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« The importance of length-of-stay for open admission shelters | Main | It's why we're here »

July 24, 2013

Comments

twitter.com/BaltimoreGal

Somebody really could write a weekly column called "What did MC mis-state this week?"

Peter Masloch

Clifton could be the long lost brother of Colleen Lynn. I hope he was reading the news that the CDC stopped tracking dog bites by breed.
http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/images/dogbreeds-a.pdf

Adrianne Lefkowitz

Merritt Clifton has been hatin' since the mid 90s. I was on those boards arguing with him even back then. You would think he would have honed his statistical skills -- and his data gathering methods -- since then. That he hasn't is truly a testament to the lack of credible data to support his position. Believe, me, if there was credible data out there, Merritt would have found it and would be exploiting it.

Nokillhouston

Thanks for taking on the task of disproving Clifton. I'm surprised anyone listens to him anymore. I stopped listening to him several years ago when he told me that I should feel lucky that Houston shelters kill "only" 80,000 animals per year, with kill rates ranging from 52% to 89%. He also claimed that this astromically high kill rate was the best that we could do---and this was at a time when there were already a dozen or more Open Admission, No Kill shelters that we knew of.

EmilyS

oy. as we say on the innerwebz, "the stoopid, it burnsssss!"

Karen

Clifton is certainly one of the usual suspects and worst offenders, along with Colleen Lynn and Dawn James et al, but they shoot themselves in the foot with their lies, slander, abuse and bullying behaviour which reduces their credibility to rubble. They're working for us!

One of Dawn James latest attempts was to claim that no Pit Bull has ever been a police dog and none ever will be.
Ummmm...Shaaka (described by her police handler as the best k9 partner he's ever worked with - drug detection), Neville (drug detection), Popsicle (who won a significant seizure award as a drug detection dog), and Kris Crawford's three Pit Bulls who were involved in the recovery of the astronauts after the shuttle failed on re-entry and at Ground Zero after 911...there's 6 to start with. Busted! Again.

Thanks for taking the time and trouble that you do to be so huge a part of the solution, Brent.

Joel

The good news is that public sentiment and public policy is trending against BSL.

While some people get their panties in a bunch about Clifton and the dogsbite crowd, it's clear that they are a fringe element. The more material the put out, the easier it is to shoot holes in it and the more people see how silly their beliefs are.

I'm quite comfortable with them representing the "other" side, which will always be present in some shape or form. It just takes a bit of time and education to get past our initial revulsion to their scare tactics, misinformation, and name calling. Then they become nothing more than a comedic sideshow.

Education and open dialogue are their enemy. Anti-BSL people have nothing to fear from more widespread knowledge about dog bites and breeds.

Mike Stein

Here's an issue (and a related theory) I've had with MC's data that I would love to see addressed.

If you look at his pit bull mix data, you'll see that the pit/lab mix has a very high fatality to maiming rate. If you take pit/lab mixes out of his "data", you'll see the fatality/maiming rate of pit bull mixes drop significantly. You'll also see that labs have a very high fatality to maiming rate. In fact the accumulated lab vs. pit bull mix stats he has are almost identical.

I personally believe there is a truly significant percentage of "pit bulls" involved in these incidents that are actually labrador or other retriever crosses. This theory is grounded in the fact that a.) the lab population is similar in size to that as the pit bull population b.) there is a large stray lab population c.) there are a lot of dogs reported in news reports as being pit bulls, which later turnout to be labs (often mixed with other popular dogs such as boxers or bulldogs.) d.) labs can sustain bite force equivalent to or exceeding that of a pit bull.

But at the end of the day, it's a numbers game - labs are big, strong, high energy dogs and there are a lot out there in stray population.

Brent

Mike -- I guess I look at the data and think that no matter how you slice it, it is so inaccurate and incomplete to start with that no matter how you move the pieces around the data is useless. But would tend to agree with you on the Lab thing -- as their popularity would probably dictate far larger numbers than Clifton's data would suggest.

