Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Questions for Animal Welfare Professionals to Ask of Themselves

We asked friends across the country what questions they would like to ask of the animal welfare organizations. This is the second post in the series, and we may print additional questions as we receive them from readers.

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. . . . . A question from Merritt Clifton

Question: What I have been asking generations of animal welfare executives, beginning with the late John Kullberg in 1988, when he headed the American SPCA, is why they keep ignoring the overwhelming weight of evidence that pit bulls are disproportionately likely to kill or maim other humans and animals, disproportionately likely to be dumped at animal shelters at an early age, disproportionately likely to be killed after flunking behavioral screening, are the only breed ever used successfully by dogfighters, and exist exclusively because of deliberate breeding.

All of these trends were already glaringly evident by 1988, when pit bulls made up only 2% of the dogs entering animal shelters but were 5% of the dogs killed in animal shelters, & already accounted for half of all dog attack deaths & disfigurements.

Here we are, 25 years later, & the total numbers have soared in all categories. Pit bulls are now 30% of dog intake at shelters, 60% of the killing, & half of all pit bull-inflicted fatalities & disfigurements in the past 30 years have occurred just since the Michael Vick case broke in April 2007.

Meanwhile, the only U.S. city to have seen sharp drops in everything negative involving pit bulls in 30 years is San Francisco, which introduced a breed-specific sterilization requirement in 2006. The four cities that kill by far the fewest pit bulls per 1,000 humans are San Francisco, Denver, Miami, and New York City, all of which have breed-specific legislation in some form (NYC bans pit bulls from public housing.)

The real question is why the alleged leadership of the animal welfare cause continues to thrust its collective head ever farther into an anatomically, philosophically, and ultimately politically untenable position, in defense of pit bull breeders & dogfighters, at the expense of every authentic humane objective.

One possible answer is sphincter constriction of the flow of blood to the brain. Another is unrestrained group-think.

Yet another is Republicanism. What the alleged leaders in question keep doing is competing with each other to appeal to what they misperceive as their ideological base -- because the pit bull defenders are among the loudest & most politically organized elements in their perceived constituency.

If the alleged animal welfare leaders actually looked at their own donor data, though, surveys of pet-keepers and public opinion surveys stratified by age & gender suggest they would see something radically different. This type of data can be used to produce a composite quite similar to the known characteristics of the animal advocacy donor base, & indicates that these animal advocacy donors are likely to be only marginally more pro-pit bull than the U.S. population at large, about two-thirds of whom don't want to live next door to a pit bull, as the recent Miami vote demonstrated.

Supposedly the humane movement at the national level is driven by intense scrutiny of direct mail & online donation responses, but on the pit bull issue, I guarantee that it isn't.

Why not?

I guess there just isn't much light where their eyeballs are.

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Google News Today's pit bull attacks

Sunday, November 25, 2012

State of Denial

. . . there is no legal definition of a pit bull.
Frank Branchini, Maryland Votes for Animals

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Revised: Jan 31, 2012; 17:31 GMT

On August 28, 2012 an article about the Maryland pit bull quandary was published in the Washington Post.* The article included statements from Maryland "experts" claiming there is no legal definition of a pit bull and even, remarkably, that pit bulls don't exist.

In response SRUV published a blog post (Pit Bulls Don't Exist) which has remained among our most-viewed posts for over two months. Prior to that we published Jabberwocky, which includes examples of legal definitions as well as links to court precedents which include definitions.

After an attack by four pit bulls on November 10th, Maryland experts once again claimed there is no legal definition of a pit bull. Accounts of the attack included the comments of Frank Branchini of MVFA:
The problem with the ruling . . . . is that “there is no legal definition of a pit bull,” Mr. Branchini said.
Now there has been yet another attack, an over-the-fence attack on an 89-year old woman in her own front yard. The problem, as we see it, is not the definition of pit bulls, but that pit bulls kill a human being about every two weeks, on average, and attack humans, pets, and livestock on a daily basis. To ignore these attacks while quibbling over definitions demonstrates a depraved indifference.

To be fair, the Maryland deniers may have taken their cue from the NAIA,** which also claims There is no legal definition of “pit bull” in Maryland. To argue that the April 26 Court of Appeals ruling is flawed because it fails to include a definition of pit bulls is specious, deceitful reasoning. When a term (such as pit bull) enters the public vernacular there is no need to define it on every occasion. If we're reading a novel and are unsure of a definition, we look it up. Maryland advocates of fighting breeds could presumably do the same.

For the record, we have included yet another definition below. This definition is from Dias v. City & County of Denver, 567 F.3d 1169, 1173 (10th Cir. Colo. 2009)
A "pit bull" is defined as any dog that is an American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, or any dog displaying the majority of physical traits of any one (1) or more of the above breeds, or any dog exhibiting those distinguishing characteristics which substantially conform to the standards established by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club for any of the above breeds.
Could anything be more clear, Mr Branchini?

