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« Everyone believes a good urban legend | Main | Pit Bull Overpopulation »

June 05, 2007



Please visit this page. Click on attacks link at the top and you will see a very long list of children attacked by chained dogs along with photos and the news stories associated with each attack. Some people claim that we are ignoring the fact that un-chained dogs attack just as much as do the chained dogs, but it's just not true.



I've noticed a new trend, over the past year or so.

It used to be that a newspaper or television station might consider "correcting" inaccurate information, if provided by experts, or that which can be readily verified.

But I noticed, about a year or so ago, many "news" agencies are now sticking to local input, and virtually refusing to correct even inaccurate information, if the correction is not provided by someone in the local area.

This didn't used to be the case.

Just look at the Vancouver Sun article, "First, let's ban all the dogs". I know I sent them a concise letter that refutes (or corrects) some of the statistical information offered by the author. While it wasn't a surprise to me that they chose not to provide these corrections to their readers, I noticed just about the only responses they did choose to print were those from the surrounding area. Even when, several days later, they dedicated almost the whole "letters" section to responses to this article, the authors were all from the local area. As I recall, only a few attempted to call the author on her use of misinterpreted data.

But what this means is, with this kind of policy in place, a news agency is pretty much free to publish any claim, no matter how misleading or inaccurate (yes, they do that already), and if there isn't a credible expert in the local area to refute it, the information stands.

Since I can usually get my better-written rebuttals published, I find this new wrinkle rather disconcerting. I understand the desire to stick with local opinion, but facts aren't opinions, as much as so many people like to believe. Just because a number has a "%" sign after it, that doesn't make it "invented" or someone's "opinion".

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." - Abraham Lincoln


Marie, thanks for posting. I need to add your site to the blog roll. I honestly think that if we got rid of tethering as a major form of "containment" in this country, we'd be in SO much better shape -- both dogs and people. I also think we'd see the "pit bull problem" go away too...

Majorie, that's an interesting trend -- I hadn't noticed really. But I have noticed the even MORE disturbing trend that "reporters" aren't calling to get expert opinions on matters for the original stories any more. I remember how I was tought to get sources in J-School, and it involved several phone calls, and getting expert opinions. Now, "expert opinion" seems to be the neighbor next door that was home during the day watching CNN 24/7. It's getting worse on the front and back ends of the "reporting" -- and they wonder why newspaper readership and TV news ratings are declining....


Merritt Clifton has absolutely no credibility in the dog world. People like Kory Nelson, Michael Bryant, Wesselhoft et al like to quote him because he tells them what they want to hear. He has an axe to grind but they don't care.

I'm tired of the media's being untouchable when they print libellous, bigoted columns about dog owners. If they did this about any other identifiable group the outcry would be huge. Substitute 'turban' for dog and you'll see what I mean.

Statistics are easy to manipulate. Take the "67% of DBRFs are attributed to 'pit bulls' and 'rottweilers' meme." This refers to a one-year period of a CDC retrospective review of news reports where the total number of deaths in the US was 27. The percentage is almost three times higher than the actual number.

If two poodles are sitting together and one poodle snaps at someone, then "50% of poodles studied are snappy". Meaningless without knowing how many there are, how big the study population is, what the methods are and most importantly how large the confidence interval is.

I'm getting tired of this stuff.

hermine stover

I engaged in some dialogue with this man. The first two replies were written apparently by somebody else, as they were full of illiterate spelling and absent any good grammar. They he himself began to reply. He told me that he had NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in anything I had to say. He quoted as facts, things from fictionalized novels about dogs, and when I cross checked some of his references, they went back to things he himself had written. This was about the history of the introduction of the American Pit Bull Terrier into the United States, and the accounts of dog fighting when it was legal, and regularly written up in The Police Gazette of NY. It was as if he had written a fictitious history of the United States! After some 25 years with these dogs, and after being immersed in their history, via my father and grandfather, plus the 25 years with other dog people----- this man had "facts" which totally contradict not only all written and scholarly history, but the eyewitness testimony of two generations of my own family of dog owners! Just about 100% I know about the breed is absolutely WRONG! It was a SURREAL experience. I gave up on supplying him with facts since he is immune to them.

Laura Gonzo

The best resource I have seen to date on fatal dog attacks is

Karen Delise, of the NCRC, has a book coming out this month called "The Pit Bull Placebo: Media, Myths and the Politics of Canine Aggression" which is WELL worth a read!


