Category Archives: Media Negligence

UK: 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act an obvious fail

UK statistics show that emergency room dog bite treatments have increased by 94% over the last ten years, reaching 6,097 treated bites in the year ending March 2011. Prosecutions of dangerous dog owners and costs for boarding seized dogs have also risen to new highs.

The 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act is generally acknowledged by most people in the UK, from vets to politicians to the general public, as a massive failure that does not adequately address dangerous dogs and irresponsible dog owners. According to the Daily Mail, the DDA is “often cited as a classic example of over-hasty law-making by ministers, officials and MPs working too fast in the face of a temporary scare.”

A couple of news articles from the UK this week have been interesting to read for their slant. Two new crossbreeds of dogs are generating concern, at least in the press: bull lurchers (Guardian) and presweilers (Daily Record). Both of these articles are worth a read; in particular, the sensational rhetoric used by the Daily Record to describe presweilers. (What happens when you put a Presa Canario and a Rottweiler together? You get a deadly cross-bred superbeast sharkdog, and, gasp, there are no laws against it!)

These mixed-breed dogs are not covered by the breed-specific portion of the DDA. Although the press recognizes the larger problem—hoodlums who want to own big, threatening, vicious dogs—much of the news coverage continues to place the blame on dog breeds. The news media seems determined to find fault with the DDA not because it is breed-specific, but because it is not breed-specific enough to keep up with the “dangerous breed du jour.”

As the failed DDA has shown us, it is not possible for a breed-specific law to effectively eliminate dangerous dogs. The hoodlums simply turn their attention to a new type of dog. Because there is no focus on the humans in the equation, thugs are free to continue misusing and abusing dogs of unrestricted breeds.

So, what’s being done about the DDA?

Lord Redesdale’s Dog Control Bill [HL] 2010-11, which would overhaul the DDA and repeal its breed-specific portion, is moving along in the House of Commons (currently scheduled for second reading on 3/30/12).

For its part, the government has consistently rejected Lord Redesdale’s bill, indicating that it intends to introduce a different proposal. To that end, the Environment Department (DEFRA) has announced that it will introduce new dog control measures in the coming months. Unfortunately, we’re not convinced that DEFRA intends to repeal the breed-specific portion of the DDA. It remains to be seen exactly what the government will propose.

UK citizens and residents are encouraged to contact their government representatives (and DEFRA) and stress the need for effective breed-neutral dog laws.

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Town of Ladysmith, BC, Canada: Committee to ponder BSL repeal

The town of Ladysmith currently has breed-specific language that considers all “pit bulls” to be “restricted breeds.” The bylaw can be read here: http://www.ladysmith.ca/upload/dcd497_Dog_Licensing_and_Ticketing.pdf

Ladysmith council has been asked by two residents who own bull terriers to consider repealing breed-specific language. In February, the council sent the request to a committee.

From the Feb 21, 2011 Council Meeting Minutes at http://www.ladysmith.ca/upload/dcd1622_20110221_Council_REG_Minutes_FINAL.pdf

Chris and Beverley Wood – Request to remove breed-specific langauge from the Dog Licensing, Control and Pound Bylaw
It was moved and seconded that the correspondence from Chris and Beverley Wood dated January 26, 2011 regarding a request to consider removing breed specific language from the Dog Licensing, Control and Pound Bylaw be referred to a committee to review and report back to Council, and that the committee include members of the committee that previously reviewed this issue, and that Chris Wood and Councillor Evans also be appointed to the committee.
[…]
Question Period
Matt Peterson, Ladysmith Chronicle, inquired about the Council’s direction regarding a review of the Dog Licensing, Control and Pound Bylaw.

The news article written by Matt Peterson for the Ladysmith Chronicle can be found here: http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/ladysmithchronicle/news/116949678.html

More recently, an editorial(?) on canada.com, from the Daily News (possibly Nanimo) issued a pro-BSL stance—note that the two residents in Ladysmith have been transformed into a “very determined lobby”:

[…]The latest development is to be the Town of Ladysmith bending to pressure from a very determined lobby seeking to overturn breed-specific bylaws.

While breed bans are ineffective and miss the point entirely, and any municipality with such a bylaw ought to review such a ban, there are some good reasons to maintain regulations that are breed-specific.[…]

Although news media should take responsibility for their published opinions, I am unable to confirm the source of this editorial, and there does not appear to be a place to leave comments online—so the anonymous person who wrote this article can slink away without being taken to task for the misinformation and slant presented in this editorial. The full editorial can be read here: http://www.canada.com/bylaw+could+tighten+focus+owners/4369228/story.html

Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, Canada: Bylaw officer calls for breed ban

The Fort Smith bylaw officer has called for a ban on “pit bulls” after a stray dog chased one girl and bit another.

Town of Fort Smith contact page: http://www.fortsmith.ca/cms/contact

Town of Fort Smith, 174 McDougal Road, PO Box 147, Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, X0E 0P0, CANADA
Phone: (867) 872-8400, Fax: (867) 872-8401

Pitbull attacks teenage girls in Fort Smith

By SHAWN BELL, SRJ Reporter• Tue, Mar 01, 2011

A pitbull attack on two teenage girls in broad daylight last week has led Fort Smith’s bylaw officer to call for a complete ban on the breed in the community.

After euthanizing the large male dog involved in the attacks, Ron Schaefer told The Journal that breeds like pitbulls should not be in the North.[…]

He also cautioned parents of small children that many dogs, especially breeds like pitbulls, can be very dangerous.

“Lots of people have these unpredictable adult dogs,” Schaefer said. “I would hate to see a child mauled by their dog.”

The attacks in Fort Smith come two weeks after a four-year-old boy was mauled by a husky in Inuvik. The boy had to be medivaced to Edmonton with life-threatening injuries. […]

Full article retrieved 3/1/11 from http://srj.ca/pitbull-attacks-teenage-girls-in-fort-smith-p5840-75.htm

It should be noted that there have been no such calls for a ban on Huskies after the tragic event in Inuvik (mentioned above, in this article). Additionally, in covering the Inuvik mauling, many media sites included information about dog-child safety in their reports—a responsible and ethical choice to use the news as an educational opportunity to promote public safety and awareness. In contrast, the Fort Smith report about this stray dog attack was accompanied only by a detailed description of the incident and sensational quotes from the bylaw enforcement officer—with a singular focus on dog breed, and no helpful information that could improve public safety or awareness (no mention of relevant dog control laws, no tips on what to do if you see a stray dog, etc.).

Dead Dogs: Breed bans, euthanasia, and preemptive justice

This is a powerful and thought-provoking article from the Boston Review about “pit bulls,” prejudice, breed bans, dog law, euthanasia, “humane” societies and animal control, dog fighting, and thinly veiled racism.

http://bostonreview.net/BR35.2/dayan.php

Brief excerpt below. Visit the link to read the whole article.

Dead Dogs: Breed bans, euthanasia, and preemptive justice

Colin Dayan
MARCH/APRIL 2010

…The seizures, detentions, and exterminations of pit bulls—sanctioned by laws in many states—expose the statutory logic for making preemptive justice constitutionally permissible: canine profiling supplies the terms for inclusion and ostracism, and even the suspension of due process rights. No criminal conviction of the owner is required for state seizure and destruction of property. In other words, the Constitution’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which prohibit the government from depriving anyone of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” can be suspended for the public good without evidence, without trial, by classification alone.

