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Can we trust breed identifications found in the media?

In 2000, in Newberry Springs, California, a 10-year-old boy (Cash Carson) was attacked and
killed by a dog. While there were two dogs on the scene, there is no question that the large
brown dog named “Bear” was the principal attacker and inflicted the fatal wounds.

But, was “Bear” a Rottweiler? A Pit bull? A Rottweiler/Chow mix? A Pit bull mix? A Pit
bull/Chow mix? Or a Rottweiler mix?

Well, it depends on which article you happened to read.

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Pit Bull Attack Elicits Murder Charge

Death of 10-Year-Old Boy Used to Test New California Law

By Amy Collins

July 19, 2000

When James Chiavetta is arraigned today on second-degree murder charges in a California courtroom, he faces the possibility of

joining a handful of people in the country convicted on a murder charge where the weapon, essentially, is a dog.

Ten-year-old Cash Craig Carson was killed by a pit bull named Louise and a pit bull-chow mix named Bear — two dogs that a

prosecutor says scared even their caretaker in an isolated desert area of Barstow, Calif.

Contra Costa Times

Man Avoids Murder Conviction in Mauling

By Corey Lyons, Times Staff Writer
In a case followed closely by authorities in San Francisco, a San Bernardino County man whose pit bull mix and
rottweiler/chow mix dog mauled to death his 10-year-old neighbor was convicted Wednesday of involuntary
The 12-member jury panel dismissed the more serious charge of second-degree murder against James Chiavetta, 55.

Dog Caretaker Gets 4 Years in Fatal Mauling

September 30, 2001

A dog caretaker has been sentenced to four years in prison for leaving a 100-pound mixed-breed pit bull unsupervised, allowing it to
fatally maul a 10-year-old boy. Judge Thomas Glasser said Friday that James Chiavetta, 54, has shown no remorse for his role in the
April 2000 death of Cash Carson. Chiavetta was convicted in May of involuntary manslaughter.


And so, the next question is:

If breed identifications in the media are conflicting (i.e., unreliable), what can
we make of the “statistics” from individuals or organizations that use these
media sources?

Merritt Clifton, from Animal People, collects newspaper articles and has assembled them into a
“report” in which he “declares” which breeds are most dangerous.

So which “breed” did Merritt Clifton choose to label Bear?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2001:

U.S. courts reshape dangerous dog law
* James Chiavetta, 54, of Newberry Springs, California, was found guilty of manslaughter on May 16 for leaving a Rottweiler
unchained who killed Cash Carson, 10, in April 2000. First charged with murder, Chiavetta could get up to four years in prison.
Sentencing has been repeatedly postponed.

DogsBiteLaw also keeps track of what breeds of dogs are involved in

fatal attacks.
So what “breed” did DogBiteLaw choose to label “Bear”?
Dog Bite Law

Cash Carson -- the boy who was killed while walking to his "fort"
April 29, 2000, Newberry Springs, California. A pet sitter / house sitter named James Chiavetta, 54, was so afraid of the pit bulls at
the house that he would use a stick to push their food dish under the fence. On the fateful day that Cash Carson, 10, walked up the
street to get to his "fort", Ciavetta decided to take a nap, leave the dogs out front, but not check to see whether the front gate was
closed. It was not. The dogs chased Cash and his friend, and killed Cash.
Ciavetta was not convicted of second degree murder because three members of the jury felt that the charges were too harsh, in view
of the fact that the dogs had never been trained, or known, to fight, attack or kill.