DogLover

To read more about the character of Merritt Clifton, read this and click on the links at the bottom of this page to learn all about his ethics, morals and judgement.

https://www.wheredidmydonationgo.org/merrit-defends-dana-costin

This horrifying video tells a bone-chilling story of a person who cares more about their bank account than the dogs in their care: https://www.wheredidmydonationgo.org/archives/22

Mike Stein

Absolutely Brent in re: Merritt's stats. However, I wouldn't discard them entirely, in so much as they have been created to represent the worst possible picture of "pit bulls", and use that as a foundation to show what garbage the data is.

For example: the theory among that group is that pit bulls are vicious. "Once they stop, they don't let go".. etc, etc. But Clifton's own data again fails him. It actually shows that the non-Pit/Rottweiler/Molosser type dogs are more likely to kill in an escalated violent attack situation.

The data shows that for every 5.5 reported attacks where a dog described as a pit bull actually tried (and potentially wanted to) harm a person - 1 person died. However, this ratio drops to 3.2 to 1 for the other molosser dogs, and 3 to 1 for the good dogs (labs, pomeranians, etc).

In short, the "good" dogs are actually more likely to kill someone in an actual vicious attack, according to MC's stats.

Sandy

I find these dog bite stats to be fairly erroneous as the post suggests. I have had to seek medical care from dog bites (breaking up a fight between my beagles) 3 different times (they are now much less feisty). My bull dog however...hasn't be the source of an issue resulting in bite to human.
Also are the reports dog "attacks" or "bites", the fact is an attack is not the same as a bite (attacks would most certainly cost insurance more money...). Many small dogs bite and only leave surface bruising which doesn't necessarily result in a bite report. I am not for banning any breed. Some responsible reporting of this information and context wouldn't hurt. Those of us who own dogs need to be responsible and careful not to allow our pets to misbehave. If you're breaking in to a house you deserve to be bit.

EmilyS

This is so fabulous, Brent! (though I agree with Mike's points that a HUGE issue with all the dogbite reports is "breed" identification. Especially these days when even some major advocates accept that any dog could be called a "pit bull".)

I'd love to see this packaged in some way as a press release and sent out to every reporter who has ever quoted Clifton. Maybe you could contact one of the major organizations to consider this. And make it a permanent file on a website somewhere.

Howlingartist

I would not be surprised to see a lot of bites reported from lab crosses. I have a lab cross, dad was a lab, mom was likely either 25 or 50% chow. He is mouthy like a lab, but lacks the soft mouth that they have. He would 'bite' in play, not in anger. A child would not understand the difference. He is a sweet and loving dog, just a bad genetic mix. It took some time, but he has learned to be more careful with his use of his mouth.

TonyB

Karen,

Kris Crawford is a known scam artist, and there is zero evidence (beyond her assertions) that her dogs worked at Ground Zero. There are so many press releases and memorials dedicated to the dogs of 911. Try to find anything that ties Crawford's dogs to it other than something that originated with her.

Also, I do not think Dawn ever stated that NO pits have ever used in police work, it is more likely that she stated that they are very rare and their numbers overstated by many.

You only listed a small handful. Any idea how many more labs and GSDs are used in that work? I'm guessing it is more than 1,000 labs or GSDs per pit bull in use by LEO.

Brent

Tony, not really sure what point you're trying to prove. I don't know, or really care much about Kris Crawford, but do know of several bullies that are working in police work. Certainly there are anatomical reasons why GSD's are better suited for such work(longer nosed dogs tend to be better at detecting scent), but that doesn't remove the fact that pit bulls have very desirable traits for such work, and sometimes have the nose for it. Even if there was only 1 pit bull used in police work it would eliminate idea that they can't be used for such work (they can). There are plenty enough breeds out there that have little value in police work including many large breeds, so I'm not sure what point you're trying to prove...

Brent

Emily, thanks for the kind words. I'm not sure if me peddling this to try to get mainstream coverage is something I have a lot of appetite for, but I hope others will use some of the information to dispute these ridiculous claims when merritt and others try to use them in comments sections of news outlets. I can book mark it with a "best of KC Dog Blog" to get it on the side column. Until then, you can always search the "categories" on the left -- Merritt has his own tag and it will show up there.

