A Broomfield man who fatally stabbed a pit bull after it attacked his Doberman won't be charged with animal cruelty because he was forced to make a "choice of evils," prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Jeff Black, 38, "was justified, according to the law, in his decision to take the life of (the pit bull) in order to save the life of his dog and avoid serious injuries to himself and others," according to the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office, which represents Broomfield and Adams counties.

Witnesses said Black fatally stabbed the pit bull with a pocketknife about 7:30 p.m. July 30 in the Broomfield County Commons dog park - near 136th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard - because it was attacking his pet.

Prosecutors also announced Tuesday that neither Black, the owner of "Spike" the Doberman, nor Benjamin Johnson, the owner of "Mac" the pit bull, will be charged with owning a dangerous dog because there was no history of either dog injuring another animal or human or displaying threatening behavior.

Although prosecutors said it's probable the pit bull's encounter with the Doberman would have deemed him a "dangerous dog," the pit bull was stabbed and killed before he could do enough harm to qualify him as dangerous.

Neither Black nor Johnson, 24, of Thornton, could be reached Tuesday for comment.

The men gave police different accounts of the incident, according to a Tuesday letter from the District Attorney's Office.


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Black gave police the following report of the stabbing:

Spike, his Doberman, was running with other dogs when Mac joined in. The pit bull began "jumping and nipping" at the Doberman, eventually taking the Doberman to the ground. Johnson grabbed his pit bull by the legs, pulled him off and left the area.

Later, "the pit bull grabbed Spike's throat and flipped Spike onto Spike's back," Black told police.

A woman who saw the fight tried to separate the dogs, and Black said he "was afraid that she was going to be bitten."

Black said he stabbed Mac several times in the back when it appeared his dog couldn't breathe. Despite being stabbed, Mac held his grip on Spike.

"Since the stabs to the back of the pit bull had no apparent effect, Mr. Black cut the pit bull across the throat," District Attorney Don Quick wrote in the letter.

Johnson gave police this account of the incident:

The Doberman was first to attack the pit bull, causing "small and minor" injuries on his snout. When the Doberman approached Mac a second time, Mac "defended himself."

Johnson said he tried to pull his pit bull away, hitting him in the head. At one point, he said, he was pulling so hard that Mac's harness began to break.

Black, while trying to separate the dogs, threatened twice that "he was going to stab and kill my dog," Johnson told police. He then began stabbing the pit bull in the back.

Johnson said the dogs "were starting to loosen" when Johnson slit Mac's neck twice.

At least four people witnessed the dog fight. They told officers that the pit bull had displayed "aggressive behavior," and at one point they said Mac "rolled over" an Italian greyhound and urinated near another dog.

After the stabbing, one witness told police, "I do not believe that the Doberman would have lived if the pit had not been stabbed." Another said, "As horrible as it was to see, I think the man did the right thing stabbing the pit."

One of Johnson's friends called the fray "total chaos."

Mac died that day from multiple stab wounds to the neck. Spike was treated for bite wounds to his neck and snout.

Prosecutors said they decided not to file any charges because of the risk posed to individuals in the dog park.

"On the one hand, Mr. Black was faced with taking the life of Mac," Quick wrote in the decision. "On the other hand, by not stabbing the pit bull, he believed he would be allowing the death of Spike and running an ongoing risk of injury to himself or one of the others trying to separate the two dogs."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Vanessa Miller at 303-473-1329 or millerv@dailycamera.com.

Archived comments

RIGHT ON!

I love animals but that breed has been messed with too much and this ruling was right.

RingTail81

8/22/2007 5:59:15 AM

I didn't realize Michael Vick was in town.

Mrknowitall

8/22/2007 6:58:44 AM

pit bulls suck, and so do the people who own them!

barney

8/22/2007 9:57:35 AM

One less pit bull in the world. Thank God.

fil_fisher

8/22/2007 10:14:13 AM

Actually, most pit bulls and pit bull mixes I've had experience with are not aggressive or problematic. Any dog, regardless of breed, can be dangerous if the owner doesn't take responsibility to train it properly.

hsunchen@hotmail.com

8/22/2007 10:31:31 AM

It is reassuring when you see a sane and reasoned verdict come out of a courtroom.

slehan@aupairint.com

8/22/2007 11:08:09 AM

You know what else sucks, know-it-all Boulderites who play God and think it is ok to kill off a breed of dog based on hyperbole and speculation without any actual experience. I have met 3 pit bulls in my life, and all 3 were sweet, gentle, faithful, obedient, and loving dogs. So what are you drawing conclusions from if not experience, media coverage?

Media is hype and lies. So which one are you all buying into, the hype, or the lies? Lemmings all!

