Pit bull attack highlights civil ways to handle aggressive dogs

Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 10:05pm
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Disney, a 1-year-old Chihuahua that was killed recently by two pit bulls. (Photo courtesy Chris Card)    

Two weeks ago, Chris Card watched in horror as her beloved Chihuahua died in the mouths of her East Nashville neighbor’s two dogs. John Prysock’s pit bulls — Trouble and China — slipped out of their pen while being fed and ran into the alley between his North Fifth Street home and Card’s Lischey Avenue home. There they found Disney, a 1-year-old white wirehaired Chihuahua. 

It was about 2 p.m. on May 3, Prysock and his family would later testify in court, when what began as “playing” turned rough. Trouble picked up Disney by the neck. Then China grabbed onto the Chihuahua’s hind legs. 

The two pit bulls ran around in the alley while Card, as she later described in a post online, begged for someone to intervene. 

In what she later described as a cathartic release, Card shared the story on an East Nashville online message board: “I saw it happen. I heard my dog’s last painful wails as the monsters took over destroying his life; the male pit pulling Disney’s head into his jaws, and the female pit jumping into the frey [sic] and clamping onto Disney’s hindquarters with voracious hunger.” 

The Prysocks testified that they’d tried calling off the dogs and even throwing a basketball at them to try to distract them. Trouble and China, playing or not, didn’t release Disney before killing him. 

Immediately after the incident, Card couldn’t bring herself to look at Disney’s body. Prysock’s brother would later offer to get Card another dog, but that wouldn’t do. Card eventually sent over a box for Disney’s body. Prysock later said in court he’d already paid for someone to “dispose of” Disney, something Card said she was not made aware of until last week’s hearing. 

Hesitant at first but encouraged by neighbors, Card filed a complaint against Prysock’s dogs with Metro Animal Control, which would later take custody of Trouble and China, setting up the court hearing to determine what would happen to the pit bulls.

 

Last Wednesday in Metro’s Environmental Court, presiding court referee Jim Todd ruled that Trouble and China would remain in Animal Control’s custody until Prysock could build a reinforced pen to Animal Control’s standards — enclosed with a top, and either concrete or chain link fencing on the bottom. It would come at his own expense while paying daily fees to Metro to house his dogs. 

Now Prysock, whom an animal control officer called cooperative and whom Todd would not condemn as a pet owner, must now pay a $50 impound fee per dog, a $25 fee per dog to have them microchipped, $18 per day per dog for boarding at Metro’s animal shelter, and $14 for rabies shots. 

Through a Metro attorney assigned to Environmental Court, Card suggested to Todd that the Prysock’s dogs need not be put down but that Todd instead order they be penned up and microchipped (to track their location in the future). 

In this case, Card said it didn’t come down to any grievance with Prysock or the fact that his dogs were pit bulls. Instead, she said it was only about public safety. The situation described by both parties was simply that Trouble and China, for whatever reason, matched Metro’s description of a “vicious dog” — one that bites or attacks a person or animal on any public or private property — and their owner was subject to court action.

Asked by Todd if his dogs had been in prior altercations, Prysock said Trouble had fought with another dog in the past. Prysock wasn’t cited because his dog was chained up and in his yard at the time. In her online posting, Card suggested there had been other attacks instigated by Prysock’s dogs but other neighbors chose not to file any complaints.

According to Billy Biggs, field operations supervisor for Animal Control, roughly seven to 10 vicious-dog cases are reported each month. Of those, one or two show up in court each week, and the outcomes are similar to that in the Card-Prysock case. When an owner won’t step up to claim a dog after an attack, it is put down.

As for reports of pit bulls being the aggressor in reported vicious dog cases, Biggs said there’s no “overwhelming majority” of a certain breed. Rather, the cases tend to balance out among breed. 

“The only difference between a pit bull and a regular dog, pit bulls, when they bite … they do a lot more damage than a regular dog would do,” Biggs said. 

The breed’s violent reputation — which has gained currency across the country as local lawmakers have banned the breed entirely in some cities — works against pit bulls and their owners. 

“We get a lot of calls [of] of pit bulls running at large and [the caller is] scared to death,” Biggs said. “And we get out there, and the pit bull is friendly.” 

Still, more than half of the dogs in Animal Control’s shelter are pit bulls, Biggs said. They’ve been picked up for running at large or after an owner has abandoned them. 

“It all depends on how you raise them,” Prysock said after the court hearing. Minutes earlier he told Todd that Card’s dogs and his had had friendly interaction several times before. “That day, I just don’t know what happened.” 

