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September 22, 2007

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MDog

When the Alan Hill stuff was going on in Independence, some woman was on the news (it might have been the woman collecting petition signatures in favor of a ban, but this was not a dog expert or anyone held up as a dog expert) and she was quoted as saying something like, "I've never seen any other breed of dog that will actually bite chunks of human flesh and EAT them."
If I hadn't been so horrified by that type of blatant misinformation being just put out there unchallenged, I would have cracked up because it's so absurd. A variation on the whole "pit bulls are like landsharks" thing.

Cheryl

MDog that person making those absurd comments was none other than city commissioner of Independence, Renee Paluka-White. Sad part is many of the public blindly believe their politicians and media to be factual and truthful.

Brent

When Paluka White made those comments I sent her an email that had the link to dictionary.com -- first I linked to it's definition of a dog -- which is a "domesticated carnivore". Then I linked to the term carnivore -- which is "an animal that eats flesh." Which means, by definition, an animal isn't a dog if it DOESN"T eat flesh...

Marjorie

(clapping)

Well, I have to say, Brent, one of the reasons I'm so, so glad I'm now retired, is the ability to get away from the people on "our" side, who are so vacuous, they don't know what the heck they're talking about. I expected the ignorance from the "other" side. But when the people on the correct side of the discussion are just as bad, it's important to distance oneself.

Over the past year or two, there has been an explosion of unsutstantiated theories and claims that, to me, based on my experience, are little more than laughable. We know it's bad when others make up/repeat untrue things. It's just as bad when we do it.

Jon Stewart has a segment I wish I could produce for the anti-BSL movement. He calls it, "You're not f%@#!$& helping." When people toss around false statements like, "they are naturally aggressive towards other dogs" or "large dogs are more dangerous," they're "not f%@#!$& helping," the cause.

Your rant kinda makes me want to put my article, "So-called 'pit bull' experts," back up on the Internet.

MDog

Oh my gosh, that was a city commissioner? Lord help us. Wouldn't it be nice to have the chance to cross examine these people in public? I mean, it's pretty common knowledge that examining the stomach contents of attacking dogs is a commonly used way to determine which dogs did or did/not participate in a severe or fatal attack. How is this possible, if ONLY pit bulls eat human flesh?

morgan

I saw a show on spike tv last night that really pissed me off! The show was call dangerous encounters when WILD animals attack, and they pulled out to pit bull attacks. And a lady that had witnessed one of the attacks compared owning a pit bull as to owning a lion, croc or bear!!!! WHAT THE F*** IS THAT? So now their WILD!?

EmilyS

well, yes and no.

You correctly target absurd statements about pit bulls.
But (like many breeds) they ARE genetically prone to dog aggression, just as collies are genetically prone to herd sheep and Russell Terriers are genetically prone to dig for rats.

And pit bulls ARE genetically prone to bite/hold/shake, to ignore signs of submission in other dogs and to "never give up" (it was that last quality that made them the hero of those WWI posters we love to tout... "we're neutral but not afraid of any of them" for example)

That doesn't mean that they are dangerous, or that ALL pit bulls are dog aggressive, or that pit bull owners shouldn't socialize their puppies with other dogs and train them to behave around other dogs. Pit bulls ARE very trainable and I'm not even convinced that most of them, even the dog aggressive ones, really want to fight as the gamedog cultists claim.

But it DOES mean that we pit bull owners have a special responsibility to understand our dogs and make sure they don't get into trouble. Because it's OUR dog and OUR breed that will get the blame in any altercation,however normal and however minor.

Many many is the pit bull owner who took his puppy to dogparks and everything was fine until puppy turned 15 months and discovered his pit bull nature when some other dog tried to steal his toy, and all hell broke loose. Hey, it happened to ME and I consider myself lucky that I was right there to stop it before it really became a dog fight.

It's EXPERIENCED PIT BULL people who say "never trust a pit bull not to fight".

MichelleD

EmilyS, "You're not f%@#!$& helping!" Are you a genetisist or do you by chance volunteer for a pit bull rescue? Because I've heard everything you're repeating before, nearly word for word...You are also contradicting yourself in your post...they are genetically prone to fight but you don't really believe they want to fight like the gamedog folks say - hmmmm.