TonyB

My comment was addressed to Karen and related to her post upstream. You'd have to read her comment first for context.

I think it is obvious that a few pit bulls are fit for LEO work. I do not think they are as fit on average, for a variety of reasons. And the reason that GSDs are used so often is not simply due to form. GSDs are among the most trainable breeds. Pit bulls are never ranked among the most trainable or intelligent breeds when someone makes the list without trying to make a point.

Brent

I read both comments.

And I think most knowledgable dog trainers would argue about a pit bulls "trainability". Meanwhile, there are a lot of dogs that are generally considered smarter that do no such police work (like standard Poodles). No doubt GSD's and Malinois are the most popular -- because of their form as well as their drive. Pit Bulls generally do well with the latter, but less so with the former. Form, trainability and drive are why many bullies excel in things like agility and as disc dogs, and GSD's do not.

Jen Brighton

First, thank you so much, Brent for this report on Merrit Clifton. Being that he hails from my State of Washington, it drives me absolutely nuts every time I see him post his faulty statistics. His arrogance is amazing.

Second, in response to Tony B's comments about trainability of pit bulls, I always say a trainer isn't worth their salt if they can't train many breeds of dogs. I've come across trainers who say pit bulls are "untrainable." I would say that sort of trainer needs some improvement on their training skills.

I attended a 2-day conference featuring Dr. Sophia Yin and I firmly believe as a veterinarian, dog trainer and animal behaviorist there is no animal she can't train (including the chickens she trained to do agility). She showed clips of working with pit bulls and they were no different than any other dog. In fact, as you know, most pit bulls are very trainable as they are so food oriented, eager to please and have the terrier-type drive to complete a task, regardless of what it is, from drug/bomb detection work to therapy dog work.

EmilyS

The use of GSDs (and Dobes) for police work is purely historic. Few modern American GSDs are fit, either mentally or physically, for the physical and mental demands put on police or military K9s. That's why Malinois are more common in those fields today (or police forces spend absurd amounts of money importing German GSDs). Purebred APBTs (like most pet breeds) are unsuited for police work because they are temperamentally unwilling to bite people, unlike Malinois and, in the old days before their temperaments were destroyed, Doberman Pinschers. The temperament required for this kind of work makes a dog unsuited for most pet homes. So the use of any particular breed by the police doesn't say much about them, or any other breed.

APBTs are VERY suited for SAR and detection work because of their high work ethic, intelligence, drive and yes, trainability. Diane Jessup was demonstrating this with her LawDogs program. The only reason they are NOT used more commonly has to do with prejudice not capability. In fact, breed has little to do with the ability to be effective SAR/detection dogs.... capable dogs can readily be found in any shelter with the appropriate testing.

Kris Crawford DID have certified SAR APBTs. Her recent misadventures and bizarre claims don't negate that fact.

And as always, I challenge TonyB and others of his ilk, to produce evidence that most-- if any -- of the "pit bull" incidents were perpetrated by anything other than mixed breed dogs called "pit bulls" by the media/LEO/ACO/whomever because any dog that bites is a pit bull.

Jen Brighton

Well said, Emily. I had the exact same thoughts and comments about all you mentioned above, but you set them forth in a logical manner. Thanks!

TonyB

" Meanwhile, there are a lot of dogs that are generally considered smarter that do no such police work (like standard Poodles)."

-Standard poodles are sometimes used in SARs and drug detection. I would bet there are more of them doing this than pit bulls, but there is no way to confirm this.

"Diane Jessup was demonstrating this with her LawDogs program."

-Lawdogs was short lived. I have no idea how many dogs were placed by Jessup that were effective. I can only assume that if it was working out well then demand would have kept this venture afloat. Are you one to admit that dog-directed aggression is very common in pits? That is one reason I have seen cited by LEO for why they do not use pits. It is more difficult to get them to the point where they can safely be around other dogs, which is vital in many LEO/SAR roles.