Prysock called the decision “justified.” 

“Her dog got killed and everything,” he said. “I’m just glad my dogs didn’t have to get put down, because I don’t feel that they deserve to be put down.”

Card said she’s happy that Disney’s death gained attention — at least in her neighborhood. It’s not just pit bulls, she said, though most in her neighborhood are pits. “But there are plenty other dogs that act the same way and play the same way.”

Whether it’s a Chihuahua or a person bit or attacked by a dog, owners should be held responsible, she added.  

“I think it went perfectly,” Card said of how the incident played out in court for both parties. “That’s why you bring it to court. That is why you step forward.”  

23 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 5/16/11 at 6:49

Pit Bulls(and their owners) are a menace to every street they live on!
If there are exceptions to this statement it's about 1 in 10.

By: trtay2004 on 5/16/11 at 7:22

Pit Bulls should be banned in the City of Nashville. The article implies they are 'friendly', but if you've ever seen one change from a pleasant animal to a killing machine in a second, you understand they are extremely dangerous dogs. They are bought to fight and scare people, bottom line.

By: c_robinson on 5/16/11 at 7:29

Two ignorant comments by two ignorant people. I think nashville should ban dumb A$$ people like you two.

By: AlabanaWildMan on 5/16/11 at 7:40

AGREED C_R !!

The Pits are waaaaaaaaaaaaaay misunderstood by the general public.

I'd be willing to wager that NEITHER of those two posters would be able to identifiy a Real Pit out of a dozen breeds...nor could they identify the Breed that the AKC claims to be the ones most likely to Bite or Attack..

By: govskeptic on 5/16/11 at 7:58

Owning and keeping a Pit Bull shows one of three things:
1. You are scared of your own shadow and needs protection
from the Police or others.
2. You are the neighborhood Bully and want to show that by
your weapon of choice, a menacing Pit Bull.
3. Both 1 and 2 above! The Court's should start realizing this.

By: uhsaywhat on 5/16/11 at 8:40

@govskeptic

You are ignorant. Have you ever actually interacted with a pit bull breed or a pit bull owner? I've owned a pitt bull mix for 2 yrs and I don't fit any of your listed scenarios. Pitt bulls act according to how they are trained. They are no more dangerous or aggressive than any other type of big breed dog. My pitt is the sweetest, most loving dog I've ever owned. She only shows aggression when she is provoked (which, by the way, is the same way that most dogs and people, for that matter, react.).

By: SouthNashvillian on 5/16/11 at 8:54

My PIT got attacked by a HOUND just last week, we were out for a walk around our neighborhood, and this other dog charged out from behind his house, and went straight for my dog, all teeth. My dog was on a leash minding his own business, I had to pull the hound off him and throw him back at his owner, who had nothing to say but an unconvincing "sorry" over his shoulder as he took his dog into the house. It is about the specific dog, it has nothing to do with its breed.

Oh, but do be careful if you do come over to my house, my pittie just might attack you...with KISSES!!! He loves everybody, he can't tell the difference between real dog lovers and ignorant jerks who hate him just because of his boxy head.

By: dva56 on 5/16/11 at 8:56

"The only difference between a pit bull and a regular dog, pit bulls, when they bite … they do a lot more damage than a regular dog would do,”

Exactly why they should be banned!

By: nashtnman on 5/16/11 at 9:39

Last month I had to put my pit down because she attached and seriously injured her playmate, together since she was 4 months old. She was a 1.5 year old female pure breed pit dumped by her owner in my neighborhood and half starved when I took her in. She was a loving healthy dog in the beginning but as she started to grow older she became aggressive and when she started to "loose" when playing she became enraged and extremely aggressive. The last straw was when I caught her on top of the other dog, biting and cutting blood as her playmate screamed in agony. These dogs grew up together in a loving home with plenty of attention in a fenced yard, not on a chain or in a cage. The breed is vicious and untrustworthy and should not be allowed around children in particular. If you think differently you are gambling with your child’s life as well as any other person or animal reachable. There is a pit that runs loose in my neighborhood occasionally and I am waiting to kill it if it crosses my property again. I will not have an irresponsible flake of an owner put my family in danger. I am an animal lover but I have a limit and this breed crosses the line. You are a fool if you think the breed is safe. There are always exceptions and I kept telling myself my dog was an exception until I saw her in action for the last time. My remaining dog now has an entirely different personality, happy, playful, and loving instead of the standoffish, meek, submissive animal the pit made her. I will never own another pit and will support removal of this breed from populated areas. If your selfish enough to keep one of these breeds you better be responsible enough to stand up in court when they attack, and they will.

