Though most media coverage only shows the terrible side of when something bad happens, Peanut’s Place finally had our voices heard.
In Memory of Joseph Nielson 1957-2009
“The following article is a reply from Joseph Nielson to a post from matty507 on a site called Soda Head. The article below describes the misinterpretation and lack of knowledge that people have about Pit bulls and other dog breeds.
The Pit Bull Ban; Is there more to the story?
This poll was created in response to a poll by matty507, which can be found here: http://sodahead.com/question/128071/
Unfortunately, this user &his article has been banned from Soda Head.
==============> Start of Rebuttal <==============
Alright matty507, hang on to your fact sheets about pits and Rottweilers cause here we go.
I spent a few days looking for anything to refute your statistics and found some. Not a lot but enough to argue some of your numerous cut and past rhetoric.
As far as your Tuft study, which you seem to like to quote word for word, I went to their website http://www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/index.html and found nothing. So I did a Google search and checked out what they found. The only report/article that seemed to fit your post was found here http://www.dogsbite.org/dangerous-dogs-pitbull-owners.htm The only problem is that it is a reprint, and there is no date to show when the report was made. How can anyone be assured that this report has been transcribed precisely ? As such, the report could have been made yesterday. Or as old as ten years or better. By lacking a date of origin, I have to dismiss it as not being current, therefore, not relevant at this time. Old news, if you will. And if it is not relevant, as part of the basis for your poll, it nullifies a majority of your argument. But since you brought it into your poll, I’ll give you a little credit for it.
If you’ll direct your attention to the first paragraph here, http://www.dogsbite.org/bite-statistics.htm, titled “Frequency of dog bite injury in the U.S.“, you’ll see for yourself that the CDC (Center for Disease Control) study of dog bite injuries was done in 2001. Making it at least seven years old. Again, not current and directly relevant.
The second paragraph of the above report, titled “Dog bite deaths and maimings U.S. and Canada”, clearly states that Animal People News http://www.animalpeoplenews.org/ determined the types of breeds most responsible. What it doesn’t say is what criteria was used to arrive at these determinations. So we have to assume that their definition of maiming could include anything from a broken toe, to a full body cast. But as such, I’ll chose a dictionary definition from here http://dictionary.reference.com/. A search for maiming yields the following results http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/maiming. Their definition could be entirely different. Which not having seen it, I cannot comment on. But I’ll assume that they used a common, widely accepted definition.
That being said, next we find the statistics that you referenced countless times in your poll. Those being:
The combination of pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids:
77% of attacks that induce bodily harm
73% of attacks to children
83% of attack to adults
70% of attacks that result in fatalities
77% that result in maiming
Right here is where you sank your own ship. In your opening statements on your poll, you said: “Pitt bulls are responsible for 70% of all dog bites” (paragraph 1, line 5).
Then in paragraph 2, it, or you state that “studies show that two breeds account for nearly 70% of bites that end in death and serious injury”. Followed by some statistics clearly listing three breeds and their attack info.
Question: How, in the first paragraph, can pits make up 70% of all bites when in the second paragraph, there are two breeds responsible for the same 70%, and according to the stats, there are three breeds responsible for that same 70%?
What you fail to mention is that these statistics are a compilation of Canadian and American press accounts of bites, and involve three different animals. Does this mean that we should divide the totals by three? Giving a shared 1/3 blame to all three types, then divide by 2? The majority of us can agree that most of the press usually reports the less than perfect side of things. Otherwise their magazines and newspapers wouldn’t sell. This being the case, a high number of bites or maimings in Canada when used in conjunction with American stats, could easily influence the numbers of any American statistics. Just as any findings in the U.S. could influence Canadian statistics. But the fact remains that the percentage of bites are a combination of two countries numbers. Not exclusively American. And personally, I’m not concerned with Canadian figures since I have no vote in Canada. So we must resort to something based on American figures.
On the web site of the U.S. Humane Society, http://www.hsus.org/pets/issues_affecting_our_pets/dangerous_… I’d ask that you focus your attention to paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, which states:
There are over 4.5 million dog bites each year. This is an estimate as there is no central reporting agency for dog bites, thus breed and other information is not captured. Out of the millions of bites, about 10-20 are fatal each year. While certainly tragic, it represents a very small number statistically and should not be considered as a basis for sweeping legislative action.
It is imperative that the dog population in the community be understood. To simply pull numbers of attacks does not give an accurate representation of a breed necessarily. For example, by reviewing a study that states there have been five attacks by golden retrievers in a community and 10 attacks by pit bulls in that same community it would appear that pit bulls are more dangerous. However, if you look at the dog populations in that community and learn that there are 50 golden retrievers present and 500 pit bulls, then the pit bulls are actually the safer breed statistically.
