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« Weekly Roundup - Week Ending 3/24/13 | Main | Failure of breed-specific policy in the UK »

March 28, 2013

Comments

Brent

Dub,

You're a time waster.

Actually, Dunbar's comparison is valid. Statistically, in the US, 40% of the prison population is black -- even though only 13% of the population is. Blacks are 7x more likely to commit murder than people of other races, and 39x more likely to commit a violent crime against a white than vice versa. In the US, the single biggest indicator of a high crime area in the US is the % of population that is black or hispanic.

If one were to only look at crime, and prison sentences under the lense of race, then it would seem obvious that blacks are more prone to violence. But it's a lot more complicated than than.

Researchers have studied this for decades and again, almost unanimously, they point to other social factors as being the causal factors of these numbers, not race - and that race is not a causal factor. It's the societal factors that are.

The same is true in the dog world as well.

The situation is, actually, almost identical. At this point, you've wasted nearly 40 posts without providing any reasonable testimony as to why you are somehow correct, and hundreds of experts with experience are wrong. And now you've gone from using quotes by non-experts to support yourself to using out-of-context quotes from real experts who in all of their expertise actually disagree with your opinion.

Actually, here's an interview from Ian Dunbar on the topic of breed-specific legislation (that is actually appears to be the interview you're quote is from)

http://www.lifewithdogs.tv/2012/05/an-interview-with-ian-dunbar/

Quit trying to pull singular quotes from real experts that you think support your point of view. Start paying attention to the entirety of what these experts have to say about the topic. You're ignoring all of the other information is not only leading to your own false ideals, but hurting the overall dialogue by focusing on absolutely the wrong thing.

Selma

The basic flaw in a point of view like Dub's, or with BSL overall, is that the majority of dogs are bred for looks. The mixed breed offspring of these dogs do not carry any modified drives specific to esoteric working breeds/lines.

Once you start breeding for tail set, topline, etc you lose working ability. Breed a dog to look cool in the show ring for over 100 generations - as we see with AmStaffs and SBTs, just two breeds people mistake for "pit bulls" and they are pretty generic in behaviour overall.

It's why the Border collie people resisted kennel-club recognition for their breed in the US and Canada - they become Barbie collies, as they call them.

I don't know why people resist this concept. The fact is, a guy who buys a Rottweiler doesn't want a mastiff type cattle drover because we don't have many of those kinds of jobs anymore. He wants a big, good-looking dog that conveys an image. Working dogs, and i admit I haven't done any kind of survey, likely make up 2% or less of the dog population in N American. In study after study, breed and group differences are so slight as to be irrelevant.

Owner expectation plays a huge role in dog behaviour - you kind of get what you wish for - and lack of knowledge around proper maintenance of a dog is also a big factor.

We really need to get beyond breed and start looking at dogs.

And Dub, yes, BSL is class warfare definitely related to racism. It targets a perceived minority of dog owners, you know, 'those people' with 'those dogs' which, unfortunately, turned out to be a majority. Whoops!

That's really all it is and why it is totally ineffective and must be removed. It has no effect on bites/attacks by dogs, and it legislates bigotry and classism.

DubV

Brent, this is how you and I are different. If I thought something and another person stated that it was wrong on its face and that they could explain why, I would be curious and see what they had to say before immediately asserting that I was correct. Instead, you launch into "I can't be wrong" mode.

"At this point, you've wasted nearly 40 posts without providing any reasonable testimony as to why you are somehow correct"

Brent, you honestly think that nothing I have typed has made sense at all? Are you simply grandstanding for your blog readers at this point?

Brent, the reason that the race to breed analogy is incorrect is as follows: human race were NOT created via artificial selection but dog breeds were. The entire point of dog breeds is so that you can predict likely form and function and so get the correct dog for your task at hand or lifestyle. Prejuding is the entire point behind having dog breeds to choose among.

