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« Welcome back -- And Invite to the Best Friends Conference 2014 | Main | Behavioral differences among breeds of dogs -- current status of science »

September 24, 2014


Joel Lahrman

Ha ha, these articles never get old. The only downside is that Clifton, Kay, etc. are creaming their shorts because they get to be mentioned in the media yet again.

Colleen Lynn and Merritt Clifton may be helpful to the copy-and-paste crowd on the internet, but I'm not sure I would call them a "menace" in the real feet-on-the-ground activities. For people who truly want to learn about animal welfare, it doesn't take much digging to expose their nonsense. Which is why write-ups such as this are not only fun, but helpful.

What level of influence Clifton has is certainly debatable. But the trend in modern animal welfare is clearly against BSL. And the more that Clifton and Lynn publicize themselves, the more they expose themselves. I regard them as nothing more than a comic sideshow. I'm quite comfortable with them leading the charge of the pro-BSL anti-pit crowd.


I generally agree with you Joel. However, I never cease to be amazed at how many media outlets take just a cursory glance and end up giving the number validity...

So, the more articles like this that are out there, the more likely it is that reporters will see them as frauds vs publishing their data as if they are statistics..

Joel Lahrman

I agree that there should be articles about it. Anybody who looks up "Merritt Clifton" should and will get a list of links that expose him (yours included).

But I do think that more and more communities are putting thought and research into BSL proposals, and when this happens more and more communities are opting against it. Several of your blog entries have alluded to this. So while Clifton and Lynn may be menaces to online debate given the name calling that comments in articles always devolve into (just look at the comments in the HuffPo article), I'm not sure how much influence they really have. Otherwise the trend would be towards more breed bans, which I don't feel is happening.

I know you sometimes refer to a website that tracks this. That's always a handy blog entry...


Until the media that quotes Lynn/Clifton get the picture about the fraud and hate, we NEED these kinds of articles.

Do Lynn and Clifton have influence? Just today, a Colorado FB page for people promoting breed neutral legislation reported that Lynn is coming to Colorado -- presumably to fight the repeal vote in Aurora. The Aurora Animal Control has cited DBO in support of their breed ban. So ....

Joel Lahrman

Right but the Aurora ban predates DBO. Is DBO helping to keep it? Maybe. If the breed-neutral supporters are well organized, I don't think Colleen Lynn is going to add anything, and might even hurt her own cause.

The biggest challenge to getting rid of BSL is that supporters will claim that it's effective because nobody has been killed in a mauling...which is usually true of ANY community whether it has BSL or not. But people are resistant to change what's "working", so it falls on breed-neutral advocates to show what isn't working.

I think anybody who looks at the DBO website, reads up on Clifton, etc. will get the picture, but in case I wasn't clear I definitely think it helps to have these types of articles that refute them as well.

Karen Batchelor

Excellent coverage, thank you Brent. The more articles that hit the net about Clifton, Lynn and Co the better.
As long as we still see DBO etc quoted as credible sources there are still journos out there who need the heads up.
Politicians pander to the squeakiest wheel and their own uninformed prejudice based upon nothing more than media hype. As long as we remain silent the biggest noise comes from those with the least substance to validate their position.
We would be derelict in our duty to the truth and these dogs not to take every opportunity to expose the likes of Clifton and Lynn by whatever means available to us.

Cheryl Huerta

This couldn't have been any more timely if I had ordered it directly from Huffington Post myself. Just commenting on a local news channels Facebook page after a dog alleged to be a pit bull attacked a small dog and killed it on a streetcar. The dog and owner didn't stick around so of course the dog must have been a pit bull. So some folks, of course, are spreading the very kind of misinformation that this guy has been supplying so I've posted a link to this article on the FB page in the discussion!


Unfortunately, last Friday the Editor of the Lancaster, PA newspaper wrote a piece warning people to be extra careful when children are around pit bulls and cited statistics from to justify his stance.

Fran C.

Why when there are SO many credible, professional organizations, whose information SHOULD be quoted by media, does media tend to use the DBO material? Surely those in mainstream media must know by now this "organization" has an agenda, At the least they should be disclose DBO for what it really is; a BSL Lobby group.


Does anyone remember the story of the toddler that was mauled by his Grandparents dogs in Tarrant County, TX when he snuck in the backyard? The Grandparents were reportedly breeding Boxers and had seven of them in their backyard. It was first reported as an attack by all 7 dogs, but the police department issued an update that only 4 of them were involved in the attack and those 4 were euthanized. The majority of the news stories focused on the dogs being Pit Bulls. VERY few went into much detail about how the little boy was doing and even fewer mentioned that there had been numerous dog related calls to that address in the past. Most stories about the attack reported the dogs as Pit Bulls, even the ones that had an accompanying video showing the dogs being confiscated (the Boxers, plain as day in the video) and one station even left up a segment about whether or not they should ban pit bulls in light of this attack (by Boxers). Then even removed the story and replaced it with a ridiculous excuse for why they erroneously reported the dogs as Boxers, but to date, the segment about banning Pit Bulls is still up! Very few media outlets issued retractions. A few news outlets got it right, but not very many.

I’ve often wondered if Merritt Clifton used these dogs in any of his calculations-I’m using that term loosely-and if he did, did he count them as 7 attacks, 4 attacks, or 1 attack? Too bad we’ll never know since it looks like he doesn’t have any reputable sources to back up his “statistics” (which I’m assuming is the case since he hasn’t released any).


Mary, I think you've brought up a lot of really important points that highlight exactly why Clifton's "research" is nothing more than a bunch of tally marks:

1) He relies solely on media reports for his data
2) Media reports are not representative of overall bite numbers. We know the media is inclined to over-report incidents involving certain types of dogs.
3) The media often reports breeds of dogs inaccurately, and seldom does a great job of retracting the reports
4) Because Clifton does not make his information public, and available for scrutiny, it is impossible to "fact check" any of the information, or know if a single incident includes 7 attacks, 4, or 1 -- and whether that is consistent across incidents.

It's flawed data collection. It's flawed analysis. And flawed reporting.


Don't miss Barbara Kay's laff riot response:

Not only does her defense consist mostly of 1) yeah but Clifton HAS published... in an online journal about emerging diseases (no cites to articles on pit bull bites as an emerging disease 2) Alexandra Semyonova agrees that pit bulls are dangerous... who is this Semyonova? Oh, just the other "expert" listed on DBO.... lol

3) it's illustrated with the now-notorious photo of a pitbullish dog sneezing...

Really if this is the best the haters can do (and frankly, it's about on par), it's just more evidence that we ARE winning.


I saw that...again, just comic relief. Who knows why she signed up on the Ding Dong Express in the first place. Maybe she gets paid by the comment.

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