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« PETA now seeks to kill animals not in their care | Main | Weekly Roundup - Week ending 3/28/10 »

March 27, 2010

Comments

Brent

Thanks for being a reasonable voice for the dogs Paige.

Sheila Lechner

I actually came across this page looking for more information. I've been, lately, attempting to contact the authors of the articles noting that the stats they post from Lynn are extremely biased and not statistically sound (single-parameter, raw data, etc.). I also came across Merritt Clifton's "report". I spent the last week trying to explain what the Scientific Method is and how you can't make conclusions using simple math on raw data. Nice guy with Animal People in Wash, but not a statistician.

Lori S.

Sheila, you might be interested in taking a look at the articles that are posted right here on KC Dog Blog about Merritt Clifton (he's in the topic cloud on the top left). Clifton has an agenda and seems to live to cherry pick data, so no, he doesn't care about the scientific method.

Ken Okada

March 2, 2011

Hello, All;

Below is a column written recently by Ms. Sue Manning of the Associated Press. Afterwards is my comments on the column, as well as my refutations of the comments made by Colleen Lynn.

PIT BULLS -- MAN'S BEST FRIEND, OR WORST ENEMY?

Pit bulls are the most abused, reviled, abandoned and euthanized dogs in the United States.

More than 500 cities ban the breed or require sterilization, muzzles in public or insurance. Some regulate the size of fences that keep pit bulls enclosed, or the weight of leashes that keep them restrained.

Even the Army and the Marines ban pit bulls in base housing.

In an Associated Press-Petside.com poll, 53 percent of American pet owners said they believed it was safe to have pit bulls in residential neighborhoods, but 43 percent said the dogs were too dangerous.

Of 60 percent who support breed bans, most put pit bulls at the top of the list, according to the poll conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications.

Only one state, Ohio, has a statewide pit bull law, requiring owners to confine them as "vicious dogs" and carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance.

Is the breed predisposed to be dangerous, or is man to blame? The divide between advocates and detractors is wide.

"Dogs are products of their environment. Dangerous dogs are not born, they are created," said Adam Goldfarb, director of the pets at risk program for the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C.

More than 250,000 pit bulls are maimed or killed in dog fights every year, he said. Up to 75 percent of dogs in many shelters are pit bulls.

"When you hear about a dog being set on fire or attacked by an ax, it usually involves a pit bull and it's not their fault. In some communities, there is a perception that pit bulls have less worth than other dogs," Goldfarb said.

Colleen Lynn of Austin, Texas, isn't convinced. She was jogging in Seattle on June 17, 2007, when she was attacked by a pit bull that knocked her to the ground and grabbed her arm. The dog was being walked on a leash and was pulled away, but not before Lynn's arm was broken, she said.

Last year, 33 people were mauled to death and two-thirds of the dogs were pit bulls, Lynn said. California reported the most fatal maulings with seven.

Under most laws covering the dogs, pit bulls are defined as American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, or any dog displaying the physical traits of one of those three.

Lynn, through her DogsBite.org, encourages breed bans. "A ban saves the most human lives by preventing attacks before they occur," she said.

Jennifer Walsh of Los Angeles doesn't consider her 7-year-old pit bull TC a threat.

"I have a dog a lot of people might be really scared of and think he might be ready to attack at any moment. But he's like a little bundle of love. I can pick him up, I can roll him over, I can do anything I want to him and he doesn't care," she said.

A pit bull traditionally loves people, play and attention, Goldfarb said. They are smart and athletic, and owners have to nurture those qualities, he said. "A misbehaving dog might be a dog whose needs are not being met."

Lynn doesn't believe pit bulls are born vicious. "We believe pit bulls are born dangerous. They are born with a dangerous tool set. They can use it or not use it," she said.

In 2007, pit bulls and dogfighting became synonymous with Michael Vick, an NFL quarterback who served 18 months in prison over a dogfighting operation based on his property in Surry County, Va.

Fifteen of the dogs seized in Vick's case are rehabilitating at the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, far from the basements where they were chained and forced to fight. Their recoveries have included disease, injuries and skittishness.

Lynn said Vick's dogs hadn't been bred for generations like those in so many illegal fighting rings. But, she said, all fighting dogs should be euthanized because they are too unstable.

Despite temperament tests given by some shelters, Lynn said a dog that has been trained to fight will always be a risk to people and their pets.

Goldfarb disagrees.

"If genetics were as strong a factor as they're suggesting then every dog fighter could easily breed lots of super aggressive dogs. Every dog in every fighter's litter would be unmanageably aggressive and that's just not the case," he said.

Pit bulls bite, hold and shake, ripping your skin like a shark, Lynn said. "They don't let go. They shake back and forth," because that's what owners of fighting dogs want and have bred into the animals, she said.

There is no science supporting a correlation between dog breed and bite style, Goldfarb said.

