Episode 76 – Jim Crosby

Jim Crosby holds a Master of Science degree in Veterinary Forensic Medicine, Jim is recognized in and out of Court as an expert in the US and Canada on dangerous dogs, canine aggression, fatal dog attacks, and related issues. He has personally investigated over 30 fatal dog attacks on humans and has, post-attack, physically and behaviorally evaluated over 50 dogs that have killed humans. Cases have included attacks in the US, the UK and Australia. Jim served as Chair of the Review Committee addressing Dangerous Dog procedures and processes for the Government of the Australian Capital Territory in 2017/2018.

Jim is the Director-Canine Encounter Training for the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse, and is the designer of the Law Enforcement Dog Encounter Training course supported by the National Sheriff’s Association and others.

Welcome to the Professionals and Animal Rescue podcast, where a goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show, Jim is a certified behavior consultant. Canine knowledge Assessed C c p D T. Jim is recognizes an expert in the U. S and Canada and dangerous dogs, canine aggression, fatal dog attacks and related issues. As such, he’s performed evaluations on alleged dangerous dogs for various legal cases in jurisdictions. Jim is personally investigated 20 fatal dog attacks on humans and as post attack, evaluated over 40 dogs that have attacked and killed humans. Jim served as division manager for Bay County, Florida animal control from 2008 to 2010. And it’s a Florida certified animal control officer. Hey, Jim, Thanks for coming on the show. Hey, I’m thrilled to be here, so tell us your story In your background, you’ve got quite an extensive history and animal welfare. Yeah, well, it’s kind of like the Grateful Dead set. It’s been a long, strange trip. Um, I got involved, actually, in dog training towards the end of a career is a police officer. Okay. And, uh, my wife isn’t a zone old special ed teacher. So, um, as I started working with dogs, I was interested in trying to help people with dogs that have behavior problems. And so I did a lot of learning and did a lot of studying and went to seminars and so forth and so on and started learning and applying things I’d learned both. It’s a police officer and learned from my wife with her history as a special education teacher, on on dealing with problem behaviors. And I have a background in psychology. So learning theory and all that stuff. And as things went along, I started becoming interested. Especially in 2001 when Diane Whipple was killed in San Francisco by the press scenarios out there. And I kind of scratched my head and went Dogs kill people. Yeah. Oh, my God. And the old cop in me popped up and said, There’s gotta be more to this. Something’s going on. So I started. You know, that being the worst of behavior problems when somebody is seriously injured or killed by a dog I started looking into it and found out that although there have been academic research, you know, after the fact, very few people had ever looked at those cases with an on scene cop slash behavior person eyes and started delving into that and started learning Maur And looking at those cases and starting to apply riel investigative techniques into cases that prior to that police that often set up there’s a dog. There is a body, the dog did it. Boom, we’re done. Shoot the dog, put the body in the meat wagon and everybody goes home. I wanted to know more about it, so I started getting into that. And then Hurricane Katrina came along and hit New Orleans. Okay, and, um, I was sent out to make just a drop off of the van load of supplies and wound up just to drop it off and come back and wound up team coming back to Florida a month later because I got there and found that there were a lot of issues going on. There were some challenges that the police side of me was able to help him out with. There were also a lot of animals. They were being brought in that were, frankly traumatized by storm. These are people’s pets where the people had not knowing the levees were gonna let go left behind. There. There were pets that were in homes where people were killed and they were traumatized by their owners being dead. Um, so there were a lot of behavior issues, and I was able to used the behavior training and the experience I’ve been building with aggressive animals to step in and basically safely deal with these animals, keep them from hurting each other and let them relearn they could trust humans. And out of the 2000 animals that came through the shelter that I was at while I was there, the unseen shelter we only had two of them that had to be put down because of behavior problems. And so, you know, two out of 2000 was pretty pretty darn good. Yeah, very good. Um, And then after Katrina and the disaster response there, I continued to expand what I was doing I’ve now run two different animal control agencies here in Florida. I picked up a master’s degree in veterinary forensics from the vet school at the University of Florida, and I’m halfway through my doctor. It continued. Thio, um, expand my my education in behavior and, um, also, uh, learned an awful lot, helped agencies with everything from dog bites to dogfighting cases to cruelty