By: Funditto on 5/16/11 at 10:08

Their beady eyes are disturbing. There is nothing cute at all about this dog. I don't understand.

By: mg357 on 5/16/11 at 10:50

There are too many pro's and con's concerning pitbulls. Any of you ever notice how many folks you see walking with these animals on chains. The pressure of their bite is only eclipsed by the Rott's who don't bark before they bite. Since I've owned pits before; I would have to agree they're iffy by any stretch of the imagination. Why didn't the lady shoot the pits is my question, isn't there a leash law in place....mg

By: Donna Locke on 5/16/11 at 2:14

Pit bulls and a few other breeds should never be allowed around children. All dogs may bite. All dogs can be dangerous. But pit bulls and a coouple of other breeds can be especially unpredictable because of something inherent. Bred in or there from the beginning, it is there, I don't care how sweet you claim your dog is. And because of the nature of pit bulls' jaws, strength, and bite, the damage can be severe and heartbreaking.

Dogs are unpredictable. We have a "sweet, sweet" yellow Lab in our neighborhood who loves me for whatever reason -- I like dogs and other animals but am not a dog person; I'm cats all the way -- and heads to the road to walk with me every day. This dog is so gentle. Apparently. She is so careful around my grandchildren. Just a big, happy, loopy dog. But she has killed a large gentle boxer in the neighborhood and injured several small dogs in their own yards or on the road, sending them to the vet. She is territorial and a killer.

Why this dog and all the other dogs in our neighborhood run loose is a story for another day.

Parents, keep your babies away from dogs, and never leave the two together unattended.

"In a world of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell

By: shoes1 on 5/16/11 at 5:54

Well experienced vet told me..... Pit bull were and still are bred for "gameness". Obviously this characteristic is strongest in those bred to fight. Pit bite and other large muscular dog bite ranges around 1500 lbs/ square inch. Lesser dogs still 1200 lb/square inch! The true danger is "gameness". These animals do NOT show fear. Therefore they do not billboard their bite/attack by bristling their hackles, growling, turning to the side to make themselves appear larger, snapping, etc. There is no doggie language warning. Also as dangerous!!!! Game dogs do NOT recoil from pain. Therefore it is difficult maybe almost impossible to stop an attack once it is underway. Dog fighters use large hard wood paddles to pry a winning dogs clenched jaws off of an opponent. Is every Pit dangerously game? Obviously not. Is every Pit a little bit game? A good question to ask yourself if you are an owner or neighbor of the breed. All dog owners should be experts on their particular breed especially those with special concerns which are many.

By: bartsdad on 5/16/11 at 5:58

I do believe this breed should be banned in cities with sizable populations. It's simply too risky.
I stood by and watched my 13 yr old cat torn apart just as this story relayed...it was devastating for me and a simple 'romp through the neighborhood' for those dogs. I know if my dog now were killed as in this situation, that there would be two dead dogs down the street in the morning.
The owner of the pitts deserves to pay to the hilt for this occurrence...these dogs have no place in a city and those who own them seem to own them for these very reasons...and they then become defensive when people want to protect their children or pets. Rotts and Shepherds are not far behind...but neither have a history such as this breed.

By: Donna Locke on 5/16/11 at 10:37

I forgot to mention that recently when I took my toddler granddaughter with me into PetSmart in Spring Hill, a customer in there was walking around with a pit bull on a loose leash and paying no attention to how close the dog was getting to people, including children. We left as soon as we saw this dog. This situation was completely and totally irresponsible on the part of the dog owner and the store.

I sometimes encounter this same situation when I walk into my veterinarian's office. I open the door and coming out lunging-dog-first is a pit bull and its human. I do not want to be accosted by large dogs I don't know and who don't know me, particularly the more dangerous breeds. "S/he won't bite" are famous last words, some of us have found out.

Once bitten, twice shy -- if it's happened to you, you know what I mean.

I take dog biscuits when I run and walk. They work wonders, and the dogs remember.

"In a world of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -- George Orwell

By: dargent7 on 5/17/11 at 4:40

Over the past 20 years, this breed of dog is always in the news for killing the owners children, escaping and killing another dog. It's always KILLING.
The breed is ugly.
If you run a meth lab, fence stolen auto parts in a chop-shop, sell drugs, sell guns, then have one or two.
Otherwise, get a Beagle.

By: WickedTribe on 5/17/11 at 6:09

Pit bulls should be banned. They are by far the most aggressive and uncontrollable dogs. And whoever's voting in that poll who says it's irresponsible owners, lol! You know what? 90% of dog owners are irresponsible. But funny thing is, when they have a breed other than pit bull it doesn't really matter, because the breed isn't inclined to attack by its very nature.

By: c_robinson on 5/18/11 at 7:42

Wow the level of ignorance on this subject is sickening. In america the dog with the most instances of aggression is the golden lab, through poor breeding and idioits that want a cute fuzzy dog the standard for it has fallen and you get way more aggression from them because they are a money maker for sorry breeders. Any dog designed for huntung will have "gameness" this includes the dachshund and beagles. If your a responisble owner of a pet you're going to socialize them properly and have them fixed. If this is done then the chances of your dog biting anyone regardless of breed are almost 0. If you let your dog run you and leave them intact from a chihuahua to a mastiff your in for a challenge.
If some of you would just remove your heads from you a$$ and listen to yourself you would realize just how ignorant and uneducated on this matter most of you are.

By: dva56 on 5/18/11 at 1:26

@ c_robinson, excuse me while I vomit a bit in my mouth after reading your tripe. You sir are the ignorant one with your head where the sun don't shine. You want to talk about facts? The look over the following link and let the facts speak for themselves. While any breed of dog can be dangerous, the Pitbull stands alone as being the most deadly dog by far without question. The numbers are not even close.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/24436191/Dog-attack-deaths-and-maimings-U-S-Canada-September-1982-to-December-22-2009

By: widnejr on 5/19/11 at 8:43

@ c_robinson...I am with you on the ignorance of the breed. I own two pit bulls and they are the best dogs that I have ever had. One is 6 and the other is 5 and I have never had one issue, of course I have a fenced in yard where they can run around and not be just tied out back to a tree with a chain for their entire life. My 6 year old was a Lischey Ave. stray on the brink of death when she showed up at my door step. She weighed 25lbs, was pregnent, and her insides was hanging out. I took her to the vet, spent $500 of my hard earned money to get her fixed up, and now she is a 55lb healthy girl and by far the best dog I have ever owned. People that speak without knowing about are the main problem; Its not that pitt bulls are the only ones that attack, they are just the only ones that get reported on.

Here is a website all of you poor misinformend people should check out instead of spewing your hate for an animal that you don't understand.

http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html

By: AtheistVoice on 5/20/11 at 9:05

I am so sorry for your loss Mr. Card. My heart goes out to you - I can only imagine your heartache.
Thank You C_robinson! People seem to forget that Dogs have the natural instincts of a wolf. The article clearly states the interaction started out friendly - sounds like NATURAL DOG instincts took over during play. What do you think is going to happen when you get a dog and put him/her outside and only interact when feeding or passing as you leave for the gym or park? It is very unfortunate but it is the law of nature and would happen with any breed of dog. And, I disagree with the ruling - clearly this was not an isolated incident of the dogs running loose. What in the hell are people thinking allowing their animals to run free??? While this owner may love his dog in his own way it is not responsible love and not fair to the animal. Not only do you risk the dog hurting a child or another dog but what about the dog’s safety? Maybe I am a minority but I think a dog needs a yard with a fence and needs to be taken for daily walks or taken to the dog park. They should NEVER be chained to a tree/pole whatever with a doghouse and food bowl and remain there for the rest of their life – that is in essence jail - sure they have a roof and food but what is their quality of life? Dogs crave attention & love. I'm sorry for ranting but it breaks my heart - for Mr. Card, his dog and the pit bulls and all dogs that are chained or running wild.

By: InTheRaine on 3/3/12 at 9:44

Some really ignorant responses on this post. I'm sorry that Mr. Card lost his dog. I'm glad that he had a good attitude after the court case.

For the rest of you, I hope you understand that accroding to national polls, labradors and poodles are the number one biters.

By: ncognto on 5/17/12 at 4:05

I was just bitten in the street unprovoked by a neighbor's pit bull 5/15/12. Pit bull or any other breed, if your dog bites unprovoked, and is allowed to roam free, there should be consequences if someone is bitten. This is idiotic and irresponsible behavior on the part of the owner. It's a no brainer...if your dog attacks, keep it in a fenced [back] yard, on a chain in the yard, or always inside.