerns just a very limited range of killer animals.

    You said that the State Government would NOW end an amnesty on dangerous dog owners and would allow Council staff to enter properties and destroy the animals. But I don't understand how killer dogs are still here. Surely imported pit bulls were banned years ago and I thought locally bred pit bulls were banned as well.

    If despite the ban, people smuggled in pit bulls and other killer dogs, they certainly should be responsible for any manslaughter their dogs create.

  5. What a terrible thing to have happened! Poor little child... Vicious dogs like that ought to be made illegal and the owners made to feel the full force of the law.