Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mobile police now say dogs that attacked ponies were not pit bulls

Whaddya Know? A "news agency" actually publishes corrected information. Miracles will never cease. Of, course this one was picked up (so far) only by local media and blogs.

Well, here it is:

Published: Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 4:00 PM
by David Ferrara, Press-Register

MOBILE, Ala. -- A pack of dogs that attacked two miniature ponies owned by the Mobile Police Department were multiple mixed-breeds, not pit bulls, police said this afternoon.
An officer on patrol heard yelping and found the ponies, Woggie and Little Joe, being attacked by at least six dogs at about 1:50 a.m. Tuesday morning just outside the department's barn at 1251 Virginia Street, according to police spokesman Christopher Levy.
The ponies were taken to a Highland Animal Hospital in Daphne, where they later died, according to Sgt. Eddie Carr, who heads the department's Mounted Unit.
Police caught three of the dogs, which were later euthanized, and set traps to catch the others.
The responding officer originally described the dogs as pit bulls, and police initially reported the incident as a pit bull attack.  However, a veterinarian who euthanized the dogs later said they were "very aggressive" mixed-breeds, according to Levy.
For much of the past year, aggressive dogs have killed at least eight cats kept around the stables, Carr said. Officers who work in the Mounted Unit have tried to keep the dogs away in the past.
Police believe that someone owns the dogs, and the owners could face criminal charges. Investigators were looking into tips this afternoon, Levy said.
Many in the department's Mounted Unit had become attached to the ponies, which stood no taller than 28 inches, Carr said.
"We considered them officers, because they became our friends," Carr said.
Little Joe, a 2-year-old named for Deputy Chief Joe Kennedy, and Woggie, a 3-year-old, were purchased for a minimal price about two years ago, Carr said. They ate only about 50-pounds of feed a month, and cost little to maintain.
Police had plans to use the ponies to help pull children with disabilities through a Mardi Gras parade next year, Carr added.
"We took good care of them," Carr said. "They were here for the public -- the kids especially. We were proud of these two fellas."

A good link

Very extensive media "news" about Pit Bulls is by PitOwner whose motto is: Punish the OWNER for allowing the deed, and the dog, if you must, but NOT the breed!

Love it!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I have been watching all postings on the Internet regarding "Pit Bulls." It's easy, if you use iCurrent. 

The most often-seen ignorant remark by some yahoo is that 'Pit Bulls have been bred to do one thing and one thing only “rip your face off.”' Normally, I would say that everybody is entitled to an opinion. Unfortunately sometimes opinions are based on insufficient data. To come to a rational and, ideally, a scientific conclusion one would have to do a bit of homework and, at the least, have several sources of information other than media-fed sensationalistic and hysterical pumping out of misinformation created simply to sell more copy.

The Clifton Report (2009), which is frequently cited by Pit Bull haters, was compiled from press reports of dog attack deaths and severe bites in the United States and Canada. Clifton’s only source is the… press: specifically, press accounts of dog bites requiring “extensive hospitalization” and caused by “clearly identified” animals. Elsewhere in this blog I provided that most people, including doctors, EMTs, police officers, or animal control officers cannot tell a Pit Bull from any of several dozen dogs.

Clifton’s report never mentions that there is a huge discrepancy between actual hospital records and press accounts of dog attacks --- between relatively objective data, in other words, and highly subjective reporting and editing with an eye to selling papers.

If Clifton’s pit bull numbers are correct, and no more than 49 of the 6,000 or so hospitalizations due to severe dog bites in the U.S. each year are a result of pit bull bites or attacks, then Pit Bulls and Pit mixes are responsible for less than one percent of those hospitalizations.

0.82%. Eighty-two hundredths of a percent of hospitalizations due to dog bites in the U.S. each year are a result of pit bull bites or attacks, if the press has accurately represented the number of serious attacks by pit bulls and pit mixes.

