Wednesday, December 21, 2011


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A Tale of Two Cities

There are these two towns in Nebraska: Rushville and La Vista.

Rushville, citing a rash of dog attacks, had the City Council members vote unanimously to prohibit pit bulls inside the city limits. They “recently passed an ordinance that bans “pit bulls.”‘
Let’s follow the logic:..”Mayor Chris Heiser said some of the problems that prompted the ordinance originated with stray dogs that enter the city from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Although other breeds cause problems, pit bull attacks are often more dangerous, he said. "In 2009 we had 10 dog bites, and of those only one was from a pit bull," Heiser said. But he added that, due to the strength of their jaws, a pit bull attack can cause much more harm that a bite from a Chihuahua (sic!). "We have talked about (making an ordinance) before, and we currently have a vicious dog ordinance. We're just trying to catch up with the times," he said.

So, to summarize… the town has a problem with stray dogs, they had 10 dog bites in 2009, one of which was a “pit bull,” so the city makes the decision to ban Pit Bulls. Now THAT ought to protect the citizenry.

Our colleague Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys fame, tells us about another city ion Nebraska. 

"The La Vista City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance to cope with potentially dangerous dogs and their owners.”
“The ordinance, which will take effect Jan. 1, gives the Nebraska Humane Society the power to declare a dog as "potentially dangerous" if the dog is unprovoked and attacks and injures a person or another pet.

Unprovoked dog chases, or a tendency to attack or threaten animals or people, could also lead to the tag of potentially dangerous.
Mark Langan, a vice president for the Humane Society, said similar measures have been effective in other cities. He said only about 100 dogs in Omaha have been declared potentially dangerous since the city's ordinance took effect in 2009.

Dogs, regardless of breed, can be classified as potentially dangerous only after an incident that leads to the intimidation, injury or attack on another animal or human.

"It holds the owner responsible, which I think is key to this," said Councilman Kelly Sell.”

So, dear reader, what makes sense? An ordinance that prohibits Pit Bulls or an ordinance that holds the owners of ANY dangerous animal responsible?

You tell me…

Monday, December 5, 2011

TIME Magazine's "Top 10 Heroic Animals

Eighty-five years after his death, guess who make TIME Magazine’s "Top 10 Heroic Animals?" Sergeant Stubby, a Pit Bull.

Some sources speculated that he was part Boston Terrier and part Pit Bull, while other sources state that he was in fact a pure bred American Pit Bull. His obituary described him as a "Bull terrier" (which was, at the time, synonymous with "American Bull Terrier" and "Pit Bull terrier"). One thing is for sure: he was not a Shih-Tzu.

At the Smithsonian
Sgt. Stubby's endeavors are well chronicled. Just follow the links at the bottom, if you are interested.  Stubby was made a life member of the American Legion, the Red Cross, and the YMCA. In 1921, the Humane Education Society awarded him a special gold medal for service to his country. It was presented by General John Pershing.

Riffenberg’s blog reminds us of the unavoidable irony that the dog that was the most decorated military dog in the history of United States, today would not be allowed on any of America’s military bases.

Way to go people: take something precious and turn it into anathema.

As a note to all dog haters out there: four of the “Top 10 Heroic Animals” are dogs. Trackr, the 9/11 hero, was cloned five times. Mei Chan, the “loyal tsunami dog is a Brittany spaniel.  Brittanies are genuinely sweet bird dogs. Togo the Sled Dog is a Siberian Husky, Trackr was a German Shepherd, and Sgt. Stubby a Pit Bull. With the exception of Mei Chan's, all the others' breeds frequently make the top 10 “vicious dogs” lists of people who use such terminology.



Smithsonian - The Price of Freedom: American at War.

History Wired

A Connecticut Hero


Riffenberg's blog: U.S. & World Political News & Opinion
The Most Decorated Dog in History Would Not Be Allowed on Military Bases Today.

Sgt. Stubby: American War Dog

Monday, November 28, 2011

The most hated dog in America? Depends on the decade.

My “esteemed critic” is at “it” again - splitting hairs. S/he utters in Comments to my previous posting: “Blame is an incorrect way to frame this issue. Dogs are not moral agents. Therefore, they cannot be blamed. Their behavior can be influenced by breed genetics. It is best to think in terms of cause and effect." 

