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Pit bull attack: Child's death reignites official's call for banning breed

A Lowell, Massachusetts, city councilor plans to call for a citywide ban on pit bulls following the death of a 7-year-old boy. Police told WFXT that the boy was brutally attacked by two dogs of that breed. 

>> Watch the news report here

Candles and flowers now sit at the place where a little boy was mauled to death Saturday night.

While the Middlesex District Attorney handles the investigation, a local lawmaker is calling for a citywide ban on the breed that caused this tragedy.

City councilor Rodney Elliott believes this is an issue of public safety. Although he knows banning pit bulls is a controversial issue, he believes that's the necessary measure needed to keep people safe.

>> On Boston25News.com: 7-year-old mauled to death by dog in Lowell

Elliott believes the city of Lowell is too crowded, and therefore there's no room to safely keep pit bulls. 

"I just don't want to see this happen again," Elliott said. 

However, this isn't a new cause for Elliott as he's been calling for a pit bull ban for years. In 2011, following a number of pit bull attacks, he helped spearhead an ordinance to regulate pit bulls and pit bull mixes within the city limits – and it passed. 

"We're an urban city. We have 108,000 people living in 13 square miles. You can go to some very densely populated areas in the city and I think that would be appropriate," Elliott said. "I don't think the law in the books is effective enough, and I do think the responsibility is on the owner, but if we didn't have pit bulls in the city, this attack would never have happened."

>> On Boston25News.com: Neighborhood mourns 7-year-old boy mauled to death by pit bulls

The state then passed its own law prohibiting cities and towns from labeling specific breeds as "dangerous" and regulating them. Elliott believes it should be up to each community to make that decision.

"At the very least, give us the authority to implement strong measures as we did in the past to hold dog owners accountable," Elliott says.

However, many strongly disagree with Elliott, saying the majority of pit bulls are gentle, loving creatures. 

WFXT reporter Stephanie Coueignoux spoke with Mike Keiley, the director of adoption centers for the MSPCA by phone. 

Keiley told WFXT that proper training, socialization, and spaying or neutering a dog play a large role in their behavior. 

>> On Boston25News.com: Family and friends hold vigil for 7-year-old killed by dogs in Lowell

"These particular dogs are the dangerous animals that we are talking about. There are so many other pit bulls out there that never would be involved in this type of situation," Keiley said.

Elliott said there are 74 registered pit bulls in Lowell, but he says many more are being illegally bred. Overbreeding is a problem that can easily lead to overly aggressive dogs. 

Keiley said the issue arises when people who aren't properly trained mate two overly aggressive pit bulls together and can end up breeding an increasingly aggressive generation of dogs. 

"I think that's why you're seeing aggressive dogs continuing to be in the community because they're continuing to be allowed to breed and continued to give a bad name to this breed of dog," Keiley said.

>> Read more trending news

Keiley said pit bulls are loving and gentle by nature, but lack of training and care can lead to aggressive behavior. 

The department of public health said the number of injuries caused by dog bites is a "pretty rare set of circumstances." 

In 2014, 189 people were hospitalized due to dog bites, which accounts for a total of 0.3 percent of all hospitalizations in Massachusetts for that year. 

Elliot said that if Lowell can ban raising chickens because of health concerns, the city should be allowed to ban pit bulls for safety reasons. 

"That makes no logical sense to me. There are other animals and species in this city, in this state, in this country so when we feel there is a problem with a particular breed – and there is," Elliott said.

Last year, on Oct 3, a citywide ban on pit bulls went into effect in Montreal following a pit bull attack that killed a woman in Pointe-aux-Trembles, Quebec. 

The attack has since been contested by animal rights organizations and pit bull owners who say the ban is senseless and that there was no forewarning regarding the ban. 

Elliott plans on raising the issue at a council meeting Tuesday.

The MSPCA said Lowell is one of a number of local cities with what they call an overpopulation of pit bulls, so the organization is now offering free spaying and neutering of pit bulls in those communities. 

