PIQUA — “I’m a dog man. I’m a family man. Dogs are family.”
Those are the words of Jeremy Bayless, victim of an attack by a family pet, Riley, a two-year-old pit bull, just 24 hours earlier.
Bayless and his daughter, Madison, 11, were attacked by the animal while sitting in their family room on Wednesday.
Madison’s wounds were minor, thanks to her dad’s quick intervention. His wounds, to his hands, legs, and feet, while painful, could have been much worse. Bayless kept calm during the 15-minute attack and was able to “work the dog down my body,” to his feet, which were shod in heavy leather work boots.
In spite of the attack, neither Bayless, his wife Chandra, nor Madison, bear any animosity toward the dog.
“It hasn’t affected me at all,” said Bayless. ” My opinion about any dog will never change.”
The Bayless family acquired Riley through “a friend of a friend.” While, in the true sense of the word, they did rescue Riley, he did not come from an actual rescue facility. “He (Riley) had been through some traumatic experiences and we wanted to get it out of that situation,” said Bayless.
Bayless explained, “He was sitting on my lap two minutes before it (the attack) happened.” A sudden move by Madison, to answer her phone, triggered the dog to attack. “(Understanding) dog mentality helps out a lot,” said Bayless. “I recognized fierce actions out of him, so I knew to step in because it was almost my daughter.”
Bayless believes that Riley was unstable. “Too much damage had been done to his mind.”
Chandra said that they believe that Riley had been used as a “bait dog at one point for other pit bulls and was treated badly.”
Chandra said that in the couple of weeks they had been with Riley, “he was was just a big puppy and wanted to play all the time.”
The Bayless family pointed out that they do not hold Riley responsible for the attack. The fact that he had lived a life of abuse and neglect led to his behavior.
“It’s the way that they’re raised,” said Chandra, who has lived around pit bulls most of her life, in speaking about the belief that the pit bull breed is dangerous. “They are very protective,” she went on. “I wouldn’t think twice about if my daughter wants to go take a walk (with the pit bull).”
Bayless suggests that anyone wanting to purchase any dog, “do their research” into not only the breed, but the bloodline of the dog they wish to adopt into the family.
Bayless believes that the pit bull breed is the current scapegoat for dangerous dogs. “In the ’70s it was the Dobermans, the ’80s it was the German Shepherd, ’90s was Rottweilers.” He believes that popularity of those breeds at times led to over-breeding.
He also said that the media is partially responsible for the reputation of pit bulls as dangerous.
“Probably the reason why I stand strong behind the pit bull is because, if that dog is raised right, (it is not a danger),” said Bayless. “I would almost go the pound and get that dog back … if I knew that I could control it.”
Eleven-year-old Madison is taking the incident in stride as she sat on the couch, cuddling, with Falon, a four-year-old pit bull that rarely leaves her side. The family also owns a Doberman Pinscher, Renessemee.
The Bayless family say that they would not hesitate to rescue or own another pit bull.
Riley will be held in quarantine for ten days and then euthanized. The decision to do that was a difficult one for the Bayless family, but Jeremy said it was made not because they are afraid of what he might do at home, but because they are concerned for neighbors if he were to ever get out of their yard.
Riley, to the Bayless family, and to many dog lovers, is a victim, of abuse, of neglect, and now will pay with his life for the actions of others.
Reach Mike Ullery at (937) 451-3335