Cute. S/he uses the usual red herring - quibble about minutiae to distract from the message. 

About the history of the breed
Cesar Millan's is not a native English speaker. I am not sure whether he said what it’s attributed to him, or whether he said it first, or whether he said it at all, etc. OK, s/he doesn’t like “blame.”  To appease our prevaricator, we can replace “blame” with asperse, attack, bad-mouth, blot, blotch, calumniate, decry, defame, defile, denigrate, dishonor, do a number on, give a black eye, knock, libel, malign, rip up and down, rip, slander, slur, smudge, stain, sully, taint, tarnish, traduce, vilify, or any other similarly-meaning word from a thesaurus.

The historical facts remain that at different times in the history of this country people had the same visceral hatred for specific breeds of dogs that Bully-haters demonstrate for Pit Bulls now.

The entire argument that Pit Bulls are dangerous because the media reports fatal dog attacks is an egregious example of post-hoc ergo propter hoc type argument. It’s a huge logical fallacy and my detractors know this. But an agenda is an agenda and, quite obviously, selling your soul is secondary to that.

To spare the readers of this blog a serious tension headache, I will NOT engage in a nature vs. nurture argument here. I know for a fact that I can modify the behavior of the dog to conform to the needs, rules, and social requirements of the milieu in which it lives. A glancing shot at “nurture” here: as everybody who cares to learn about Pit Bull terriers knows, the animals that WE call Pit Bulls have been genetically selected AGAINST human-aggression. Cause and effect? Really? Science deals with probabilities. The probability that ANY of my Pit Bulls will bite anybody… ever… is ZERO.

I reiterate a statement that I, and all similar-minded people, hold as truth: Only owners who take the responsibility of a Pit Bull ownership SERIOUSLY should have Pit Bulls in their families. Is this not an unequivocal and pretty clear statement?

In the hands of responsible owners, a Pit Bull of any sort is not more likely to harm a person than any other breed of dog. IF, my Pit Bull bites you, brother, you have the right to take me to court, sue the hell out of me for medical bills, pain and suffering, and whatever else you and your shyster desire. Plus, you also have the right to have criminal charges brought against me.

What you DON’T have, Bully-hater, is the right to assume that my dog will bite you because s/he happens to look like a dog you don’t like.

I will fight you and your pals with all the resources available to me to prevent you from empowering police, dog catchers, sexual deviants, and whoever you care to name to come barging into my house and kill my dogs because they simply LOOK like a dog you don’t like.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Life magazine covers

San Francisco Chronicle

"The Pit Bull is the only dog to have graced the cover of Life magazine three times."

Monday, October 31, 2011

To “Nanny-Dog” or “Not To Nanny-Dog,” that is not the question

To “Nanny-Dog” or “Not To Nanny-Dog,” that is not the question

To continue the talk of the deaf....

Science, or scientific research, does not answer the question ‘why.’ Scientific inquiry deals with probabilities. For example, if event “A” happens, what is the likelihood that it will be followed by event “B” or event “X?”

So, if we call the Pit Bull a “Nanny Dog” what’s the probability of someone getting bitten or killed by a Pit Bull? Conversely, if we agree that Pit Bulls are too dangerous to have ever been called “Nanny Dogs,” what is the probability that someone will show up at my door and want to take my dogs away and kill them?

So let me set up a decision making matrix to see which way I would rather err..

The decision-making matrix will depend on the payoff.

Null Hypothesis (H0) is true
Nanny Dogs
Alternative Hypothesis (H1) is true
Not Nanny Dogs
Accept Null Hypothesis
Nanny Dogs
Right decision
Wrong decision
Type II Error
Reject Null Hypothesis
Not Nanny Dogs
Wrong decision
Type I Error
Right decision

H0 is False and I call it False – we continue calling Pit Bulls “Nanny Dogs.” All Pit Bulls are loved and owned by responsible families. If we make a Type II error – some people get bitten, maimed, or killed. The proposition is to mitigate the Type II error by educating the public and make them “bite-proof.” Which is what the experts tell us to do. The number of Pit Bull (or any dog) bites decreases.

