What is HELP FIDO?

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.

Monday, January 19, 2009

More from up North...

While we are talking about Skeldon’s work up in Lucas County… HERE is a great example (thank you KC Dog Blog) of what happens when you focus your animal control on policing ‘pit bulls’ instead of policing actual 'dangerous' dogs.
"A neighborhood is being held hostage by a pack of dogs, say some local residents. A woman's beloved pet was mauled to death; but this goes beyond dogs attacking other dogs. Neighbors fear children might become victims next..."
"Lucas County dog warden Tom Skeldon says he's investigated at least 10 complaints involving boxers and other non-violent breeds at the house over the last five years. They range from unlicensed dogs to dogs running the streets and dogs attacking other dogs. The owners were cited last week because two of the dogs didn't have licenses."
"Boxers and other non-violent breeds?" What exactly does that mean? Apparently as long as a dog is not a 'pit bull' everything is hunky-dory regardless of how the animal is allowed to behave.  I hope the folks up in Avon Lake are paying attention as they are currently tossing around legislation with breed specifics in it.  This is exactly what happens when you judge animals based on breed and not behavior.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Toledo, Ohio - Another example of why BSL does not work

Everyone's favorite dog warden, Tom Skeldon, in Lucas County (Toledo) is in the news again. This guy gets almost as much press coverage as Britney Spears and always for the wrong reasons. The article's headline is "Pit bull seizures decrease slightly from year before" (link above to the full article). This article raises a number of issues, all related to Skeldon's claim that his tactics, and Toledo's vicious dog laws, have made the community safer.
  1. "Seizures of pit bulls are down." First of all, the entire issue of breed determination is inherently flawed unless you have papers showing the breed registry from a group such those as the AKC. Obviously, the kinds of dogs that Skeldon calls "pit bulls" have no such papers so the breed determination is based upon what he thinks they are. As we highlighted previously in this blog post, breed determination is MUCH more involved than that. DNA testing has shown many instances of dogs that "look like" pit bulls actually have no ancestry (or a very small amount) of the breeds commonly defined as a pit bull. Also, there is a group of concerned dog owners up in Lucas County that have gathered information proving that many dogs euthanized (murdered) by Skeldon because they classified by him as a pit bull, actually were not pit bulls at all! Yes, this is truly outrageous!
  2. "33.9% of the dogs seized last year were pit bulls." Following from #1, how in the WORLD is this determination made? Were all of the dogs DNA tested before they were euthanized (murdered)? Also, given Skeldon's widely publicized feelings to eradicate bully breeds from the face of the earth, there is a pretty good incentive to question a possible inflation of this number.
  3. "Dogs bites in Lucas county have actually gone UP in the past year." If the goal of the Toledo vicious dog legislation was to make the community safer, these bit statistics show that those efforts were a complete and utter failure. "...the number of dog bites and attacks investigated by the warden's office increased from 329 in 2007 to 403 last year." That was the last line of the Toledo Blade article. This fact alone makes all the rest of the article irrelevant. Despite slaughtering thousands of dogs over the years, simply because of the way they look, without true behavior testing or TRUE breed determination, the city of Toledo is less safe than it was before and more dogs are biting people.
Pro-Breed Specific Legislation leaning groups (including Skeldon and Lucas County) typically focus only on one group/breed of dogs. They believe the problem is the dogs. The problem is NOT the dogs, the problem is owners and until the focus is rightfully placed on the owners and cracking down on bad owners, the failures of BSL all over the country will continue.