While breed is one factor that contributes to a dog’s temperament, it alone cannot be used to predict whether a dog may pose a danger to his or her community. A September 2000 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (VetMed Today: Special Report) further illustrates this point. The report details dog bite related fatalities in the United States from 1979 through 1998, and reveals that over the nineteen years examined in the study at least 25 different breeds or crossbreeds of dogs were involved in fatally wounding human beings. Breeds cited range from oft-maligned pit bulls and Rottweilers to the legendary “forever loyal” breed of St. Bernards. The study was conducted by a group of veterinarians, medical doctors, and psychology and public health experts.
As stated in the third sentence, “Out of the millions of bites, about 10-20 are fatal each year”. Now according to your statistics, there are three breeds that account for nearly 70% of bites that end in death and serious injury. By these figures, 70% of dog bites equals 10-20 bites per year. So although the statistical number is high, the actual bite number is low. And in all fairness, these must be considered with a current estimation of the total number of dogs at the time of the research (re: paragraph two).
So what we have within these paragraphs is that there are only 10-20 bites per year, and over a nineteen year period, at least 25 breeds were involved in fatally wounding humans. Doing the math with the higher figure of 20 bites per year, divided by the 25 breeds responsible, that averages out to only 0.8 bites per breed, per year. Hardly an adequate number to propose legislation to ban a breed. Which you previously state that the pit bull is not a recognized breed according to the AKC but this is trivial in this discussion at the moment. But they do have to be called something, so recognized or not, I’ll choose to take liberties and use that description temporarily.
This site, http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPcanineprimer.htm about halfway down the page, starting in red, it states that:
***Myth: “Some dogs are genetically predisposed to attack.”
While we would love to dispute every angle of that kind of erroneous comment, we don’t need to. We can easily disprove the misguided notion that some kind of genetic abnormality is what causes dogs to attack, by simply looking at the actual dogs involved in serious biting incidents.
The Lab/Beagle cross and the purebred Doberman involved in biting incidents 5,000 km and 10 years apart do not share relevant genes, other than those that make them both dogs. The purebred Dalmatian that killed another dog and the Golden Retriever that killed a child are not genetically related, either. In fact, even the purebred Rottweiler that killed a child in one province and the purebred Rottweiler that attacked a person in another province share no common ancestors in their pedigrees. In short, the dogs involved in biting incidents are no more closely related than dogs in general.
There is no scientific evidence for a genetic cause for aggression, and there is no evidence that the dogs involved in attacks share relevant genetic information, even if there were.
The largest study of its kind, in which many of the dogs involved dog bite-related fatalities were examined by veterinarians, found that the dogs who’d killed people had no physical, mental or physiological abnormalities. All tests came back normal, including blood work and brain examination.
Still need more proof?
As a general estimate, let’s say that, out of approximately 5 million dogs in Canada, 50 dogs are involved in serious biting incidents each year. (To clarify, that would be 0.001% of all dogs; leaving 99.999% of Canadian dogs not involved in attacks.) If we look at those 50 dogs, individually, we find they represent a wide range of shapes, sizes, breeds, and original breed purposes. Clearly, there is no one breed or size or original breed purpose involved in serious biting incidents.
In fact, no breed of dog has more than 0.1% of it’s members involved in serious attacks. It would be absurd to say that 0.1% of the dogs in any breed are ‘merely fulfilling their genetic destiny’ by attacking someone or something, and that the 99.9% of all dogs who never attack, are behaving somehow “abnormally” by not behaving aggressively. Most dogs never attack anyone, and that includes the often maligned breeds, too! If any breed were ‘genetically predisposed to attack’, certainly more than 0.1% of them would!
In regards to the theory that aggression can be either inherited or genetically linked, what unique, relevant genetic information could possibly be shared by:
* the Labrador/Rottweiler cross (Sporting/Working Group) that killed one of its owner’s children,
* the Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier (Terrier Group) that killed a neighbor’s dog,
* the purebred Golden Retriever (Sporting Group) that killed its owner’s child,
* the Border Collie (AKC, Herding Group) that viciously attacked a neighbor’s dog,
* the purebred Pomeranian (Toy Group) that killed the owner’s child,
* or the purebred Bullmastiff (Working Group) that killed one of its owner’s child’s friends?
In fact, the ACTUAL dogs involved in attacks do not share any unique genetic information with each other, besides that which makes them dogs.
We need not look any further than the lack of any supporting evidence for shared genetic pathology in dogs that have actually attacked. They simply aren’t any more closely related than the dog population in general.
However, just to completely refute the idea that genetics are involved in attacks, we’ve broken it down further.
If we group those dogs by breed, we find that even the dogs of the same breed are not genetically related in any meaningful way. They don’t share any relevant common ancestors on their pedigrees, and therefore have not inherited some kind of aberrant gene that might explain their inappropriate behavior.
If they’re purebred dogs, we can completely refute the notion that those dogs involved in attacks share some kind of genetic cause for their aggression. By definition, purebred dogs are not crossed with other breeds. To explain a shared genetic cause in dogs from two different breeds, the gene would have to have been inherited from the breeds’ shared ancestor, decades (even centuries) earlier, before those individual breeds were even created. No reasonable person would suggest that a gene would lie dormant for centuries in all its descendants, then suddenly cause aggressive behaviors in one individual dog, so many years later. It’s preposterous!
Next is the issue of original breed purpose as causational. In fact, whether the attack was against a person or another animal, every single breed of dog has been guilty of serious biting incidents of one kind or another. When a Soft-Coated Wheaton Terrier (Terrier group) attacks another dog, it is for the same reason that a German Shepherd Dog (Herding Group), Rottweiler (Working Group), or an American Pit Bull Terrier (UKC, Terrier Group) might attack another dog.
The overwhelming majority of dogs who attack other dogs are from breeds that were NOT originally bred for fighting. That is important enough to repeat: Most of the dogs ACTUALLY involved in unprovoked attacks on other dogs are from breeds that were NOT originally bred for fighting! This thoroughly disproves the notion that breeds originally bred for fighting are somehow destined to attack other dogs.
(Even in the face of these facts, we still find people who truly believe that some breeds are inherently aggressive towards other dogs. Thankfully, those who PROPERLY socialize their dogs…instead of believing such outdated myths, and failing to PROPERLY socialize them with other dogs…are rewarded with dogs who are as well-socialized as any dog from any other breed. No honest person can deny that thousands of well-socialized ‘pit bulls’ and other so-called “fighting” breeds enjoy thousands of dog parks around the world, everyday, without incident.)
Regarding taking ‘pit bulls’ to dog parks, Animal Planet’s Steve Dale says, “…the majority of ‘pit bulls’ can make peace and not war with other dogs, if they are well socialized…” …as can any breed of dog.
Suzanne Clothier, author of “If A Dog’s Prayers Were Answered Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs” (Warner Books, New York, NY, 2002), says “Some dog parks not only don’t welcome them (‘pit bulls’) — they’re not even allowed — and that’s wrong. You have a dog who can be an ambassador for all ‘pit bulls’.”
Obviously, the breed’s original purpose is not relevant when a Wheaton attacks another dog or a Toy Poodle or a Border Collie or even a Rottweiler. But it’s somehow magically relevant if the dog aggression is caused by a ‘pit bull’. Even so, 99% of dogs, even ‘pit bulls’, are NEVER involved in dog fights.
This thoroughly disproves the idea that a breed’s original purpose is the main cause for the expression of aggressive behaviors. If it were, most dogs from those breeds would be involved in attacks, and ONLY those dogs would be involved in attacks. The real-world incidents demonstrate a wide range of sizes, shapes, and original breed purposes involved in every manner of unprovoked aggression. There is no breed commonality in serious dog bite statistics.
When looking at the actual dogs involved in serious aggression incidents, and how they absolutely DO NOT share any unique genetic information, we prove the theory that a dog can “inherit” some kind of propensity to attack is completely unfounded, implausible, and unscientific.
Underneath that, in black, it clearly states that:
According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study of injuries suffered in the workplace, there were nearly 18 times as many cattle-related fatalities and 13 times as many equine-related fatalities as there were dog-related fatalities from 1992-1997.
Does this mean we should ban cattle and horses?
And from the CDC website, that you so vehemently shoved under everyone’s nose, comes this:
A CDC study on fatal dog bites over a 20 year period http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/biteprevention.htm does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic.
More references for dog bites and statistics can be found on these sites should you decide to do some research:
http://www.dogexpert.com/FatalDogAttacks/fataldogattacks.html (which states in it’s opening sentence that “The accuracy of the information posted on this site depends on the validity and accuracy of the newspaper reports from which information posted on this site has been collected.”)
http://fataldogattacks.com/default.asp (information on two books concerning dog attacks & aggression)
http://americaagainstbsl.tripod.com/fatal_dog_attacks.html (covering state & breeds from 1994 – 2005)
http://lassiegethelp.blogspot.com/2007/08/dangerous-breeds-do… (citing & debunking Merritt Cliftons study)
http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/media_irresponsibility/ (insurance companies & dog bites, paragraph 5)
http://www.dogstuff.info/inaccurate_rottweiler_stats_chirichi… (mostly info on Rottweiler bites)
http://www.stop-bsl.com/bitestats.html (more stats, one claiming that out of 5,000,000 registered pits, only 60, a mere .0012 % were involved in attacks)
http://www.saysuncle.com/archives/2007/06/04/more_pit_bull_st… (more numbers, from an unknown to myself web surfer)
http://www.pitbulllovers.com/pitbullblog/?p=112 (mentions the invalid CDC report)
http://www.nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dogbites1.asp (more info on Merritt Cliftons study, and the CDC study)
The rest of the above article goes into why breed specific legislation does not work. Which I will provide links to toward the end of this rebuttal. While the rest of your article, from your opening information, debates who is to blame, and separately from that, how criminals are choosing pit bulls based on a study of Ohio dog owners from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence in 2006 http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/pit-bull-owners-more-like… The basis for this statement comes from only a sampling of 355 people and included those with everything from a minor traffic ticket, to a major criminal offense. So because I may have a parking ticket and own a Pit bull, I’m now in the same class as a rapist or murderer? That’s obviously insane.