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Elderly Pasadena woman attacked by pit bull (Capitol Gazette, Nov 22)
Pit bulls attack woman in NE apartment (Washington Times, Nov 11)

* Experts say pit bulls don't exist
** National Animal Interest Alliance

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks in the US

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Questions for Journalists When Interviewing Animal Welfare Professionals, or for Animal Welfare Professionals to Ask of Themselves

Animal welfare institutions work on behalf of our animal companions, and on behalf of the public. It is not always apparent that the attorneys, lobbyists, and legislative analysts who represent these institutions may not have the same goals as the public they serve. Journalists have, to a large extent, given these animal welfare representatives a free-pass by declining to pose difficult questions about pit bulls.
We've asked friends across the country what questions they would like to ask of the animal welfare organizations, and we've added several questions of our own. We encourage  journalists to use these questions.
We may print additional questions as we receive them from readers. 
Revised: Nov 20 2012; 18:47 GMT
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, , , , , from a reader in Florida:
Question: Why do you not advocate for the welfare of pit bulls by proposing legislation that would make them rare and inaccessible to dogfighters and only accessible to the few owners/breeders/advocates who truly know to maintain them safely for the welfare of both the dogs and the public?

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, , , , ,  from a reader addressed to Wayne Pacelle of the HSUS:
Q:  Let's say that a mother whose child has been mauled by a pit bull has come to the HSUS to talk with you. How will you explain the HSUS advocacy of pit bulls to her?

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, , , , , from SRUV:
Q:  Animal welfare representatives are fond of blaming pit bull attacks on irresponsible owners, when in fact many of the pit bull attacks which result in death or disfigurement are caused by well-cared for, much loved family pit bulls which have never before shown signs of aggression.  Now, will you act responsibly and accept responsibility for your organization's advocacy of pit bulls?

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, , , , , from Kim Bartlett of Animal People:
Q:  A breed does not need to be preserved--especially dog breeds which for thousands of years were specially bred to kill other dogs and other animals (such as bears and bulls) in sadistic gambling spectacles. Why in God's name would a true animal advocate want to preserve the legacy of the people who bred them?

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, , , , , from a reader, addressed to Ledy VanKavage:
Q:  My question to Ledy VanKavage is: Why do you continue to promote and promulgate false information about DNA testing when you know it is untrue and deceptive?

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, , , , , from SRUV addressed to the American Veterinary Medical Association:
Q:  Are veterinarians prohibited from making statements which contradict AVMA policies or guidelines? Does the AVMA limit the public speech of veterinarians in any way?

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, , , , , from an anonymous reader in Denver, addressed to Ledy VanKavage:
Q:  You are known for visiting college campuses to speak to law students with the goal of recruiting new attorneys into the practice of animal law. A number of your recruits now specialize in defending pit bulls and attempting to overturn existing BSL. Could you comment on the ethics of defending and advocating for pit bulls vis-√†-vis advocating for the victims of pit bull attacks?

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, , , , , from a reader addressed to any animal welfare association:
Q: Can you explain why you're against BSL which would require neutering of pit bulls when it's clear that the San Francisco model is effective?

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, , , , , from SRUV for any pit bull advocate:
Q:  A human has been killed by a pit bull every 21 days, on average over the last several years. No animal welfare spokesperson has publicly acknowledged these deaths, as far as we know, and the public sees this refusal as denial. If you were in a room with the door closed, could you acknowledge these deaths privately, to yourself?

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Google News Today's pit bull attacks

Send comments and corrections to safeisland911 [@] gmail.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

Spud and Misty

Revised: Nov 11, 2012; 06:06 GMT
Revised: Nov 11, 2012; 17:06 GMT

On Monday November 5th two pit bulls attacked a horse in Yuma County, Arizona. The horse was subsequently euthanized. We have copied below the entire news story as it first appeared on the KSWT news web site:
YUMA, AZ- A horse is dead after a pit bull attack. The Yuma County Sheriff's Office says it happened Monday afternoon in Foothills.

YCSO says the two pit bulls got out of the house while the owner was helping his son who was stuck in the desert. They say the pit bulls attacked the neighbor's horse during that time. The horse was seriously injured to it's legs. A vet had to euthanize the horse.

Yuma County Animal Control cited the pit bull owner for dogs at large but allowed the owner to keep the dogs.
Subsequent news revealed that the horse, named Spud, was a 29-year old quarter horse, and suffered attacks to the legs, stomach, and nose. After his working career was over he became a 4-H horse and a favorite among the local children.

Spud's caretaker, Carolyn Knowlton, said the pit bulls had previously attacked another horse, which survived the attack. On Monday, after their attack on Spud, the pit bulls also attacked a dog. Knowlton's husband, who witnessed the attack and drove the dogs away, said
. . . . there wasn't even excitement, the dogs weren't wired, they weren't angry, or in a frenzy. It was just eating the horse and that's what freaks my husband out. It was just there . . . eating the horse.

