Pit bull panic

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You leave the building to grab a snack, you come back and someone’s published an editorial you don’t like in the newspaper you work for.

July 10’s ‘guest editorial’ – it was from the St. John’s Telegram – was about pit bull bans. It talked about a new study out of the University of Manitoba which seems to support the idea pit bull bans are effective.

Now, obviously, a study conducted by a university, while not necessarily definitive, is worthy of consideration. What’s ugly, though, is when the media or the public fan the flames of fear.

Here’s the last line of the editorial, arguing that, when they attack, pit bulls inflict more damage than other breeds:

“…one thing is certain: you won’t find many victims of a Shih Tzu attack hooked up to life support or lying in a morgue.”

Guess what: you won’t find many victims of pit bull attacks on life support or lying in a morgue, either. I’m relying on memory here, but I recall that out of about 50 fatal dog attacks in Canada in a span of some decades, two were due to so-called pit bulls. Horrendous for the victims and their families, but not an epidemic. I also recall some of the fatal attacks were perpetrated by dogs you wouldn’t expect. A Dachshund comes to mind – not a Shih Tzu, but a cute weiner dog.

Bottom line, pit bulls are not monster dogs with a special affinity for murdering humans. Yes, they were bred to fight – other dogs – but scores of breeds were bred to kill other animals. Some were even bred to attack people. Not the pit bull, however.

The editorial also mentions how “more and more” jurisdictions are enacting breed bans, but neglects to mention some of the jurisdictions that have had bans are rescinding them.

I’ve written on this subject more persuasively in the past, including for the Globe and Mail and the Hamilton Spectator, so forgive me for being rusty on my stats and facts.

A copy of the Globe article: http://www.pets.ca/forum/archive/index.php/t-8563.html

And the Spectator: http://www.pets.ca/forum/archive/index.php/t-36150.html

I could write about this subject ad infinitum, so I’ll let my previously published work (links) speak for me. Suffice it to say, I remain staunchly opposed to breed bans as a way to decrease incidences of dog attacks.

One thing worth noting here, though, is that newspapers are conversations. I don’t agree with an editorial in my own newspaper, but I don’t see that as a systemic editorial failure at the Daily News. The same paper that publishes a view I disagree with, publishes my views often, including this blog. The point is, when a newspaper angers you, engage it: write in, speak out, join the conversation. 


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