Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Humane Contradiction

Revised: Jan 31, 2014; 19:52 GMT
Revised: October 23, 2014; 15:32 GMT

Any dog in the wrong hands can be dangerous.
Scott Beckstead, Humane Society of the US

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To: Grady Singletary, Publisher, The Mail Tribune

The Mail Tribune is to be commended for their coverage of Medford's current pit bull conundrum. But despite the thorough coverage the public has been left with misconceptions. We are writing to correct several statements made by the advocates of fighting breeds.

Mr Beckstead's statement (above) that any dog can be dangerous is irresponsible. It was not a Yorkshire Terrier that attacked and killed Anne Ziegler's Simon. It was not a Dachshund that attacked Kathleen Olmstead's companion Halee.

Mr Beckstead is wrong but his motives are obvious. When representatives of animal shelters and humane organizations are asked to comment they all too often resort to their advocacy talking points. Common sense tells us that a Yorkie is not going to attack an Anatolian Shepherd; it's plain crazy to think so. If Mr Beckstead were talking with Ms Ziegler or Ms Olmstead privately would he have the chutzpah to insist that any dog would have attacked Simon or Halee?

It is bizarre for Mr Beckstead to insist that the canine companions which share our homes and lives are potentially dangerous and may attack us at any moment. And yet this is the position the Humane Society has taken: all dogs are potentially as dangerous as pit bulls. This is a corruption of the human-animal bond. This belief is incompatible with humane work and Mr Beckstead should quit his job if he truly believes all dogs are as dangerous as pit bulls. He is misleading the public and performing a disservice to our animal companions.

Simon, d. December 27, 2013

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It would be difficult to offer an adequate response to Ms Frost's opinion piece (Jan 19), because every one of her twelve paragraphs contains misrepresentations. Commenter GeeWhiz responded to Ms Frost with appropriate irony:
All the above is correct except where it is just plain wrong.
In her editorial Ms Frost offers a catalog of pit bull advocacy, including the claim that Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is costly and ineffective. This unsupported assertion is patently false. Both Denver and Miami-Dade passed BSL in 1989, and they may be the only remaining major US cities which have not experienced a fatal pit bull attack. Since 1989 Miami-Dade has had no fatal attacks while there have been 18 fatal pit bull attacks elsewhere in Florida.

Neither Mr Beckstead nor Ms Frost acknowledge the painful legacy of pit bull attacks. There were at least 25 fatal pit bull attacks in calendar year 2013 -- a human death every two weeks -- and 407 attacks which caused permanent disfigurement -- an average of more than one a day. Thousands of our more vulnerable animal companions and other domestic animals were attacked, and hundreds of them killed. Advocates of fighting breeds who are unwilling to respond to this legacy of grief in a meaningful way are not credible.

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Councilor Daniel Bunn acknowledges there is a problem, but has been quoted saying it's not the pit bulls' fault. Councilor Bunn is wrong: these attacks are the dog's fault. Nearly half of the people who were killed by pit bulls in calendar year 2013 were killed by their own much loved pet pit bulls, many of which had not previously demonstrated aggression. Pit bull advocates have convinced a large part of the public that pit bulls are essentially the same as other dogs, and only those which have been abused or poorly socialized become vicious. This is demonstrably false.

Mayor Gary Wheeler has gone on record saying that BSL is not on the table. Doubtless this is because he fears potential blowback from pit bull advocates. Burnaby BC recently found itself in a similar position, when the Council considered strengthening their already existing BSL. The Burnaby Council demonstrated their fortitude by withstanding the barrage of pit bull advocacy and passing the new, stronger legislation:
I'll call it the vocal minority that's been addressing us, . . . passionate about their pit bull dog. But we have a very silent majority out there that is in support of what the council is doing and they want us to not change our mind about restraining vicious dogs in the public.

    ~ Coun. Pietro Calendino, The Province, October 2013
The citizens of Medford will be grateful if their own council acts with similar fortitude.

* * * * *
Medford looks at possible pit bull ban
   Mail Tribune, Jan 9, 2014
Police push for pit bull restrictions
   Mail Tribune, Jan 10, 2014
A Breed Apart; Residents are divided over pit bull issue
   Mail Tribune, Jan 11, 2014
Medford will seek law aimed at problem canines
   Mail Tribune, Jan 15, 2014
   Mail Tribune, Jan 16, 2014
Council seems split over pit bull ban
   Mail Tribune, Jan 17, 2014
Breed-specific dog laws are ineffective, discriminatory
   Mail Tribune, Jan 19, 2014; guest opinion by Lisa Frost
Pit bull seized after attack on pigs
   Mail Tribune, Jan 21, 2014
Pit bull supporters rally against breed ban
   Mail Tribune, Jan 22, 2014
Dog fight involving four pit bulls injures owner and rescuer
   KOBI NBC5, Jan 25, 2014
Dogged by Doubt
   Mail Tribune, Jan 26, 2014
Pit bulls attack other dogs, two women
   Mail Tribune, Jan 28, 2014

ALSO in area news:
Baker City 5-yo dies after pit bull attack
   KGW, Sept 28, 2013
Pit bull mauls woman, 89, in Castle Rock
   KOIN, Nov 11, 2013
Pit bull attacks, kills Shetland Sheepdog
   KATU, Dec 31, 2013

32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks
   Animals 24-7; September 27, 2014

Statistics quoted on SRUV are from the nation's authoritative source for current dog attack statistics, the 30+ year, continuously updated Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada.
View or download the current PDF

This page may also include information from Dogsbite and Fatal Pit Bull Attacks.

Google News: Today's pit bull attacks