More information regarding their "Pit Pals" program for spaying and neutering pit bulls and to check if you're eligible to receive those services for free, check out their website here.

Steve Harvey shares inspirational message about faith and God

Steve Harvey spent his Sunday reflecting on God.

>> Watch the clip here

The TV personality shared a moving post with fans on Facebook on Sunday and spoke candidly about his relationship with God and his faith.

>> Read more trending news

“If you honor God, God gives you grace and faith. Since you can’t buy it, since you can’t purchase grace, you can’t purchase faith, He gives it out to whoever He wants to have it,” Harvey said. “But you can do some things to get more of it.”

>> On Rare.us: The world fell in love with Claire after she sang a hit from 'The Little Mermaid,' and now she’s stolen Steve Harvey’s heart

He added: “Gratitude and honor. If you are grateful, He will give you more things to be grateful for. If you honor Him and give Him credit, you give Him the praise and the honor, He will do things for you that you can’t even explain. He will reveal stuff to you that you will never know. He’ll show you things your eyes can’t see. That’s the beauty of gratitude and honoring Him.”

Woman dies after ambulance doesn't show up, police say

An East Liverpool, Ohio, woman died at a Pittsburgh hospital after police say potentially lifesaving help didn't arrive.

>> Watch the news report here

The officer says he feels defeated. He and his partner found a woman suffering from a brain aneurysm.

Patrolman Jacob Talbott and another officer found the woman unresponsive Saturday morning. 

They said they called right away for an ambulance, and dispatchers said one would be on the way.

But after waiting, they said they called back and were told the EMS crew wasn't coming – and the other two local ambulance companies couldn't come either.

“We were just going to take her to the hospital ourselves. We didn't have time to wait for an ambulance company out of Hancock County in West Virginia,” Talbott said.

So Talbott put the woman in the front seat of his cruiser. The other officer jumped in the back seat and started CPR. They sped off to a local hospital.

>> Read more trending news

The woman was then flown to a hospital in Pittsburgh, where she died.

“I was holding out hope, saying a lot of prayers, asking for a miracle that she'd make it. Finding out she didn't make it is rather tough,” Talbott said.

Talbott said he wants answers from the ambulance companies and said it's unacceptable that none of them showed up.

“I'm not real happy that an ambulance service committed and five minutes later they no longer have a crew available,” Talbott said. 

The woman's name has not been released.

The name of the company that initially agreed to respond but didn't is Ambulance Service Inc., police said.

The company did not answer WKBN’s request for comment.

Why more US teens are suffering from severe anxiety than ever before — and how parents can help

Nearly one-third of American adolescents and adults are affected by anxiety, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s the most common mental health disorder in the country.

» RELATED: What is anxiety and how can you overcome it?

And when it comes to teens, severe anxiety is becoming more crippling each year.

In fact, over the last decade, anxiety has surpassed depression as the most common reason college students seek counseling services, the New York Times reported.

» RELATED: Anxiety and depression do not define who we are

The data comes from the American College Health Association’s 2016 survey of students about the previous year.

Sixty-two percent of undergraduate students in the survey reported “overwhelming anxiety,” a significant increase from 50 percent in 2011.

A separate survey from the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, asks incoming college freshmen whether they “felt overwhelmed by all I had to do” during the previous year.

>> Read more trending news

In 1985, when the institute began surveying students on the issue, 18 percent said they felt overwhelmed.

By 2010, 29 percent said they did. And in 2016, the number jumped to 41 percent.

And since 2012, the Washington Post reported, the Boys Town National Hotline has seen a 12 percent spike in teens reaching out via calls, texts, chats and emails about their struggles with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

» RELATED: Teens and the distorted reality of social media

The rate of hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers has also doubled over the past decade.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mirrored a national trend in suicide rates across the board.

» RELATED: The suicide rate for teen girls is the highest it’s been in 40 years — Is social media to blame?

But the research found suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

That means for every 100,000 American girls in 2015, five committed suicide.

