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.