Sunday, 1 March 2015

Editorial attacked 10 years ago, as it is today by Pit Bull Advocates exposed.

For additional accurate information on the public safety Danger of Pit Bull Type Dogs visit:
Supporters of pit bulls won't let go
C.W. Nevius
Tuesday, June 7, 2005

Last July, after a brutal mauling nearly killed 88-year-old Mabel Wong of Concord, I wrote a column critical of pit bulls.

Even today the letters are still coming in. They range from angry, profane rants to long, mind-numbing treatises citing statistical "facts" that only the author can locate. However, the common theme is simple: You don't know what you are talking about.

Now that 12-year-old Nicholas Faibish has been mauled to death by his family's two pet pits in San Francisco, these apologists will certainly gear up again. If there is one thing we have learned, it is this: No matter how often someone, somewhere is attacked or how high the evidence piles up, they refuse to acknowledge the obvious -- pit bulls are a problem.

What is striking is the familiarity the respondents have with the process. They have their arguments laid out, ready to go. Many of them make the same points, almost verbatim. By the time I'd received more than 600 responses to my column, it was clear I was the target of a standard tactic: If someone criticizes pit bulls, mobilize and bury the critic in a flood of responses.
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In fairness, I received lots of support, some of it from people who predicted the tsunami of criticism. Several suggested pit bull supporters have a lot in common with the National Rifle Association. They are well organized, have their talking points ready and believe fiercely in their cause.

On the face of it, it seems Nicholas' death would be a setback for the apologists. Neighbors said the dogs were friendly and affectionate, not anti- social guard dogs. One of the first points a pit bull fancier will make is that that the problem isn't the dog, it is the owners. My pit bull, they often say, is the sweetest, most loving pet in the world and plays with neighborhood kids all the time.

Just like the Faibishes' dogs.

Nor can it be said that Nicholas was "invading the dogs' space." Some of the most reprehensible responses to the column about Mabel Wong were the lectures about how the 88-year-old woman was somehow responsible for the attack. They said, in effect, that she should have known better than to walk in her neighbor's yard (although she did so all the time and apparently never had problems).

As Dr. Alan Beck of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine said at the time, it isn't up to others to avoid your dog, it is the other way around.

"By law," Beck said, as an analogy, "it is our responsibility to keep the swimming pool covered, not the kids' responsibility to stay out of it."

So the "sweet and loving" and the "don't invade the dogs' space" arguments fall flat. But you can expect to hear the other usual responses from the pit bull lobby.

For example, "pits don't bite any more than any other dog." In fact, apologists will say, statistics show (fill in the breed here) bite more people in the United States than pit bulls. And that's true.

But that's not the point.

The real concern is that pit bulls are involved in more fatal attacks. A comprehensive study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in 2000 said pit bulls were twice as likely as any other breed to be involved in a fatal attack. And a study published in the American Veterinary Medical Association came to the same conclusion.

Pit bull supporters quibble with that study, complaining the data was compiled only through 1998. But just two months ago, Denver beat back a challenge to its law banning pit bulls. A District Court judge upheld the original contention that "... there is credible evidence that pit bull dog attacks are more severe and more likely to result in fatalities."

Then there's the old "you-don't-even-know-if-it-was-a-pit-bull" argument. These people argue that there are mixed pedigrees and blurred breeds. You can count on someone sending along a link to the "find the pit bull" Web site, where photos of dogs that look like pits are mixed with some who are hard to identify. You are supposed to take the test and then marvel at how hard it is to say which dogs are pits.

You know what? It isn't that hard. Owners identify their dogs as pit bulls all the time. So do shelters. There are characteristics, we can recognize them, and those dogs have certain tendencies that are dangerous. It isn't poor training or bad owners mistreating them (although that dramatically raises the likelihood of an attack). It is the breed.

"Look," Beck said back in July, "we are not surprised when a pointer starts pointing, or when my dachshund starts digging. Everyone accepts that. But if we start talking about a low tolerance for pain and a propensity to attack, it is wrong."

And finally, the pit bull owners will claim we want to ban the breed. We probably can't, because such a ban is against state law, so anyone who wanted to enact such legislation would have to change California law.

But there are things we can do. Regulate breeding and step up campaigns to neuter pit bulls. Make sure local laws don't include what amounts to a "one free bite" clause where a dog is only seen as a problem after the second bite.

But most of all, stop pretending pit bulls aren't dangerous and don't need to be watched.

Because there is one more point common to the deluge of mail from pit bull supporters. After explaining how wrong you are, they often conclude with "I await your response."

Here it is -- Nicholas Faibish.