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Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cleaning up after the Councilwoman

I am sure many of you are familiar with the lunacy we have been dealing with in Whitehall in the form of Jackie Thompson. Apparently Jackie has found a new website to cozy up with on those long, lonely nights and it is inspiring her to send out more letters to the editor filled with twisted statistics and false information. The following letter is to once again correct her inaccuracies and mistruths that were published in the July 3rd issue of The Other Paper.

Response to Councilwoman Thompson

It is always interesting to read the opinions of those who rely on news snippets and inaccurate data to drive their fear. I would like to correct some of the inaccuracies and add a bit of clarification.

The pit bull is not a breed of dog, but instead the term has come to be widely used to describe a dog that has an appearance similar to an American Pit Bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier. Since other breeds of dog physically resemble these breeds, mistaken identity is frequently made and consequently numbers are inflated for the number of attacks involving so-called "pit bulls". Further, correct breed identification becomes more problematic when the dog involved in an attack is a mixed-breed. Hence, ambiguity exists when using the term "pit bull". Note that other data collection techniques (animal control reports, police reports, witness observation) used for breed identification purposes in dog attacks may also be flawed for these reasons. Recently genetic DNA testing has become available to help with breed determination. Preliminary DNA studies have found that approximately 1 out of every 10 dogs identified as “pit bull” actually has any bully breed DNA at all. This potentially means that 90% of these dogs are misidentified.

Ms. Thompson states that "The American Temperament Test Society argument does not stand up to close scrutiny. The ATTS was not set up to score house pets. It was devised to test dogs for police and guarding type work." Actually, according to Thomas Szebenyi, the Chief Tester of the ATTS, “The test was created to help breeders remove dogs from their breeding stock that have bad temperament. The test is open to all purebred dogs and spayed/neutered mixed breed dogs.” The ATTS tests dogs on a number of behaviors to determine the temperament and stability of a dog, not specific to suitability for police or guarding dogs. A dog that is fearful or overly timid when facing specific stimuli is not a sound, stable dog. Aggressiveness when facing stimuli would be another indicator temperament issues. This test is to determine if the dog has the correct, healthy response to the stimuli.

Ms. Thompson also states that the UK Dangerous Dog Act names the pit bull terrier but not the Staffordshire Terrier or the American Staffordshire Terrier in the Act, thus giving dog owners a loophole. While she is correct in that the Act only specifically lists the pit bull terrier, the UK Dangerous Dog Act classifies dangerous dogs by "type" not by breed label. This means that whether a dog is prohibited under the Act will depend on a judgment about its physical characteristics. To highlight this fact the UK even distributes brochures with pictures and descriptions of the prohibited breed "types."

Ms. Thompson further states that she would like to see bite incidents reported by severity. On this we can agree. I would like to take it a step further and have the dog owners’ responsibility placed in the report, as in the recent incident in New York when the angry boyfriend kicked out a window air conditioner and tossed a frightened dog into a room of children. I would also like to know how many prior incidents the owners have had regarding animal control violations.

To correct Ms. Thompson's belief that there has not been a pit bull related death in Ohio since BSL was enacted. There was a pit bull related death in 1992. Additionally, since BSL was enacted in Ohio, a Husky and a Chow killed a 7 year old, an American Bulldog killed a 5 year old, a Wolf-Dog killed a 5 year old, a German Shepherd and a mixed breed killed an infant, a Rottweiler killed a 54 year old woman and a Rottweiler killed a 40 year old man.

Ms. Thompson also brings up fatalities in the state of Texas. Texas which is the 2nd most populous state had the highest rate of fatal dog attacks in 2007, which were not limited to pit bull type dogs. There were some commonalities. All of the dogs were intact and most were chained, outside dogs, not "family dogs" as it was claimed. Ms. Thompson attributes the higher rate of fatalities in Texas to their lack of BSL. However in 2007 there were 44 states with no pit bull fatalities that did not have BSL enacted.

She also brings up Council Bluffs, Iowa as a success story. Of course pit bull bites are going to decrease if you decrease the population. What she fails to mention is that while there were fewer bites by pit bulls due to the decreased population, attacks by other breeds increased. The question shouldn't be "did pit bull bites go down", but "did public safety improve?" The answer would be a resounding, no.

It also needs to be pointed out that there is no difference between the injuries inflicted by a pit bull versus any other breed of similar size. For nearly two decades the National Canine Research Council has investigated and analyzed fatal dog attack injuries. It is important to note that NCRC has researched EVERY fatal and/or severe attack for which data is available. No other individual or group has even approached the volume of information that NCRC has collected and analyzed. The NCRC states that it is impossible to determine the breed of dog by reviewing an autopsy report or photo, as no breed of dog has a particular method of attack or inflicts an exclusive type of injury. It is virtually impossible for anyone to match the breed of dog with the fatal injuries - as such - claims that one breed of dog inflicts injuries unlike other breeds have no merit.

Any time anyone is hurt by a dog it is an unfortunate situation that should have never occurred. I do know that the “pit bull lobby”, as Jacquelyn Thompson likes to call those of us who are pushing for stronger laws requiring responsible ownership of all breeds, reached out to a recent victim of a local dog attack to be certain that the victim had the appropriate care and assistance while recovering from injuries. I personally have been pushing for much harsher penalties for owners of animals which have attacked as well as pushing for stronger regulation of dogs which have shown threatening tendencies. I have no tolerance for irresponsible people that allow their animals to hurt others and I believe Ms. Thompson would be quite surprised at some of the measures I would like to see taken. In fact, I invite Ms. Thompson to meet with me to discuss these ideas.

2 comments:

Laura said...

Hopefully, all of these wrong-headed and even hateful politicians will some day have the decency to be as horrified by their actions as those responsible for the Japanese internment camps of WW11. Same hysteria based principles, same devastating and ultimately useless outcome.

Caveat said...

Great rebuttal of La Thompson.

The oft-repeated 'when 'pit bulls' attack, the results are more serious than with other dogs' myth is ridiculous. It comes from Kory Nelson in Denver - he's given up saying 'pit bulls' are more aggressive or attack more often, he's admitted the flawed CDC paper is unreliable in terms of breed ID. He now says that the attacks are more serious.

It seems to me that death is the most serious outcome possible, so I have no idea why a person killed by a different kind of dog is considered to have suffered a less vicious attack than someone bitten by a so-called 'pit bull'. Furthermore, using this line of specious reasoning, we would ask whether every 'pit bull' bite/attack results in a medical emergency, mayhem or death which, if these mythical beasts are indeed a 'breed apart', we would expect to see.

When I looked at the fatalities from 2007, one thing struck me: most of them took place in the South and the Southwest. Brent pointed out that these were the fastest-growing areas in the US. There must be a connection there somehow but it certainly won't be found among the dogs.

Keep smacking Thompson down. She's an hysteric, is unfit for public office and needs help in dealing with her irrational fears.

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