Thursday, December 15, 2011


According to the National Canine Research Council,
pit bulls are no more likely to show inappropriate
aggressive behavior than are golden retrievers.

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Note: After publishing this post we discovered additional sources referring to the aggressive tendencies of Golden Retrievers in relation to pit bulls. We have subsequently published nearly twenty posts about the Hannover Formula, which are indexed here. While the post below may be incomplete, the details and substance of the post are accurate.
Oct 1, 2012; 21:08 GMT
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SRUV first discovered this claim in a news item carried on WCVB, Boston's ABC television channel. The claim also appeared on the station's internet page.

The TV coverage which first carried the claim was prompted by the annual Pit Bull Awareness Month national campaignThe WCBV spot may have been prompted by outreach from Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) Advocacy Director Kara Holmquist, who is interviewed in the segment.

SRUV first checked the MSPCA web site, where we were unable to find any mention of the golden retriever claim.

Next, SRUV used Google advanced search and framed the entire sentence (as it appears at the top of the page) within quotation marks as the search query. Google returned only four instances of the sentence on the web, none of them from the National Canine Research Council (NCRC), the purported source of the information. The first hit pointed to the WCBV television newscast which originally drew our attention.

The second and third hits (as shown in the screen grab below) are parked domains on, now serving as advertising platforms. All four hits displayed the entire sentence in bold type.

The final hit pointed to Trill, an articulate inner-city blogger who recounts a pit bull attack. Trill's post is dated June 13, 2010. The NCRC golden retriever claim appears on Trill's blog in the form of a comment posted by Yana. Yana's comment is copied in it's entirety here:
Yana said...
According to the National Canine Research council, pit bulls are no more likely to show inappropriate aggressive behavior than are golden retrievers.
October 15, 2011 9:28 PM 
Yana's comment appeared 2 days after the TV segment which first aired Ms Holmquist's golden retriever claim (a full year and a half after Trill's original post), just after the beginning of the MSPCA Pit Bull Awareness month.

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Finally, we checked the purported source of the claim, the NCRC web site. Once again SRUV searched for the entire golden retriever claim. We were directed to two pages within the web site, which are the apparent source for the unsubstantiated claim.

The two pages are similar in many respects; the first is the search results page, and is shown in the screen grab here: 

When the Continue reading link is followed we arrive at a similar page which gives a synopsis of a Spanish study.  A careful reading reveals that NCRC has misrepresented the Spanish study, which was originally published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior (JVB).  According to the JVB (the page can be viewed here), the authors of the Spanish study looked for owner-perceived behavioral problems in the dog population, which in effect measures owners' behavior rather than their dogs' behavior. The NCRC interpretation of the Spanish study is highly suspect, if not laughable.

Furthermore, neither of the two pages on the NCRC web page mention golden retrievers. The direct comparison of pit bulls to golden retrievers doesn't exist, either on the NCRC web page or on the MSPCA web page, and must be considered deceptive. The sentence may exist in other, internal documents, or in someone's imagination. Perhaps the sentence was an elaboration on the part of MSPCA. Or an outright fabrication.

The American public is predisposed to believe our humane organizations and SPCA's. Unfortunately, the unsubstantiated claim discussed in this post has been promulgated by MSPCA as factual. This careless, unprofessional behavior represents a clear breach of trust. We must now question whether the MSPCA has lost their way, and thus no longer has the public interest at heart.  

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Today's pit bull attacks on Google news -- Click here!

Ledy VanKavage, Jane Berkey, Karen Delise, Kara Holmquist, BSL ineffective, Golden Retrievers