Monday, January 12, 2009

First Puppy continued

We mentioned this topic after the election in November, but current news is that the Obama's have narrowed their choice on the "First Dog" to a Labradoodle or a Portuguese water hound. Best part is that the search is on in Washington DC area shelters - great news there! Evidently, the feedback from people around the country on this subject has been overwhelming, much of it encouraging them to adopt a dog from a local shelter or humane society.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"Dogs returned to shelter after attacks"- Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch has recently run a few rather critical stories on the Franklin County Dog Shelter, the latest published December 30th titled “Dogs returned to shelter after attacks.” HELP FIDO would like to examine a few points from this latest story in a bit more depth.
Ohio State veterinarians cited the adoption of pit bulls and other dangerous dogs as a concern in a 2007 memo, which also described animal suffering, altered medical records and disease at the shelter, 1731 Alum Creek Dr. Soon after, OSU's veterinary college stopped training students there and providing the shelter with free services.
To point out, this is the second time the Columbus Dispatch has reported this information in a way that might have the reader believe OSU discontinued it’s service to Franklin County Dog Shelter based on ‘problems.’ In the first article it is stated that OSU decided to instead train students at Capital Area Humane Society due to the fact that at CAHS, the students would be exposed to a broader scope of animals and not just dogs. It would seem that this decision was made in the interest of broader educational opportunities and not to due to shelter conditions.
"We're not putting pit bulls up for adoption," Wahoff said.

Dr. William Gesel, a veterinarian who authored Columbus' dangerous-dog ordinance, would beg to differ. Twice this month, two unsuspecting clients brought in pit bulls that the county adopted as Labrador mixes. He asked the clients, both Labrador lovers, 'What are you doing with a pit bull?' "
A veterinarian’s first and foremost concern should always be the health and welfare of the animal he or she is treating, not necessarily the owner's choice of ‘breed’ or in the specific cases quoted in the article its ‘look.’
Gesel said it isn't all that complicated to properly identify pit bulls. He once explained to a judge, "Any kid on the street can tell you if it is a pit. If it has the characteristics, it's a pit."
It’s important to point out that many institutions including the American Veterinary Medical Association would contest Dr. Gesel’s position on the ease and effectiveness of breed determination based on physical characteristics.

Although the colonial selectmen of Massachusetts might disagree, breed determination is not as simple as ‘’throw it in the water, if it floats, it’s a pit bull.’ It’s a wonder how many Labs and Boxers (let alone the dozens of other look-a-like breeds) have been misidentified and killed in US shelters because they‘looked’ like or had “physical characteristics of” a pit bull. Just as there is no way of determining a man’s predisposition toward violence or criminal activity by looking at his physique, haircut, or skin color, there is no way of determining a dog’s personality or temperament by the way it looks. To be effective, laws and policies regarding vicious and dangerous animals MUST be based on actions, and behaviors. To focus on anything else will be wasting resources and ultimately will lead to a decrease in public safety.

And again many organizations not limited to the American Veterinary Medical Association, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, The National Animal Control Association, and many DVM’s have hardline positions against breed specific legislation because it has been found to be among other things, discriminatory, ineffective, cost prohibitive, and counter productive.

The timing of these defamatory articles should be noted, the first being published on Dec. 21st, (article link within our response) just in time for Christmas. While many will debate whether or not a dog under the tree is a great way of introducing a new pet to the family, surely this article secured many animals fate’s for a Christmas morning behind the bars of the County’s kennels instead of warm loving homes. How many people didn’t look to adopt that week, or worse how many people decided not to call Animal Control to get help for that abused or neglected dog because of this article?

Lastly and quite troubling is Columbus Dispatch editor Ben Morrison’s blog entry “Shelter Story Sparks Response,” where he takes a rather negative stance toward those readers who expressed their dissatisfaction with the article on Franklin County Dog Shelter. He accuses shelter volunteers of a letter writing campaign. While in every shelter environment there is surely room for improvement, these stories seem to push the boundaries of a smear campaign. It appears that the Dispatch has chosen to raise their flag on one side of the drawn line, which is a shame for the readers depending on unbiased reporting. This is all too common of an occurrence in news media these days. While the print and broadcast media are wondering why there is such a decline in their outlets, it is curious why an editor would choose to chastise readers who express their discontent, if a reader isn’t welcome to share their opinions by writing to the editors, perhaps they will choose to voice their concerns by means of another canceled subscription.

If you are having behavior issues with a pet please don’t wait for a serious accident to get help. There are many people who can help you get your pet's naughty behavior under control. The Columbus Dog Connection has a great page on behavior and also has compiled a great list of trainers and behaviorists who can help.

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...