You are simply arguing against induction and noticing difference among categories at this point. When someone collects data about some nonliving thing, they will often summarize general trends within categories. You don't seem to protest when people do this however. It is only a problem when applied to breeds of dog. It doesn't make sense Brent.

I find the comparison of breed generalization to racism to be dehumanizing and in very poor taste. You are obviously quite sold on the idea though. Please go explain to a Native American how much they have in common with pit bulls.

Interestingly, when someone outside of the humane org circle brings up racism in relation to pit bulls, usually everyone laughs at them. You must first believe it in order to see why it makes sense, it seems.

Brent

Dub, there are a lot of reasons why you and I are different -- not the least of which is that I'm not so vain as ignore all expert opinion on the subject because I think I'm somehow smarter than all of the experts out there.

There are two points about your post:

#1) You again show how little you actually know about breeds. Breeds are essentially genetic differences within a species that gives them a different physical appearance. And yes, temperament is a part of this, but a significant amount of the "function" of what dogs were bred for was based on physical appearance. St. Bernards, regardless of temperament, would be much good at going into a gopher hole. Short nosed dogs generally make crummy scent hounds. Dachsunds would not make good wild pig hunters, and pit bulls don't float so well and would make for bad hunting dogs for waterfowl.

And yes, temperament plays a role, but maybe even less of one than the physical part -- as any good breeder will tell you that not all of their purposefully bred dogs have the temperament for their given role -- so not all dogs of a certain appearance have the behavior traits for the purpose -- but they all have the physical ones.

#2) And here's why you fail on the analogy between race and breed (in part, because I think you want to). Breed is a physical difference members of the same species. Same is true of race. Now obviously humans are not dogs and vice versa but the relation of breed to dogs and race to humans is similar.

However, that's all beside the point. The point is, that if you look at crime statistics in the US under the veil of race, you will find extremely strong correlation between race and crime. The numbers are actually pretty compelling.

However, when you look deeper into the subject, experts have found hundreds of socio-economic causal factors beyond race. So these end up being the causal factors, not the race (even if race still has the correlation).

At the end of the day, on the issue of the dogs, you refuse to see the other causal factors because you refuse to look beyond "breed". If you only look at dog attack data as a comparison to breed, that's the only correlation you can possibly get. And you're so focused on breed, that you just see the correlation, but not looking deep enough to see the actual causal factors (which are explained by hundreds of dog trainers, behaviorists, veterinarians, and other experts in the field). Look deeper.

DubV

No, I acknowledge that both nature and nurture have an influence. It is very often the intersection of the dog AND it's owner and environment. I have said nothing to the contrary. I have spoke against your seemingly sole focus on nurture, and so you seem to think I believe it has no influence when I hold no such thoughts.

So breed genetics only influences appearance and temperament? You left out genetically encoded behaviors that would be imprecisely considered temperament. An example would be watching a bird dog puppy point at a pigeon in the park. I've witnessed it, and I know that it is a genetically determined trait but is neither temperament or appearance. I did not state that physical form was not a component of the breeding program to shape dogs for tasks. You inserted that point and tried to make it my own.

The reason that race/breed analogy breaks down is that there is NO easily discerned genetic reason why one group would commit more crime. So, it is natural to look for sociological reasons, as you mentioned. However, with dog breeds, humans very purposefully created genetic differences that influence morphology, behavior, and temperament as a subclass of behavior. Further, temperament and behavior differences among breeds are recognized. Therefore, when differences are noted among breeds, it is much more natural to consider genetic causes. You are knocking that off the table when it comes to behavior that is negative and involves a breed with a supposed bad rap. Is it racism to notice that lab puppies are quicker than beagles to swim and also bring things to hand?

Am I being vain? No, I notice that most "experts" in this area make arguments identical to your own, and I see where many fail due to certain biases. I have considered you and your experts' arguments and have not dismissed any out of hand. You find it impossible that someone can have thoroughly listened and still not totally agree. Now THAT is vanity.