"Purebred APBTs (like most pet breeds) are unsuited for police work because they are temperamentally unwilling to bite people, unlike Malinois and, in the old days before their temperaments were destroyed, Doberman Pinschers."

-Purebred APBTs are perhaps now often bought as companion animals, but the breed's history indicates that they were not created primarily to be pets or companions. That is important and should be recognized.

"Kris Crawford DID have certified SAR APBTs. Her recent misadventures and bizarre claims don't negate that fact."

-I know that she did. However, her claims of being at Ground Zero are only supported by her own unreliable words.

"And as always, I challenge TonyB and others of his ilk, to produce evidence that most-- if any -- of the "pit bull" incidents were perpetrated by anything other than mixed breed dogs called "pit bulls" by the media/LEO/ACO/whomever because any dog that bites is a pit bull."

-Changing the subject? This is similar to when someone states that pits are not a smart pet choice. Someone will immediately state something about BSL not being effective. I'm glad you are somewhat aware of the mountain of incidences attributed to pits that need to be explained away somehow.

EmilyS

BSL is NOT effective. Period, end of discussion. Brent has demonstrated this about a zillion times right here on his blog. Do you read this blog, or just come here to spew nonsense?

YOU can't justify the naming of any dog that bites as a pit bull.. because it seems that you're one of those people (like Clifton, in fact) who thinks any dog who bites must be a pit bull. I never deny the "mountain" of incidents attributed to "pits". Keyword: "attributed". I'm glad YOU acknowledge that incidents are "attributed" to "pits"... not that incidents are CAUSED by "pits" (whatever a "pit" is, anyway...).

The APBT has been a family pet since the beginning of its existence.. at the SAME time some of them were fighting dogs. You can't explain away the vast archive of photos of these dogs with kids/women/families.

Glad to read that you acknowledge that APBT SAR dogs DO exist. Whether they worked at Ground Zero is irrelevant.

Jessup abandoned the LawDog program NOT because of the failure of the dogs but for financial reasons and the prejudice of people like you.

TonyB

Emily,

Well, I'm glad you are able to discuss this while remaining calm and rational ;)

"BSL is NOT effective. Period, end of discussion. Brent has demonstrated this about a zillion times right here on his blog. Do you read this blog, or just come here to spew nonsense?"

Re-read my comment. I was stating how you used it as a red herring how that seems common. I hadn't even mentioned BSL.

"YOU can't justify the naming of any dog that bites as a pit bull.. because it seems that you're one of those people (like Clifton, in fact) who thinks any dog who bites must be a pit bull. "

What did I say that would give you the impression that I believe every single dog that bites must be a pit bull?

"The APBT has been a family pet since the beginning of its existence.. at the SAME time some of them were fighting dogs. You can't explain away the vast archive of photos of these dogs with kids/women/families."

If you will not admit that the primary selection pressure for pits was for the bull and then dog ring, then I would just ask you to read any book about the breed written prior to it becoming a source of controversy. Yeah, labs were kept as pets and also used in retrieving work. Being used as a pet at times does not change what a breed was created to do and the behaviors it exhibits.

The old photos of pits with families actually says very little about the breed. If you were thinking about this in relation to a non-emotional topic you would see exactly why I would say this.


"Whether they worked at Ground Zero is irrelevant."

It was brought up here and that is why I addressed. So, it is relevant in the context of this discussion thread.

"Jessup abandoned the LawDog program NOT because of the failure of the dogs but for financial reasons and the prejudice of people like you."

I'm prejudice because I am capable of recognizing average tendencies among breeds. No, I think that is called having common sense. If her lawdogs were so great, then between sales to LEO and donations, you would think she could stay afloat. There is very little information I could find about her dogs and how well they fared. I think it is a fool's errand to have a breed that has purposefully had dog-directed aggression instilled in around other SARs dogs that are loved and very expensive. It makes much more sense to simply use labs, etc. The only reason to use a pit is to make a point, and other people don't care about your point.

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