Marjorie, can you post that article?

morgan

Thank you MichelleD!
My family has owned pit bulls for as long as my family photos show and I was raised around them they were our house/family dogs and the dogs we did have that were dangerous were the hound dogs that were for hunting purposes and they were MADE to be hunters!!!!!

Brent

Majorie,

I'm chuckling at the not f%@#$ing helping thing...I can't count the number of times I've wanted to say that to people at city council meetings over the past couple of years.

Emily, thanks for posting that, I couldn't have paid for a better representation of what I was talking about than your post.

I think I get your "kinda" point. I do believe that certain breeds have "tendencies" toward certain types of behaviors. The reality is that man uses different breeds for different activities based on some of those "natural" instinct and certain body types are better for certain functions. Certainly a St. Bernard would be useless trying to scurry down a gopher hole.

But the dog still has to learn the bahavior somehow.

My experience with pit bulls is that with proper training and socialization, they are just like other dogs. In fact, one of my adoptees has become more mellow over time, in spite of me being told that once she got to a certain age she would become more aggressive. In fact, it's been the exact opposite.

My experience with most pit bull rescue people is that they believe that these dogs are somehow different from other dogs. They believe that they're naturally prone to dog aggression, and scare the hell out of their adopters and discourage them from not only using dog parks, but generally socializing their dogs properly because they "never trust a pit bull not to fight." They, thus, end up creating the behavior they say the dog is predisposed to. And all too often, aggressive bahavior is treated as "natural" and not corrected the way it should be.

Another example of this is that a lot of small dogs are "naturally yippee". Yet, in just a weekend of dog-sitting our neighbor's yippee pug, we were able to get it to quit barking on command. It took two days.

I do agree that pit bull owners need to hold their dog to a higher standard. The reality is that if there were an incident between two dogs (which is fairly common among all breeds), due to public perception, the "pit bull" will always get blamed.

But assuming, and accepting, dog on dog aggression from any breed of dog shouldn't be blindly accepted as "natural".

Caveat

Great post, Brent. Like you and the others, I'm more dismayed by the comments of supposed supporters than by the twits on the other side. At least the twits have an excuse - zero experience and knowledge of the subject, except what the media has told them is true.

It's the 'pit bulls' are different meme that bugs me. A breed apart. They need special handling, special owners and are just plain special. Not just anybody can have a 'pit bull', according to these 'experts'.

Another one is the old chestnut that 'pit bulls' were bred to be dog aggressive but not human aggressive. So, is it just dogs they attack? Not birds, squirrels, cats, bunnies, humans, rats, monkeys, etc, etc? Interesting breeding program, I must say.

The whole idea of a breed is that it is different and stands apart from other breeds, isn't it? Otherwise how would you know a Beagle from an Airedale?

I find dog snobs everywhere, including among 'pit bull' supporters and owners. But the supporters who repeat these old wives' tales aren't F%&$*#ing helping!


Marjorie

MichelleD...just for you...

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/so_calledEXPERTS.htm

Note: I haven't proofed it recently, nor have I updated any links (if there are any on that page). I'm just posting it as a stand-alone article for you crazy kids to read, as per this discussion. ;-) I haven't read it recently, but I remember it being written out of sheer frustration at the "not f%@#$ing helping" types...who wouldn't know a scientific fact if it came up and bit them in the... ..Hey, hey!

Marjorie

Oh, what the heck...since they relate, here are two more archived articles:

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPtemperament.htm

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/aggression.htm

(Again, there may be missing images or broken links, but the main article is there.)

Caveat

I finished The Pit Bull Placebo and enjoyed it very much. I don't know how Karen digs all this stuff up but she's done a tremendous job with the book.

One passage that stuck with me was the one where she talks about 'pit bull' mythology and points out that all this information comes from a fringe, criminal element from a hundred years ago - the old-time dog fighters. One wouldn't expect them to embellish their stories, would one?

I don't see how believing these tall tales is any different from believing the tall tales in the media.

Marjorie, thanks for reposting your articles - we'll get you back online somehow!

