Wednesday, September 25, 2013

BC's Problem

To: Sharon Gaetz, Director, Fraser Valley Regional District
      Derek Corrigan, Mayor, Burnaby, B.C. Canada
      Hon. Christy Clark, Premier, British Columbia
      and others

On Sunday, September 22nd a 2-year old child was mauled to death in Gilbert, Arizona by four pit bulls. The following day 2-year old Samuel Eli Zamudio was killed by five of his family's pit bulls in Colton, California. The deaths this week bring to 18 the number of fatal dog attacks on humans in calendar year 2013 in the US.

Samuel Eli Zamudio
(Photo provided by family)

17 of the 18 canine homicides this year have been committed by pit bulls.

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In recent years the US has been exporting their pit bull problem to Canada. Newspapers have carried accounts of recent attacks in British Columbia. We are writing to correct a number of misrepresentations in those accounts.

The Global News reported figures from the Canadian Veterinary Journal which claim that
between 1990 to 2007, there have been 28 deaths caused by dog-related injuries – one from a pit bull, four from a Rottweiler, four from ‘sled dogs’, seven from an unknown breed, and seven from an ‘other’ or a mixed breed.
Pit bull advocates in the US often attempt to camouflage pit bull attacks by assigning them to "unknown" breeds. If the unknown, mixed, and other categories in the CVMA report are combined with the single death attributed to a pit bull the numbers become more realistic. The combined categories of pit bulls, unknown, other, and mixed account for 15 of 28 or 53% of the total number of deaths. This number is closer to the figures reported by the more precise record-keeping in the US1 where pit bulls have consistently accounted for more fatal dog attacks than all other breeds combined.

The CBC carried a brief video interview with Geoff Urton of the BC SPCA, in which Mr Urton claims that there is no data showing that any specific breed accounts for more dog attacks than any other breed. Mr Urton may be thinking of all those nips by Chihuahuas, but if we consider only those attacks which cause death, grievous injury, and permanent disfigurement he is clearly wrong. Pit bulls and close pit bull mixes account for a grossly disproportionate number of those attacks.

April Fahr of the pit bull advocacy group HugABull has been widely quoted in her opposition to Burnaby's proposed revision of their animal bylaws. Ms Fahr claims that the report they’re using as a basis is basically a very brief number crunch that doesn’t align with any other numbers we’ve seen.  Ms Fahr also claims that very little research into pit bulls has taken place.

Ms Fahr is wrong. We suggest she take a look at Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.  In addition, recent research on pit bulls and breed specific legislation 2 may give Ms Fahr added insight into BC's growing pit bull problem.

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Last year following the attack in Whiterock, B.C. on four-year-old Emma-Leigh Cranford, whose throat was ripped open by the pit bull of a family friend, the editorial board of The Province made a courageous and eloquent call for a provincial ban on pit bulls. It is now time for the legislators to gather their courage and respond to that call.

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Pit bulls kill toddler; Grandmother, uncle arrested
   The Sun (San Bernardino, CA), Sept 24, 2013
Little boy mauled by pit bulls in Gilbert, AZ, September 22, 2013
   CBC News, September 16, 2013
Pit bull attacks raise call for tough restrictions
   Huffington Post B.C., September 13, 2013
Burnaby council looks at new rules and higher fees for owners of ‘vicious dogs’
   Global News, September 10, 2013
It's time to ban pit bulls in B.C.
   The Province, August 30, 2012

1 Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, published by Animal People. To view or download the current PDF click here. This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Information on euthanasia rates is from Pit bulls and Political Recklessness, by Merritt Clifton. Shelter  intake and euthanasia rates are published annually in the July/August edition of Animal People.
Google News: Today's pit bull attacks