published Sunday, September 4th, 2011

What Faith lost

Faith Guelde hugs Maxine while playing outside at her Hinkle home in June.
Faith Guelde hugs Maxine while playing outside at her Hinkle home in June.
Photo by Angela Lewis.


To write this story, Joan Garrett followed Faith Guelde and her family, off and on, for more than a year. She went with Faith to school, softball games and doctors' appointments, and spent hundreds of hours observing family life and conducting interviews. The neighbor Tyler Ridley could not be reached. No one currently occupies the house where he lived because of tornado damage.

The doctors spent six hours digging out grass, dirt and pine needles that collected in Faith's body as she was dragged down a hill on Lookout Mountain.

Specialists pored over her wounds for a month. They shot 267 steel staples through the 8-year-old's yellowing and blue skin to close her up and handed Faith Guelde over to her young parents, Heather and Billy Keehn, with a few weeks' worth of gauze and tape and told them to take their baby -- once perfect -- home.

Her mother always called her itty-bitty because she still wore toddler clothes into grade school, and friends had come easily for the bouncy girl with bubbly cheeks.

Heather had a weak stomach. She was afraid to look at her daughter's wounds, the staples, the scarring, knowing Faith could never heal fully. So Billy packed gauze in the hole in her back. He lifted Faith's arm, just bone and skin, to clean underneath and lifted it higher to keep cleaning, even when she screamed for him to stop.

But at night, Heather kept watch.

Faith was known to dirty her feet running barefoot in the woods. She liked to feel her caramel hair blow when she raced four-wheelers with her brothers and talked back when she wanted something. Now, a quiet empty room terrified her.

She yelled for her mommy every night for a month after they left the hospital to come home, woke up sweating from nightmares.

The dog was running after her again, all muscle, gritting razor-sharp fangs, trying to latch onto her shoulder.

Heather moved Faith out of her bedroom, covered with Justin Bieber posters and school certificates, and put her twin bed in the living room. Billy wouldn't let Faith sleep in bed with them, afraid he would roll over in his sleep and break open a tender wound.

Before bed, Faith winced from dull pain. Teardrops wet her pillow.

"Why did this happen?" she would ask her mother. School was a month away. The boys couldn't see her arm like this. No one could see her arm like this.

"Nobody will want to marry me," Faith said, crying, searching her mother's face.

At 8, little girls can't wait to turn 16 or 18 and walk into their own fairy tale, and at 8 it seems possible. Long flowing hair. Pretty dresses. Perfect, smooth skin.

But at 8, before her first training bra or her first date, before her period or the prom or nursing a baby, Faith must rethink what it means for her to grow into a woman and into herself.

Strangers will always ask her about her arm. Doctors will always examine her, run their hands over her rough scar tissue and furrow their brows.

And her grandparents and parents and brothers are trapped inside this new reality with her, in a skin none of them wanted.

They are angry about what Faith lost two years ago, with questions that linger.

Faith was born in Ohio. Her mother worked at an automotive factory and already had two sons, Kaleb and Oscar, with two other men.

Faith couldn't drink formula as an infant because of allergies and grew to be thinner and shorter than most children her age. Heather counted the days till she could play dress up with the tiny girl. Every few weeks she fingered through racks of baby clothes at stores, looking for something perfect. She found it once, a canary yellow party dress with white ruffles, pink flowers and ribbons.

  • Rebuilding Faith
    Watch as 10-year-old Faith Guelde shares her story after a pit bull attacked her more than two years ago.

She pictured Faith going to dances one day. They would pick out high heels and go to the beauty shop to get her hair pinned up and hairsprayed.

But Faith wanted to be indestructible like her brothers. She liked to wander on paths cut through thick woods in the middle of the day. Her tanned, bony legs were always distinguished by Band-Aids or bug bites.

Tripping over a log. Running too fast during a game of tag. Skidding her bike on a pile of pebbles. Grinning and showing spaces left by lost baby teeth. That was Faith.

Kaleb and Oscar taught her to cuss and put her in wrestling holds until she cried out to her mommy to help.

Her grandfather, Howard Copus, had to tell her to get off the floor with her brothers and sit up straight. He took care of her during the day while her mother worked, and wanted her to be a lady. He brushed her hair when it was tangled and posed her for pictures to show his friends.

When it snowed, Howard hitched a sled to the back of a lawn mower and pulled her down the main street of town. She smiled like a pageant queen.

Howard was a hard man, with leathery skin and calloused hands. His arms were covered in green tattoos and most of his teeth were missing. But he was sugar when Faith was around. He called her his little squirrel, and told her she was destined for stardom in bright lights and movie posters. So he taught her to sing and wrote songs on his guitar so they could perform duets together.

When she'd performed in their living room for family, her parents and grandparents would look at each other grinning.

Faith saw those looks and made plans to sing on a stage one day with her grandpa. She would wear long, glittery dresses, and her parents would keep smiling. The boys would all want to hold her hand.

Then, change came in 2007, the year Faith turned 7. Howard started work at a wire factory in North Georgia.

A year later, her parents would move her south to a rented house in Lookout Mountain, Ga., that sat on the edge of a steep, rocky hill.

On Fridays in the summer of 2009, Faith's parents left her with either her great-aunt or her grandparents while they worked. Heather cleaned houses on the richer side of the mountain, and Billy repaired cars at a mechanic shop off Cummings Highway.

Faith had wanted to swim that summer. After second grade at Fairyland School had ended, she had wanted to take gymnastics lessons and eat Popsicles.

  • photo
    Faith Guelde plays among downed trees at her Hinkle home in June.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
    enlarge photo

When her dad got off work, she would sidle up to him while he worked in their garage, and, one night, a pit bull they hadn't seen before walked inside, panting.