Brent

"I acknowledge that both nature and nurture have an influence"

Actually, this is the first time you've acknowledge the role of nurture at all, so this is a good start.

"You left out genetically encoded behaviors that would be imprecisely considered temperament. An example would be watching a bird dog puppy point at a pigeon in the park. I've witnessed it, and I know that it is a genetically determined trait but is neither temperament or appearance."

If you read the literature on this behavior it is actually a behavior response based on a physical abnormality. The trait is a bred neurological response that causes an abnormal orienting response (which is what causes them to freeze, and not chase like most dogs). So the reaction is far more of a physical response than a behavioral one.

"The reason that race/breed analogy breaks down is that there is NO easily discerned genetic reason why one group would commit more crime."

The same is also true in dogs, as there is no genetic reason why one dog would bite more often than other types of dogs. There would be reason to rationally believe that larger dogs would inflict more damage than smaller dogs, but beyond that, there is no genetic predisposition to "attack".

"Is it racism to notice that lab puppies are quicker than beagles to swim and also bring things to hand?"

Do you think that any of this has to do with the fact that Labs have slightly webbed feed that helps make them excellent swimmers?

"No, I notice that most "experts" in this area make arguments identical to your own, and I see where many fail due to certain biases. I have considered you and your experts' arguments and have not dismissed any out of hand. You find it impossible that someone can have thoroughly listened and still not totally agree."

Yes and I can totally disagree that the Earth revolves around the sun and think that the sun revolves around the earth. I can believe this, but it doesn't make me right.

My opinion is that if you are going to take a different point of view that the majority of experts out there (even by your own admission), then you should have either some expertise, research or credentials to back up such a claim. But as an anonymous internet poster, you don't have any of these things -- especially when you seem to have such a misunderstanding of genetic traits in dogs.

Not believing you doesn't make for vanity on my end, it just puts me in the side of the experts in the field of study and you standing alone trying to claim "bias" to everyone that disagrees with you (which is most people).

Selma

How much longer are we going to play to the cheap seats here?

Most of what Dub 'knows' is 40 years out of date. He doesn't understand what breed means, he doesn't know what is and is not heritable (hint: a tendency to bite people or species-specific aggression aka dog to dog aggresion are not, except in rare cases of pathology but we've been through that). He doesn't know how taking a raw dog from purpose-bred lines and using a lot of training results in the finished product. My dog points birds but is not a sporting breed. So what? It's just a typical dog instinct. In purpose-bred lines of some breeds - a tiny minority - you may get exaggerated instinctual shapes but they still need a lot of reinforcement.

BSL is class warfare, pure and simple. It has nothing to do with dogs or safety around dogs.

In that way it is indeed aligned with racism - toward humans, not dogs. Anybody who knows anything about it realizes that.

The only problem is, the perception that only "those people" own "those dogs" has also been pretty much blown out of the water.

I don't comprehend why people want to focus on the dogs when discussing DBRFs, a statistically minute type of occurrence. It is so obviously a human problem - failure to enforce bylaws, failure to respond to complaints, failure to supervise and train dogs - it all adds up to human error and highlights how safe dogs really are, given that in a population of 75 million give or take, there are only 20 or so fatalities per year. Find me a human population with those kinds of stats and I'll move there.

DubV

"If you read the literature on this behavior it is actually a behavior response based on a physical abnormality. The trait is a bred neurological response that causes an abnormal orienting response (which is what causes them to freeze, and not chase like most dogs). So the reaction is far more of a physical response than a behavioral one."

Very convoluted reasoning here. Brain structure is a physical trait. Differences in brain structure are a major determinant in behavior differences. Are you a mind-body dualist or something? I'm just wondering how you view the relation between the crescendo from gene to outcome.

That a sequence of genes would cause a physical difference that would result in a difference in behavior does not mean that the behavior is not genetically determined, you've simply added another step in the chain of causes.