The Clifton report has value ONLY as proof of media bias,. The media have done a great job convincing the public that only "dangerous breeds" hurt people. Editors in a shrinking market know that it is more lucrative to rail against Pit Bulls than talk about the importance of puppy socialization and parent supervision and how to prevent resource guarding. Clifton’s list illustrates perfectly what the AVMA Task Force on Canine Aggression calls “media-driven portrayals of a specific breed as ‘dangerous.’

A more rational and believable opinion comes for The Center of Disease Control. The latest CDC "Dog Bite: Fact Sheet" includes a disclaimer regarding this study, saying that "it 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. Each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities; about 0.0002 percent of the total number of people bitten. These relatively few fatalities offer the only available information about breeds involved in dog bites. There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill." "Dog Bite: Fact Sheet". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you want facts on dog aggression, read A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention, the AVMA’s groundbreaking 2001 task force report. [You’ll find it in the sidebar, under More Dog Links]. Seminal quote:
"Dog bite statistics are not really statistics, and they do not give an accurate picture of dogs that bite."

For the record, the AVMA task force included representatives from the American Veterinary Medical Association; the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American College of Emergency Physicians; the Professional Liability Insurance Trust; the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists; the American Medical Association; the National Animal Control Association; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the Humane Society of the United States.

Just because you read it in the papers, saw it on the television news or because you know somebody who has been bitten by a dog that they (or you) THINK is a Pit Bull, doesn’t make the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) a breed to be vilified. Most people, and that includes “experts” such as animal control or police officers would not be able to tell the difference between a Pit Bull, a Ca de Beu, a Dogo Argentino, or a Pressa Canario. The latter being guard dogs, specifically bred for defending their human owners.
One would do the “Pit Bull” breed justice by looking at the hundreds of thousands of APBTs that live peacefully, respectfully, and lovingly in hundreds of thousands of homes across America. (I use quotes because for all intents there is no such a thing as a “pitbull” – do your homework).

You don’t have to be a Pit Bull lover to acknowledge that this decade (previous decades the German Sheppard Dog, the Doberman Pinscher, and the Rottweiler occupied the media’s attention) is not representative of the perception that this dog has had in American history. Indeed, if you know a bit of dog history you know that, for 200 years, the Pit Bull has been and is to this day a non-human aggressive dog. In fact, in the early days of dog fighting, handlers stayed in the pit with their dogs and were required to separate them several times by hand, during the fight. Any pit dog showing human aggression was quickly excluded from breeding lines.

Status-seeking dog owners who choose the Pit Bull for a macho image would, most likely, pick another breed if these dogs still carried the reputation of ‘nanny dog’ that they held a generation ago. Remember Petey of the popular classic children’s show called Our Gang, and later Little Rascals?

The dog that for 200 years has been called the “nanny dog” both in Great Britain and in America is and always has been a devoted pet who has to be handled with appropriate care. Would I leave my 2-year-old alone with an APBT? No! But I, by the same token, I would NOT leave my small child alone with ANY dog. There are historical reports of almost any breed having the ability of seriously hurting or even killing a child, and elder or a defenseless person. That includes a Pomeranian.

Let’s acknowledge that not all dogs are meant to be owned by just anybody and some pets (not only dogs) require special expertise, devotion, knowledge, care and commitment. Personally, I would be by far more concerned about the ownership of poisonous snakes, chimpanzees, pythons, tigers, alligators, or scorpions. More people die in a single year by drowning in their bath tubs that have been killed by a dog in 100 years. Is the bath tub at fault? Instead of blaming a breed and advocating extermination, I propose that Pit Bull-haters educate themselves about the real issues regarding dog bites and dog attacks. With the advent of the Internet, there is no longer any excuse for remaining ignorant. See

So, to be fair and smart, let’s start respecting the Pit Bull again. Let’s put the media hype into perspective and get to the root of the problem – the overpopulation of this breed, the mistreatment of this breed, and the myths about this breed. Anecdotal stories and media reports are not reliable. They simply fall in the category of either greed (the media), a bad experience, unwarranted fear or some pathological need to spread rumors. See a terrific article on the whys of urban myths:

I, for one, having done extensive reading and analysis regarding the dog I wanted to have, opted for two APBTs. Both are rescues. My wife, who is a cat person, will tell anybody who cares to listen that my dogs are the best behaved, best-disciplined, most affectionate, and best companions that one could wish for.

Publications on Dog Bites
AVMA Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions. A community approach to dog bite prevention. JAVMA 2001; 218: 1732-1749.
This 2001 report, intended for communities interested in developing a comprehensive bite prevention program, includes model legislation for the control of dangerous dogs.

CDC. Nonfatal Dog Bite--Related Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments--United States, 2001. MMWR 2003; 52(26): 605-610.
This report summarizes the results of CDC’s analysis of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP). Findings indicate that in 2001, an estimated 368,245 people were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal dog bite-related injuries, and injury rates were highest among children aged 5-9 years.

Gershman KA, Sacks JJ, Wright JC. Which dogs bite% A case-control study of risk factors. Pediatrics 1994;93:913-7.
Biting and non-biting dogs in Denver are compared. Biting dogs were more likely to be male, unneutered, and chained.

Gilchrist J, Sacks JJ, White D, Kresnow MJ. Dog bites: still a problem% Injury Prevention 2008.
In this study, CDC used a random digit dial survey to determine incidence of dog bites in the U.S. Researchers found that about 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs annually, and about one in five (a total of 885,000) receive medical attention for their injuries.

Quinlan KP, Sacks JJ. Hospitalizations for Dog Bite Injuries. [letter] JAMA 1999; 281:232-233.
Data are provided on the 6,000 hospitalizations for dog bites in 1994, and medical care cost estimates are provided for medically treated dog bites.

Sacks JJ, Sinclair L, Gilchrist J, Golab GC, Lockwood R. Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998. JAVMA 2000;217:836-840.
This article lists the breeds involved in fatal attacks over 20 years. It 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. Each year, 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities; about 0.0002 percent of the total number of people bitten. These relatively few fatalities offer the only available information about breeds involved in dog bites. There is currently no accurate way to identify the number of dogs of a particular breed, and consequently no measure to determine which breeds are more likely to bite or kill.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Today I watched an episode of "Judge Judy" that changed my opinion of her. I always loved her for the way she handles her court cases, but her pronouncements about Pit Bulls are clich├ęd and uninformed. As a consequence, I have a significantly lesser opionio of her.

The episode is here:

I went to her site and wrote her my opinion about this episode:

"As a rule, I respect Judge Judy Sheindlin and agree with her general stance regarding personal responsibility for one’s own actions. Her no non-sense approach to applying the law is always on point. However, today I watched an episode in which a small dog was attacked by a Pit Bull and she made several statements regarding Pit Bulls that indicate to us that she is simply not knowledgeable about this dog breed. Pit Bulls do NOT have locking jaws; they do not have a bite harder than other large dogs, and are not aggressive, unless trained to be so. Furthermore, citing “news” articles as proof of “dangerousness” of Pit Bulls is akin to citing trashy newspapers as an insight into the true lives or personalities of famous people. Both are self-serving inasmuch as they do not cater to truth as much as they sell copy by being sensationalistic. True scientific data do not support Judge Judith Sheindlin’s opinion. Being the Judge’s contemporary, I am greatly disappointed by her attitude and lack of wisdom in this particular instance. As an owner of two Pit Bulls I am offended by the great disservice she propagates to a much and unfairly maligned dog breeds. Had she done even a cursory bit of research she would have found out that this all American dog at one time was referred to as the Nanny Dog both in Great Britain and United States, primarily because of its tolerant and even tempered demeanor. Today, Judge Judy has taken a step-down in my opinion of her."
If you want to do something similar go here: