Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Huffpost Media Blitz

Revised: April 23, 2014; 14:23 GMT

To: Alissa Scheller, Associate Infographics Editor, Huffington Post
Re: Pit bulls are just about the nicest dogs there are

Your infographic is very appealing, but unfortunately it is dead wrong. Here's why.

Your chart is based on information from the American Temperament Test Society (ATTS). The text on your infographic claims that pit bulls are
. . . among the most tolerant dogs tested by the American Temperament Test Society
Your infographic fails to mention a number of salient points. The ATTS was designed to test Schutzhund dogs, and serves primarily as a breed suitability test for the German Shepherd. As the ATTS website states, the test simulates a casual walk through a park or neighborhood where everyday life situations are encountered.

There have been twenty fatal dog attacks on humans so far in 2013; pit bulls have accounted for nineteen of those attacks. There have been four hundred twenty-one disfiguring attacks on humans this year, three hundred seventy-seven of them by pit bulls.

These attacks did not occur on a casual walk in the park. They often occurred in the homes of those who have unwittingly adopted a pit bull, and the victim is often a family member who has loved the dog until the moment of the attack. The ATTS does not test for idiopathic rage (sometimes called Sudden Rage Syndrome).1

It comes as no surprise that your infographic was published during the month of October, which is celebrated as "National Pit Bull Awareness Month."  During October shelters around the country make a determined effort to place surplus pit bulls in family environments. This goal is achieved through a massive outreach campaign, making use of all the print and electronic media outlets at their disposal. This year the Huffington Post has surpassed itself with at least six pit bull advocacy media events (videos, slide shows, and graphics), including yours, during the month of October.

The Huffington Post has published, along with your graphic, a code which enables other advocacy sites to easily embed the graphic in their own sites. Your graphic will be published on hundreds of sites which advocate for fighting breeds. With its adorable puppy and the punchy graphic your infographic will be seen by tens or hundreds of thousands of people and will do immeasurable damage for months to come.

Huffington Post October pit bull media blitz :

Your Kids and Pit Bulls Love Each Other
   Photo series; October 25, 2013

Why It's Ridiculous People Think Pit Bulls Are Inherently Mean
   Infographic, October 24, 2013

The Real Story of Snow White
   Photo series; October 22, 2013

Meet the Pit Bull That Learned to Trust Humans Again
   Blog, October 21, 2013

Hero Pit Bull Saves Cat
   Video; October 14, 2013

Elle the Pit Bull Named 2013 Hero Dog
   Video; October 8, 2013

* * * * *
1 The use of the ATTS by advocates of pit bulls was discredited years ago, on The Truth About Pit Bulls.

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

2014 Year-end report of dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; January 3, 2015
32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; September 27, 2014
How many other animals did pit bulls kill in 2014?
   Animals 24-7; January 27, 2015

This page may also include information from Dogsbite &Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks

2014 Dog Bite Related Fatalities on Daxton's Friends
Index of canine fatalities on Daxton's Friends

SRUV uses the definition of "pit bull" as found in the Omaha Municipal Code Section 6-163. As pit bulls are increasingly crossed with exotic mastiffs, Catahoula Leopard Dogs and other breeds, the vernacular definition of "pit bull" must be made even more inclusive.

Sources cited by news media sometimes refer to "Animal Advocates" or sometimes "Experts." In many cases these words are used to refer to single-purpose pit bull advocates who have never advocated for any other breeds or species of animals. Media would be more accurate to refer to these pit bull advocates as advocates of fighting breeds.

Similarly, in many cases pit bull advocates refer to themselves as "dog lovers" or "canine advocates" and media often accepts this usage. The majority of these pit bull advocates are single-purpose advocates of fighting breeds.



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Doubling Down

The Los Angeles Times has published three opinions concerning pit bulls in the last 26 years. In August of 1987 the Times Editorial Board called for Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) banning pit bulls, even before the term BSL existed.

Twenty-six years later, on August 8, 2013, following two fatal pit bull attacks in Southern California in 2013, the Times' editors reversed direction and published an opinion defending pit bulls. This act of journalistic contempt followed a half-dozen other recent articles by Times' editors which promoted pit bulls.

Two months later, on October 11, 2013, the Times published an opinion which attacked the Supervisors of Riverside County. This opinion came after the Supervisors voted unanimously to mandate sterilization of pit bulls on a limited basis in unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

The October 11th opinion came 18 days after the third fatal pit bull attack in Southern California in 2013, in which 2-year old Samuel Eli Zamudio was killed in San Bernardino County. The opinion page editors have steadfastly ignored the fatal pit bull attack on Samuel Zamudio.1

There have been twenty fatal dog attacks in the US in calendar year 2013; pit bulls have committed nineteen of the twenty attacks. The LA Times' advocacy of pit bulls seems compulsive, even obsessive, given their legacy of pain and grief.

Doubtless the editors are dedicated to animal welfare. But many of us who are equally dedicated find the LA Times' obsessive advocacy of fighting breeds, including their senseless, unnecessary attack on the Riverside Board of Supervisors, incomprehensible. It is beyond understanding.

* * * * *

1 The October 11th opinion opens with the following line: After several recent, highly publicized pit bull attacks on people in Southern California, two of which were fatal, . . .  Our post Factchecking the LA Times (October 4, 2013, which was sent to all the members of the editorial board) lists all five 2013 fatal pit bull attacks in California, including the three in Southern California.

LA Times Opinions (signed by Editorial Board):
Why target pit bulls?
   (Opinion by the LA Times Editorial Board, October 11, 2013)
Are pit bulls a menace?
   (Opinion by the LA Times Editorial Board, August 8, 2013)
Biting back at pit bulls
  (Opinion by the LA Times Editorial Board, August 25, 1987)

Recent LA Times Editorials:
Michael Vick's prize pit bull, and how he became a loving pet
   LA Times, Carla Hall, July 10, 2013
Where my dog's at
   LA Times, Jessica Naziri, May 19, 2013
Hey haters, people love dogs
   LA Times, Alexandra Le Tellier, May 17, 2013
LA County's Dilemma
   LA Times, Carla Hall, May 16, 2013
The Gift of a great dog
   LA Times, Meghan Daum, May 16, 2013
Pit bulls in trouble again
    LA Times, Carla Hall, May 10, 2013

Woman recovering from pit bull attack in Riverside County
    LA Times, August 13, 2013
LA County beefs up response to vicious dogs
    LA Times, June 25, 2013

Related Posts:
Hotel California (Index of SRUV posts on California)
California Timeline (Recent pit bull attacks in California)

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here. This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Information on euthanasia rates is from Pit bulls and Political Recklessness, by Merritt Clifton. Shelter  intake and euthanasia rates are published annually in the July/August edition of Animal People.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pimping Pit Bulls

To: James Burnett, Doug Most, The Boston Globe

We are writing to correct a number of misrepresentations in your article, Rising Pit Bull Adoptions Reflect Breed's Changing Image (Boston Globe, October 7, 2013).

The fact that your article appeared during the MSPCA's annual "Pit Bull Awareness" month comes as no surprise. Similar articles appear routinely and they are written as a result of outreach on the part of the pit bull advocacy groups such as MSPCA. Your article has become part of that outreach.

There have been at least twenty documented fatal dog attacks on humans so far in 2013; pit bulls have committed 19 of the 20 fatal attacks. Disfiguring pit bull attacks, including those which cause amputation and other grievous injury, are estimated to run to ten times the number of those killed.

Despite these figures many of the humane societies, the SPCAs, and the major animal welfare organizations continue to advocate for fighting breeds.

A full explanation of why our humane institutions continue to advocate for fighting breeds is beyond the scope of this article. Briefly, these institutions are caught in a zero-sum game of adoption, no-kill, euthanasia, and the public perception of animal welfare. The history of pit bull advocacy is long and complex, and these institutions have been slow to correct their mistakes.

Lengthy articles about the changing image of pit bulls have been appearing in the nation's newspapers and magazines for decades, which makes us wonder how much more the image can be changed. This trend reached an apex with a recent article in Time Magazine.1 The article was graced with six billboard-sized studio photographs of pit bulls shot against pastel backgrounds. With your article The Globe has become part of this public relations campaign.

* * * * *

Among those interviewed in your article are Gary Patronek of Tufts University and Harrison Forbes, an author, canine behaviorist, and ardent pit bull advocate. Dr. Patronek claims he has
seen so many examples of non-pit bull attacks that he has been encouraging people for more than two decades to stop measuring dog behavior and risk by breed.
Dr. Patronek must be thinking of the countless routine bites which cause abrasions and sometimes puncture wounds, while ignoring the fact that pit bulls are responsible for 96% of the fatal attacks on humans this year. Dr Patronek's failure to make this distinction demonstrates a fundamental lapse of judgment.

