A couple of weeks ago, I posted some commentary about how not all sources of information are created equal -- and that it is important for people to consider their source when it comes to deterimining the validity of that information.
Then, the conversation continued a bit over at Caveat and I had a small revelation that hit me - that, while small, and almost humorous in nature, it actually creates quite a problem for the opposition to Breed-specific laws (BSL).
Let's say the topic of BSL comes up in a community. A reporter is eager to get boths sides of the story so he starts making a few phone calls to local rescue groups, shelters, etc. The first couple of phone conversations to his local experts likely reveals that all are opposed to laws targeting specific breeds. Such laws are ineffective, create a false sense of security, and target the wrong end of the leash. Breed-neutral laws that focused on a dog's behavior, and responsible ownership, are more effective.
However, he still has to find a supporter of breed bans. Local phone calls have gotten him nowhere, so he has to do an internet search. The search leads him to a particular dogs bite website that claims to be a national authority on the topic (even though they have no expertise at all in actual animal behavior). So they get their quote. Both sides are represented.
Unfortunately, for many while both sides get their quotes, the sides aren't equally represented. The anti-BSL group has many supporters, including everyone locally. The pro-BSL group has one supporter, from several states away. Unfortunately, both sides get equal airtime. And unfortunately, often times the general population sees the national organization as being a higher authority than the local groups. No one is ever smarter it seems than the out-of-town 'expert'.
And so the pro BSL side gets a slight advantage in the world of public opinion.
Such has been the case in Vancouver over the past couple of weeks. In a column.
On September 13, the a Vancouver Sun editorial writer wrote an editorial in favor of breed-specific laws. He, of course, didn't consider his sources, and posted a lot of inaccurate gibberish. You can pretty much tell something is going to be gibberish the second they start comparing dogs to bears or when they refer to people who oppose breed bans as the "attack dog lobby". Um, yeah.
It's pretty amazing that you have dozens of national organizations of trainers, rescue groups, dog handlers, animal control officers, veterinarians, etc -- and most don't agree on much of anything - -but the one thing they do all agree on, is that breed-specific laws are not the answer. And because of that, all of these groups are now somehow considered to be some sort of conspiracy lobbying group. Yip.
So, the local experts, talk back. Including this very nicely written letter by Kathy Powelson, the Executive Director of the local Paws for Hope Animal Foundation. Now, I don't know Kathy, but she sounds like a very knowledgable person when it comes to animal handling and canine laws - -and has a title (not just a website) that would help prove that.Kathy points out that most of the evidence presented in the original editorial is from unaccredited, unreliable sources (and she's right).
Maybe my favorite piece of this is that dogsbite.org founder Colleen Lynn then writes defending her own credentials. Folks, if the only person that comes to your defense and defends you as a credible source is you, you may have a problem.
Let me be perfectly clear - the evidence is overwhelmingly opposed to breed-specific laws and there is a completely lack of expert and professional support for such laws. And the local experts are generally the local experts that have the higher authority with their hands on experience with animals.
One website owner does not change that.