News Worst Post Ever About Pit Bulls
posted by March 14 at 15:48 PMon
I have a 1968 Honda Scrambler (cl305) now, and have owned at least one motorcycle for the past ten years. When I bought this one, my friend Peter—who was studying prosthetics at the UW—told me that after his internship he will never ride a motorcycle. He seems to know a lot about losing body parts. And replacing them, too.
So i thought he’d be a great person to ask about pit bulls. I mean, why not get some expert opinions on the matter? Every time a pit bull story surfaces people always argue about the nature of pet-inflicted injuries, about good and bad owners, about identification of breeds, and on and on…. So I wanted to get some facts.
I emailed him a question: “Have you ever had to create a prosthesis for someone who was attacked by an animal, maybe a pit bull or something?”
His very revealing response was, “Negatory, but lawnmowers, yes.”
Maybe all these posts about the dangers of pit bulls should be directed to a more damaging problem: lawnmowers. Many of the same questions, unfortunately, would dog such a topic. Was the injury the result of a bad owner verses a good owner? Was the lawnmower cared for properly? Do lawnmowers attract a certain kind of owner? Could medical workers even properly differentiate a lawnmower from other similar tools, such as a gas-powered weed whacker?
Instead of getting sidetracked, I decided to remain focused on pit bulls. Maybe I’d just have to work a little harder to get the information I was seeking. Since I stopped working hours ago, this seemed possible.
Each time the pit bull discussion comes up, someone—often me—posts this crazy link to a list of dog attack deaths and maiming in the US and Canada between September 1982 and November 2006.
This would seem to provide the authoritative information people need to make good decisions about pit bulls. But still, people would reply that cat bites are more infectious, it’s the owner’s fault, or that animal control agents couldn’t correctly identify a pit bull in most cases. All of these arguments can be seen somewhere way down in this thread.
The report was compiled by Merritt Clifton, who happens to live in Washington state. I thought he might be an expert or something, and that maybe he could clear things up a bit. So I emailed him.
He responded instantly. And at great length.
I asked about breed identification first.
Do people really know what a pit bull is? Are there vast numbers of people who might not know that they don’t even have a pit bull? Do animal control agents make enough mistakes to invalidate your findings?
MC: This is also damned silly, because even if 50% of the identifications of breeds were erroneous, which would reduce the accuracy of breed identification to the level of random chance, you would still have one breed that amounts to 5% of the dog population committing 25% of the attacks that rise to the level of fatality or permanent injury—about one dog attack incident in 10,000.
But come on, people make mistakes. We’ve seen all the polling errors in the recent primaries. What margin of error do you think is present in your final document?
MC: None of significance. I’m not looking at hair-splitting cases.
The attacks that make my list are attacks where the damage is unequivocal, & where usually there is considerable aftermath to the incident—insurance claims, lawsuits, prosecutions, etc.—with lots of folks getting lots of opportunity to contest the facts, including the breed identification.
Still, do you really believe most animal control agents have the ability to identify the pit bull breed? I mean, are they really trained to do such detailed and scientific work?
MC: If they can’t identify the single most often impounded breed, they must be working with their eyes closed.
Okay, but even if your stats are all correct, is it really fair to consider the pit bull a dangerous breed? Or isn’t it more likely that the owner creates the problem, not the dog?
MC: I compare the situation to a motorcycle vs. a car.
A motorcycle is inherently more dangerous, because it wasn’t designed in the first place with safety as the first consideration. That doesn’t mean a motorcycle can’t be ridden safely, but it means there is much less margin for error.
When you take that issue & compound it by the attraction of motorcycles to young men who want to ride like cowboys, the margin for error shrinks. Even if the primary issue in accidents is the cowboy behavior, the fact remains that a bike flips out of control much more rapidly than a car, with much greater potential for hurting someone.
So, we regulate motorcycles much more stringently than cars, & most bikers acknowledge & appreciate the need, because they don’t want to run afoul of the cowboys either.
[Note: At this point, I think he’d convinced me. I mean, that motorcycle stuff finally seemed to explain what Peter had told me. But I still had one question remaining, to which Clifton gave a very thoughtful response…]
What do we do then? Is there any way this problem can be resolved? Do you think a viable solution would be boil the pit bulls alive and feed them to their owners?
MC: Similar things are done to dogs in parts of Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, China (mostly in the south & areas close to Korea), and Nagaland & Mizoram, in the extreme northeast of India, near Myanmar.
However, people (mostly older men) pay to eat the dogs who have been tortured to death, typically at hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the red light districts of town. The dog-eaters, not more than 6% of the population even where dog-eating is most visible, believe that dogs’ flesh is an erotic stimulant, more potent if the dogs’ flesh is suffused with adrenalin from fear and pain.
Even from a solely scientific perspective, this is nonsense, as cooking the flesh destroys the adrenalin, but all sorts of people believe all sorts of things that have no reasonable basis…
Force-feeding pit bulls to their owners is, besides all that, decidedly unlikely to rectify the lack of [judgment] that causes people to breed & traffic in dogs who are capable of killing with their first outburst of bad behavior.
What is necessary is to get these people to think in a considerate long-term manner. Inflicting pain and humiliation tends to have exactly the opposite effect.
Special thanks to: Animal People! I’ll post the interview in its entirety to http://www.myspace.com/geoffreychristopher”>my blog later tonight.
[ANIMAL PEOPLE is the leading independent newspaper providing original investigative coverage of animal protection worldwide, founded in 1992. Our readership of 30,000-plus includes the decision-makers at more than 10,000 animal protection organizations. We have no alignment or affiliation with any other entity. $24/year; for free sample, send address.]