cases. And so it’s kind of, ah, mishmash of a bunch of different things, but it kind of covers the spectrum of a lot of different animal welfare issues. So this was almost like a second career for you. I mean, you had a career in law enforcement, and then from there, this kind of sprung out of it. It has been a completely second career, and, um, this career has led me quite. Fortunately to being able to spend time in the UK to go to Poland and teach to go to Italy and teach, I spent time, uh, down in Australia not only teaching, but working with the the federal government there and having input on helping them refine and improve their animal welfare responses in their legislation. Um uh, worked with Canadian contacts both legislatively. And, um was involved in a dogfighting case in Ontario where we were able to I was able to go up and evaluate the dogs. We were able to rescue 34 dogs that otherwise, every time before, because it breathe, bands would have been killed just summarily. Six of those dogs are now involved in police work as detective Guard. Um, most of the rest of them have succeeded. And as a you know, it’s not just what I’ve done, but as a result of that case, the Ontario S. P. C. A is no longer enforcing breed specific legislation in the province of interior. That’s great. So I’m curious than you’ve obviously worked in the U. S. And Canada and all these different places. How are things similar, And how are they different in some of these countries around the world? Um, there’s a lot of similarities we’ve all got. We don’t have a desire to see animals treated Well, um, we all want to see people and animals be able to co exist on a decent level. In some places, the challenges ey’re different. Australia, for instance, is a very large place. That’s very very full of empty, and so they have special challenges. Yet they do have urban areas like Sydney and Canberra and Melbourne, that air facing many of the same problems except the first time you drive along there at night. You know, here I’m in Florida and I’m sure, up in Wisconsin used to driving along and dear pop their heads out at dusk. There it’s a kangaroo. And so so having to dodge the kangaroo in the middle of the road does kind of give you a reality check. But different. Um, for instance, I’ve worked in the Caribbean with the Bahamas Humane Society quite a bit. And in the Caribbean culture community dogs are very common. They call them pot cakes down in the Bahamas and people from the U. S. Looking, say, Oh, there’s all these stray dogs, you know, they’re not really strays there kind of community dogs that 45 families will take care of. And there’s also despite the touristy stuff, Um, there is some extreme poverty in the islands. Yet those people that have almost nothing themselves want to see their animals taking care. So, for instance, in the Bahamas, I’ve been able to to be part of a free Spain neuter and low cost. That project to help these people take care of their animals. When they don’t have running water themselves in the morning, they have to take a five gallon bucket up the hill to a well and get water for their homes. That’s not exactly next door to the cruise ships, but, um, so there are challenges in Europe. Um, animals seem to be a lot more integrated into day to day existence. You walk through a park in England and there are a whole bunch of people walking through the park, some with their dogs on leashes, many without them on leads. And the dogs air typically very, very well behaved because their society has a little bit different outlook on the place of the animals there, of course, they’re dogs air with them in the park. Where else would they be? And, of course, they’re sitting outside the restaurant. That’s just where they belong. Poland was very much the same Italy, different aspects, but still the common thread that everybody wants their animals treated decently. In some cases, the Europeans air a little bit ahead of us in some cases as faras Um uh, large spay neuter efforts and they’re a little bit behind. So it’s It’s been very valuable to see that so far around the world. Yeah, No, I know one of the areas that you specialize in is aggressive dogs, and I’m kind of curious how you got into that and what you do with that. Now, Um, that came from, you know, both my wife’s experience with badly behaved Children and the old copy of me one wondering how it waas that the animal human bond went so bad that a human, I mean, it’s it’s sadly normal for humans to mystery animals. You know, people are cruel to their pets, and plenty of pets die because of humans all the time. But when you flip it around, it’s a lot less less common, which probably says an awful lot for the animals. But, um um, I got interested in that and interested in it to the point of wanting to say not just well, this is a bad dog. Get rid of it. But what’s wrong here, and how can we fix it? Can we fix it? What’s the outlook? Can we find Can we find commonalities and, um, Doors, if you will open up to help that animal developed trust with humans and other animals and improve their quality of life? Working with the fighting dogs has been extremely interesting because these are dogs that have been selected and taught to be aggressive to one another. And yet with patients and with, um