Good advice Laura. I also recommend that if someone wants true data and analysis of fatal dog attacks to read Karen Delise's first book entitled "Fatal Dog Attacks". I'm looking forward to "The Pit Bull Placebo -- some of us apparently weren't lucky enough to get an advance copy :)

I'm so hoping Karen comes to the Canine Legislation Conference in September and does a book signing...

So, Laura, how are things in Indy? I know the mayor went on (yet another) tirade last week...


I have not yet had time to read all of the articles, however, I would like to make some comments on statistics. By the way, my father has a doctor's degree in mathematics, and statistics was only one of his areas of expertise. He taught this course on the college level for probably close to 40 years. Note, a Phd in mathematics is required for teaching a college course in statistics. Your average guy does not have the understanding and education to even study this subject.

Anyway, even IF manipulated and improperly gathered stats were not an issue in the case of pit bulls -- let's say that pits actually are involved in more attacks:

What breed is currently indiscrimantly over bred? (noting your 'pit bull overpopulation blog')

What breed is most often chained at this time?

What breed is most often trained to attack at this time?

What breed is most often abused and neglected at this time? What breed is most often exploited at this time, as status symbols for doing bad things, guarding drugs, belonging to gangs, and in dog fighting?

Really angers me when 'stats' about a breed of dog are manipulated so as to NOT include any human responsibility in this reported problem.


Becky, yes, yes and yes.

A PhD in Mathmatics? That makes my head hurt.

This isn't PhD work we're talking here -- this is common sense. Major dog attacks are very, VERY rare...and it takes a lot of different criteria to actually have one happen...looking at only one factor is complete laziness, without ever looking deeper into the situation and finding other factors that play a role -- usually a much larger one -- than breed. But people are lazy, and are looking for easy answers. There are no easy answers...and trying to solve complex problems with "easy" solutions is a series of accidents, wasted money, and unnessecary policies waiting to happen.

I plan to dive into some of these other statistics in the coming weeks...still working on some of the details.


oops, Brent -- just want to make sure I did not sound like I believed you were not qualified to study statistics! I was referring to the bad guys who do not and will not consider the real factors involved and that was the point I was trying to make about the PhD, etc. That they will go so far as to publish 'STATISTICS' when they don't even know what they are doing.

I know YOU are qualified because you KNOW the factors and as difficult as it is to factor them all in, that is what you are working so hard on.


one thing I have learned since coming to vancouver, is that alot of people, such as the blogger here, believe dogs have more rights than people.

if you provided any stats to prove that Pit Bulls and other vicious breeds are more dangerous, they'd find some way to debunk and dismiss the numbers, as he has here...

they use ambiguous terms like "media reports are biased" to dismiss clear trends.

The important thing to remember is that governments around the world, including Canada have recognized that some breeds pose a greater risk to community and acted on it by enacting breed specific laws.

we have to fight for the same thing here, and not let these people put our children at risk, all because they want to walk around with vicious animals to compensate for their shallow egos



You're mistaken -- I don't think dogs have more rights than people. However, I do think that responsible dog OWNERS have equal rights as other people. There is a huge difference.

Yes, "governments around the world" have enacted breed specific laws. And in each and every case it has been a failure at improving public safety. The UK has seen their dog bites go up over 50% since the revised Dangerous Dogs Act went into affect in 1997. In Scotland, they went up 150% over that same period. The Netherlands has repealed theirs because it was not effective. Scientific studies in Spain and Austrailia show them not to be effective. Countless examples can be found in the United States as well. In Canada, Banff recently repealed their ban as being ineffective, as have three cities in my area of Kansas City.

It's been a failure at improving public safety everywhere.

The reason is that science -- REAL science - -confirms that there is nothing 'unique' about pit bulls that require special consideration. Dog Trainers, Animal Control officers, rescue folks, veterinarians -- the national organizations that represent these groups who all KNOW dogs all unanimously agree that Breed Bans are not the way to solve the problem.

The way to solve the problem is by dealing with people who want dogs for aggressive purposes or who train them poorly or mistreat them. The cities that focus on irresponsible pet ownership are almost universally succeeding in improving public safety.