Marjorie

"Marjorie, thanks for reposting your articles - we'll get you back online somehow!"

hehehe... You're hilarious, Caveat. You see how insidious it is? Creeping back..? (Must refrain. Must focus on retirement.) ;-)

Caveat

Retirement, yes, go ahead, focus on that. Have I mentioned that I finally was able to quit working just three weeks before Bryant started his nonsense in Ontario?

I'm thinking of getting a job so I can relax LOL

You'll be back!

Brent

Retirement? I'm all for that Marjorie, but you then just took down your website and 20 years of great information gathering and took it with you. Nothing like packing up your ball and going home.

Thanks for reposting the articles. Great info, as always.

Marjorie

hehehe...

I found it impossible not to be involved (forget 'a daily basis'...more like 'an hourly basis') when I was still actively working in the anti-BSL cause.

GoodPooch.com was conceived merely to promote the highest levels of responsible dog ownership (and how that benefits dogs, dog owners, and society in general), as well as debunk the kinds of dog-related myths that are an impediment to raising a good canine citizen.

There was only a one-paragraph position statement opposing BSL, in the beginning. But, with growing need, the articles refuting the myths also grew in number. It got to the point the web site was often referred to as a "'pit bull' activist" site. (Oh...if people only knew the truth...)

And Caveat...I'm sure I've told this story a zillion times. But, in case you haven't heard it, this is how my retirement went down.

I'd promised my husband, all year, I would officially retire from my work in the dog community (especially canine legislation) as of September 1, 2004...a definitive date. We were both happy. I looked forward to it. (Life was simpler then.)

I remember it as clearly as yesterday. Monday, August 30th, 2004, we were at our cottage. My husband turned on the television only to hear Michael Bryant's announcement, "We're banning 'pit bulls' in Ontario."

I thought it was more amusing, at first. What a tiny, odd, little man Bryant is. But I felt almost immediately exhausted, as though all the moths and years of effort to come had already been taken from me. I sighed. My husband understood.

I've been at this a long time and I can't do it forever. Something's gotta give. There's a point when a person has to just hope her small contribution made a difference, and leave it up to the next generation/group/wave to carry the torch, and move forward.

In any event, that's how GoodPooch.com came to be, and how I eventually came to retire. It's my story, and I'm sticking with it. :-)

EmilyS

"not helping" would be ignoring the reality of pit bull tendencies and romanticizing them because they are so sweet to people.

A genetic tendency means only that. As I said, the FACT that pit bulls have genetic tendency to dog aggression DOES NOT MEAN that all pit bulls are dog aggression. There is no contradiction in this.

Some of the worst pit bull problems are caused by naive romantic pit bull owners who think it's "all in how you treat/train them". Many of those people will be severely disabused of this biologically incorrect notion.

Brent

Emily,

I guess I think there's a really big area in between being naive and making untrue, unsubstntiated statements like "pit bulls ARE genetically prone to bite/hold/shake, to ignore signs of submission in other dogs and to "never give up"...which is pretty common amongst a lot of breeds (for example, Huskies that will literally run themselves to death because they are trained/bred to run). Not sure where you get the "ignoring signs of submission" part from...I've heard and read a lot of stuff and never heard that one.

I think it's quite easy to be in between "naive" and contributing to the problem.

Brent

Also, one other note. And let me know if I'm wrong on this (I'll eat crow if I am). But I'm going to guess you work in rescue (I worked with a rescue for a while that said many of the same things you've mentioned). Keep in mind that when you work in rescue, you're in 99% of cases dealing with dogs that have come from irresponsible owners (if they were responsible, you'd never see them). So in many cases these dogs have gone through years of lack of socialization, or been separated from its mother/sibling way earlier than it should have been (I see people selling 5 week old pit bull puppies all the time in my neighborhood). All of these things contribute to an overall lack of socialization that led to the problems that you see as being so prevelent.

But putting the behaviors of these animals (most of which can be rehabilitated, with work) on all pit bulls is exactly what city council people have done over the years...and unfortunately, a lot of rescue people have perpetuated.

Let me know if I'm wrong.

Caveat

An animal can't have a genetic tendency to be (it's own species) aggressive. This common, and senseless statement has no basis in fact.

