Monday, April 30, 2012

Where is Johann?

Revised: Dec 04, 2012; 20:08 GMT
Revised: July 01, 2014; 14:27 GMT

This post is one of a series of posts on TiHo. For a complete listing of the posts in this series see the TiHo Index.

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On June 26, 2000,  six-year old Volkan Kaya was savaged and killed by two pit bulls while playing soccer in the schoolyard. On July 7th the state of Lower Saxony passed a breed specific ordinance which mandated the testing of a proscribed list of breeds. Two years later Angela Mittmann published her dissertation on the testing of dogs banned by the state of Lower Saxony, Germany in 2002. Tina Johann's dissertation was accepted two years later, in November 2004.1  In her research Johann evaluated 70 Golden Retrievers, using the same test and methods used by Mittmann two years before on dangerous dogs.

Six years after Mittmann and four years after Johann, Stefanie Ott published Is there a difference? Comparison of golden retrievers and dogs affected by breed specific legislation regarding aggressive behaviour (2008). Dr Ott's findings are based on her review of the research already conducted by Mittmann in 2002 on dangerous dogs and by Johann in 2004 on Golden Retrievers.

Dr Ott refers to Johann's research, the critical component of her [Ott's] research, as "a consecutive study" -- this enigmatic mention is the most direct reference she makes to Johann's work. In her seven page paper, much of which is taken up with lists and charts, Dr Ott mentions Mittmann's work 17 times, but fails to acknowledge Johann a single time. Ott has virtually airbrushed Johann out of existence.

Dr Ott found the Golden Retriever comparison essential to her defense of fighting breeds; Johann's work is used but not cited. Why would Dr Ott, a faculty member of a prestigious University, publish a paper which makes her vulnerable to charges of ethics violations?

Dr Ott's paper has become a key component of pit bull and fighting breeds advocacy. The influence the paper has exerted on legislation regarding fighting breeds may never be fully realized. Nor do we know how significant a role her conclusions may have had on public tolerance of fighting breeds.

Dr Ott's paper is deeply flawed and careful readers will question how it reached publication. We therefore urge the following remedial actions:
  • SRUV calls upon Dr Ott to make a full apology to Tina Johann and to the global animal welfare community, especially to owners and breeders of Golden Retrievers.
  • The Danish pit bull and fighting dog advocacy website, www fairdog dk, currently hosts Ott's paper on its website: we urge that it be removed immediately. A statement explaining the reasons the paper has been removed should be posted.
  • We urge the Journal of Veterinary Behavior,2 which published Dr Ott's paper, to issue a statement explaining the circumstances of the paper's acceptance and publication. We will examine the journal's role in a future SRUV post.
  • Dr Ott's paper is currently hosted and distributed by www elsevier com. The paper must be withdrawn from circulation to researchers.

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1 See the Annotated Timeline of Publications and Events Associated with the Faculty of TiHo for a chronological list of TiHo dissertations.

2  Journal of Veterinary Behavior; Clinical Applications and Research, is published by the Australian Veterinary Behaviour Interest Group: a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association.

Tina Johann, Hannover, Tierärztliche Hochschule, 2004
Dissertation, Abstract

Eng. Title:
Assessment of the behaviour of Golden Retrievers in comparison to the behaviour of dogs considered dangerous according to the Dangerous Animals Act of Lower Saxony, Germany (GefTVO) of 5th of July 2000

Ger. Title:
Untersuchung des Verhaltens von Golden Retrievern im Vergleich zu den als gefährlich eingestuften Hunden im Wesenstest nach der Niedersächsischen Gefahrtierverordnung vom 05.07.2000

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