showing them acceptable behavior and letting them be that the technical term is gregarious affiliative animals, um, it’s amazing the advances even those guys can make if we give them a chance. How do you go about that? I’m just curious. If you encounter, you know, you’re brought in to consult our sister the dog. Like, where do you begin? How do you find that path? Um, first of its a dog that’s human aggressive. Um, you know, there are people who say, Oh, you have to be the Alfa and be in charge. I’m sorry. When you deal with the dogs I’ve dealt with that have actually ripped people apart. That dog is better than I’ll ever be. So coming from a position of force or domination just doesn’t cut it. Instead, the way I start is from a position of trust, a position of using everything from vocal tone to body position to give and take and behavior. Two. Establish that the animal control us TMI that I’m not going to hurt it. I’m not going to run away, but I’m not gonna hurt it. And at the same time, the animal shows me that I can trust it. And then we can develop even just for a few moments, a working relationship, and then build on that slowly in little blocks over a period of time. Once Thea, the human um, association is built and the dog learns to trust, then you can start working at low levels, start help the dog, learn to trust other animals and to not have to react. But to learn that if it shows positive behavior towards them, not another animal, that positive behavior can be returned. And instead of having to fight, the dog can associate. And unfortunately for us, dogs are social creatures. They’re not wolves that want to pretty much the solo apex hunters that aggregating in small family groups are domestic dogs want to be part of a bunch of people having a great time right and so we can teach them using reinforcement techniques and not using force to be able to learn to trust and interact with each other. And it’s really it’s It’s amazingly rewarding to see a dog go from being literally, in the case of a dog named Alice on the block as a fighting dog to now being a member of Police Department who is riding around with his handler, um, looking for drugs and bombs and also being trained to find lost people. That’s that’s just an amazing change. And it’s not that he’s not the only one. Yeah. Do you think I’m curious? Do you think your background and experience in psychology has helped in this regard? Oh, yeah, um, understanding how learning happens and understanding and learning over time. The difference between some of the old myths that aren’t true versus how organisms actually do look at the world and being able to I understand that. Okay, Something looks one way for me, but it may look completely different to a dog and trying to learn how they perceive the world helps build a bill that trust and helps be able to make a plan. So that that dog can handle, um, challenges when they come up. Sure. So I’m curious Jimmy’s or any particular stories that over your years that ring out to you or that you know are particularly touching too. Oh, jeez. Um, well, see, seeing the dogs out of the Canadian fighting ring and also out of the fighting ring we busted in North Georgia, seeing them being able to slowly succeed has been very, very, uh um very, very rewarding. Um, in Upper northwest Georgia a little over a year ago, they called me in to help on a case where ah, small county had a large dog fighting ring going on. I was able to go up and help. Um, we brought together a whole bunch of little agencies because the major agencies were busy with the Houston Hurricanes and we managed to save 107 dogs from a dog sighting ring. We got the man prosecuted for 100 and seven counts of dog fighting and 107 counts of of animal abuse, and the court sentenced him to 50 years in prison. That’s a nun. 23 months like Michael Vick, 50 years in prison and that we, as far as we know, that’s the largest sentence for dog fighting in the United States. Uh, and seeing that come together has been great. That making that big difference for that many dogs and also the fact that other smaller places can look over and go, Hey, can you Can you pass this information to us? Because we want to be able to do the same thing, right? Um, that’s been tremendous help going back to when I first started seeing those animals coming in off the streets of New Orleans that were traumatized and were lunging and snarling and snapping because they were had been through hell. They’re in the middle of New Orleans and seeing them going out as, um, good animals want a quick example was a guy we called Mr Happy. He was a big, black and white pity mix. You know, Big Dog. When I got there, the only way they were able to deal with him, he was in a crate. They had had to catch polling to get him in there. All they could do was to clean his crate was to slide the the pan out from underneath them and slide another warning because nobody could get close to it. Nobody could touch him. He was dangerous. They had to like luring to one side of the crate to throw some food in the other side of the credit. And they had been told the day before I was there, that they needed to destroy him because he was too dangerous. I sat the next day and using building trust, I spent the entire day basically on off, sitting