Also attached to this article is the 74 page police report of the Dax Borchardt case.
Dear Ms. Plevak,
I read your article regarding Daxton and Jeff Borchardt (“Education effort arises from tragedy”, http://www.walworthcountytoday.com/article/20140228/WC/140229750 and it concerns me that only certain aspects of Mr. Borchardt’s story are presented. That all the facts need to be considered is important because the brand of canine “education” preferred by Mr. Borchardt is neither objective or based in facts. I had the experience of meeting him and Ms. Ilwicki (the babysitter in the incident) when they came to Watertown to support an attempt to get pit bull terriers banned by a member of the city council. This would have severely impacted many dog owners in the area and it took months of work by many concerned citizens, mainly dog owners of all breeds, to keep his influence out of our city.
That the attack occurred and was horrific in nature cannot be argued, but one significant question that has yet to be answered by either law enforcement or the media is about the factors contributing to the attack. What was the true nature of environment that these dogs were in and how did that environment contribute to the incident?
I’ve obtained a copy of the compiled police, EMS and Animal Control reports from that incident and would be happy to share them with you. (Documents are now attached below) I understand you’re busy and it’s a large document of about 75 pages, but it’s important to draw your attention to three items in the reports.
1. On page 6, line 7 the report by Detective Michael J. Banaszynski states that the owner of the dogs (Iwicki) stated that “both dogs together were fed one cup of dog food in the morning and one cup of food in the evening.” For dogs of that type and size this small quantity amounts to a starvation diet, essentially ½-cup twice daily. This is in a best case scenario– if the dogs were fed in the same area and not separately it’s likely that the dominant dog would eat most of the food, leaving the other dog even hungrier.
2. On page 20, in the third paragraph of the report by deputy Cory Newman, two inmates at the Walworth County Jail who apparently knew Borchardt (“DJ Bogart” is Jeff Borchart’s name in his DJ business) discussed physical and mental abuse by the owners of the dogs.
3. On page 23, in the third sentence of the fourth paragraph of the report by Deputy Daniel Long, he states that he observed stacked cages of rabbits in the house that the dogs jumped at while he was waiting.
Main article: dog-baiting
"Bait" animals are animals used to test a dog's fighting instinct; they are often mauled or killed in the process. Many of the training methods involve torturing and killing of other innocent animals. Often "bait" animals are stolen pets, puppies, kittens, rabbits, small dogs and even stock (pit bulls acquired by the dogfighting ring which appear to be passive or less dominant). Other sources for bait animals include wild or feral animals, animals obtained from a shelter, or animals obtained from “free to good home” ads. The snouts of bait animals are often wrapped with duct tape to prevent them from fighting back and they are used in training sessions to improve a dog’s endurance, strength or fighting ability. A bait animal’s teeth may also be broken to prevent them from fighting back. If the bait animals are still alive after the training sessions, they are usually given to the dogs as a reward, and the dogs finish killing them.”
I bring these points to your attention because the use of bait animals is a technique used to train fighting dogs, and slow starvation and the competition for limited food only serve to build aggression further. I found the above information in Wikipedia, which admittedly isn’t a journalistic source however there isn’t much information available on the training of fighting dogs and it is important to bring this up because of the circumstances.
Without further investigation it will never be known if these dogs were being trained to fight, but based on what I’ve read in the police reports, the environment these dogs were in was similar to one which would be found where dogs are trained to fight. When I met her in Watertown Ms. Ilwicki didn't strike me as the 4H type that would be raising rabbits for the county fair, so why did she have multiple cages of rabbits in the house and semi-starved dogs?
What’s worse, why would a responsible parent drop off a child in a daycare environment with these elements? It’s evident that Mr. Borchardt and Ms. Ilwicki and her boyfriend (who was listed as the actual owner of the dogs and yet apparently never interviewed by law enforcement afterwards) knew each other before the incident so it’s likely that he was aware of the environment the dogs were in. If this is the case the guilt must be a horrible burden to bear.
While it appears that this burden has been harnessed to a purpose, the fallout of his actions has impacted the lives of many others in negative ways. He has named my wife, among others, as one of the responsible parties in the death of his son in a public forum, making her a potential target for hostile actions. Ironically, on this fairly lengthy list assigning blame for the death of his son, his own name is absent. His stated mission is to ban certain types of dogs entirely – we were preparing to sell our house and move in the event that the attempted breed ban he was advising took effect.
In your article his efforts appear well-intentioned but caution is advised in what appears to be an implied endorsement - being a dog-bite victim does not translate into becoming a dog bite expert. I take issue with many “facts” he has on his web page and believe that spreading misinformation does not serve the public interest. If you have questions please let me know.