The debate of who is to blame for dog attacks first has to agree on some shared description as to what constitutes an attack, and the definition of an attack. Since our definition may vary, I feel comfortable with any of the first three definitions from http://dictionary.reference.com/, which defines attack as:
1. to set upon in a forceful, violent, hostile, or aggressive way, with or without a weapon; begin fighting with: He attacked him with his bare hands.
2. to begin hostilities against; start an offensive against: to attack the enemy.
3. to blame or abuse violently or bitterly.
In some of the sites listed above pertaining to dog bites and statistics, you will find some information which may be missing from the attack reports. Namely, the number of various breeds in the area and the number of dogs in each breed, or what events took place prior to the attack. It stands to reason that if there are 100 Collies and 25 Dalmatians in any given area, then attacks by Collies should be more likely to occur for that area. But such is not always the case. Attacks can happen anywhere, at any time, no matter who the dog owner may be. To think otherwise places a huge burden on the majority of responsible dog owners. And that is basically what is at the heart of the breed specific legislation in today’s judicial system. Responsible dog owners are being chastised for the actions of a few irresponsible owners. And being labeled, and singled out because of the particular dog they choose to own.
And as far as what may, or may not have taken place prior to an attack, we may never know all the events since we have a limited means of receiving the facts. The majority of us get our information from the media. Seldom do we have first hand knowledge of anything unless we are at the scene as the situation occurs. So we depend on the news media to supply us with the facts. Which most would agree is oft times slanted and biased. Just like your poll and the bits of sarcasm you included. Had you stated the sarcastic parts from the onset, I think more people would’ve chosen the NO answer. But nobody knew you were being sarcastic so they chose another answer that was more closely aligned with their feelings or opinion. Surely you can’t blame them for that? Although you did poke fun at some and were downright crude to others. Which only led to more people opposing you. All of which, through your sarcasm, you brought on yourself. But it did make for interesting reading to say the least.
But getting back to the events prior to attack, most of the articles that mention these events are in agreement that most attacks happen in, or near the home of the owner. And many events are reported incorrectly by reporters that are trying to embellish the story by exaggerating certain parts. To say that John Doe was walking when attacked, is somewhat misleading. He may have been on a leisurely stroll chatting with neighbors, or perhaps traveling at a quickened pace doing a cardio workout. These trivial things are seldom identified correctly in attack reports. But this in itself is no excuse. An attack is an attack. But these prior events can often be used to differentiate between what may constitute an unwarranted attack, and what may be construed as an attack from taunting or aggressive behavior from the attacked. Which is why law enforcement used to ask which way the victims of an accident were traveling prior to the collision. Which is irrelevant now since the inception of no fault insurance. But it still returns us to an individuals definition of certain parts of an attack, and what the reporters, or poll takers definition of an attack happens to be. And assuredly if you were to ask 5 people to define an attack, you would receive 5 different responses. That being what it is, the survey sponsors would have to decide what to include, or omit from the survey which could in turn, affect the survey results.
To say that “that dangerous people are attracted to dangerous dogs”, can only be considered partially true. The Ohio study that this statement comes from, only used 355 dog owners as a reference, and included everything from traffic citations to major criminal offenses for it’s findings. I suspect that if you removed all of the frivolous traffic citations (parking or seat belt tickets etcetera), the numbers of dangerous dogs/dangerous owners would be significantly less. But it is a blanket statement that holds no water with a fair and open minded individual. Any more then saying that all Harley riders are members of the Hell’s Angels. Or that all residents of San Francisco are gay. This is making assumptions based on personal opinion, not conclusive fact. So to say that all Pit bulls and Rottweilers are dangerous is ludicrous. I think the results of your poll prove that. Unscientific as it was.
Now, as far as banning these dogs, numerous experts agree, as does the AKC, that breed specific legislation (BSL) is not the answer. Although the AKC does endorse some subsections of it.
For more information on this topic, I’d like to direct you to the following websites.
Media bias on Pit bulls? Here’s some links.
These articles below have a varied amount of info on Pits.
AKC defends BSL in Denver, CO.
Video about pits
And just in case you, or some other reader would like some good news on Pits, here it is.
This was done about 6 months ago. Please feel free to use it anywhere you feel the need. But please give me credit. Thanks!”