in front of this crate and trying to build that bridge. The next day, 24 hours later, I had him out on a leash walking around the camp, um, acting mostly normal, but in small, small doses. And the third day, he was literally in our meeting in the morning, sitting on people’s laps, coming up for for hugs and for scratches and putting his head on the lap because we had had been able to make a connection with him and seeing him going from a dog that was doomed to death because he was so traumatized to being able to be the social dog. And for the rest of time I was there. He was He was the favorite of the military guys across the street to take out for walks every day. And he eventually went on Thio. Um, I believe he wound up in Wisconsin in a in a home where he’s still to this day. And, you know, knowing that I made a difference for that one dog was just amazing. Yeah, that’s a great story. So I’m curious with all of this stuff. I mean, what is a typical week look like for you? You probably get involved in a lot of different things. Um, I do a lot of legal consulting. Um, for instance, um, you know, I get called in on dog bites sometimes for the person who owns the dog. Sometimes for the person who’s been bitten, depending on what situation is, um, I try to do a lot of resource assistance for agencies and people in other places. Um humph in. I’m working on my doctoral degree, so that takes up some time on dhe. One of my big product projects has been I also worked with being an old policeman, police use of deadly force against people’s pets and have put together a program with the backing of the Department of Justice and the National Sheriff’s Association to teach police officers how to keep themselves safe and how to keep animals safe in their day to day interactions with them and have actually developed an entire course. It’s now going through peer review that hopefully will be the national standard. Teach police officers you know how to use their heads and use their tools to even even in critical situations, to deal with animals. And, you know, first, do no harm if you will, and to hope, to have ways of using less and nonlethal means of force to keep themselves and the public and the pets all safe. So it could be it could be a crazy week. Yeah, it sure sounds like you got a lot on your plate. So, Jim, this has all been really interesting. Is is there anything else you want to share their listeners before wrap things up? Um, the biggest thing I can share is that working positively with animals has a lot of different faces, and there are a lot of different people from different positions that make it all work. It’s not just your animal control officer for the shelter worker or the veterinarian, or the that tech or the rescue person that’s out there on the street, or the person who’s driving animals from Point A to point B. It’s not just going to your shelter and and walking dogs were playing with Kitty’s. There are all kinds of different things from providing Resource is to small departments that have no no normal resource is available to being aware and treating your own animals decently to two. Helping those agencies that exist, especially the ones that are challenged for Resource is there’s a lot of things people can do in the animal welfare field that go outside of what we usually think of as animal welfare. Going to your city council and asking them. Thio, for instance, do away with breed specific legislation or two passed laws to increase ways of holding people responsible for mistreating their animals. Those air all important people, people used to say, Oh, I’d love to help, but I just can’t go to the shelter because I want to take them all home. Great. We can get you on the phone and we can help you track down people who need to renew their vaccinations. Or we can help reach out to schools and teach Children how to avoid negative contacts. Dog bite prevention Dog bites are a big thing. Um, there’s there’s lots of ways people can help, and some of them you don’t think about until it comes up, you know? Yeah, no, I think that’s very well, said that. And I’m a firm believer in that that everybody has a role in animal rescue and whatever your background is, and whatever it works for you to participate, we certainly welcome them with open arms. So absolutely, it’s it’s It’s so multifaceted if the only thing you ever do is that when an animal rescue sad group or your local department is is on site someplace dealing with a hoarding situation, if all you do is run by and drop off a case of of ice water so that the the workers that are actually going in and out of ah hoarding situation, which is terrible, Um, I have something to drink that helps. Well, Jim has been really a pleasure talking today and learning about what you’ve done and thank you for everything you do, and it’s been really great having your on the show. Well, it’s been a real pleasure. And, um, I think your podcast is a really great concept and in a great way of getting the word out, because you people need to know there’s lots of things that that they can do. There’s lots of ways to interact and, um, you know, kudos for taking the lead and getting out there for that. Thanks, Jim. We appreciate it any time. 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