Ho is true and we fail to reject it – we state that Pit Bulls are not “Nanny Dogs” (because… they are vicious – otherwise why not call them potential “Nannies?”). Millions of dogs get killed, ownership is penalized, more governmental control is put in place, people learn to be helpless because somebody else will take care of them, individual responsibility is, once again, minimized, and OTHER type of dogs will bite, maim and kill. A Type I error is vastly most costly, if you care about dogs, freedom, responsibility, and are one of the hundreds of thousand of us who love Pit Bulls.

My opponents’ aim is “prove” that the Pit Bull was not named a “Nanny Dog” (because “it couldn’t possibly, look at the terrible evidence we have..”) thereby further demonizing an animal that doesn’t deserve it. My projection of his/her desired outcome: nothing will change, except hundreds of thousands of more dogs will be killed. Cities that banned Pit Bulls have NOT seen a decrease in dog bite fatalities. I can bring statistics supportive of this statement. Their supporters: people who have been bitten by dogs, people who are afraid of their shadows and want Big Brother to protect them, politicians, media, and breeders.

My aim is educate the public and let it know that the dogs are safe when handled properly and the public needs to learn some basic knowledge to protect itself against DOG bites. I said, DOG, not Pit Bull, on purpose.

The focus of Bully-haters remains heavily on the dog’s conduct rather than on the owner’s conduct, which, to me, seems misguided. Owner conduct is easier to correct through law, education or other means, which is more likely to promote owner accountability for dogs in the future. Focusing on the dog’s actions may mean it is destroyed as ‘dangerous’ while the owner can still get a new dog, a new kind of dog, or an alligator and act equally irresponsibly in the future.

Calling Pit Bulls “Nanny Dogs” seems to irk a cadre of Bully-haters to such extreme that makes me wonder not only about their agenda, but also about their mental health. In a country in which up to 300 kids are killed each year by their biological parents we worry about what a Pit Bull may or not have been called? What a costly investment of misplaced priorities, energy, time and resources this is.

Just in case I have not stated my intentions clearly, the goals of this blog have always been and remain to:

1.      Debunk the bad rap my favorite dog breed gets;
2.      Provide (however biased) evidence that Pit Bulls have been vilified by the media ad nauseam;
3.      Present evidence that close-minded  people use b.s. published in the media to further their own agenda with no regard to whom it may harm;
4.      Provide whatever means I can muster to show off Pit Bulls as the great pet that they are in the right hands and with proper treatment;
5.      Remind the uneducated that the breed was bred for dog-aggression NOT human-aggression and that two are vastly different from each other;
6.      Help the Pit Bull by convincing folks to a) spay or neuter their dogs; b) understand and assume responsibility of dog ownership; c) behave as they want others behave towards them; d) put unethical and immoral breeders out of business; e) stop dog-fighting; f) prevent the killing of nearly 500,000 Pit Bulls every year by rescuing, fostering, training and adopting as many of them as possible; and g) stop ill-equipped, uneducated, mean-spirited, angry individuals from showing up at MY doorstep and take and kill my dogs simply because they look like something a politician thought of as not deserving to live

So, it’s not about “Nanny Dogs” at all. It’s about BSL, stupid!

More about that later.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Nanny Dog issue - redux

My discussion opponent seems unconvinced that Pit Bulls were ever called “nanny dogs.”

I guess that means he will not be adopting a Pit Bull sentenced to die, any time soon.

Were Pit Bulls called "nanny dogs." Who knows? The thousands of pictures we see seem to support the notion that a lot of people liked them and have no problems with the dogs being around their children. We don't know what people called them. Just because it's not in the papers, doesn't mean people didn't call them "nannies." Do people call TVs nannies? I don't know, but sure as hell they use TVs/video games as nannies. 

My evidence for "nannyhood?" Thousands of vintage pictures. My “friend's” evidence? Sensation-seeking media. My experience? Thousands of owners I know who adore their dogs. His? Somebody got bitten by a dog she thinks it was a Pit Bull.

MY dogs would OK with families with children. Would I leave them alone with my grandchild? Absolutely not. Why not? Because NO DOG should be left unsupervised with a child. I have an article about a Pomeranian killing a baby.

If you are interested in the truth, do find the nearest Pit Bull owners' gathering in your area and visit them. Talk to the people. Spend some time around the dogs. I think you will be pleasantly surprised that the Pit Bull is not the ogre it is made out to be. OTOH, you can walk with me through the areas where I see clients in the evenings and weekends and you will see 12-year-olds with a Pit Bull on a rope looking for an impromptu street dog fight. Do you know what would happen if Pit Bull haters managed to kill all the Pit Bulls? We, who love these animals and commit ourselves to responsible ownership would be deprived of our companions and the misguided 'users', greedy breeders, and macho criminals would switch to Presa Canarios. I wish they did, already. L

Last few DooDah Days - when our city parades its pets - tens of thousands of them - we saw a lot of people and a lot of dogs and cats. Nobody flinched at the sight of my Pit Bulls. In fact they just smiled at my T-shirt that says "Owned by a Pit Bull." Then I joined the Bama Bully Rescue booth and the dozen absolutely delightful young ladies who were working to educate the public and adopt out some of our dogs.

What is the official position of the CDC and American Veterinary Medical Association? Educate the public in dog bite prevention! Do they advocate the use of Pit Bulls as "nannies?" Nope. But they also emphasize that one cannot ascertain "viciousness" based on breed. Certainly, not with the 79 people maimed or killed by so-called Pit Bulls that my “friend’s” friend is so fond of citing and not with ANY available scientifically documented data.

Was I ever bitten by a dog? Of course I was. By a Deutscher Schäferhund... I was a child and I was teasing it. You know what happens when a child teases a trained, well-cared for and balanced Pit Bull? NOTHING! It will probably lick the kid. Pit Bulls are tolerant, loyal, gentle, and loving. My dogs would rather be petted than eat. The dozens of people with Pit Bulls we walked with in the park last Friday, many of whom were children, seem to agree with me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Are the "Nanny Dogs" a Myth?

My esteemed critic DubV asks: "do you still think pit bull's were ever the or a nanny dog?"

Here is my reply:

  1. ANY point of view is supportable by simply cherry-picking supportive “evidence.” Notoriously, in research, it is not unusual for one to cite a hundred articles that support the findings of the research and ignore most, if not all, the ones that would contradict it. Similarly, when deposed or asked to act as an expert witness in forensic work, we have been taught not to cite references supporting our point of view, because the opposition has just as many “expert witnesses” who will bring to bear references that state the contrary view. Any good expert witness, and I think I am one, states his or her OPINION and supports it with HIS or HER findings.
  2. History is “truth” as seen from the perspective of the writer of history. I believe that our knowledge of history of the past is nothing but a recitation of “facts” as ordered by the winner of war(s) or whoever is in power.
  3. Beliefs are acquired through: a) learning (experience); b) what an authority tells us; c) consensus. All three can be faulty. I know you can think of examples of each.

A Google search of the phrase “nanny dog historical fact” yields 1.5 million hits, much of it “”noise.” However, the vast majority of hits on the top few pages will be supportive of the idea, while the minority who calls us “nutters,”  holds the opinion that this is a myth.

CKing and Craven Desires, who dedicated their My Space page to “debunking” the “myth of the nanny dog” are “friends” with a dozen kennels that breed “pit bulls” (note the quotation marks), bring NO evidence that the American Pit Bull Terrier was NOT a family dog at the turn of the century and into the 40s and 50s, and by failing to find evidence of “historical fact” conclude that the whole things is a myth. It’s the classical “Bertrand’s (Russells’) Teapot,” or argumentum ad ignorantiam – indeed, the absence of proof is not proof of absence. The rant starts with a false premise, quite thoroughly contradicted by both the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association (the number of children killed by “pit bulls). Further impugning the person’s credibility, at the very top of his/her page, this person starts with an image that paraphrases Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister in Nazi Germany. What a perfect example of Godwin’s Law.

That My Space post has been cut and pasted verbatim by several other bloggers. 


Personally, I prefer to give credence to the American Pit Bull Foundation:

“The American Pit Bull Terrier was not bred for human aggression or for use as a guard dog. Rather, bred for their unmatchable will, high tolerance for pain, and their athletic abilities. They are good caretakers who are intelligent, loving, and alert. Combine all of these factors together, and you have the recipe for a companion animal that does well with children when properly trained. Pit Bulls make great search and rescue dogs and many serve as therapy assistance animals. The Nanny Dog story dates back to the 19th century where the Pit Bull was a popular choice as a companion animal for children based on their docile temperament. Certain sites will have you believe that the Nanny Dog story is a myth, such as the Truth about Pit Bulls blog, yet if you read such sites, you will see that these individuals are making assumptions based on comparisons of dog aggression and human aggression as if the two are related to one another. For example, one of the implied ides on the site mentioned is the thought that the Pit Bull could be the perfect family companion by day and be the throat ripping monster fighter in a ring by night. What these authors do not grasp is the fact that a scenario of this sort is not only completely plausible, but did, and does exist. Because of how Pit Bull fighting and over-breeding has evolved, coupled with the fact that people can’t understand that dog aggression and human aggression are not the least bit related, most do not comprehend that the family Pit Bull often shared a bed with the kids, ate dinner with the family, saw a veterinarian on a regular basis, and when it was time, was thrown into a ring by his master. When a fight was over, rarely was a death of a dog the end result.

The other side of the Nanny Dog involves those who were companions in the wars. Many Pit Bulls/Staffordshire Terriers would accompany their masters to their posts. There are several war stories and memorandums in dedication to the breed for their courageous efforts and their therapeutic loyalty to injured soldiers.

There are still stories today involving heroic efforts for the family children that the media passes right over. Two recent cases involve a Pit Bull pulling a baby’s basinet through a home away from a fire, and another involves a Pit Bull alerting his owner to a strangling child. Both children were safe in the outcomes. Though bad people do bad things with dogs and tragedies result from their negligence, this breed by nature is not the culprit, they are often the reason that children are removed from harm.

Myths or beliefs, past or present, the nature of this breed emulates a loyal companion and sheppard for children when brought up in the right hands. We share our home with two Nanny Dogs.”

Considering all of the above, I BELIEVE that the “nanny dog” moniker is well-deserved with the appropriate cautions: 1) no dog of any kind should ever be left unsupervised with a young child; 2) a dog should be treated with the respect that a family companion deserves; 3) a dog should be trained every day of his/her life; 4) a Pit Bull of any kind is not for everyone.

Just an aside... the original "nanny dog" name was attached to an English breed of dogs, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The REAL American Pit Bull Terrier?

I have been having an interesting, albeit unproductive, discussion with a blog reader. My opponent is, quite obviously, intelligent, rational, literate, cogent, and capable of doing research to support his/her perspective. Yet, we are so apart in our respective stances regarding Pit Bulls that we will never be able to agree on any essential point.

How is this possible?

It occurred to me that we may be talking about two different dogs. I am talking about the real American Pit Bull Terrier. The one that averages 50 lbs in weight and looks like this:

I think he must be talking about these “monsters” that are bastartizations of  the breed and most of the rescue people I work with and owners of Pit Bulls I know would consider an affront to the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris and the Homo sapiens species alike.

I will make sure that my new rescues are sweet, people and animal friendly, properly training, and always supervised and under my control.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Yonah Ward Grossman is an erudite and prolific poster/blogger whose observations are delivered with a fine sense of humor.  I recommend his blog both for edification and a grin.

Recently he posted a series of articles on Pit Bulls which I recommend to all. He graciously acquiesced to let me use some “antique” pix of Pit Bulls as seen through the lens of the camera in the early 1900s. That was a time when Pit Bulls where considered not only America’s dogs, but also America’s “nanny dogs.”

As he states so eloquently, “America’s Nanny Dog is the victim of a smear campaign that has turned common sense upside-down and robbed us of our historical memory. The dogs that we trusted with our children’s lives are now deemed too vicious to live among us. The dogs that in two World Wars were the symbol of the United States military itself are now ordered off its bases. The Pit Bulls haven’t changed at all. Only the owners have.”

I am posting here some of the pictures he has on his blogs and some which I have found on the Internet over the years. I find them all delightful. I hope the readers of this blog will, too.

Here are the links to Yonas’ blogs about Pit Bulls

Posted on May 2, 2011 by YWGROSSMAN

Posted on May 4, 2011 by YWGROSSMAN

Posted on May 4, 2011 by YWGROSSMAN

Posted on June 2, 2011 by YWGROSSMAN

Posted on May 22, 2011 by YWGROSSMAN

Posted on May 18, 2011 by YWGROSSMAN

Enjoy the pictures….