Across the country, 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs every year, the American Veterinary Medical Association said. Children and seniors are the most common victims.

Municipal breed bans aren't allowed in 10 states, including California, but cities or counties can enact laws short of that. Few people object to spay and neuter legislation but many believe it should apply to all dogs, not just pit bulls.

In New York City, where the vast majority of dogs in shelters are pit bulls, more than 260 healthy pure breed pit bulls or mixes have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped since July. That's when the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals launched Operation Pit.

After a 12-year-old boy was killed by his family's pit bulls in June 2005, San Francisco passed a sterilization law.

Comparing the five years before the law went into effect in January 2006 to the five years since: "We have seen approximately 26 percent fewer impounds of pit bulls and pit bull mixes and a decrease in euthanasia by about 40 percent," said Rebecca Katz, director of the Department of Animal Care & Control for the city and county of San Francisco.

The drop is especially notable, she said, because the number of dogs taken in has not changed due to the economy. "We consider this law a measured approach that has been extremely successful both in terms of public safety and in terms of animal welfare."

To All: The following are my comments on the column:

First of all, I'd like to thank Ms. Manning for her objective column on pit bulls. Like many other topics, this one is controversial and emotional for many. I'd like to address different aspects of the article and comments made by Ms. Colleen Lynn.

My wife and I have been volunteers at local animal shelters for over four years, and have interacted with hundreds of pit bulls, and never been attacked by any--not even threatened. They are some of the most loving, affectionate dogs you will ever come across. The incident where Ms. Lynn was attacked by a dog in 2007 was unfortunate, but perhaps if she spent a great deal of time at shelters in her area, she might get to know these wonderful dogs better. I have been bitten by other types of dogs--chihuahuas, poodles, terriers, cocker spaniels, etc., but I've never called for bans on those breeds.

Ms. Lynn states that 33 people have been killed by dogs in the past year, and two-thirds of them were by "pit bulls". While I agree with the figure of 33, I question the "two-thirds". I have seen figures as low as 3 from pit bulls, and I know from experience that many people identify dogs as pit bulls that are not.

But let's say that there is an average of 20 deaths from pit bulls each year. There are 65-70 million dogs living in households across this country, and untold tens of millions of dogs wandering around homeless. Noting the demographics of the types of dogs being brought into shelters across the country, it would be a good estimate to say that there are probably millions of pit bull or pit bull-type dogs in this country, constantly coming into contact with people. To have only 20 deaths a year from all these dogs is an amazingly low number. I live in El Paso, Texas, just across the border from Juarez, Mexico, where all the violence is taking place. There were more than 3000 people killed in 2010. More people are killed over a single weekend in Juarez than the total number of people killed by pit bulls--or in fact all the dogs in the United States--in an entire year! If we are to argue that pit bulls should be "banned" because they cause 20 deaths in people every year, then we should also be systematically banning Mexicans, because those are the ones who are doing all the killings in Juarez. Obviously, both are irrational arguments.

We would say that it's ludicrous to consider banning all Mexicans just because some of them are the instigators of violence, because countless others are solid, upstanding citizens, and besides, Mexicans are also the victims of the violence in Juarez. Exactly right! Likewise, there are countless millions of pit bulls who have never harmed anyone, and if we are going to talk about the 20 people who have been killed by pit bulls, let's also talk about the endless numbers of pit bulls that have been maimed, tortured, neglected, abused, and killed--by humans.

On her website, Ms. Lynn posts graphic pictures of people who have been injured by pit bulls. Though these injuries are tragic, I could come up with many more photos of pit bulls victimized by people; their faces torn off, their bodies covered with scars, the remains that had been dug up after they had been beaten, strangled, electrocuted, or set on fire. If a pit bull causes a serious injury or death to a person, it's immediately reported to the local authorities, and become part of permanent records, so we have a good assessment of these injuries and deaths. How many untold bodies of pit bulls lie in shallow graves on properties across this country that we don't know about?
And if we are to look at statistics, let’s also look at others, such as the number of annual human deaths caused by: 1) Handguns – 10,000-20,000; 2) Automobiles – 40,000; 3) Cigarettes – 400,000. Which should we really be banning? Dogs or humans--which is the more violent, dangerous species?

Ms. Lynn states that pit bulls are born "dangerous" because they were born with "tools" that can cause harm or kill, and this is one of her reasons for banning them. By this "logic", humans are also "dangerous" because they have "tools" that can kill, also. I can conceivably kill someone with my bare hands. Should I automatically be feared or banned from being around others because of this?