She wasn't afraid when the dog came close. Faith had always been drawn to dogs. Skinny. Fluffy. Long. Dirty. She put her face close to their faces when she petted them, and got on the ground to tickle their hairy bellies when they wanted to play.

She moved toward the dog, but her father warned her away.

"No," Billy said. "Don't touch the dog."

"Why?" she asked.

"We don't know who that dog is. We don't know who it belongs to."

In the morning, Aunt Dawn was there to watch Faith. It was sticky hot on June 12, 2009.

At 10:20 a.m., the family dogs, Bear Bear and Hot Dog, ran out the back door, and an 8-year-old Faith, clad only in her bathrobe, sleep still in her eyes, wanted to go after them.

"Will you go with me?" she asked Kaleb, her 12-year-old brother who was just waking up, watching cartoons on television.

"No," he said. "I'm busy."

The neighbors, who were friendly but fairly quiet, had two female terriers that ran loose, and they kept a coon dog tied up in the backyard, none of which had ever caused any trouble.

But at the bottom of the hill, where she had gone searching, she couldn't find them. Then she saw the pit bull, from the night before, wrestling with Hot Dog.

Remembering what her father told her, she didn't go toward it. Her other dog, Bear Bear, was nearby. So she scooped him up in her arms, turned, and ran toward her house.

Behind her, the pit bull charged.

She felt the first bite on her left arm.

Where the skin broke it felt like knives. She screamed as the dog flung her 50-pound frame into the dirt. His teeth moved to her right arm, ripping her skin apart, severing nerves, breaking bones as he dragged her down the hill and continued to tear apart the muscles in her arm in the neighbor's front yard.

  • photo
    Faith Guelde plays on the tire swing at her grandparents' house in Rossville, Ga.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
    enlarge photo

She told her parents later that she tried to be brave, biting the dog on the head as he chewed into her. But it didn't stop the dog, which could have torn into her neck or her face if the neighbor's wife hadn't walked onto her front porch to light a cigarette and seen the bloody girl, struggling with the dog in the grass.

Her husband called 911, came outside with a rifle and put a bullet in the dog's head not far from where Faith lay.

When the woman rushed to Faith's house to explain what had happened, Kaleb ran out of the house in just his underwear to find her on the ground.

He called 911 seven times in a row on his aunt's cell phone. Panicked as he watched his sister go into shock, he slapped Faith across the face.

"Stay awake," he yelled.

Faith remembers him screaming at the dead dog's body.

"F* you. F* you."

A helicopter flew overhead just as Heather arrived at the intersection near her home after returning from work, and her chest tightened as she watched it land at the neighbor's house. Cars and paramedics were everywhere. Her aunt, clothes soaked red, stood in the driveway. A dog bit Faith, she said.

Heather ran up the hill.

"Whose dog was it? Whose dog was it?" she screamed at an emergency worker. "What happened? Where is she?"

  • photo
    Faith Guelde rides her go cart with brother, Kaleb Guelde, at their Hinkle home.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Kaleb, still in his underwear, was crying.

"She is going to die. She is going to die. I'm not going to have a sister. I should have gone [with her]."

"I'm sorry," her aunt mumbled, head hung low. "I'm sorry."

"If you don't calm down, you are not going to see her," the worker told Heather.

"What happened?" she screamed again. "I want to see her. Where is she at?"

"We just got her calmed down," he said. "If you go over there and get her worked up, you aren't going to do her any good. She has lost an enormous amount of blood."

And blood was everywhere. It was so thick on her face, matted in her hair, that Heather couldn't recognize her daughter. Two of her front teeth had been knocked out on a rock, and she couldn't tell if parts of Faith's face were gone, too.

Fifteen people crowded together in the hospital waiting room. They asked one another: "Did you see her? Did you see what that dog did to her?"

Her grandfather was the only one who didn't really want to know. He sat in a chair by himself and stared at the floor.

Howard thought about her tiny voice as she was wheeled to and from surgery 13 times over the next 28 days at Erlanger hospital. He wrote a song for her, practiced it aloud again and again as a prayer.

"On hands and knees dear Lord I crawl to thee. On bended knee dear God hear my plea," he sang.

The dog took her armpit, the doctors said. The bone in her shoulder snapped, and little flesh was left to cover her right arm.

Muscles were gone, the doctor said. So they tried to reconstruct her arm without them, cut into her leg to take veins and left a thick 7-inch scar on her inner thigh.

  • photo
    Faith Guelde talks on the phone as her grandfather, Howard Copus, watches.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Howard kept singing.

"From inside out dear Lord, from inside out. I beg thee, heal Faithy, from inside out."

She may never have sensation at the tip of her fingers again, the doctors said. As she grew, one arm likely would be longer than the other. She wouldn't have a breast on one side of her body. And the scar tissue, which would be tight and painful as she grew into a young woman, could only be addressed with expensive plastic surgeries.

The first time her father, Billy, saw her in the hospital, he looked away. His jaw tightened. His fist closed.

The neighbor's adult son, Tyler Ridley, owned the dog and hadn't given it its shots. He had kept it chained in the backyard and didn't tie it back up when it broke free the day before.

"Calm down," Heather tried to tell Billy.

"Look at her," he yelled.

On the bed, Faith was pale, doped on pain killers and crying about her missing teeth. There would be no money from the tooth fairy.

Billy promised to get them back for her. He spent hours on his knees sifting through brush and leaves where the dog attacked until he found one.

Six months after they got home, the family sued Tyler Ridley and his wife, Heather, in North Georgia civil court. Medicaid officers were sending letters and wanted to be reimbursed for the $2 million in surgeries and medication.

Not long after the attack, Ridley moved out of his father's house, with his wife, his dogs and his three kids, and would never appear in court.

