I found this enlightening account of Ghost and his owner
Ms. Shanks on all-creatures.com.
It took almost a year and a half for justice to be accorded
for Diana Shanks and her pit bull, Ghost. My heart went out
to both of them. I really can't believe how some p eople
think, react, and judge -but finally the New York Supreme
Court, Appelate Division got it right. Their judgment:
"In its Memorandum and Order dated April 4, 2013, the
Supreme Court found there was insufficient evidence to sustain
a finding that Ghost was a dangerous dog within the meaning
of the Agriculture and Markets law."
I can just imagine Ms. Shanks' huge sigh of relief when she
heard that judgment. Just reading about what she and Ghost
had gone through made me very happy -justice was served. Here's
On a day in November 2011, Ms. Shanks was walking her American
pit bull terrier- Ghost on a street in the town of Oneonta, New
York. He was collared, harnessed, and leashed. As they passed
a house where Ranger, a German Shepherd dog was tethered to a
porch in the front yard, he suddenly broke lose and ran at
Ghost and a fight ensued. Ghost was leashed the whole time
of the fight.
Both dogs suffered injury and the owner of Ranger, Ana-Maria
Blasetti, filed a complaint against Ms. Shanks. Did I miss
something? Which dog provoked the altercation? Yes, it
was clearly Ranger.
And this happening took me back years ago when I was walking
my two dogs -Peaches, a Miniature Collie mix and Muffin, a
Shepherd mix. Suddenly, a German Shepherd dog from the other
side of the street broke loose and came bounding toward us.
He attacked Muffin.
Both of my dogs were leashed, and thankfully the owner came
running across the street to get his dog off of Muffin. Poor
dear - she was frightened as was I, but luckily there were
no visible bite marks on her. We went on our way - visibly
shakened but just so glad to get away from that wild Shepherd
So when reading this case, I knew full well who was to blame,
and yet unbelievably, Blasetti filed a complain against Ms.
Shanks and Ghost. And just as unbelievable, t he Town Court
deemed Ghost a "dangerous dog" it seems because he was a pit
bull. And to add insult to injury, they deemed Ms. Shanks
65% culpable for the incident and responsible for that percentage
of the vet bills. And poor Ghost who was the innocent party
was required to be muzzled and on a short leash when in public.
It was evident to me that they had ordered the wrong dog to
It has been said that the media has done a great job in causing
mass hysteria when it comes to the pit bull, who is not any
more vicious than any other dog. Finally, intelligent people
are recognizing this.
But, of course, in this case, sane and just minds did not prevail.
If they had, the courts would have ordered Blasetti to pay for
both dogs' vet bills and Ranger to be muzzled.
Shanks appealed the Town Court's ruling to the County Court.
Sadly, they only affirmed the lower court's ruling. Undismayed,
she appealed to the Supreme Court Appelate Division. Thank
God, that when they delivered their judgment, they completely
absolved Ghost - stating that there was insufficient evidence
to sustain the finding that Ghost was a dangerous dog.
They further said "A dangerous dog is defined as a dog that
'without justification' attacks a person, companion animal or
domestic animal and causes physical injury or death or behaves
in a manner which a reasonable person would believe posesses
a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical
injury or death to one or more companion animals. Notably, a
dog shall not be declared to be dangerous if its conduct was
justfied because the dog was responding to pain or injury, or
was protecting itself (or) its owner. At a hearing held
pursuant to Agriculture and Market Law Section 123..."
I would trust my life with judges such as these. Sadly, as
Shanks' dealing with the lower courts - people of this calibre
seem to be few and far between.
How happy I was for Ms. Shanks and Ghost. They had to go
through a lot of pain and expense because of people who seemed
to have no idea what was fair and just. Thankfully, the judges
on the New York Court of Appeals did. I'm sure that Ms. Shanks
and Ghost are avoiding that street now for their daily walks
where both Ranger and his owner live. I couldn't blame them.
I would too.
Re pit bulls, I was so disapointed and disenchanted with the
city I live in when they decided to ban pit bulls. Really
I was quite embarassed and ashamed that they did so. Poor
Otis, a Boxer was the first casualty of this unjust law. Not
even a pit bull, he was deemed so by the cops who were called
when Otis snuck out of his yard one day.
Then what happened next was cruel and unjust. Maybe Otis
fought the pole noose, but when the cops tasered him not
once but twice, that was cruel. Poor Otis was placed in
a cage and his poor owner tried hard to convince them that
he was not even a pit bull.
The court case which ensued was a media circus. So many of
us prayed that the outcome would be favorable for Otis. We
had our doubts, but when the verdict was in - Otis would have
to relocate, the woman lawyer dissolved in tears and not without
cause. The threat was that he could be put down. Here again
were people who really didn't get it. The banning of pit
bulls itself was terribly unfair, and already an innocent
Boxer and his owner went through hell because of it.
Later I would pass by Otis' former home when I walked Casey,
my dog - silently thanking God that he was safe now somewhere
in Cleveland where he had to relocate.
I was also happy when Bill Applegate of our CBS affiliate in an
editorial asked us what we thought about banning pit bulls.
I jumped at the prospect of voicing my thoughts on the subject,
and was accepted to reply to it on TV.
This is what I said:
"I wholeheartedly concur with Mr. Applegate re the
foolishness of banning a breed of dog- the pit bull.
Discrimination is an ugly word -ask women, blacks, the
handicapped and they'll agree. Pit bulls should not be
discriminated against either. What we should do is make a
law which forbids people from using pit bulls as guard or
Under this law, if you train them to be vicious, you will
be held responsible-not the dog. If you punish the offending
party, I think there will fewer incidences of pit bull biting
because the breed is not by nature any more vicious than any
other dog. Let's make the real culprit pay, and he has TWO-
not four feet.
And most of all for me -I believe that God doesn't make
vicious dogs. We do that all by ourselves."
My last thought re the unjust treatment of pitbulls is the
story about poor Mindy. If interested, you'll find her story
on the internet where author Winograd tells about the cruel
treatment she received in a Pennsylvania "shelter." As I
read her story, my heart bled for her - an innocent dog
receiving such cruel treatment in no less a "shelter." I am
often ashamed to be a member of the human race. This was
yet another incidence of why.