For teen boys, the rate rose by more than 30 percent.

» RELATED: ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ shows how adults can mess up teen angst

What’s causing the rise in teenagers with severe anxiety?

Anxiety, along with depression, cuts across all demographics, including both privileged and disadvantaged teenagers.

But privileged teens are among the most emotionally distressed youth in America, Arizona State University psychology professor Suniya Luthar told the New York Times.

» RELATED: How to keep your kids safe on social media 

“These kids are incredibly anxious and perfectionistic,” she said, but there’s “contempt and scorn for the idea that kids who have it all might be hurting ... there’s always one more activity, one more A.P. class, one more thing to do in order to get into a top college. Kids have a sense that they’re not measuring up. The pressure is relentless and getting worse.”

But helicopter parents aren’t always to blame. Many students internalize the anxiety and put the pressure on themselves, Madeline Levine, co-founder of Challenge Success, a nonprofit aimed at improving student well-being, told the Times.

» RELATED: The more social media you use, the lonelier you feel, study says

Another expert, psychiatrist Stephanie Eken, said despite the cultural differences, there’s a lot of overlap among teens regarding what makes them anxious.

Eken mentions factors range from school, family conflicts, what food to eat, diseases, how they’re perceived by friends and notably in the last few years, Eken told the Times, to a rising fear about terrorism. 

“They wonder about whether it’s safe to go to a movie theater,” she said.

A lack of close, meaningful relationships is also a major factor.

» RELATED: Should kids be watching new Netflix series on teen suicide? 

Experts have long said hormonal, mental and physical changes associated with puberty may leave teens especially vulnerable to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders.

And social media doesn’t help, Eken said, adding that teens are always comparing themselves with their peers, which leaves them miserable.

When Times reporter Benoit Denizet-Lewis visited Mountain Valley, a nonprofit that offers teens need-based assistance for $910 a day, a college student at the facility said, “I don’t think we realize how much it’s affecting our moods and personalities,” he said. “Social media is a tool, but it’s become this thing that we can’t live without but that’s making us crazy.”

» RELATED: This social media platform is the worst for cyberbullying 

But social media can also be used to “help increase connections between people,” CDC suicide expert Thomas Simon told CNN in August. “It's an opportunity to correct myths about suicide and to allow people to access prevention resources and materials.”

Still, Simon acknowledged that cyberbullying can greatly impact vulnerable youth.

More from experts at NYTimes.com.

How parents can help

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder are not getting treatment. And anxiety disorders are highly treatable.

While anxiety can be a normal reaction to stressful environments and situations, there are specific symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.

Generally, someone with anxiety disorder would have fear or anxiety that is out of proportion to the situation or inappropriate for his or her age.

The anxiety would also affect normal day-to-day function.

Two questions parents should ask themselves: Is my child more shy or anxious than others his or her age? Is my child more worried than other children his or her age?

» RELATED: Nighttime cellphone usage linked to poor mental health among teens

According to Lynn Miller, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia, those questions can help predict a child’s potential of developing an anxiety disorder.

If you notice overwhelming feelings of anxiety in your child, the ADAA suggests seeking help and talking to a professional.

While antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can offer relief from symptoms, they’re not treated as cures. Instead, talk therapy is often recommended.

More tips from ADAA.org.

New study finds ‘alarming’ 76 percent decline in insect populations

Insects are in serious danger. Insect populations have decreased by about 76 percent in nearly 30 years, according to a new study.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from Germany recently conducted an experiment, published in PLOS One, to determine how much populations had declined and why. 

To do so, they measured the total flying insect biomass, the weight of the insect catch, by using tent-like nets called Malaise traps. Those were deployed in 63 nature protection areas in Germany over the course of 27 years. 

After analyzing the results, they found that flying insect biomass had decreased by 76 percent and up to 82 percent in the summers during the time of the study.

In fact, the scientists say their findings suggest “the entire flying insect community has been decimated over the last few decades,” the study read. 