The reality is that MOST pepole who fight against BSL WANT the same thing that people who push for it do -- safer communities. It's really easy for those who want BSL to dismiss them as people with "shallow egos" -- but most of us started out right where you are right now -- and actually read the scientific data, talked to experts, met the dogs and read the case studies to come to the conclusion that BSL is not the answer.

My hope is that you do the same.


Yes, the German govt enacted a little thing called the Holocaust too - and remember slavery? Oh yeah, they mandated ethanol use which has thrown food consumption topsey turvy and led to the increased deforestization of the Rain Forest. Oh yeah, and the current financial meltdown - that was brought on in part of govt regulations.

Citing govt action as "proof" pretty much proves the point of this point.

Btw – there is NOTHING more dangerous to our children than HUMANS. Have you read the paper lately? It’s a clear trend. Your child is more in danger of being killed by YOU, a car, swimming pool, bicycles and even by suicide. Look it up if you don’t believe me:


You know I can't resist....

The comment by 'concerned' proves that people who get their information from media outlets really don't know much about a subject - any subject - at all.

There is no evidence to support the notion that some breeds (or in the case of so-called 'pit bulls', breed clusters, lookalike breeds and mixed breed dogs of a certain vague appearance) differ in any measurable way from any other kinds of dogs.

There is no evidence to support the notion that breed banning is somehow an effective way to prevent dog bites, attacks and fatal maulings.

There IS evidence to show that all dogs are basically alike, that breed bans do nothing to prevent dog bites, cost a fortune and are actually counter-productive. There IS evidence to show that most of the folklore - and it is folklore - passed around about dogs is the result of lack of knowledge or a hidden agenda.

As long as people focus on the dog rather than the owner, and as long as they believe that some shapes of dogs are more dangerous than others, people will be bitten, attacked and killed by dogs.

As a dog owner who has studied them for many decades, I have the most interest in preventing dog bites, attacks and maulings.

That's why I will always oppose any sort of legislation that is breed-based or that focuses on the dogs rather than the humans who own, train and maintain them.

I want everybody to like dogs.

The main reason I'm in this though is that I believe in civil rights - the right to be presumed innocent, the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to move freely within the country, the right to own and enjoy property, the right to equal treatment before the law, among others.

I also realize that statistically, the risk posed by dogs is so minute that it is really only of interest to those who study the issues around dogs.

Other people would do well to be worried about real threats such as automobiles, firearms, falls, power tools, deer, cattle, horses, mosquitos and of course, humans.

In the US, a citizen is 14 times more likely to be executed by the State than to be killed by a dog - regardless of where they live.

He or she is five times more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than to be killed by a dog.

A child is 100 times more likely to be killed by his or her own parents than by a dog.

So, are we banning children in order to 'protect them' as Peta would likely suggest? Or are we banning parents? Which is it?

The attitude displayed above is a direct result of deliberate fear-mongering, over-reporting, selective reporting and carelessness by those who present the 'news' to their audience.


Yes, the German govt enacted a little thing called the Holocaust too - and remember slavery? Stuck By Lighting...Humans...bad...dogs....good.. people are all fired up....

Concerned...welcome to my Little Idaho....

Concerned...Because you have a fear of pit bulls is only due to mis-reporting on the media's part...

Stories like.....187 pit bulls destroyed in Pit Bull Fighting operation....100 pit bulls siezed and 75% destroyed in pit bull fighting operation...police shoot pit bull several times before it ran away when serving a warant at a local drug house.

All these stories happen to all types of dogs every always see stories about the collie dog fighting operation in Oshkosh, or the Drug Deal with a poodle being shot several times who was trying to protect the drugs.

Unfortuanlty the people who own pit bulls need to be held to a higher standard due to the current uses for the Pit Bull. I am sure all the people passionate about the well being of pit bulls on this site have very good dogs. But using there own data....Pit Bulls are the most over bred dog...are the dogs most likely to be chained up...are the dogs most likely to be training for fighting....are the dogs used in weight pull competitions...etc...

You should be concerned when someone lives near you with a pit bull. Untill we can bring up the level of ownership....this is just a fact....


Also one other fact that is accepted from the Pit Bull community....Pit Bulls tend to be more dog if you have a smaller or larger dog...and both dogs get loose you probably have a higher chance of your dog getting hurt or killed if it ran up against a pit bull (with a good owner) than that of another dog.


Understanding Canine Aggression which is not a Breed Specific issue.
Dogs are individuals.

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