* * * * *

You refer to two maulings by dogs other than pit bulls, apparently to prove that any dog can be as dangerous as a pit bull. The two examples you chose actually serve to undercut your argument.
1/ . . . a black lab in Denver nearly ripped a boy’s scalp off in what the boy’s father and dog’s owner said was an unprovoked attack
The source for this quotation is not cited and the source is in error; Denver hasn't experienced a fatal or disfiguring dog attack in nearly 30 years,2 since Breed Specific Legislation banning pit bulls was introduced. Some Denver suburbs have experienced disfiguring attacks, but none by black Labs in the past several years. There have been a total of six attacks by black labs since 2008, none of which occurred in Denver.
2/ . . . a golden retriever-Labrador mix fatally mauled a 2-month old baby in South Carolina
Your decision to mention the attack on Aiden McGrew in Ridgeville, SC, on Friday, April 20, 2012, is surprising, since little about either the attacking dog or the incident itself is known with certainty.

There were two dogs in the house at the time of Aiden's death, one of which was subsequently euthanized. Nine months after Aiden's death a second child of Quinten and Chantel McGrew, a two year old boy, was also mauled and received significant wounds. Circumstances suggest that the dog which attacked the two-year old in January of 2013 is the same dog which killed Aiden nine months earlier.

In the months between the two attacks on their sons the McGrews had their surviving children removed by DSS three times, and were charged in separate cases with negligence, pornography, and theft. Quinten McGrew, the designated babysitter at the time of the attack, was asleep in the house at the time of his son's death. The McGrews are not credible witnesses.

At the time of Aiden's death one of the dogs had been with the McGrews for only two weeks; the circumstances under which the McGrews had this dog have been variously explained as borrowing, babysitting, or fostering, all of which are euphemisms used by dogmen and dogfighters. Aiden was the third toddler killed by a dog in Dorchester County in recent years; the other two are known to have been killed by pit bulls. In May of this year a double-amputee, 80- year old Carlton Freeman, was pulled from his wheelchair and killed by pit bulls, making Dorchester County one of the most deadly pit bull counties in the country.

Advocates of fighting breeds are given to using unsubstantiated and incorrect accounts of attacks by breeds other than pit bulls, to somehow imply that other dogs are vicious. The Globe has fallen prey to promulgating this bizarre deception.

* * * * *

Your mention of these two attacks, both of which are said to have occurred outside of Boston and Massachusetts, and both of which are unsubstantiated, is bewildering. On the other hand, your decision to omit any mention of actual, verified pit bull attacks, many of which did occur in Boston,4, 5 must be considered an intentional deception rather than an omission. In addition, you cite several advocates of fighting breeds but failed to consult a single expert who could have presented a different perspective.

* * * * *

In your article a great deal is made of the fact that we’re seeing more Coldwell families owning pit bulls these days.

Thirty years ago pit bulls comprised roughly 1-2% of the canine population, and only one human a year was killed in a fatal dog attack. Pit bulls now comprise roughly six percent of the canine population, and pit bulls have killed over twenty people a year for the last decade. The number of attacks by pit bulls nearly trebled from 2002 to 2011. Nearly a third of all pit bull attacks causing permanent disfigurements during the last three decades have occurred in the last two years.

The reason we're seeing more pit bulls in the suburbs is not because pit bulls have suddenly become safe to live with, but because of the intense advocacy and marketing efforts on the part of pit bull advocacy groups. Your article and countless others like it has enabled the proliferation of fighting breeds and will add to their legacy of grief and misery.

* * * * *


Time Magazine, July 22, 2013
The article goes by two different titles:
The Softer Side of Pit Bulls; A Reviled Breed Gets a Makeover, and
The Great Pit Bull Makeover; A Look at the Campaign to Redeem the Reputation of a Feared Breed

2 Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here. This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

3 South Carolina fatal pit bull attacks

4 City leaders outraged over law that allows pit bulls to be unmuzzled

5 Pit bull attacks have residents concerned

Other statistics:
Information on euthanasia rates is from Pit bulls and Political Recklessness, by Merritt Clifton. Shelter intake and euthanasia rates are published annually in the July/August edition of Animal People.