Less than a week later, on November 11 in DeSoto County, MS, three family pit bulls attacked and killed Misty, the family's seven-year old horse while the children looked on in horror. The pit bulls had previously attacked a different family horse. According to Alexis Amorose, the executive director of the Memphis and Shelby County Humane Society:
This can and does happen regardless of breed. . . . it is difficult to offer any insight into what led to this happening.
Ms Amorose's first thoughts are not sorrow, or of the horrible death of Misty, or of the children who witnessed their horse being slaughtered, or of negligence or child endangerment; her thoughts are of defending the pit bulls that killed Misty. She pivots the discourse by claiming any dog could have done the same. Blame the deed, not the breed. Ms Amorose should be informed that canine homicides are breed related, and if anyone has information of Golden Retrievers or Black Labs or Yorkshire Terriers killing horses please forward the information to SRUV.

These needless deaths need not have happened. Dangerous dog laws which allow dogs to kill a horse, then return to the safety and comfort of their home as happened in Yuma County, and which offer no recourse to the victim, are disgraceful. They protect vicious dogs and fail to protect the public safety.

To explain away the murder of a horse by pit bulls, as Ms Amorose did, borders on lunacy. Unfortunately, this response to tragedy has been institutionalized by animal welfare executives.

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News Sources:
Yuma horse pit bull attack aftermath (KSWT)
Horse caretaker reacts to pit bull attack (KSWT)
Family Horse Dies after attack from pit bulls (KAIT8)

Google News Today's pit bull attacks

Send comments and corrections to safeisland911 [@] gmail.com

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'm A Good Dog

The following book review was originally published by Animal People on November 1, 2012.
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I'm a good dog: Pit Bulls, America's Most Beautiful (and most Misunderstood) Pet
by Ken Foster
Viking Studio
(c/o Penguin USA, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014), 2012.
143 pages, paperback. $25.00.

The major question in assessing I'm a good dog, by Ken Foster, is deciding whether Foster sincerely believes his many misrepresentations, most of which occur by omission.

For example, Foster mentions one of the most notorious bloodlines in the annals of dogfighting without mentioning the dogfighting connection. Later Foster mentions the high prices paid for some dogs of fighting lineage, again without mentioning fighting. Foster quotes the late pit bull advocate Vicki Hearne's assertion that a pit bull who had attacked several people might be any of eight purportedly different breeds without mentioning that all eight are pit bull variants. Foster also recites that pit bulls were featured in the "Buster Brown" and "Our Gang" film shorts without mentioning that the dogs' roles included chasing and attacking people, and that some of the dogs who played those roles were biters in real life, too.

Foster mentions that some pit bulls were mascots of troops during the U.S. Civil War, but not that pit bulls and pit bull derivatives, such as "Cuban bloodhounds", were extensively used to track and dismember fugitive slaves, as a warning to other slaves who might think of escaping. Neither does Foster acknowledge the use of pit bulls by the Ku Klux Klan in connection with lynchings, as described--for example--by Cayton's Weekly for August 2, 1919, easily accessible online.

Foster asserts that "The term 'pit bull' is used to describe 10-to-20% of the dogs found in the U.S." Reality is that the entire molosser class of dogs, including pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, boxers, and many other breeds, comes to barely 9%, according to surveys of classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption. Pit bulls, by all of the names commonly used for them, amount to no more than 5.5%.

Promoting the acquisition of pit bulls as family pets, Foster claims that "The pit bull has been a family dog for more than a century--in short, for as long as the dogs have been known to exist." But there are scant historical references to pit bulls being commonly kept for any purpose other than fighting until the past two decades. Even early 20th century breeders John P. Colby and Charles Werner, who sold pit bulls as pets, continued to breed fighting dogs.

Denying the relationship of form with function, Foster asserts that "Pit bulls do not attack like sharks. Or do anything like sharks do." But the dismembering wounds inflicted by pit bulls have been likened to shark bites by, among others, the authors of medical journal articles about how to try to repair the damage.

"Pit bulls seem particularly suited for life with kids," alleges Foster, offering photos of children engaging in behavior around pit bulls that would be ill-advised with any dog.

Pit bulls, at this writing, have killed eight Americans in 34 days; Rottweilers, sharing molosser ancestry with pit bulls, have killed one more. Two pit bull rescuers have been killed by the dogs in their care within 54 days. The number of known animal victims is about 10 times higher.

Of the 241 fatalities and 1,302 disfigurements inflicted by pit bulls on humans during the past 30 years, 126 fatalities and 640 disfigurements have come since the April 2007 impoundment of football player and convicted dogfighter Michael Vick's dogs escalated the popularity of pit bull rescue. Pit bulls had already accounted for just about half of all the dog attack fatalities and disfigurements inflicted by dogs of any sort during the preceding 25 years.
--Merritt Clifton