This is why I disagree with many experts. Most of them think like you. In fact, when you read the position statements of many orgs, one of the first lines will often be something like "any dog can bite". This is a totally useless assertion with the context and gently sets up a framing that you don't see because you are embedded in it.

Brent

Dub, it's clear that it's time for you to go. We've established that you acknowledge that virtually all of the experts disagree with your sentiment and you are willing to dismiss it all as "bias" or "framing". But here's the deal, scientific study after scientific study, expert after expert, are all coming to the same conclusion -- in an industry that thrives on disagreement and bickering. And yet, this, they all agree upon.

You, in spite of not even being willing to post your name, or your credentials, then want to try to over-ride all expert opinion by mounting some type of superiority statment. Whatever. You're an anonymous internet troll. Really.

Go back to DBO where they agree with you (and I know you're a regular visitor); because you apparently think there is no framing and where their opinions are established not from actually working with dogs, but by reading news reports. Very reliable.

But at this point, I'm done with the trolling. You've had your time. I've certainly been way more open to letting you voice your dissenting opinion that they ever would be with me. But at some point, when someone acknowledges they don't agree with virtually ALL of the experts, but isn't even willing to put their real name on the statement, it's a waste of everyone's time to deal with it. Including mine.

So with that, I'm bidding your fairwell. Thanks for playing.

Erich

This discussion has provided a bit of interesting information. The comment about BSL and racism is the first time I have seen it explained in that way, a coherent way.

When dog bites occur, there is often mention here of the economic demographic of the household, such as an above average poverty rate in the city or zip code. Is this a real correlation, and if so how should it be used? Should it impact how groups place larger dogs?

EmilyS

BTW: "The reason that race/breed analogy breaks down is that there is NO easily discerned genetic reason why one group would commit more crime."

One group is ARRESTED more frequently.
There is a correlation between being arrested and committing a crime, but it certainly isn't exact. And it has nothing to do with "genetics".

Our prisons are filled with people of certain types who are arrested for certain crimes. They are not filled with people of OTHER types who commit other crimes.

That's why we use the phrase "driving while black".

Or "owning a pit bull while black"....

This is the intersection of "racism" IRT to humans and dogs

Brent

Erich,

I think that's the first conclusion you'd come to but I hesitate that that is the right answer. And while I don't know this for certain, I'm not sure that rescue groups already refusing to place dogs in these homes isn't part of the problem.

One of the biggest behavioral factors that influences a dog throughout its life is the age at which a dog is removed from its litter. There is so much learning and social skils that takes place between a dog and its littermates at an early age that if they are removed from a litter too young, they lose those social skills and it is virtually impossible for them to recover.

My suspicion is that in addition to the level of care they (sometimes) receive in lower-income homes, the likelihood of being used in some type of "guarding" capacity, and number of wandering children I believe that a lot of these people already struggle to adopt. Because of this, I think many get from neighbors who breed, and often ween way too young (4-6 weeks) and these dogs are already off to a rocky start in terms of early socialization.

I actually think adopting dogs that have been temp tested is likely the better solution than the alternative, even though that's counter-intuitive.

Erich

Thanks Brent. I hear a lot about temperament testing but do not know what is actually used beyond the Assess A Hand which on a basic level seems illogical to me. It is a plastic hand on a stick and I doubt many dogs consider it a human hand, rather they see it as a stick, poking them or taking their food, or wanting to play.

Rescues may reject but shelters seem to have low rejection rates. I think some people buy pure bred dogs as a status symbol.

Sara Thomas

My favorite breed is a pit bull. Yet my grandson is 2 years old and there is no way I would leave him unattended with any breed of dog, and yes, pits can do a tremendous amount of damage, and that isn't there fault either,. Again owners have to be responsible. Parents esp have to be. What a very sad story. Breaks my heart

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