Scientists noted the drop occurred regardless of the habitat type, but changes in weather, land use and habitat characteristic were not the reason.

»RELATED: Can this plastic-eating bug save our planet? 

Despite the unknown explanation, researchers say the dip is “alarming” as the disappearance of “field margins and new crop protection” have both been associated with insect decline.

“Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services,” the study read. 

That’s why researchers hope to continue their studies to pinpoint the exact cause and ways to prevent it. 

“There is an urgent need to uncover the causes of this decline,” the study said, “its geographical extent, and to understand the ramifications of the decline for ecosystems and ecosystem services.”

Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

Different types of foods have been linked to cancer, including saturated fats and processed meats. Now, scientists say sugar can fuel the disease, too. 

>> Read more trending news

Researchers from universities in Belgium recently conducted a nine-year experiment, published in Nature Communications, that revealed how sugar stimulates the growth of tumors. 

They explained that healthy cells receive energy through aerobic respiration, a process that transforms digested food into energy molecules. To complete the process, oxygen is required so that carbon dioxide can be released.

>> Work the night shift? You may be at higher risk for breast cancer, study says

On the other hand, cancerous cells get energy from fermenting sugar, which causes tumor growth. This is called the Warburg effect.

For the study, they examined the correlation between “the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness” by observing the sugar fermentation of yeast, which is similar to that of cells. They both “share the unusual characteristic of favoring fermentation of sugar over respiration,” the study read.

The scientists not only confirmed that sugar causes tumors to grow, but that it also makes cells multiply faster. They believe the sugar produces more of the most common cancer-causing genes, also known as Ras proteins, which fuel aggressive tumors. 

>> Related: Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

“Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth. Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumor aggressiveness. This link between sugar and cancer has sweeping consequences,” co-author Johan Thevelein said in a statement

While the researchers do not understand why the cells react this way to sugar, they think their findings can help treat cancer with low-sugar diets. 

“This research in yeast and human cells has led to a new very valuable scientific hypothesis,” the authors wrote. “The next step is to find out whether these results also apply to patients.”

Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women under 60 years old are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women in the same age group. In fact, data from 2015 showed black women had a 39 percent higher breast cancer death rate.

>> Read more trending news

New research from Emory University, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute points to differences in health insurance as the culprit.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, included data from the National Cancer Data Base on 563,497 black and white women between the ages of 18 and 64 who had been diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer between 2004 and 2013.

The researchers examined five factors for the study:

  • Demographics (age, stage, state, year of diagnosis, etc.)
  • Comorbidities (other health conditions)
  • Insurance (lack of insurance, private insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.)
  • Tumor characteristics (size, type, stage, etc.)
  • Treatment (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, surgery, etc.)

The findings

They found that insurance explained one-third of the additional risk of death among the black women compared to white women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

Additionally, almost three times as many black women (22.7 percent) were either uninsured or had Medicaid insurance compared to white women (8.4 percent).

“Lack of insurance is a barrier to receipt of timely and high-quality treatment and screening services,” study authors wrote.

Other major factors that explained the differences: tumor characteristics (23.2 percent), comorbidities (11.3 percent) and treatment (4.8 percent).

Nearly 80 percent of the women in the study had the most common type of breast cancer (hormone receptor-positive breast cancer) and according to the researchers, when matched for factors such as insurance, comorbidity and others, those factors accounted for a combined 76.3 percent of the total excess risk of death in black patients.

The authors noted that when it came to treatment differences, black and white women contrasted most for hormone therapy, which, according to ACS, is typically used after surgery to help reduce the chance of recurrence.

“Several studies reported that black women are less likely to complete chemotherapy and hormone therapy,” study author Ahmedin Jemal told the ACS. “This could be for many reasons, including problems with transportation or the inability to pay for medicine.”

Additionally, previous research has shown that black women get lower quality mammograms and are less likely to have a follow-up appointment after receiving abnormal mammograms.

And insurance is vital for both high-quality cancer care and for early detection.