In legal rationales, realities are created. Old inequalities and radical discrimination are repackaged in unexpected forms. In breed-specific legislation, the taint and incapacity of the disenfranchised live on. At a time when our government is labeling certain persons as threats—alleged terrorists, enemy aliens, illegal immigrants, ordinary people who want to get on airplanes—we need to ask how the seizure and destruction of dogs deemed contraband becomes a medium for the intimidation and debasement of humans in turn. Who should suffer deprivation without redress so that we can live in reasonable—safe and secure—consensus? And who gets to decide?…

Erie, PA: Incidents renew calls for regulation of pit bulls, other vicious dogs

Article writer Kara Murphy needs education about how to interpret dog bite statistics and how to identify credible scientific sources (see “Journalist Resources: Scientific Studies” to understand why Animal People/Merritt Clifton’s so-called “study” is not legitimate scientific research): kara.murphy@timesnews.com

City shelter manager Kris Watkins needs education about no-kill initiatives, how to decrease the kill rate, and how to save more “pit bulls” (first step: stop talking about “pit bulls” in a way that feeds the vicious stereotype): staff@theannashelter.com or 814-451-0230.

Erie can’t pass BSL due to state law, but City Councilmembers need information about effective non-breed-specific dangerous dog laws, preferably from locals who understand why the current dog laws are failing.

Send correspondence to the entire City Council by sending to the city clerk:

City Clerk Jim Klemm
Email: jeklemm@erie.pa.us
Phone: (814) 870-1291
Fax: (814) 870-1296

Dept. City Clerk Gloria Criscione
Email: gloriac@erie.pa.us
Phone: (814) 870-1292
Fax: (814) 870-1296

Incidents renew calls for regulation of pit bulls, other vicious dogs

By KARA MURPHY
kara.murphy@timesnews.com
Published: November 23. 2009 1:15AM

[…] The recent attacks have raised questions of whether regulations on pit bull owners should be tightened, an idea that Erie police last raised in 2007 after a series of attacks involving the breed, including two incidents in which Erie police officers shot and killed attacking pit bulls.

But City Councilman Jim Thompson said state law prohibits local governing bodies from putting in place breed-specific laws. He pursued the idea of tightening regulations against pit bull owners several years ago.[…]

Full article retrieved 11/24/09 from http://www.goerie.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091123/NEWS02/311239975

Genesee County, MI: Whispers of BSL

This is a very poorly-written, unclear article that hints that Genesee County, MI, or some of the cities/towns inside the county (Flint? Mt. Morris?) may consider BSL of some sort.

Follow the link to read the whole article.

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/11/pitbull_debate_rages_in_genese.html

Too violent for society? Pitbull debate rages in Genesee County following serious attacks

Despite the headline, only two attacks were mentioned in the body of the article. One was serious. One involved taking a child to a “clinic” for unspecified reasons. And a third incident mentioned left a dog dead, but no one was injured and it was unclear whether the dog was actually attacking anyone at all. In all cases, loose dogs were involved.

Also note that a few of the photos feature a couple of local “pit bull” breeders that play into the “thug” stereotype and raise non-breed-standard dogs. They offer this gem of wisdom, indicating they don’t really understand why dogs bite at all: “Half the time, if a pitbull gets out and bites someone it’s just because it’s hungry and has been mistreated by its owners.” We really don’t need “friends” like this in the fight against BSL, and the media should not hold these types of people up as “experts.”

New South Wales, Australia: Black market for pit bulls flourishing

How do you make a type of dog desirable with the wrong crowd?

  • First, ban it.
  • Then, write articles using stereotypical mythology (“deadly dogs,” “powerful jaws, muscular bodies and fierce loyalty,” “ferocious reputation,” “killing machines on leashes”).
  • And be sure the article mentions the gobs of money you can make by breeding and selling the illegal dogs.

Black market for pit bulls flourishing

By Chelsea White
The Daily Telegraph
September 05, 2009 12:01am

People openly defying rules on pitt bulls
Black market in deadly dogs flourishing
Some sell for $2000

[…] Even pit bulls bought before the breeding ban are subject to restrictions and compulsory sterilisation, with the aim to make the dog extinct.

But investigation by The Daily Telegraph found dozens of pit bulls available for sale.[…]

Full article retrieved 9/7/09 from http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,26029832-1242,00.html