The column mentions that there are 4.7 million dog bite incidents every year in this nation, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Since there is no precise way to assess the total number of dog bites that occur, estimates are usually based on extrapolation of smaller data, and these approximations vary widely, and there are some that estimate as low as 300,000 - 800,000. But let's say for the sake of argument that the average number of dog bites per year is indeed around 4.7 million. But the number of annual fatalities that occur from this is only 33. That's 0.00007%! What this tells us is that dogs--even pit bulls--are amazingly restrained if they do snap at people, even though they have the "tools" to kill people if they wanted. When dogs snap at people, it's usually because they are unexpectedly startled, frightened, in pain, protecting their offspring or human companions, or retaliating because they have been abused. Considering how many countless dogs are suffering abuse at the hands of humans every day, it's astounding that there aren't more retaliatory attacks by dogs onto their abusers. It's a testament to the tolerance and goodness that these creatures possess, and to the love and trust they have for us.

Ms. Lynn also favors putting to death all pit bulls that have been victimized in dog fighting rings because they are too "unstable".

When the pit bulls were rescued from Michael Vick's ranch, Best Friends actually took 22 of these dogs, and 26 others went to other organizations, including one in the California Bay Area. Many of these dogs have been successfully rehabilitated and are in loving homes, and at least one has become a therapy dog. The dog that had endured so much trauma in the past is now helping to ease trauma in others.

To say that all dogs that were confiscated from dogfighters should be killed because of the environment they had been forced into is like saying all kids who grew up in underprivileged and abusive families and neighborhoods should be forever incarcerated or eliminated because they may be "unstable". After all, as pointed out above, humans pose much more danger to other humans than dogs will ever do. But we don't do this to people, because the belief that we adhere to in this society is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If we can apply this belief to the more dangerous humans, why can't we apply it to dogs?

Ms. Lynn may respond by saying that if we can save even a few human lives by banning or killing all pit bulls, then we should do so, because human life is precious. We should retort by pointing out that if even a few pit bulls that were victimized by dog fighting can be rehabilitated, then we should at least try, for it is not just human life that is precious. This is the least we humans can do to atone for the crimes that other humans have perpetrated on these helpless animals.

raiderforhumanity

I tried to post a recent column by Sue Manning of Associated Press on dogsbite.org, along with my comments refuting Colleen Lynn's remarks, and it hasn't shown up on her website as of yet. It says on her website that all comments have to be "approved by the blog owner".

Brent

And it won't Raider -- it's easier to state her case if she squelches all detractors. It's actually the only way she can win if she eliminates all opposing viewpoints.

J.M.

I think the funniest and best comment I`ve ever seen anyone post in response to a Journalist using Colleen Lynn or Dogsbite as a credible source is the one posted by "Jupiter" on that same article mentioned by Ken.

http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2011/feb/11/bc-us-fea-pets-pit-bulls/

It`s the 4th comment down.

Brent

That's genius...that made my night. I'm only disappointed that I didn't come up with that.

J.M.

I agree.
I`ll bet there`s a lot of people who would like to lay claim to that.
Humor and wit may be the best way to deal with her and her site and it might just enlighten at least some of the Media.
I actually clicked on squirrelsbite expecting to see a site.I laugh every time I even think of that comment.

Maria Ligon

Thanks for the article and information update. It is always nice to know the truth and whys when someone decides to destroy a company or a person or in this case a breed.

Melissa

What bothers me the most about media, and websites like the one in question, is that how they just assume were stupid and will just eat up their poop like its fudge brownies. Dont they understand ppl will find the truth eventually? How dare they assume we are all so ignorant and think they can throw up some biased info and expect ppl to just believe it. Im a truth seeker, you cant fool me dogbite.org!

Richard Scheel

@Jennifer Brighton, I live in Texas and am a dog lover, I oppose all BSL. What exactly is "telling" about a fascist website like dogsbite moving to Texas?? I support anyone's right to own any dog, and Texans in general support the rights of individuals, we are a right to work state for instance. This site isn't about slamming those who oppose BSL, the apparent slight against Texans is unwarranted.

Brent

Richard -- I think that Jennifer was more responding to her lack of effectiveness in impacting her own area in Washington as a reason for the move was telling, not where she moved to necessarily...

Erin

Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting this up! My husband and I took in a mixed-breed pit bull puppy over the weekend with plans to keep her - she is 8 weeks old, brindle and sweet, and from the looks of her, the parents were both some kind of pit bull. Of course, as soon as I posted photos up on facebook, some people had a really difficult time with the fact that we had a pit bull. Our other dog, Comrade, is 2 years old and to our best guess, a Shepherd/Pit mix (and he is so handsome and good!).

In doing even more research on advocacy than we had before we adopted "Elfie" as we're calling her, I came across dogsbite.org last night for the first time. I could tell that it was written from an extremely voracious point of view AGAINST pit bulls and their owners, and while my journalism/English degree came in handy as I was sifting through her site, I was still shaken by a lot of what was said and how things were laid out.

