Of course, he has inspired the ire of dogsbite.org and its hate-mongering owner Colleen Lynn for his pit bull stance. Fascinating that Ms. Lynn's organization awarded Skeldon warden of the year for killing 65% of the dogs and 1,300 pit bulls yet has nothing but negative things to say about a guy who's reduced euthanasia rates at his shelter by 22% in less than a year. That is an amazing reduction. Of course people like Ms. Lynn care little about logic and facts and experts - that's silliness, people like her care about killing dogs who have not harmed anyone solely based on how they look.
Jim Crosby set his sights on the pit bull's owners.
Crosby, hired as the director of Bay County Animal Control in February, is a national expert in this niche field.
The former Jacksonville police officer has traveled to investigate 11 fatal dog attacks since 2005, while consulting over the phone for more than 25 others. He draws on that expertise for his job as BCAC director, where he has pushed for stricter laws against owners of dangerous dogs in Bay County.
Back in 2005, Crosby called up to Huntington and offered police officials his services, free of charge. He spent two days investigating the case, and his findings helped put the dog's owner behind bars.
"He had very good knowledge about these dogs, and the characteristics of their behavior," said Det. Chris Sperry of the Huntington Police Department.
"He was a help with the prosecution."
Law enforcement officials are quick to praise Crosby, but as a strong opponent to legislation against pit bulls, he has his detractors.
‘She never had a chance'
Brutus, Donald Brewer's pit bull, had a history of attacking people. During his investigation, Crosby found at least five other victims. It quickly became clear that, between Brewer and the local animal control agency, someone had dropped the ball.
Arianna visited Brewer's house on May 17 with her mother. The toddler tried to walk away as the dog bounded towards her, but Brutus snatched her from behind, clenched down on her neck, and shook her, severing her spinal cord.
He also bit through both the carotid and jugular veins. Firefighters had to beat him off Arianna with a fire extinguisher.
"He bought the dog as protection, and I believe he encouraged aggressive behavior," said Crosby. "If you want an alarm system, get an alarm system ... a dog is not a proper tool for that."
Brutus was euthanized after Arianna's death. Brewer pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and served 6½ months of a one-year sentence. He was fined $127 in court costs. A civil suit between the Fleemans and the local animal control agency recently was settled in the family's favor.
Lucile Fleeman, Arianna's grandmother, is thankful for Crosby's help in the case.
"He was vital in helping us understand that there was nothing that Arianna's mother could have done," she said. "Once the dog latched on, that was it. She never had a chance."
The pit bull debate
"Breed-specific legislation doesn't work," said Crosby. "It's legislating things. Legislating things doesn't work, you have to change human behavior."
Crosby's staunch opposition to singling out pit bulls has ticked off those on the other side. When he commented on the Web site www.dogsbite.org to explain a pit bull's actions during a fatal attack in Deltona, the site owner, Colleen Lynn, responded by posting his picture under the headline "Professional Whitewasher."
"When they start to attack they don't stop, there's no cutoff point for them ... due to their heritage of dog fighting and selective breeding," said Lynn, 39, a Seattle Web designer who suffered a broken right forearm when a pit bull attacked her in June 2007.
"You can not take a dog with selective breeding and pretend it doesn't matter," said Lynn in a phone interview. "It totally matters. The damage they inflict is so catastrophic."
Crosby maintains that the reason why pit bulls often are the attackers is because they are so popular with people who want aggressive dogs.
"It's not the breed of the dog, it's the human behind the dog. A pit bull, a Rottweiler, a golden retriever are all about the same size, and all can inflict the same damage if provoked," he said.
He points to owners not socializing their dogs, not teaching them how to behave around strangers, and not setting limits as major reasons for attacks. Supervision of children around dogs is a must, Crosby adds.
"Better than three-quarters of fatal attacks are kids under 12, and most of those are kids under 6," he said. "If parents realize that it doesn't matter how sweet the dogs are, that accidents happen, and supervised their interactions, we could eliminate a lot of these."
Though he moonlights as a fatal dog attack investigator, Crosby affects Bay County daily through his work at BCAC.
The agency euthanized 78 percent of the animals it took in during 2007. As of Dec. 13, Crosby had cut that total to 56 percent.
He helped draft changes to loose and dangerous dog laws, approved by the county in November. Chief among them is a four-strike rule (in a six-month period), which gives BCAC the power to confiscate dogs from owners who repeatedly let their animals run loose.
Crosby also wants to secure funding for a program at the University of Florida to study the genetics of dogs that attack, and try to determine why certain dogs don't let up.
"They're interesting," he said of fatal dog attacks. "We've worked and lived with dogs for so many years. For a fatal attack to happen, something has to have gone horribly wrong."
He hopes that his continued work in the field will cut down on the number of attacks.
"If we can prevent these attacks from happening by educating people about what leads up to them, maybe we can make that number (of attacks) smaller," he said. "Then we can save a whole bunch of people from getting hurt."