P1isher

8/22/2007 11:20:43 AM

The only problem dogs in our neighborhood ever were one mistreated Husky and the only two Pit Bulls we've ever seen. I don't think they're unmanageable as a breed, but the type of folks who gravitate towards Pit Bulls seem rarely to be responsible owners. Based on my limited experience, of course.

Good decision by the DA.

ogghead@yahoo.com

8/22/2007 11:27:12 AM

Anyone who says pit bulls are like any other breed don't know what they are talking about. My pointer was nearly killed by two stupid pit bulls a few years ago. Had him by the neck, on the ground within seconds. I managed to get them off but I could have been killed too. Owners weren't around. Owner's never paid the $500+ vet bills needed to repair my dogs neck. I HATE all pit bull owners, why does anyone need a dog like that? Does owning a pit bull make them feel tough? What IDIOTS.

im_justa_bill@yahoo.com

8/22/2007 12:00:35 PM

I HATE all haters!

P1isher

8/22/2007 12:27:11 PM

An 'oddity' is that Petey, the beloved dog from "Little Rascals" with the black-eye patch was a Pit Bull!

Born bad or bred that way doesn't actually seem that germane in this specific case though. (Specificity, the bane of bloviation-not that that should stop 'us' or anything;-)

The 1 dog attacked the other and while it seems the 'Legal Standard' was to actually await severe harm first I'm glad they didn't hold too hard to that.

jeffm@peoplepc.com

8/22/2007 12:30:05 PM

According to dogbreeds.suite101.com, Petey from Little Rascals was a registered American Staffordshire Terrier, one of three breeds lumped together as "Pit Bulls" but recognized as a separate breed by the AKC. The American Pit Bull Terrier is the chief breed known as "Pit Bull."

http://dog-breeds.suite101.com/article.cfm/about_pit_bulls

Pit Bull enthusiasts themselves caution owners never to leave one of the dogs unsupervised with another animal or a child. And that the breed is for experienced dog owners only. That's good advice.

ogghead@yahoo.com

8/22/2007 1:42:22 PM

What's really amazing here is that they didn't press charges on possession of the pocket knife! Cops and prosecutors just hate it when anyone stands up and defends themselves or their pets or possessions. It sets a bad example that perhaps we're all not helpless and have to rely on the cops for every little thing.

I'm guessing they were more afraid of pissing off the pit bull haters than they were in setting a precedent.

JustSayin

8/22/2007 2:35:33 PM

Cheering on violence in a dog park or the death of a creature isn't what I would consider commendable behavior. I hope people don't read this article and start bringing knives to dog parks. We have enough violence in this culture as it is. I do think some attention be placed on the owners themselves.

Dog owners have a duty to the community to understand dog behavior and curtail these situations before they start. If Mac the pitbull was a habitually aggressive dog, then the owner should have been taking him to training classes or working on his aggressive behavior in some fashion. Certainly Johnson should not have brought an aggressive dog to the dog park.

Accidents do happen, especially when it comes to dogs. Regardless of whether Mac was normally an aggressive dog, both owners should have observed the behavior of their dogs and realized that the dogs were getting too excited. One or both of the owners should have brought the dogs away from each other for a breather or should have left the dog park altogether. Dog owners must understand their dogs, dog body language, and dog behavior for the sake of the safety of the community. It could have prevented this horrible incident.

spam4us@comcast.net

8/22/2007 3:21:55 PM

spam4us and JustSayin': I agree with you both! I wrote yesterday that the person with the pocket knife should have at LEAST been charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

What if he had "accidentally" sliced the other owner?

I've been to the Broomfield park a few times. Between the people who refuse to pick up after their dogs, the drivers in the parking lot who treat the parking lot as a speedway and the people who enter and leave the park without their dogs on a leash I'm amazed more hasn't happened.

VCT

8/22/2007 3:33:04 PM

Pocket knives are not illegal to carry.

I just recently had to surrender my dog to the Boulder Humane Society because she has bit every one of my family members and on Sunday night she turned on me, she attacked my ankle and when I thought it was all finished I proceeded to leave her alone and she came at me again. When my husband went to put her outside, she turned on him. We have gone through more training than most people do with their dogs and spent many long hours working with her, she never got better and obviously we aren't "qualified" to deal with her. She's now under quarantine and will be euthanized next week. Nothing is more heart breaking than an otherwise great dog who cannot be rehabilitated (or maybe she can if Cesar Milan wants to fly out here and take her).

Bottom line, despite how much we love her, she's dangerous. I can only imagine if she tore into a child the way she tore into me on Sunday.

What kind of dog do you think she is?

Ann

8/22/2007 3:48:13 PM

yeah...... pit bulls aren't dangerous...... yeah.......... http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2007/08/22/choi.wa.dog.mauling.king

funone

8/22/2007 4:16:36 PM

"A pit-bull is a bad breedâ Now that's a bunch of bull (no pun intended). As many people have said they have been around pit-bulls that have been friendly.

I have been around dogs all my life and have trained dogs for many years. I have trained dogs to be companions as well as to be protection dogs. I can train a pit-bull to be a docile companion, or I can train to be a golden retriever to be a full protection dog.

What a pit-bull has against them is that they are powerful dogs and a lot of people who get them, get them for that reason and to use them against others (people or animals) for that reason. Or don't train the dog. This basically takes you to the saying "there is no bad dogs, just bad owners.â

As far as carrying a dangerous weapon consider this "If you own a gun you can unload it and lock it away. If you own a dog you will always have a loaded gun.â So the bottom line is that every dog has to be trained and trained well because every dog is a dangerous weapon in the right situation.

What really scares me, more than someone carrying a sports knife, which is probably what this person had, is the owner who has a dog that lets it go up to everyone and says "don't worry, she's really friendlyâ . Friendly my butt. After being around dogs for as long as I have, I will never consider any strange dog a friendly dog. I consider a non trained dog which the owner can't even restrain from going to someone and lick them a dangerous dog. Because every dog is a loaded gun that can fire at any time.

thetruth1960@hotmail.com

8/22/2007 6:20:19 PM

Hi P1isher

I have met 3 sweet PitBulls as well, and all three savaged other dogs. 2 attacked my own dog (attacks separated by years) and the other really ripped a geriatric dog apart who it was "friends" with. Pitts are fighting dogs.

trappist99@yahoo.com

8/22/2007 9:03:16 PM

I'm so sick of hearing about how there's no such thing as a bad pit bull only bad owners.

pit bulls should be banned - period. get another type of dog - why do people need pit bulls? why? get a life. somehow I've survived 37 years without a pit bull - gee - i wonder how i made it this far?

tdaddyy

8/22/2007 9:16:55 PM

Hey Truth1960 ... can you rehabilitate a shelter dog that has bitten everyone in the family?

Ann

8/22/2007 9:48:53 PM

Hi Ann, how did that pit-bull get to be that way in the first place? And your question goes the same for a golden retriever. If a golden retriever is mis-treated, not train and put into a situation where she feels she needs to bite to protect itself, it will be very hard to rehabilitate.

You people don't get the point. The dog didn't start out bat, it was "turned bad" by those who "cared" for it.

And as I said, a pit-bull is a very strong breed, and it needs a very strong hand to handle it.

But let me answer all of your questions before you ask it. Would you own a pit-bull? The answer is NO. I know what the breed's personality, strengths and weaknesses are and that's not the dog for me. But at the same time I wouldn't own a sheltie terrier if I had young kids. Many people get shelties and then complain that their kids are getting nipped all the time. Guess what, that's what a sheltie does. It takes care of sheep (kids) by nipping them to bring them back into the flock. Would I own a golden retriever over a pit-bull? Yes, I would. It is a much easier dog to train and it takes a not so strong hand. And my wife and kids would feel very comfortable handling a golden retriever. It all boils down to this a very wise person told me once. "I'm a doctor who makes house calls into really bad neighborhoods. I would never own a gun because the temptation of using it might be too great at times and my life is about saving people's lives not about destroying them." This was a person who knew the power of a gun (pit-bull) and knew that it took a very strong will/hand to handle that gun.

thetruth1960@hotmail.com

8/23/2007 7:15:35 AM

These things always bring out crackpots who seem to believe that temperament and behavior are not genetic traits that are selected for in generations of breeding.

They must think dogs were domesticated overnight. Just get a wolf pup and raise him properly, and you have a domestic dog.

mondoboulder

8/23/2007 8:01:14 AM

Truth: My dog isn't a pitbull, she's a lab/catahoula mix. I have no idea what made her that way. She was adopted from a shelter when she was 4 months old, 4 months later animal control picked her up running along side the freeway, the people who first adopted her were called (she was microchipped), they never came to get her, that was when I adopted her (about a year ago). She was quite a handful, high energy. I took her to the dog park every morning at 6:30 and would take her on long walks (about 2 miles) every night. I worked with a trainer and she did quite well with her commands and her behavior improved dramatically. Except for possessive aggressive. Within the first month we had her, she bit my husband's hand when he was trying to get her to drop something she got from the trash. We did more training with her, she seemed better. About three months after that, she bit my son for "being in her space" -- she went after my other son a few times (but didn't bite him). On Sunday, she came after me when I was commanding her to drop a container of sauce. I used my shoe to try to knock it out of her mouth (gently, I wasn't smacking her), my shoe fell to the ground, she attacked my shoe. I thought that was the end of it, slipped my foot back into my shoe to walk away, she went after me and attacked my ankle. As I began to walk away from her and was almost to the door she came at me again, that part freaked me out. She went into the house, my husband told her to go outside and she turned on him. I have no idea what happened with her in the past. She's a great dog for the most part, loves to hike and loves other animals. She also goes nuts when a strange man is anywhere within 15 feet of me. If we're at the dog park she will start barking at a man and following him around, incessently barking.

Ann

8/23/2007 10:37:04 AM

^ what a little bitch! ^

Anonymous_Coward

8/23/2007 12:50:55 PM

Hi mondoboulder, I have said that pit-bulls are very strong dogs and need a strong had. And I said b/c that's is part of their breed that means that is part of their genetics, doesn't it? So maybe when I talk about how pit-bulls are, I am talking about genetics? And as such, one has to consider genetics (breed) when one gets a dog, any dog, as my example for a sheltie shows.

thetruth1960@hotmail.com

8/23/2007 12:53:41 PM

Hi Ann, I'm sorry, I thought you were talking about a pit-bull. Yes, you are right we don't know what happened to her before you got her and how she was treated.

Can she be rehabilitated? Probably can, but it will take a lot of work and patience. In the mean time, you do have two kids. And I'm not sure you want to put your kids (and your entire family) through that.

You mention she's a great dog for the most part, but Ann, please do consider those episodes. They could get worst. And you really don't want to be in a worst situation with a more serious incident. If you have the time and patience, as I said, it would be wonderful if you could bring her around. But... Maybe that's the job for someone who has a different situation and not two children in the house. Remember what I said about a loaded gun. You have a loaded gun in your hands and it has shown that it can "accidentally" fire at any time. Don't take the chance Ann, please.

thetruth1960@hotmail.com

8/23/2007 1:04:00 PM

I'm not taking that chance, she's actually at the Boulder Shelter right now under quarantine and then will be euthanized on the 29th. My heart is breaking. I was hoping they would be able to find someone (a trainer or someone experienced) who would take her, they said she's not eligible for adoption.

Ann

8/23/2007 1:29:03 PM

Hi Ann, I'm sorry. I know very well how you feel. But I truly believe you did the right thing by not keeping her.

I wish I could, but I also have a child.

thetruth1960@hotmail.com

8/23/2007 1:48:08 PM

It's a little comforting to hear from an experienced dog trainer that I'm doing the right thing. Thank you for that.

Ann

8/23/2007 1:59:49 PM

It is too bad that she's be put to sleep. I always hate to see any animal killed. But with that history it is understandable.

thetruth1960@hotmail.com

8/23/2007 2:31:15 PM

Whether it was a pit bull, Doberman, rotti or poodle, the responsibility falls on the owner?s shoulders to recognize, accept that the dog was aggressive and had shown a propensity to bite in the first place. Also, after reading the sign posted at the entrance to the dog park that reads: ?aggressive dogs not allowed?, he (the pit owner) should have turned around and left. Lets look at some of the case facts:

BPD case report # 07-4982

Pit Owner Benjamin George Johnson was listed as the ?suspect? while Jeff Black (Doberman owner) was listed as the ?victim?

Originally restitution for the ?victim? was requested by the PD. The DA later decided not to file charges.

Mr. Johnson has two active arrest warrants out for him (Denver City only). But I am sure that is just a conspiracy against all Pit owners, and he is actually a law abiding, rule acknowledging, common sense type of guy.

Two witnesses describe that the Pit Bull had ?rolled? an Italian Greyhound over and ?urinated? on another dog (signs of aggression) prior to the Doberman?s arrival.

Mr. Johnson (in a statement to an officer) admitted to owning and carrying a muzzle for his pit bull in case it was around children. Why would you do that if your dog was so cuddly?

After the first attack by his dog, Mr. Johnson was told by several people to leave. He did, only to return. Why?

Mr. Black did in fact ?slit? the Pits? neck. But only after 4-5 stabs to the neck/back had no effect on the Pit. Does this not show that the Pit was fully engaged and attacking to kill rather than playfully ?snipping?. The pit was undeterred/ undistracted by being stabbed and was completely focused on the bite on the Doberman?s throat.

It takes approximately 8.5 pounds of pressure to collapse the wind pipe. The jugular is approximately an inch under the skin surface. A pit bull can produce over 300 pounds of pressure with a bite and its teeth are more than capable of puncturing more than an inch deep.

Finally, the Vet stated in his report that the Pit Bull had NO bite marks to it. This is contrary to Mr. Johnson?s story that the Doberman initiated the attacks.

Just a little factual food for thought.

BrandonF

8/27/2007 9:41:37 AM