After careful review of pro-pit sites and reading a lot of articles online, my husband and I agreed that a lot of my nerves and worry comes from the fact that we have DOGS and that they could harm someone if we do a poor job training or socializing them - and that it has absolutely nothing to do with breed-specific concerns.

Then today, after finding peace last night and choosing to walk away from dogsbite.org, I found this article! Thank you so, so much for getting this out there.

Sincerely,

Comrade and Elfie's mommy

glenda

Way to go, I just received an email newsletter from someone quoting dogbites.org's statistics, they sound pretty dodgy to me, since everything I've ever read in the past states that German Shepherd's dogs are number one in bites. Hope that people will be sensible and search for more reliable information.

J.M.

I was wondering if you had seen this recent post about Colleen Lynn on pitbulletin?
http://bit.ly/njahZY

Brent

Yes J.M. Seen it, and Fred did a great job of researching the back story on that.

Ray  Wooten

These idiots on dogsbite.com are wrong on every aspect in regards to pit bulls. I wish these people would wake up and realize any dog can be bad as well as good. Here in Alabama where I live they will have one hell of a fight if BSL comes here its unconstitutional. The government has no business legislating breeds of dogs. We have the right to life, liberty , and the pursuit of happiness. Liberty also known as freedom is something this country has recently forgotten about. If they want legislate something legislate lobbyist and politicians.

Mike

Thank you for this. I ran across dogsbite.org earlier today. so i'm reading it as if it's a legitimate site. That feeling lasted about 15 seconds. Then I couldn't stop reading. I was floored by the assumptions and "statistics" this woman comes up with.

I wrote her a quick email on my thoughts. I don't expect anything.

There needs to be a few more articles about the truth of this site. Thankfully I work in web design and live behind a computer, so i never take things at face value without a resource. I'll be linking your article to related blogs for awhile in an effort to keep your SEO rankings for "dogsbite.org" relevant to the search.

Thanks again!

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Heather

The CDC did conduct a 20 year study about dog bites. Pit bull attacks accounted for 1/3 of all attacks. This is a fact. Of course there are and have been many families that have had wonderful experiences with their pit bulls. But, you just can't discount the fact that many families have been betrayed by their dogs and guess what breed is at the top of the list, pit bulls. I would just not personally take the chance to bring a pit bull into my family. I also personally have had a friend almost die after being attacked by a pit bull. It just breaks my heart every time I see him as he no longer looks like he used too.

Brent

Heather - the only question on the CDC report (which is 20 years old at this point) is the accuracy of their breed identification. That aside, it's worth noting that only a tiny number of dogs of any breed are responsible for these tragedies. If it was a breed trait, then there would be hundreds, if not thousands of these incidents each year. So there have to be other factors -- it's our responsibility if we want to really solve the problem, that we focus on what those other environmental factors are.

Joana Dantas

Dogsbite.org is a website of hate. Hate against a breed, and that is serious. Their message is that pit bulls are in fact dangerous dogs and that their population should be "reduced". As a pit bull owner it's heartbreaking to read those things. Reading this post was a total relief. This means I'm not alone! That website HAS to end.

William

Well then can I walk down the street with my pet Tiger? I live in Vegas maybe I should go ask Siegfried & Roy. They loved their tigers they trained their tigers but much like Charley Sheen things with tiger blood tend to do what their genes tell them to do no matter the training or up bringing. I'm against most laws 99% I believe you have the right to your own property being it yourself,home or land and no one should have say in what you wish to do with your property unless it effects others property or life. Pits and other killers people call pets are unstable no matter the training and that effects me and my property so no unless you can keep them miles from others property or cage them no you shouldn't own them. You can say dogsbite.org is miss leading but are the hundreds of faces of the people killed fake? Is the people who daily add their accounts of dog attacks fake? Is the scars of what's left of my mothers arms and legs after two pits she knew and got along with decided to EAT here not bite EAT her they ate her. Stop trying to control nature because nature wins. Killing and attacking are in pits nature keep them away from me stop trying to mask their nature.

Brent

William -- there is one thing I can always count on, is that people who start with comparisons of tigers (an animal that can be trained, but not domesticated, and weighs around 700 lbs) to a 'pit bull' (a domesticated dog that weighs about 65 lbs) I can usually count on them to not be well versed in animal behavior.

Based on most estimates, there are roughly about 8-10 million pit bulls in this country (and probably closer to 12-15 million if you cast the net as broadly as Lynn does). And yet, statistically very few are involved in any major type of incident. If they were really genetically predisposed for this type of action most if not all would be involved in these types of attacks, not only a fraction of a percent.

Thus, if you acknowledge that only a fraction of a percent of pit bulls are involved in attacks, then it is imperative to look at what the differences are in the dogs that attack vs the vast majority that don't. And when you do, you generally see patterns of human behavior that created the unique event. However, I wouldn't expect anyone who would compare the threat between a tiger and a pit bull to dig very deep into these human behaviors.

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