“We know so much about cancer prevention and control,” Jemal, who is also vice president of the ACS surveillance and health services research program, said. “But we’re not applying it to the whole population equally. We have to make the standard of care available to everyone, including people with low income. And blacks are disproportionately represented in that group.”

Read the full study at ascopubs.org

Learn more about the study and more about how women can protect themselves from breast cancer at cancer.org

Critics say Museum of Ice Cream’s plastic sprinkles pose environmental risks 

Environmentalists in San Francisco and Los Angeles are concerned about the effects of one feature at local Museum of Ice Cream locations: sprinkles. 

>> Read more trending news

Critics say the plastic pieces are littering California streets blocks from the pop-up museums as they’re carried out on the clothes of museum visitors. The plastic material becomes litter and has the potential to end up in the water, a danger to marine life, KABC reported. 

“My concern is that they go down the drains and into the bay, where they will be bite-sized for most fish,” San Francisco resident Johanna Sanders told the San Francisco Gate.

The Museum of Ice Cream, which opened in Los Angeles in April and San Francisco in September, is known for its colorful displays, tasty treats and Instagram-worthy photo backdrops. 

According to a Forbes description of the LA location, there’s a “gallery of suspended bananas, ... rooms of giant melted popsicles, big-as-you gummy bears and a swimming pool full of sprinkles.” The San Francisco Gate describes its local pop-up as including “a candy garden, psychedelic rainbow unicorns, a pink rock climbing wall, banana swings, an all-pink diner with a jukebox and a sprinkle pool filled with more than 100 million plastic imitation sprinkles. A circular swimming space even has pink floats and a diving board.”

Both locations feature bright pink walls and interactive exhibits.

“All of the rooms in the museum have things you can eat or smell,” KABC reported.

The museums use plastic for the sprinkles in the pools instead of real, edible ones for sanitary reasons. A spokesperson for the Museum of Ice Cream told the Gate the sprinkles are coated in “antimicrobial germ bloc.”

Museum officials said they’re working to address people’s concerns. They’re working with an environmental specialist and also instructing exiting visitors to shake off excess sprinkles at an “air shower” at the San Francisco location, according to the Gate

But even still, “guests have been putting sprinkles in their pocket(s) as a memento of their experience in the sprinkle pool,” spokeswoman Shelley Reinstein said.

Eva Holman, with the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization, said the plastic sprinkles pose risks that need to be taken more seriously. 

“If it's on the sidewalk it most likely goes into storm drains and then into the ocean,” Holman told the Gate. “(And) my 5-year-old would think it’s candy. Why wouldn’t a bird on the street think it’s something to consume?”

“Most plastic has a purpose, like bottle caps and food wrappers,” Holman said. “What is the purpose of this tiny piece of plastic other than a selfie moment?”

The Museum of Ice Cream’s Los Angeles location, originally slated to close in May, has had its close date pushed back five times due to popularity. It’s scheduled now to close in December. The San Francisco location will be open until Feb. 13, just in time for lovebirds to take their sweet someone before Valentine’s day. The museum was set to close in October, but officials extended the schedule after tickets sold out in just 18 minutes.

Read more at the San Francisco Gate.