If anything, the opposite would be true. Animals, including humans, which emerged ready to fight with and kill their own species would be defying the genetic imperative to continue that species. If they were that innately prone to the behaviour, they wouldn't pack (which dogs must do to survive in the wild), they wouldn't mate and they wouldn't nurture their young. They'd die out pretty quickly, in other words.

As I say, a senseless but widely believed idea.

Dogs can be antisocial, yes. Breed is irrelevant. Part of the problem is that people get what they expect. So, if you think your dog will not get along with other dogs, you don't socialize him. I think this was stated above in another comment.

Along similar lines, if you have a neophobic bitch and you keep her in isolation with minimal contact, she will pass on that neophobia to her pups - through training, not through DNA.

"A genetic tendency means only that. As I said, the FACT that pit bulls have genetic tendency to dog aggression DOES NOT MEAN that all pit bulls are dog aggression. There is no contradiction in this."

Actually, it's a complete contradiction. Since the basis of the statement is untrue, it is impossible to defend rationally.

By the way, what do you mean by 'pit bull'?

If you are referring to mongrels, then the genetic premise is even more specious.


morgan

Im pretty sure genetics are physical traits & behavior is learned traits!!!!!!!!!
Let me know if im wrong!(ha ha)

Marjorie

I'm pretty sure I addressed all these things in the "so-called 'pit bull' experts" article. (sigh)

- Research proves at least 99.9% of 'pit bulls' will never be involved in an attack at any time in their lives (no, not even attacks against other dogs). I like to put it this way, "If any breed were 'genetically programmed to attack,' certainly more than 0.1% of them would."

(I recently did this break down for some hysterical 'pit bull' hater. Based on U.S. population estimates, for just 0.1% of 'pit bulls' to be involved in attacks, there'd have to be at least 14 serious biting incidents attributed to 'pit bulls', every single day of the year. Every day...with no exceptions!

So, every day there are less than 14 serious dog attacks involving 'pit bulls', it only confirms even more than 99.9% of all 'pit bulls' don't attack.)

- Many 'pit bulls' live in multi-dog homes. Many 'pit bulls' live in multi-dog homes with other 'pit bulls'. An inherent trait is always present. If a 'pit bull' can "get along" with some dogs, but not others, that is a clear indication of learning (or "environment").

- Check your local dog bite records. The overwhelming majority of dogs that instigated an attack on another dog were not 'pit bulls'. In fact, they span the gamut of dog breed sizes, shapes, and original breed purposes.

- I've been attending off-leash dog parks on an almost daily basis, for years. Occasionally squabbles do happen at off-leash parks. Rarely is there a true fight (although inexperienced owners often misinterpret all sorts of behaviours for fighting). (Most dogs are attacked by other dogs when they walk by a poorly-socialized, aggressive dog's property, and that dog escapes and attacks the passerby. That is the most common scenario for dog-on-dog attacks, and it is caused by owners who DON'T socialize their dogs - especially off-leash, so their dogs come to see other dogs as some kind of threat.) You just don't find dogs that are well-socialized (especailly those who regularly benefit from off-leash time with strange people and dogs) attacking unprovoked. It just doesn't happen.

- Last time I checked, guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine lacked consciousness, or the ability to recognize another dog.

Oh, what the heck, in addition to the other articles (links above), which totally refute these kinds of scientifically-unfounded myths, I've specifically addressed this issue in my article, "Everything You Wanted To Know About 'Pit Bulls'". Here's the link directly to the section, "Are 'pit bulls' naturally aggressive towards other dogs?"

http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPpitbulls.htm#towardsdogs

Enjoy! ;-)

Marjorie

http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/capital_van_isl/story.html?id=c35d9cb4-720b-4d96-8520-5c296ab59431&k=95831

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"A police dog protected Victoria and Saanich officers against a charging pitbull when they arrested a man.

The pitbull came charging out of a home on Dysart Road and Vincent Avenue early last Friday after police had arrested a suspect there, said Victoria Sgt. Grant Hamilton.

Police dog Pego intercepted the pitbull and protected the officers until the pitbull retreated, Hamilton said at the weekly media briefing yesterday."

So 'pit bulls' "won't back down" huh?

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