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PSTD From Pit Bull Attack. Is There Help?

ANIMAL WATCH

ANIMAL WATCH - Attacks by dangerous dogs, especially Pit Bulls, are becoming one of society’s most-reported life-threatening events worldwide—to the extent that, according to 2024 statistics, 47 countries now have restrictions, a partial or complete ban on the breed, according to World Population Review. 

Although the gruesome details of an attack may be shown in news reports/photos, described in law-enforcement comments, and evident in medical descriptions in the aftermath of an attack, the mention of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) is not included as an inevitable and debilitating result of the devastating event which continuously haunts the victim for months, years or forever. 

WHY PIT BULL ATTACKS, ESPECIALLY, AFFECT THE MIND 

PTSD is rarely discussed because it is either too frightening or dismissed as not being a real issue to those who have not experienced it, but the paralyzing depression can last long after physical injuries have healed, and emotional scars are still sensitive, leaving victims with a daily sense of “waking up on the edge of a huge black hole” and some in fear of going outdoors.  

Pit Bull attacks, in particular, are extremely alarming because the dog is so strong and knows exactly what it wants, which is to bring its victim to the ground and doing as much physical damage as possible.  This is a sharp contrast to a guard dog that wants to either scare you away or keep you in one place. 

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY PIT BULL ATTACKS? 

As unsuspecting adopters and buyers are told by animal shelters, humane societies, national rescue organizations and breeders that this is “America’s Dog “and will provide them not only with safety, but unending love and devotion, they are not expecting the violence that is just under the surface in many Pit Bulls.

The above is what a human victim faces when attacked. The reason a Pit Bull attack is more devastating to both the mind and body is that, coming from fighting bloodlines, their wide jaws are designed to bite, grip, shake and tear the flesh of the victim and maximize blood loss to weaken the opponent. The attack is relentless. It is one thing to just be bitten by a dog protecting property, but physically and psychologically devastating when the attack by an unknown dog is obviously meant to end someone’s life. 

When this type of venomous attack occurs to a human—and particularly when the dog turns on either the owner or another family member or it escapes and attacks innocent pedestrians, delivery persons or strangers,. immediate attention is given to physical wounds that may destroy the victim’s personal/work life. 

But, the damage that is caused to his/her psyche, and the self-confidence that they can protect themselves by taking normal precautions and abiding by laws may be as torn and shattered as their bodies and go unrecognized and untreated and turn into  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

ANY MAJOR UNEXPECTED TRAUMA CAN CAUSE PTSD, INCLUDING A VIOLENT DOG ATTACK

A consulting specialist has posted a very informative website in December 2023, designed specifically to assist with the horrific phenomena of dog attack victims suffering from PTSD and with no specialized counseling services available.  In bringing this to the attention to the public and medical professionals, it is also the first to delve into the aftermath of dog attacks, which not only often change a person’s life forever, but also those close to them, or perhaps the victim him or her-self, who is struggling with nightmares, uncontrollable spontaneous crying or anger, sexual dysfunction, and a myriad of problems that linger long after the body has healed (or has not) and the visible scars that can change a life forever. This is not an endorsement, nor have I made contact with the advisor, but the bold approach offered by Wisdom Within Counseling And Coaching to deal with trauma that is never discussed is important and inestimable and it does not appear they would turn away anyone in crisis. 

This can apply to more than dog bites—any serious trauma or debilitating and/or disfiguring accident or a sudden illness or unhappiness, can cause PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). However, an attack by a living creature (Man’s Best Friend) is very personal and direct and the victim may be struggling mentally to avoid repeated images of the biting or ripping of his/her flesh, or seeing this occur to someone they love—an elderly parent or a precious pet that cannot defend itself—and they cannot save.  

Thus they are left with feeling of inadequacy that cuts to their soul and painful moments  they relive when awake and asleep. 

A RECENT DOG ATTACK 

Cane Corsa and Four Pit Bulls Maul Man, Cop Forced to Shoot to Stop Attack 

Philadelphia policeman was forced to fatally shoot a Cane Corso on May 3, after it and three Pit Bulls mauled a man in the Mantua community, with a local resident stating “It was either the man’s life or the dog,” according to a KABC News report. 

The incident occurred on Wednesday around 10:16 a.m. when a witness alerted a patrol officer to a pack of lose dogs and a man trying to fight them to protect his own dog. The report states that video from a neighbor’s camera shows the man taken to the ground by the dogs. Neighbors came out to help but were driven back by the aggression and intensity of the canines, which were later reported as a Cane Corso and three Pit Bulls. The Cane Corso later collapsed and died at the scene. 

Philadelphia police say the officer on the scene unsuccessfully attempted to use his siren to distract the dogs, but they continued their attack. The ABC report states, “it’s unclear if any of the other dogs were injured by gunfire.” 

An investigation is underway to locate the owner(s) of the dogs. 

One neighbor is quoted as saying it was “very scary.” Other neighbors interviewed agreed that the officer had no choice—"It  was either the man's life or the dog." 

The incident is still under investigation to try to locate the owner or owners of the dogs. (Read entire story here.) 

The NY Post reports, “Disturbing video circulating on social media shows the animals run up and start to maul the victim and taking him to the ground.” 

Both the man who was attacked and the police officer were victims of the lax enforcement of animal-ownership laws across the country, and the lives of the victims of, especially Pit Bulls and other dangerous dogs, are forgotten, while they suffer from the damages of loss of jobs and the inability to support themselves and their families, and often crippling injuries from which they will suffer for the rest of their lives.. 

PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is Real After a Dog Attack

 

But also, they will suffer from an illness diagnosed as “PTSD,” (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) often heard in regard to military veterans, especially those who have served in combat. It is the results of direct trauma, whether it is an auto accident, a severe dog attack, especially by Pit Bull-types which are intent on doing as much harm as possible, because that must be in the nature of a dog that is used for dog fighting and must harm first or kill to survive. 

When such a dog attacks a human, it is doing so with the intent of inflicting severe / life-threatening injuries as the victim struggles against it and escalates its tenacity. It can be as terrorizing experience as a military battle, or any scenario where there is a sudden threat of and exposure to severe injury or death. 

IS THIS A NEW ERA OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND HELP FOR DOG-ATTACK VICTIMS? 

We read increasingly about dog-attack victims, but little on who helps them recover from this life-threatening event, especially when they may never again be physically the same. A severe dog attack means they will emerge with scars and trauma into a world they once knew but now must rediscover. 

NOT ALL SCARS ARE VISIBLE 

The following is not an endorsement because I do not know nor have I contacted this group; however, it is encouraging that an on-line service, called Wisdom Within Counseling And Coaching  is offering its “From Within” Counseling” for victims of dog bites/attacks.  At the same time, it is also sad that society has allowed there to be so many victims of Pit Bull and other violent attacks that a counseling group is needed to help them get through this tragic experience. 

Just reading the fact that you are not alone in your feelings of sadness, depression or helplessness after being attacked and injured by a dog, may help emotional suffering, which can linger long after the visible wounds have healed. This site claims to teach injured individuals how to take the unknown risks of life again.  

I do not have a personal knowledge of their success rate, and it would probably be very difficult to determine because there are so many definitions of “success.” But no one should try to face PTSD,alone, after any serious trauma. 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)