Faith's family and court officials never heard from him. The judge ruled him in contempt of court and said Faith's narrative of the day would be held as fact in a future trial.

Heather and Billy's lawyer told them, if they found the Ridleys, it could take years before anything was settled and that victims usually didn't fare well in collecting damages in dog bite cases.

A janitor at Faith's school took up a collection for the family at his church. A doctor's office on Lookout Mountain helped purchase medical supplies for Faith. Two men who ran the West Brow Community Center held a fundraiser for the family. Billy told Heather that Faith should use the money when she turned 18 to reconstruct her right breast, so she could look like other women.

But the family needed the money for bills. Rent was late. The car payment was late. And Heather needed gas money to drive Faith to physical therapy three times a week. Nobody in the family had worked, coming and going from the hospital so much.

And, Heather wouldn't admit this to Billy, but she needed the money, too, to pacify Faith, who wouldn't go anywhere without her mother and often asked why she hadn't been there when the pit bull attacked.

  • photo
    Heather Keehn hugs Faith Guelde outside of their Hinkle, Ga., home.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

She rented the community center for Faith's ninth birthday and never went to a store with her daughter without buying her something.

And she tried to squelch a growing anger:

The day she thought she heard a woman whisper in Walmart, "Oh my God, did you see that girl's arm?"

The day the elementary school teacher gave Faith a rubber stamp to spell her name because Faith couldn't use her hand.

The day the teacher lost the special hook Heather had given Faith to button her pants after she went to the bathroom.

The day the school nurse called to ask if Faith really needed pain pills every day.

The day the principal complained Faith was missing assignments, leaving early, losing focus in class. She tried not to scream as Billy had.

Look at her.

But the anger took hold.

No one was allowed to drive Faith anywhere, she told family. If Faith fell or tripped, Heather would cry, and Faith would comfort her. Heather refused to let people visit. A mother who heard about the attack called and wanted to bring food, have her kids come over and play with Faith. But Heather said no.

"They are just trying to help," Heather's mother, Jodi, told her.

"I am not going to let her come up here and see Faith with her and her three kids who are in perfect condition, playing outside riding their bikes, and for them to look at Faith and say they are so sorry," Heather said.

Even after the sympathy cards were packed away and news of the attack fell out of the headlines, the dog was always with Faith.

Before showers in the evening, Faith trembled. In the mirror, she saw the back of her arm caved in, dozens of little white nicks covering her forearm, the web of thick tissue where her armpit used to be, and the dog's face came back.

Under the water, thoughts raced a hundred miles an hour. So Faith shut down her own mind by focusing on something else: yellow unicorns with green manes and her mother's smile.

Before the attack, she earned A's. Her mother framed a collection of her certificates -- honor roll, perfect attendance, the principal's award. Afterward, her report cards read C's and D's and F's and her teacher worried if she would pass.

"She forgets things," her grandfather whispers when she isn't listening. The dog had hit her head so hard on the rocks that some ability for memory could be gone, doctors said.

  • photo
    Faith Guelde checks the mail at her grandparents' house in Rossville, Ga.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

One physician wrote her an excuse for school so she could go to the bathroom whenever she wanted. She hid behind the closed door and cried when she lost focus. The dog. The dog. Always the dog.

After school started, the next fall, she came home some afternoons in tears, her chest heaving, eyes swollen and red.

Nobody likes me, she sobbed in her mother's arms. Mom, the other kids called me scar girl, and don't want to play with me cause they think I'm ugly, she said.

A girl ran behind her, barking during gym class, she told her mother.

"The pit bulls are coming. The pit bulls are coming," Faith said she heard the girl yell.

Some people have tried to tell Heather this happened for some reason. They talk about time and healing, silver linings and calms after storms. But nothing good could ever come from this, she thinks, and there will never be a way to explain it away.

Squeezing her daughter, she said the only thing she knew for sure.

"You are alive," she said, pulling her baby tighter into her chest.

Every month, the number of doctors' visits dwindled. By the beginning of fourth grade, the family went only once a year, waiting for the consequences of the attack to bear out in her body.

The pain faded, and, even though her nerve endings still misfired, looking for places that didn't exist to send signals, the tips of the fingers on her right hand didn't tickle as they did.

A plastic surgeon told Heather doctors can mask some of her scarring, put a balloon under the skin to stretch her scar. They can take some more skin from her side and rotate it to cover parts. Later, they can create a fake breast on her right side.

"There are all kind of fancy things we can do ... make you look pretty," a plastic surgeon, Jimmy Waldrop, told her during an Erlanger visit.

As she grows, she needed to live life as if the attack never happened, the doctor told Heather. So Faith asked to play softball with a local team, and reluctantly Heather agreed to sign her up.

  • photo
    Faith Guelde practices batting at the beginning of the season on the Lookout Mountain softball field.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

On the first day of meeting the team, Faith woke up at 6:30 a.m. to make sure she was the first on the field. She slipped into the red Bulldogs uniform her mother washed the night before, put mascara on her eyelashes and shook Heather awake.

Faith stuck close to her mother's leg in the crowd, but when she was alone for a moment, a girl around her age with long brown hair walked up, wanting to play.

"What happened to your arm?" the girl asked.

Faith avoided eye contact, trying to keep images of the dog at bay.

"Want to hang balloons?" the girl asked, changing the subject after a long pause.

Faith waited.

"Sure," Faith said.

She would hit two home runs that season, and the team would go nearly undefeated. Coaches and teammates gave her high-fives, and when she paused on first base, she could hear cheers from the sidelines.

"Go, Faith! You can do it!"

"Go, Squirrel!"

The family crowded around the table at Shoney's, and when the waitress came to take orders, Faith asked for sweet tea with extra sugar. The waitress brought plates for the buffet.

