Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mendacity: II

There actually is no such thing as a pure-breed pit bull. It's not a breed of dog.
Cory Smith, Senior Director Pets for Life, HSUS
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For the reasons stated in Judge Wilner’s Opinion on Reconsideration, it is, by the Court of Appeals of Maryland this 21st day of August 2012, ORDERED:
  1. That the motion for reconsideration is granted in part and denied in part; and
  2. That the Opinions filed April 26, 2012 are amended to delete any reference to cross-breds, pit bull mix, or cross-bred pit bull mix.
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On April 26 2012 the Maryland Court of Appeals issued a ruling which established a strict liability standard in respect to the owning, harboring, or control of pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls. By the fall of 2012 Maryland advocates of fighting breeds had been in a swivit for months. On August 21 the Court issued the revised ruling, which deleted any reference to cross-breds, pit bull mix, or cross-bred pit bull mix. The revised ruling alleviated the advocates' anxieties, to a degree.

In a previous post (Mendacity at the Highest Levels), SRUV described the blizzard of calculated misinformation about pit bull breed identification that appeared shortly after the Court's revised ruling. The  misinformation was traced to an article which carried the following lines:
"There actually is no such thing as a pure-breed pit bull," said Cory Smith, a senior director with the Humane Society of the United States. "It's not a breed of dog."
  -- Cory Smith, Senior Director Pets for Life, HSUS
Ms Smith's statement appeared in a Baltimore Sun article on August 21, 2012, the same day the Court issued its revised ruling. Ms Smith's claim appeared without attribution, and we are left to wonder at the coincidence.

We have shown that the term pit bull is the common vernacular, used by HSUS as well as by pit bull and bully breed rescue groups, animal shelters, journalists, state legislators, and in fact is used universally, to refer to pit bull type dogs without regard to whether or not the dog is pure- or cross-bred. In fact, the traditional fighting pit bull was often intentionally cross-bred (with the Blackmouth Cur, the Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog, bulldogs, and other Molosser breeds).

Ms Smith's claim that pit bulls are not a breed is spurious and clearly intended to sew confusion. We call upon the HSUS to act responsibly and acknowledge that Ms Smith's claim is erroneous. The HSUS must acknowledge that the term pit bull as commonly used is inclusive and refers to both pure-bred and cross-bred pit bulls.

Furthermore, the HSUS owes the public a full disclosure about the use of Ms Smith's claim in the days before it appeared in the Baltimore Sun on August 21 2012, the same day the Court issued its revised ruling which removed cross-bred pit bulls from the strict liability standards previously imposed by the Court.

If Ms Smith made this false claim before the Court, either in Court testimony or in an amicus curiae brief, HSUS must publicly acknowledge that false information was intentionally given to the Court and to the public. The deletion of any reference to cross-bred or pit bull mixes to the Court's opinion effectively guts the ruling of its ability to provide protection to victims of attacks by the very dogs most responsible.

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This post is one of a series on the Maryland pit bull conundrum. To view the index of all Maryland posts click here.

In a recent 57 day period (Jan 8 through Mar 6, 2013) there were six fatal pit bull attacks, all of which were committed by family pit bulls. See Fatal Pit Bull Attacks

Statistics are from Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here.


Pit bull bill in Peril as Senate Hardens Position
   (Baltimore Sun, March 12, 2013)
Senate, House Considering Different Pit Bull Bills
   (WBAL 1090 AM, March 12, 2013)
Pit bull bill compromise unravels
   (Baltimore Sun, March 8, 2013)
Court partly backs off pit bull ruling
   (Baltimore Sun, August 21, 2012)

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks

Filed: August 21, 2012