The Attack on Aiden McGrew
After recent dog bite, McGrew children back in State care
   Post and Courier, January 12, 2013
Another child of McGrews attacked by family dog
   Post and Courier, January 9, 2013
Father of infant killed by dog released on personal recognizance
   Post and Courier, May 2, 2012
Father charged in death of son mauled by dog
   Associated Press, May 2, 2012
Dogs in Ridgeville home where infant was mauled lacked vaccinations
   Post and Courier, April 28, 2012
Infant boy killed when mauled by family dog as father slept
   Post and Courier, April 21, 2912
Baby found mauled
   Summerville Journal Scene, April 20, 2012
Dog killed, dismembered SC 2-month old
   Associated Press, April 20, 2012

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks


Friday, October 4, 2013

Factchecking the LA Times

Revised: Oct 6, 2013, 15:44 GMT
Pit bulls have come under scrutiny in the Southland after violent attacks left one jogger dead in Antelope Valley last year and, most recently, a 2-year-old boy in Colton.1
The term Southland is used to refer to the interacting metropolitan and rural area sprawling over five counties in the southern part of California; the counties are Los Angeles, Orange, San  Bernardino, Riverside, and Ventura counties. Another way to describe the Southland is to say that it includes all of Greater Los Angeles (LA, Orange, and Ventura counties) as well as the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties).

The excerpt at the top of the page leaves the distinct impression that one person was killed by a pit bull in 2012 in the Southland and a 2-year old child was killed this year.

This misrepresentation, whether it is intentional or inadvertent, begs to be corrected. The recent death of the 2-year old child in Colton is the third fatal pit bull attack in the Southland this year.

There have been at least 20 fatal dog attacks in calendar year 2013 in the US. 19 of those deaths have been committed by pit bulls. California leads the nation with 5 of the 19 fatal pit bull attacks, or 26% of the nation's total. 3 of California's 5 fatal pit bull attacks in 2013 have been in the Southland.

The victims of California's fatal pit bull attacks include:
  • Elsie Grace, 91 yo (February 8, 2013), Hemet, CA
  • Claudia Gallardo, 38 yo (April 11, 2013), Stockton, CA
  • Pamela Maria Devitt, 62 yo (May 9, 2013), LA County, CA
  • Nephi Selu, 6 yo (June 17, 2013), Union City, CA
  • Samuel Eli Zamudio, 2 yo (September 23, 2013), Colton CA
The breaking news of the most recent fatal attack, as well as the earlier attack on Pamela Maria Devitt, both received exemplary on-the-spot coverage by the LA Times news teams.2, 3 But when it comes to putting the Southland pit bull attacks into the larger context of state or national pit bull attacks, discussing the public safety menace of pit bulls, or providing analysis of the nation's unacknowledged epidemic of fatal pit bull attacks, The Times falls silent.

* * * * *

1 Pit bull that attacked Bay Area fireman twice is spared, LA Times, September 27, 2013

2 The teams were led by Richard Winton (for the attack on Ms Devitt) and Joseph Serna (for the attack on Samuel Zamudio).

3 The mauling death of Elsie Grace, a noted watercolorist, in a Riverside County motel room received only five sentences in the LA Times.

4/ For our comments on the LA Times opinion pages and editorial coverage of pit bulls see LA Times Opinion.

5/ The Press Enterprise provides a detailed account (by Brian Rokos) of the September 14th attack on James Hernandez in Corona, Riverside County. Following the story is an extensive list of recent attacks. (See here.)

Man's guilty plea is second for family in series of pit bull attacks
   Desert Dispatch (San Bernardino Cty), October 4, 2013
Boy mauled by pit bulls still hospitalized
   Press Enterprise (Riverside, CA), October 22, 2013
Kindergartner dies after pit bull attack
   KTVB, September 27, 2013
Pit bulls kill toddler; pit bulls are killed
   LA Times (Carla Hall), September 25, 2013
Pit bulls kill toddler; Grandmother, uncle arrested
   The Sun (San Bernardino, CA), Sept 24, 2013
Little boy mauled by pit bulls in Gilbert, AZ, September 22, 2013

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here. This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Information on euthanasia rates is from Pit bulls and Political Recklessness, by Merritt Clifton. Shelter  intake and euthanasia rates are published annually in the July/August edition of Animal People.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks