Monday, October 10, 2011

Rapid Response

The incident Monday was not a pit bull issue.

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The article in the Amarillo Globe News (Tuesday Oct 4th, by Yann Ranaivo) followed by one day the death of an 11-day old infant after it was attacked by a pit bull. Ranaivo's piece is well written and stylistically sophisticated. In many ways  it is representative of typical pit bull advocacy articles following an attack.

The article is divided into two parts, which are nearly equal in length. The first half consists of the recent history of dog attacks in Amarillo. According to the article, pit bulls account for three times as many bites as the the breeds with the next-highest reports of attacks.

Then, in a remarkable transition, the article closes the first section with a barrage of undisguised advocacy statements, beginning with the line at the top of the page. It continues:
This was about an animal and an infant. . . . . It could have been any dog that was not properly introduced to the infant.
This transition is one of the more adroit pit bull advocacy maneuvers witnessed by SRUV, and one of the most effective. It not only ignores all the preceding dog bite data: it displaces it and attempts to make it irrelevant.

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The second half of the article then goes on to interview three pit bull advocates at length.

* Shannon Barlow, Assistant Director of Amarillo Animal Control
The first of three advocates presented in the article is Shannon Barlow. The incident, as Shannon Barlow refers to it in the line at the top of this page and in the excerpts above, is the death of an eleven-day old infant, which Barlow otherwise fails to mention. Ms Barlow would have us believe that although a pit bull attacked a child and the child died, it is not a pit bull incident.

Readers of SRUV are aware of previous uses of the Any Dog argument used by Ms Barlow. In her efforts to take our attention away from the fact that a pit bull killed a child, Ms Barlow would have us believe that it could just as well have been a Yorkshire Terrier than mauled the infant to death. Theoretically, yes, it could have been any dog that killed the infant, and pigs might fly. The fact remains that it was a pit bull that mauled the infant, one of two infant deaths from pit bull attacks within a week, and one of sixteen fatal pit bull attacks during the current year. Pit bull advocates are seemingly incapable of acknowledging these deaths.

* Cydney Cross, President of Out of the Pits
Ms Cross is called upon to convince us that "pit bulls aren't naturally aggressive." Although the article gives only seven sentences to Ms Cross, she manages to repeat six of the basic refrains of pit bull advocacy. There is nothing new under the sun, and  SRUV will not bore our readers by repeating them. Ms Cross represents one of dozens (if not hundreds) of pit bull advocacy groups around the country. Members of these groups are called upon to defend their breed of obsession after similar attacks, in what is apparently an organized rapid response effort. We wonder what these people do for a living.

* Loralei Zwitt, dog behaviorist and owner of My Dog and Me
The interview with Ms Zwitt is dominated by the canine psychobabble that has unfortunately become more prevalent recently.  Ms Zwitt's comments essentially find an excuse for any poor behavior on the part of a dog. SRUV will remind Ms Zwitt that high-pitched sounds and similar annoyances do not provoke other breeds to kill infants.

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As we have noted elsewhere, after nearly every pit bull attack articles similar to this one appear like mushrooms. But Mr Ranaivo's piece is different, in its scope and intent. Few articles call upon more than one or two pit bull advocates. Few articles integrate dog attack statistics to disarm the reader, then dismiss the data so cavalierly. Few articles that follow an infant's death are so callous in presenting pit bull advocacy. Mr Ranaivo is hereby nominated for the SRUV Hall of Shame.

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Related post: Natural Consequences
Source: Amarillo Globe News

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