Faith, a few inches taller and 10, looked beautiful, everyone said. She smudged golden brown eye shadow on the lids of her green eyes, and wore a sleeveless shirt and shorts she bought with her mother at Kmart two days before.

Her cousin, who sat beside her, gave her a yard stick of bubble gum and a stuffed horse.

Her mother kept a letter in her pocket she wrote on an envelope to give Faith on this day.

Two years ago today our lives changed forever. Two years ago today you were attacked.

Today, I want to thank you for fighting to stay with me. You are by far the strongest child I know. I love you with every ounce of my being. I know you have a long road ahead, but I want you to know I am here with you.

You are my world, Faith. Love, Mommy.

Faith has played with her brothers or cousin or by herself most of this summer, chasing the final days before her last year at Fairyland School. But a boy from her grade, who lives down the street in a white trailer, has started to call a lot.

  • photo
    Faith Guelde holds Jordan Weaver, a family friend's baby, while hanging out at her grandparents house.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

She likes him because he makes funny smacking noises and can imitate a chicken better than anyone, she said. He asked his family to take her to church with them, and she dressed up. She brought him a hot dog and potato salad when he couldn't come to her family's cookout. And when he opened the door and saw her in muddy knee-high boots, he told her she looked more beautiful than he had ever seen her.

She blushes when her mother talks about him, but she loves it when Heather retells the stories. How he called seven times in a row and left a fumbling message. How he begged for weeks to spend a minute with Faith after school.

One weekend they made plans to race go-carts together, and her grandfather, Howard, was laying bricks on an outdoor fireplace when the boy arrived and walked straight toward him to profess his heart.

"I am going to marry that girl right there," he said.

Standing at the bottom of the hill, Faith didn't hear the exchange and screamed for him to hurry.

"Come on," she said, revving the go-cart's engine.

The boy turned and ran toward her. Howard laughed.

Rocks flew as they sped off.

about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

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rolando said...

A beautiful portrait of Time's healing graces -- and a child's strength and resilience.

Beauty is always, always inside a person. Sometimes it takes a while to makes its way to the surface...just in time to be seen by that certain someone who only sees the beauty.

Thank you, Ms Garrett. You have a rare talent in your love of story telling and creating word-pictures.

September 4, 2011 at 6:31 a.m.
promise11 said...

What a touching and inspirational story, and what a brave, motivated little girl to move forward with such enthusiasm after such a horrible emotional and physical attack! Pit Bulls are instinctively vicious and should be caged or chained at all times, but the owners of these unpredictable animals should seriously consider a tamer, kinder animal for a "pet". I believe it will take at least 10 more generations of Pit Bulls to genetically rid them of the genetic impulse to attack and kill. That may not even be enough. In the meantime, all Pit Bull owners should keep these ferocious animals at bay. There's even one account in NY where the owner's two pit bulls she had for several years turned on her and killed her just outside her apartment in a hallway. Pit Bulls are, at this point, a menace to society, and anyone encountering one, no matter how "sweet" they may seem at first, should protect themselves at all costs!

September 4, 2011 at 6:45 a.m.
GreenKepi said...

Refreshing to read stories from a real writer who can 'paint a picture' with words....

September 4, 2011 at 9:07 a.m.
codymaxwell said...

Very nice story.

September 4, 2011 at 12:21 p.m.
terrybham said...

I am so happy for this little girl and the fact that she is healing. However, I will say that all of the governments involved failed this kid and her family. The authorities allowed this sorry excuse of a human being to keep these dogs and then to simply disappear after mauling this child. It confirms my belief that the law doesn't protect the individual until a tragedy like this occurs and then we just pick up the pieces. It appears that the State even had the gall to send a bill the the injured family. So not only did the State fail to safeguard this child but now insists upon badgering the family to recoup the Medicaid money. Would it be too much to ask for a little prevention?

In the meantime Tyler Ridley is off the hook for what he did. If I had my way I would have jailed Tyler Ridley until he paid the two million dollars to Medicaid as well as money to the family. That would send a message to anyone else who wants to keep a dog like the dog in the story. With the exception of this child and her family, everyone else should be ashamed of themselves. Just holding fundraisers is commendable but that in itself does not solve the problem. The community should demand that their representatives enact a meaningful dog ordinance governing the keeping of vicious dogs. If you don't you can be sure that something like this will happen again.

September 4, 2011 at 12:39 p.m.
theshoequeen said...

Perhaps Promise11 should get their facts straight on the woman attacked in the hallway of her apartment in NY..The dogs were NOT pitbulls, they were Presa Canarios..and they did NOT belong to her..they were her neighbors dogs. Read the full story...these dogs were bound to attack's not 'bred' into dogs...dogs are not born to kill people..thats an ignorant and dangerous assumption. This is such a sad story.. people who are not responsible dog owners should not own animals at all..and dogs should NEVER be allowed to be chained up.

September 4, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.
TunnelRat1 said...

A touching and sad story with a happy ending. Unfortunately some of the most telling words are, "He had kept it chained in the backyard and didn't tie it back up when it broke free the day before." ANY dog that is kept chained has a much higher proclivity toward viciousness. Another sad and telling part of the story was, "Remembering what her father told her, she didn't go toward it. Her other dog, Bear Bear, was nearby. So she scooped him up in her arms, turned, and ran toward her house." Running, unbeknownst to Faith, could have triggered the attack.Emphasis Promise11 tells us, "Pit Bulls are instinctively vicious and should be caged or chained at all times." Dumb, really dumb. It is reported on temperament tests conducted by the American Temperament Test Society that Pit Bulls had a passing rate of 82% or better -- compared to only 77% of the general dog population. Promise11 also tells us, "I believe it will take at least 10 more generations of Pit Bulls to genetically rid them of the genetic impulse to attack and kill." One might just as readily postulate as to the number of generations required to rid Promise11's family of ignorance. Who knows? The bottom line is: this is story of horror that has a beautiful ending. To consider it proof that ANY breed of dog is inherently dangerous is tantamount to ignorance if not outright stupidity. Stereotyping dog behavior is similar to racial profiling. God bless you, Faith.Emphasis

September 4, 2011 at 1:29 p.m.
LRudder said...

As a retired teacher and now volunteer with my therapy dog at Fairyland School, I want to clear up what appears to be a misunderstanding about the support Faith has received at school. While working with Faith last year, I was treated to a pleasant, happy child who loved every opportunity to be near my dog. I started bringing my dog to Fairyland School in November after Faith was hurt. The principal and teachers received permission from the parents prior to my therapy sessions. My dog and I work mainly with the 4th/5th graders, so I didn't see Faith until last year. The article in my opinion implied that the school was not supportive during Faith's physical and emotional recovery. That was not my observation at all. I wonder how many teachers, staff members, special support service employees were interviewed for this article. I'm afraid many people who read the paper will have a slanted view of Faith's life at school. She is a precious girl as is evident in the video and even more so when you meet her in person. I admire her bravery! Because I love dogs and agree with the two previous comments, I am especially proud of Faith for not being afraid of all dogs now.

September 4, 2011 at 2:35 p.m.
rolando said...

You have a number of misconceptions about the law and how it works, terrybham.

Here in the US, if a certain act is not specifically illegal by law, then it is legal. This includes keeping dogs, or owning a home/car/whatever. So “the authorities” had no power to stop that “sorry excuse” from owning one.

Further, the “authorities” have no power to act until a complaint is made or a crime is committed; only then can they arrest or detain people but not even then for what they think…not yet, anyway.

The US Supreme Court some time back ruled that our police are not required to protect individuals; you would have them act against that decision? The police enforce the law, they don’t make it.

And it wasn’t the State that sent the bill…it was the “Medicaid Officers”. Wait for what happens under ObamaCare,,,

Asking the State for “prevention” would force them into an unconstitutional act.

For the record, I completely agree with your second paragraph. There are breeds of dogs who are, in general, killers. Killers by temperament, by breeding, by training; they become enraged and out of control at the smell of blood. Those breeds should be outlawed in this country and known examples should be put down. But first, an ordinance is required…

September 4, 2011 at 3:06 p.m.
rolando said...

Theshoequeen -- You are evidently unaware of the practice of breeding bulls for certain characteristics for the bull ring. They are bred for -- the term escapes me -- heroism, fortitude, aggression, etc. If the Spanish can do it, any dog owner can, too.

Most of today's vicious dogs -- the breeds repeatedly appearing in stories like this one -- were bred for fighting, whether bulls, bears, wolves, other dogs, or military/police duties.

Those breedings and the techniques used carried over to owners who think they look macho or think their dogs give them a bully's stature. [Quite the opposite, actually.] These dogs quickly become enraged, especially at the smell of blood, attacking anything that moves -- witness this story.

Pity the neighbor didn't shoot the dog the first time it ran loose.

September 4, 2011 at 3:15 p.m.
rolando said...

TunnelRat, you ignore the repeated appearance of pit bulls, et al in news stories of vicious, frequently deadly dog attacks.

Regardless of what some report says, the difference between these animals and a normal family dog is their go-for-the-throat-and-never-stop-once-they-start instincts.

September 4, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.
rolando said...

LRudder, dogs are known to be invaluable "assistants" in various treatment rooms and facilities, as you undoubtedly know. I trust you do not take one of the "killer breeds" into your treatment rooms...unless they are an under-6-month puppy.

I read nothing particularly sinister in the reporting of Faith's treatment at Fairyland School. We all know children can be vicious, too.

September 4, 2011 at 3:31 p.m.
TunnelRat1 said...

Rolando - I'm not ignoring anything. Repeated stories do not scientific evidence make. You want to offer up news stories to prove a point and yet minimize what scientific study illustrates. It is not I who am displaying ignorance.

September 4, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.
biggnave said...

1st. promise those "killer pitbulls" that killed that lady wasnt pitbulls as you stated 2nd. it didnt happen in new york it happened in san diego 3rd. they wasnt her dogs they were the neighbors dogs. and the 10 generations to remove these so called genitic instinct to kill is one of the most idiototic statements that i have ever seen writen.please do a little research before you write down the wrong facts it will make you look less of an idiot how long do you think the apbt has been around . did you ever watch the little rascles as a kid. as stated above the american pitbull terrier has a better temperment that the average dog. tie up any dog and give them little or no human interaction and see how nice they are. another thing that i have ran across is most ppl couldnt point out a pittbull anyway. to them any dog that looks mean is labeled a pitbull. i hope the girl the best and it seems like she will do ok in the end ,

September 4, 2011 at 4:08 p.m.
potcat said...

Joan, you are our "Rick Bragg" of Newspapper journalism. I hope The New York Times hasn't the good sense to snap you up.

I love the way you can write a story and not mention yourself and make it about you. They are some at TFP that should, could learn a thing or two about that. They are sooo Boring!!! They should hit the streets. as you have proved, they are stories out there and a hell of a lot more interesting.

I hope i haven't Mortified anyone on my spelling, puncuation etc.


September 4, 2011 at 4:39 p.m.
Popsiloo said...

Joan thank you for sharing this story of Faith. She is strong , beautiful girl.Tyler Ridley, I hope you lay awake at night and think of what you have done to this little girl & family. You run like a rat, skipping out on your obligations to the state and Faith. I hope you have nightmares and think( what if it was my child)? My wish for the family is find you and take everything you have for Faith. For everyone making this a debate of pitbulls. All dogs are dangerous. Good luck to you Faith you will be on that stage before to long. Don't worry about what kids that are rude, like the ones making comments are just stupid and they will be like that for life.

September 4, 2011 at 5:43 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

What an uplifting story! I'm so glad this brave little girl has recovered to the extent that she has and I hope that she goes on to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

Having said that, I get so mad I could spit nails when I hear these all too frequent stories of pit bull attacks. Pit bulls should be euthanized or at the very least should all be spayed and neutered to prevent reproducing, until their breed is made extinct. And all of you ignoramuses who try to defend pit bulls with your specious arguments as to how pit bulls get a bum rap and are just like any other dog, you can take a flying leap off the hang gliding ramp without a hang glider.

From the three-year period between 2005 and 2008, pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 73% of the fatal attacks on humans, with pit bulls alone accounting for 59% of them. Don't anyone try to tell me those statistics don't convey some insightful data into what constitutes a dangerous breed of dog. And the American Temperament Test of which TunnelRat speaks is a very limited and practically meaningless 12-minute test conducted under other than realistic conditions. It is hogwash and conveys nothing.

The vast majority of people who like and own pit bulls are rednecks and others with some serious insecurities about their manhood. In their minds a gun, a pickup, the rebel flag, and pit bull or rottweiler are all they need in life to make 'em a man. Tyler Ridley was obviously a "real man", the way he slithered off and took no responsibility for his blatant neglect that brought such trauma and irreparable harm to this little girl and almost took her very life.

Pit bulls suck, period. They don't even belong in the same category as dogs. I'm thinking their owners and those who constantly try to make excuses for them don't belong in the same category as humans either.

September 4, 2011 at 6:03 p.m.
rolando said...

TunnelRat -- The evidence of what these cowardly killer breeds do to the old, the young, and the infirm may not be "scientific" but it is most assuredly empirical.

Sure, "Killer Dog On Rampage" makes a paper-selling headline...but it doesn't change the fact that these dogs don't just bite and run -- they stick around and kill.

Little Faith was one of the few lucky ones -- she lived through a savage attack intended to kill her.

Thank God for the neighbor who shot the worthless, and literal, SOB dog.

God Bless You, Sir. If you ever need ammo...

September 4, 2011 at 9:20 p.m.
TunnelRat1 said...

To Rickaroo I would suggest the old saying popularized by Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." One must go far beyond the simple statistical data supplied by the studies to which Rickaroo alludes. Of course large breeds like Rottweilers, bulldogs, German Shepherds and Dobermans are the ones that statistically kill more people but that does not equate to them being the most aggressive breeds. Can you imagine Toy Poodles being attributed with the most fatal attacks? Since Rickaroo likes statistics here are some more from CBS News: "“A study performed by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the CDC, and the Humane Society of the United States, analyzed dog bite statistics from the last 20 years and found that the statistics don’t show that any breeds are inherently more dangerous than others. The study showed that the most popular large breed dogs at any one time were consistently on the list of breeds that bit fatally. There were a high number of fatal bites from Doberman pinschers in the 1970s, for example, because Dobermans were very popular at that time and there were more Dobermans around, and because Dobermans’ size makes their bites more dangerous. The number of fatal bites from pit bulls rose in the 1980s for the same reason, and the number of bites from Rottweilers in the 1990s. The study also noted that there are no reliable statistics for nonfatal dog bites, so there is no way to know how often smaller breeds are biting.” There are a significant number of variables associated with any dog attack that must be considered before one simply decides, based on statistics, that an entire breed should be euthanized. Utilizing Rickaroo's logic one could easily make the case for outlawing all firearms, all alcohol sales and even the use of automobiles. Rickaroo also has also asserted that "The vast majority of people who like and own pit bulls are rednecks and others with some serious insecurities about their manhood. In their minds a gun, a pickup, the rebel flag, and pit bull or rottweiler are all they need in life to make 'em a man." Wow, Rickaroo! Any credibility you may have had went straight down the toilet with that revealing remark. Someone once suggested to me that rednecks were narrow minded, judgmental people who tended to use pejorative terms when describing others. Just sayin'... Rickaroo and frequently many others seemingly forget about the human factor relative to canine behavior. Dog ownership, just like gun or auto ownership comes with significant responsibility. It makes no more sense to indict an entire breed of dog due to irresponsible human behavior than it does to do away with any number of other animate or inanimate objects which, when not responsibly handled, can lead to the injury or deaths of innocent people.

September 4, 2011 at 9:53 p.m.
TunnelRat1 said...

Rolando - I don't necessarily agree with your assertion that the "evidence" to which you refer is in fact empirical. I do not disagree with you, however, relative to the dog being shot. Had the dog's owner been shot a long time ago, the whole thing could have been prevented. I am not attempting to change your mind. I really care little about your opinions; and I don't mean that disrespectfully, I just don't care. What I do care about is unsubstantiated assertions. Read my post to Rickaroo. I don't usually get involved in posting in response to a story, I just get tired of the bias, ignorance and invalid opinion that seems to dominate the mindsets of so many. I have suggested two studies in my writing that refute the stereotypical opinions surrounding bulldogs and I have spoken to the fact that statistics can be very misleading if not looked at with depth and understanding. All I get from you is your suggestion that news stories constitute "empirical" evidence. Show me a fair study that proves that the Bully breeds are more aggressive than all other breeds. Don't tell me they kill more people that do Pekinese dogs; any moron knows that. PROVE that they are inherently more aggressive regardless of their comparative numbers or the way they have been handled or trained. It's all about the people, not the dogs.

September 4, 2011 at 10:21 p.m.
sweetdream20 said...

To rolando about pit bulls always in the news... I will say that I've seen a few articles that put out some story of a vicious pit bull attack but the picture shows a completely different breed of dog. Like a border collie. I have a purebred boxer and guess how many times she's been mistaken for a pit or a pit mix. I bet you'd be surprised how many of those stories are mistaken identity or intentional misinformation about the actual breed. I'm neither defending or arguing against pit bulls specifically, I don't think any dog should be allowed to run about willy nilly anywhere they please because any dog or breed of dog could become dangerous to strangers. Owners should be responsible for the proper care and restraint of their animals. I also don't let my young children play outside unsupervised. There are wild coyotes, copperheads, raccoons, turkeys, and stray dogs that run around here. So many things could go wrong in a heartbeat. She's very lucky that someone saw her in time. And I think the article does not do her justice, she was and still is a beautiful little girl. I know someone who has a very mean chihuahua that snaps and bites anyone who is not the owner. He could seriously injure an unsuspecting young child and I'm not happy about the dog or the owners. Frankly a lot of toy dogs are downright aggressive. But people think they look so cute with their pink bows and rhinestone studded collars... People ignore logic and kid themselves into believing that certain breeds are always dangerous and the other supposedly "domesticated" breeds are harmless.

September 4, 2011 at 10:53 p.m.
terrybham said...

Rolando-So am I to understand that there is absolutely nothing that a law-abiding person can do to protect themselves and their children from such dogs? It is a sorry state of affairs when we have to admit that. If a piece of scum like Tyler Ridley moved in next door to me and had a dog like that, you can bet that I would be feeding that dog every chance I got. And you can be sure that what I was feeding it would prove detrimental to his health. In the final analysis, you either choose the child or the dog. I choose the child.

September 4, 2011 at 11:35 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Here is a link that will list and discuss nine myths (in other words, lies) about pit bulls that pit bull advocates like to spread. Almost every one of these myths has been mentioned by the pit bull defenders in their comments here. I have no doubt they will claim that these myths are somehow biased and they will continue spouting their nonsense that pit bulls are just good old ordinary dogs, no more violent or unpredictable than a toy poodle or a dachsund, and that pit bulls are just maligned and misunderstood. I am aware of the futility of trying to convince people of small minds of anything outside the narrow framework of their thinking so I leave them to their own petty devices. But for anyone who seriously wants to do something to stem the tide of these pit bull maulings in the future and enforce stringent regulations on pit bull owners, I urge you to check out this website:

September 5, 2011 at 1:02 a.m.
TunnelRat1 said...

OK, Rickaroo... the website to which you refer was founded by a woman who was attacked by a dog she claims was a pit bull. She, like Sarah Brady (re: handguns), has a strong, biased motivation for her opinions. I feel sorry for the woman. I just don't agree with her stance. I just perused at length the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website. I assume that if you do the same your next post will express your opinion that handguns should be banned. I also took a look at MADD's website and found that 31% of all traffic fatalities in TN are the result of drunk driving. Therefore, I can only assume that you would be in favor of banning alcohol. Also, the CDC reports: "Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States." Since your pit bull information on relies, in part, on CDC data, I assume you would also advocate for the banning of all cigarettes, cigars and pipe smoking. I could go on ad nauseam, however, by now I hope you're wrapping your brain around what I am attempting to impart. You, and others, advocate the preemptive punishment of dog owners based on your opinions and certain studies. What's wrong with that picture in America? What's the real issue here? Is it the sanctity of life? If so, then you and the others who share your opinion about bulldogs have no choice but to advocate for the banning of firearms, alcohol, tobacco and bathtubs. This notion of punishing the masses due to the irresponsibility of the few is totally un-American and is based in fear, not reality.

September 5, 2011 at 6:37 a.m.
rolando said...

terrybham -- You misunderstood me. Your post said "the authorities" should do something [words to that effect]. They are bound by the law.

I think the defense of self and family supersedes any law. The onus to protect you and yours is primarily on you. We are in agreement.

September 5, 2011 at 8:46 a.m.
rolando said...

sweetdream said, "People ignore logic and kid themselves into believing that certain breeds are always dangerous and the other supposedly "domesticated" breeds are harmless."

Agreed. I have been surrounded by a pack of 10-15 abandoned, hungry dogs [I didn't count them] while limping to a dispensary following a motorcycle accident. They evidently smelled the blood on my torn clothes. Rather frightening to watch them slowly close the circle. They were of all breeds and sizes...and they were most assuredly in "attack mode" and I was unarmed [no longer]. Luckily, a cop car came by and stopped.

Even so, collies and chihuahuas don't have jaws capable of crushing bones. My question is, why do we tolerate dogs with excessively powerful jaws? Dogs make great companions but lousy protectors -- they are too easily poisoned and attack for the wrong reasons.

September 5, 2011 at 8:59 a.m.
rolando said...

Excellent cite, Rickaroo. Thanks. Interesting that so many pits kill or maim family members.

You will never convince those who own killer breed dogs that they are them and theirs. Instinct overcomes training every time.

As for Dobermans, an old saw says it all -- "They only kill their owners." Which is a good thing for us. My uncle [a WW2 paratroop] killed them on sight through the 1970s...based on "empirical evidence".

September 5, 2011 at 9:14 a.m.
TunnelRat1 said...

Rolando - I've had an epiphany regarding your illogical insistence that pit bulls are born killers. I'm thinking that perhaps you are not an "Alpha" male type and are therefore extremely fear-based in your decision making processes. It could be genetic. The brief cite of your uncle who "killed them [Dobermans] on sight through the 1970s" also seems to indicate that he was a man ruled by fear; quite possibly a paratrooper by conscription and forced to jump out of airplanes. The indiscriminate killing of any animal speaks to cowardice at best and pathology at worst. The preceding, of course, is only conjecture on my part and is not intended to insult or demean you or your uncle. It is what it is. I apologize in advance if you take offense. Just one man's take on what might motivate another man's opinions. Not all men are Alphas and that's OK.

September 5, 2011 at 1:20 p.m.
rolando said...

Thanks for the belly laugh, Tunnel.

1- No one was forced to jump...unless he was in the way.

2- My uncle joined up at 16 -- lied about his age and volunteered to jump school [as all paratroopers did].

3- No one who survived four combat jumps was anything but a prime Alpha...maybe going in, but not by #2. Your unqualified opinion otherwise is simply laughable...your envy is showing.

4- I begin to suspect your login is a wannabe thing, not the real McCoy.

5- When you have repeatedly faced unleashed Nazi-trained war dogs, let me know and we will continue that discussion.

6- Your "conjecture" indicates you probably need some serious professional help...and your true intent is obvious -- the bully's attempt to belittle. I don't give a fiddler's F about your intent, your name-calling, or your pathetic apology...they are like "dust in the wind".

7- As I said here before, I am quite content in my masculinity -- in all senses of the word.

September 5, 2011 at 2:38 p.m.
TunnelRat1 said...

Glad I could offer some levity, Rolando, to what I suspect is an otherwise melancholy existence. Your response was what I expected. A plate full of psychological projection. I didn't come back killing every snake and spider that I saw and bamboo doesn't scare me at all. My serious professional help says I'm getting better all the time; thanks for your concern.

September 5, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.
rolando said...

Glad I came down to your expectations, Tunnel. Yeah, right.

You are not quite halfway there yet, pal. Keep trying. Shrinks couldn't help you in any case -- they can't help anyone. Not even themselves.

Haven't met a whole lot of Marines in your travels, have you?

So who/what do you stomp, kill, or tear up out of fear? Or out of hate? Rhetorical questions.

I will let you have the last word on the topic of your thumbnail descriptions of others.

September 5, 2011 at 5:53 p.m.
sweetdream20 said...

To rolando yet again. It is not about the breed. But about proper handling and restraint. All dogs have the potential to be dangerous. Even a chihuahua could seriously maul a child even if their bite lacks the 'power to crush bone'. To focus on one breed as the problem is irrational and disregards the real root of the problem. The lack of proper restraint and care of a pet. Both the girl and the dog might've gone on to live happy full lives uninhibited if the dog had been properly taken care of and restrained by the owner.

September 5, 2011 at 8:32 p.m.
TunnelRat1 said...

Hey, thanks for giving me the last word, Rolando. Yeah, I've met a lot of Marines; typically good men. Typically, of course, is the key word. This whole thing was about dogs and you misconceptions about animal behavior. I initially offered reasoned, evidence-based retort to unsubstantiated claims driven by fear and ignorance. Then I finally got fed up with your display of cognitive dissonance and decided to rattle your chain. That was a hoot. However, it was rude and I apologize to all the other reasonable people who read my initial offerings. I got a little caught up in having fun. I really have no idea whether or not you are an Alpha and I don't care. You have proved however that logic and reason do not necessarily sway your opinions. You make the case for sanctions against dogs and/or their owners based on "empirical" evidence, yet you indicate by your writing that you are a gun owner. There is plenty of empirical evidence that suggests that many, many lives could be saved by eliminating the possession of firearms by the general public, but I am sure that empirical evidence is meaningless to you. I imagine you will retort to this, even though you have granted me the last word, by claiming your 2nd Amendment right, while there is no constitutional right to "bear bulldogs." Nevertheless, and I say again, the preemptive, arbitrary punishment of animals or their owners based on statistical evidence that can be quite misleading without the necessary depth of understanding is UN-AMERICAN! I also say again, PROVE that bulldogs are inherently more aggressive regardless of their comparative numbers or the way they have been handled or trained. It's all about the people, not the dogs. I leave you with this final thought: You claim, "Instinct overcomes training every time." Not true. Men can be trained to kill quite efficiently against their instinct. Men can be trained to overcome their willingness/ability to reason and feel. Men are not born with the instinct to kill unless they are "bad seeds." It has been proven time and time again that dogs can be trained to overcome their instincts as well. Thanks again for the last word.

September 6, 2011 at 5:29 a.m.
rolando said...

It isn't just one breed, sweetdream, but the group including Rotts, Pits, Mastiffs, etc...those with massive jaws bred to kill. That does no include Chihuahuas.

As with most all breeds of AKC-type dogs, they have been bred for certain specific characteristics having nothing to do with their original purpose and many are unfavorable to the dog. A German Shepard's hips, a Collie's snout, a bulldog's underslung jaw, a Pug's pushed in snout, etc.

This is the case of the killer breeds. Their temperment, never all that stable, has suffered. Their powerful bite is a grip-and-shake style. Yes, small dogs have sharp teeth and can do damage -- but it is as nothing compared to the killer breeds.

For these reasons, I think those breeds should be stricken from AKC-type recognition and kill-on-sight outlawed within any civilized population.

September 6, 2011 at 6:21 a.m.
hmgreen said...

Little Faith you are beautiful on the inside and out. What happened to you was such a horrible thing but you are stronger now. If anyone asks about the scars just know it is curiosity. My baby has had 7 surgeries and has a shunt (a bump under her scalp) and many scars. I tell her that they are her battle scars and she needs to be proud of them because it shows that she fought so hard for her life. Those scars will always be a reminder of her strength. There will always be questions. Eventually you surround yourself with people who don't even notice them anymore. You are a survivor. For anyone with children, we all need to teach our kids not to tease and that there are proper ways to ask questions.

September 18, 2011 at 10:19 a.m.
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