Halloween 2017: Best trick or treat times

While the best time to trick or treat is usually on Halloween itself, it is important to recognize neighborhood and community guidelines. Heading out during the best trick or treat times can also maximize the candy haul for your little superhero or princess. After all, that’s what the holiday is about for many kids and kids at heart.Here's the strategy parenting and health experts developed for the best trick-or-treat times: The day of the week: You'll need to plan a little differently when Halloween falls on a Friday or Saturday, when you can potentially stay out a little later but might want to head home before you're coping with drunk drivers from costume parties.Another tricky situation is when Halloween falls on a Sunday. The biggest issues are whether trick-or-treating will clash with the church crowd. If your city doesn't determine whether trick-or-treating will occur on Saturday instead, you'll need to survey the neighbors to see what their plans are. Most debates online settle on sticking with Oct. 31 for trick-or-treating regardless of the day of the week, but your area might be different. What your town says: Be aware that many towns and municipalities now set aside specific times for trick-or-treating. You can usually find them on your city or community's web page or in a community posting group like NextDoor.com. If you're just looking for a general idea, most areas allow (or encourage) trick-or-treating between 4 and 9 p.m. Dark or no dark? You'll definitely want to anticipate when it will get dark when you're planning what time to trick or treat. According to the How to Adult blog, the sun will most likely set between 6:30 and 7 p.m. on Halloween, depending on your location, and it will get dark by 7:30 p.m.If you have young children, you may want to go to a few houses while it's still light if they're afraid of the dark (or you're afraid of the after-dark vibe in your  target area.) If you do opt to be out trick-or-treating after dark,  Verywell recommended making each child more visible by having them carry something that lights up, whether glow bracelet, flashlight or flashing attire. Light-up shoes were another good idea. Plan your route: It may seem like overkill, but way too many car accidents happen between 5 and 7 p.m. and kids come to harm while trick-or-treating all too often. Safety experts recommend that adults do a bit of prep on the trick-or-treating route before deciding on the best trick or treat times. Check the route during daylight hours for broken sidewalks or places where you can't safely walk and also figure out how long it will take you to complete your circuit. That way, you can allow more time by starting earlier or cut a few houses from your plans if you want to be home early or before dark. Also look over the route if your tween will be out with a group of friends and make sure the kids carry a cellphone for emergencies. The recommended time: The ideal times for most families to trick or treat is 6:30 to 8 p.m., according to How to Adult. This is the time period when people are usually home from work and ready to participate in festivities. A 6:30 p.m. trick or treat start time also gives kids plenty of time to eat dinner and put on their costumes. For extended periods: If you plan to trick or treat for more than an hour or so, prepare yourself and the kids. Choose shoes that fit well and have been worn before, pick costumes that won't drag on the ground and are bathroom-friendly and plan to stop at a friend's house for water and bathroom breaks, How to Adult recommends. To get the most candy: Hey, Halloween only comes once a year. Your kids can be forgiven if they want to trick or treat during times that yield the most, or the best, candy at the end of the night. To time trick-or-treating for the maximum haul, start with the areas that are going to have the most or best candy first. Experts told Readers Digest that the longer you stay out on Halloween night, the worse the quality of candy gets, but you might end up with more in quantity, because people are anticipating you might be one of their last groups. If you have older kids who are ready to tote and walk without complaining, consider taking a last lap in a dense-population neighborhood or spot well-known for welcoming trick-or-treaters. If you think it's going to be tough to carry that much candy the rest of the way, consider a quick detour to drop off the first batch of treats after you've covered the main drags.When to wrap it up: On a school night Halloween, the best time to wrap up the trick-or-treating is between 8:30 and 9 p.m. as families and others start their rituals for the next day, according to Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert and blogger at Hitched. You may keeping going for an hour or so later if Halloween falls on a Friday or Saturday. For those handing out treats, when you’re all out of candy or ready to call it a night, make sure to turn off your outdoor lights and take in any fresh pumpkins or jack-o’-lanterns to avoid after-hours tricksters, added Gottsman. 

Hank the pit bull, wrongly accused of killing livestock, set free

A pit bull named Hank that was wrongfully blamed for killing livestock last year is now free.

>> Read more trending news

A judge in Thurston County, Washington, on Wednesday voided a Lewis County euthanasia order and ordered that Hank be released to his adoptive family in Centralia, Washington. 

Though witnesses said the pit bull that killed the livestock was not Hank, a Lewis County judge ruled Hank a dangerous dog and directed he be put down.

Hank's owners have been fighting in court for five months and finally won on Wednesday.

“It feels wonderful! It's like I can't tell you how great it is,” Hank’s owner, Jann Propp-Estimo, told KIRO.

The family said they planned on spoiling Hank.

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