Posts filed under ‘pit bulls’

Are the Eagles Writing for The Onion?

… or did Sick Vick just bully them into it?

Michael Vick holding a gun to the head of Donovan McNabb's prize border collie, Franchise

How utterly ironic – two months ago The Onion published a story mocking “reformed” dog killer Michael Vick.  While The Onion’s writers poked fun at Vick by insinuating that his teammates were as disgusted by his violent past as the rest of us are:

Michael Vick’s pregame pep talk Sunday, in which he recounted the events of a brutal 2004 dogfight between his pit bull terrier Zebro and rival pit bull Maniac, failed to inspire his teammates in any way whatsoever, Eagles team sources reported.

Vick, who was playing in his first NFL game since serving an 18-month prison sentence, called the 10-minute story “really motivational,” and reportedly failed to understand why his graphic recounting of how Zebro ripped out Maniac’s larynx caused teammates to stagger out of the player tunnel and onto Lincoln Financial Field with their heads hanging.

But today – in a gesture so bizarre that it was unthinkable even to the deliciously twisted staff of The Onion –  Michael Vick was voted the Philadelphia Eagles’ recipient of the 2009 Ed Block Courage Award.  The players on each NFL team vote to give award the teammate who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship and courage.

Apparently Vick’s fellow Eagles really did think that those dog fight stories were motivational…

What next –  shall we give Tiger Woods an award for his dedication to family life?  Honor Nidal Hasan with the Silver Star?

If you’re as disgusted as I am – take a minute or ten to contact the sponsors of the Ed Block award and let them know how you feel about the Eagles’ gesture to “honor” this unrepentantly evil psychopath.

December 24, 2009 at 2:28 am 1 comment

Around the Web

First a thought-provoking article in the New Yorker comparing football and dog fighting by Malcolm Gladwell.  Here’s an excerpt, go here to read the rest:

In a fighting dog, the quality that is prized above all others is the willingness to persevere, even in the face of injury and pain. A dog that will not do that is labelled a “cur,” and abandoned. A dog that keeps charging at its opponent is said to possess “gameness,” and game dogs are revered.
In one way or another, plenty of organizations select for gameness. The Marine Corps does so, and so does medicine, when it puts young doctors through the exhausting rigors of residency. But those who select for gameness have a responsibility not to abuse that trust: if you have men in your charge who would jump off a cliff for you, you cannot march them to the edge of the cliff—and dogfighting fails this test. Gameness, Carl Semencic argues, in “The World of Fighting Dogs” (1984), is no more than a dog’s “desire to please an owner at any expense to itself.” The owners, Semencic goes on,

understand this desire to please on the part of the dog and capitalize on it. At any organized pit fight in which two dogs are really going at each other wholeheartedly, one can observe the owner of each dog changing his position at pit-side in order to be in sight of his dog at all times. The owner knows that seeing his master rooting him on will make a dog work all the harder to please its master.

This is why Michael Vick’s dogs weren’t euthanized. The betrayal of loyalty requires an act of social reparation.
Professional football players, too, are selected for gameness. When Kyle Turley was knocked unconscious, in that game against the Packers, he returned to practice four days later because, he said, “I didn’t want to miss a game.” Once, in the years when he was still playing, he woke up and fell into a wall as he got out of bed. “I start puking all over,” he recalled. “So I said to my wife, ‘Take me to practice.’ I didn’t want to miss practice.” The same season that he was knocked unconscious, he began to have pain in his hips. He received three cortisone shots, and kept playing. At the end of the season, he discovered that he had a herniated disk. He underwent surgery, and four months later was back at training camp. “They put me in full-contact practice from day one,” he said. “After the first day, I knew I wasn’t right. They told me, ‘You’ve had the surgery. You’re fine. You should just fight through it.’ It’s like you’re programmed. You’ve got to go without question—I’m a warrior. I can block that out of my mind.

KFOX New Mexico reports that marijuana was found in several bags of dog food.  And no, this isn’t another product recall:

A drug-sniffing dog alerted U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to the trunk of 2009 Peugeot. CBP officers opened the trunk and found large bags of dog food, but when they opened them up, marijuana was found inside.

 CBP officers removed 30 marijuana-filled bundles from the dog food. The drugs weighed 31 pounds. A drug-sniffing dog alerted U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to the trunk of 2009 Peugeot. CBP officers opened the trunk and found large bags of dog food, but when they opened them up, marijuana was found inside.


A disturbing case of animal neglect reported on LocalNews 8 an eleven-pound stray dog in St. Anthony, Idaho had nine and a half pounds of matted hair removed from its body by a local vet.

However, police in St. Anthony say the owners of the matted dog Tuesday will NOT be charged with animal cruelty.

St. Anthony Police Chief Jim Smith says the owners are not mentally capable of understanding any charges facing them.

“You pass by the house where we found the dog and it’s surprising that people even live there it’s so run-down,” said Smith.

The dog, now appropriately renamed “Matt” is reported doing well after the mat-ectomy.  St. Anthony police are looking for ways to help his owners because according to the chief of police, “the dog’s situation mirrored that of the owners.”


October 15, 2009 at 11:37 pm 12 comments

The Origin of BSL

Hat tip to our friend Caveat for this link to the incredible, unbelievable video that finally reveals the origin of breed specific legislation.  K9 Magazine has the scoop! 


September 15, 2009 at 1:59 am Leave a comment

There But for the Grace of Dog…

Schadenfreude is a complex thing. It’s that scrumptiously malicious sense of pleasure we feel when we see bad things happen to people we don’t like.  The sense of having escaped the danger heightens our feelings of comfort and happiness. Seeing someone we disagree with get the come-uppance we think they deserve feeds our sense of justice.  And while we may recognize that Schadenfreude is a guilty pleasure –  the added bonus of feeling smug because we weren’t the ones responsible for causing our enemy’s pain lends an added frisson of satisfaction.

Why do dog-related crimes whet our Schadenfreude so deeply?

Is it the enormous amount of divisiveness in the many worlds of dog?  Conformation exhibitors who feel superior to obedience competitors.  Show breeders who vilify performance breeders. Purely positive trainers who denounce balanced trainers. Competitors who feel superior to average pet owners.  Toss in a few heaping helpings of envy and the widespread idea that “you’re with us or against us” — and it’s no surprise that the world of dogs is sometimes as combative as the Middle East.  That divisiveness feeds our Schadenfreude and makes it awfully easy to turn us against each other.

Witness the big, ugly can-o-worms I opened last week when I posted about the story of the Murder Hollow Bassets. Is Wendy Willard an arrogant animal hoarder who taunted law enforcement or is she the innocent victim of over-zealous grundyism?  I don’t care, because the thing is – her rights should be protected either way.

In too many cases today basic violations of noise laws, limit laws and sanitation laws are being confused with demonstrable animal cruelty.  When we read stories of animal busts – especially when the perp is someone we don’t agree with (and in the world of dogs, we are bound to disagree with him in some way) – we assume that, of course, that horrid animal abuser must be guilty.  In the rush to judge we forget that we are all innocent until proven guilty.

As society oozes deeper into political correctness, increasing numbers of Grundy laws are being passed and enforced at all levels of government. Laws that make it easier for a neighbor that doesn’t like the way you look or an animal rights group that doesn’t like the way you live – to find a law they can use to harass you.

We don’t need these laws. We’ve already got enough dog-related laws on the books. Think about it. Is it the number of dogs kept on a property, their breed or even their sexual status that creates problems or – is it just a single, lazy, clueless, disrespectful or irresponsible owner?  An owner who will be a problem even if he’s only allowed to have a single, loud, dirty, neglected obnoxious or abused dog in his care?  If existing cruelty, sanitation, noise and related laws are enforced in a timely and lawful manner – and if we treat our neighbors with mutual respect – dogs aren’t a problem.

YesBiscuit wrote an excellent post last week illustrating how we all need to pay careful attention to the context of the reasons given for animal seizures.  Be sure to read the comments – these make it stunningly clear that there but for the grace of doG walks every single one of us.  Sure, you may be able to avoid things like limit laws by moving to a rural area – but Mrs. Grundy seems to live everywhere now and unless laws regarding the seizure of animals change – the Mrs. Grundys of the world will eventually be able to hold all pet owners hostage.


Now, even though I’ve been accused by some of being a black-helicopters nut job – I really do agree that we need laws.  And I believe that the laws should be enforced.  But I also believe that there is such a thing as too many laws – and that enforcement can be conducted too vigorously.

If were up to me, when should animals be seized?

  • When their life or health is in immediate danger.  Minor cases of parasite infestation, out of date vaccinations, temporarily unsanitary conditions and minor lapses of grooming do not constitute an immediate threat to the life or health of an animal.
  • When an owner has been given written notice of an animal-related offense and not come into compliance within a reasonable, specified time period (such as 30 days).  This warning must be given in person by an officer of the court or by registered letter.
  • When an owner is arrested and there is no one else available to care for them.
  • When they have been abandoned.
  • When an owner voluntarily relinquishes them – after he has been read his rights and allowed to consult with legal counsel.
  • In addition to the above, except under circumstances where their immediate health and safety can be proven to be at risk, pets must only be seized by, or under the direct supervision of, officers of the law.

How should seized animals be handled?

  • If they are seized because their life or health is in immediate danger – they must be put under the care of a veterinarian.
  • If they are seized as evidence in a case (such as limit laws, breed specific legislation, nuisance laws, etc.) they must be kept in such a way as to maintain chain-of-evidence requirements.  I do not think that, in most cases, releasing them to foster care meets these requirements.  Killing them, selling them or adopting them out most certainly does not meet these requirements.
  • Intact animals must be kept their original reproductive state and even aggressive animals must be kept alive whenever possible until they are either released by their owner or he is found guilty.
  • Puppies must be kept with their dam until at least the age of seven weeks unless there is a health-related reason to separate them from her.

I’m deeply concerned by the growing trend to grant police powers to private citizens who are then given the authority to enforce humane laws.  Humane officers aren’t police officers yet they are granted the power to search and seize our property. Our living property.  In some municipalities they even are even granted the power to charge us with felonies.

Humane officers are accountable to their supervisors and local boards of directors – not the public.  In most areas there’s no internal affairs department or grievance board to file a complaint with that provides an external, civilian review of their actions – so short of filing expensive, time-consuming lawsuits (and risking the loss of our beloved pets while we wait to settle them) – we have little or no recourse when non-police humane officers step beyond the boundaries of their positions.

The issue here isn’t the Murder Hollow Bassets or the PSCPA per se.  It’s the disturbing increasing trend for states and municipalities to farm out enforcement duties to private citizens.  Citizens who, in some cases (not all!) are more interested in advancing a personal agenda than enforcing the law.  The issue isn’t Wendy Willard’s guilt or innocence – it’s the need to recognize that animals need to be treated as living  property.  That animals need to be treated humanely – but so do their owners.

And if believing this makes me an ignorant, lying, right-wing loon searching for black helicopters – I’m okay with that.

August 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm 7 comments

Hector Comes Home

Too busy to blog much lately – I was watching the local news before heading off to an early (for me) bed when I saw this and had to post on it:

From WCCO News:

“While Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is serving nearly two years in prison for dogfights some of the dogs that survived are living better lives now. One of the pit bulls is getting a fresh start thanks to a dog lover in Minnesota.”

Hector is a very, very lucky dog.  He was just adopted by Andrew “Roo” Yori of Rochester, MN.  Roo is the proud owner and coach of flying disc national champion Wallace the Pit Bull.

“Yori is giving Hector a second chance. He may never be a disc champion like Wallace, but he could shine in a different way.”

Roo says that he hopes to get Hector certified as a therapy dog.  His goal is to take the dog to visit patients in hospitals and nursing homes and perhaps one day accompany Wallace on visits to local schools to teach children about dog bite prevention.  Read more about this at

ResqDogz reports that:

He was saved by BAD RAP and had the most fight scars of all of the dogs the organization took in from that bust. Though he was a fighter it turns out that he loves other dogs! That’s not something you find often. He’s also a big moosh when it comes to being loved on by people. He turns into a limp noodle any time he’s held.

The video clip on tonight’s news showed some excellent “limp noodle” footage of Hector – who looks like he’s absolutely thrilled to be Roo and Clara’s new love.

BadRap has more on Hector including this heartwarming video documenting Hector’s happily ever after:

While you’re feeling warm and fuzzy about this story – please keep in mind that our friends at H$U$ wanted to murder euthanize Hector and all the other dogs from Vick’s kennel.  (They were incorrigibly vicious, you know.)  Next time you see Wallace execute that perfect leaping catch or watch Hector snuggle up to a sick child on a therapy visit – think about where your charitable donations should go.

REAL animal friends don’t let friends support PeTA or HSUS!

July 10, 2008 at 4:38 am 3 comments

Is the Dog our Closest Animal Kin?

In an article just published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, authors Monique A.R. Udell and C.D.L. Wayne of the University of Florida propose that, behaviorally speaking, the domestic dog may be our closest animal kin.

The article starts by noting our very long association with the dog:

Humans and dogs share a long intertwined history. Fossil and DNA evidence suggests domestic dogs most likely diverged from wolves in different places at different times beginning as long as 135,000 years ago (Vila et al., 1997). This is when the morphological structure of certain groups of wolves began to change to more closely resemble the modern domestic dog. Anthropologists and archaeologists have argued that this is an overestimate, claiming that the best way to determine the time of domestication is to look for signs of a close association between dogs and humans (Morey, 2006). One way this has been done is by looking for evidence of dog burials (Morey, 2006). The earliest burial remains of a domestic dog are 14,000 years old and were found in Bonn-Oberkassel, Germany (Nobis, 1979). The dimensions of the well-preserved lower jaw and teeth suggest that this animal was domesticated and could be compared to a small sheep dog, making it the oldest known domesticated animal and a companion of the Cro-Magnon Man in the late Paleolithic age (Nobis, 1979).

If the dog has been our companion since Cro-Magnon times when the Neanderthal still walked the earth — indeed, since homo sapiens first evolved, we shouldn’t be surprised that our species share a unique emotional and psychological bond. 

Dogs play an integral part in today’s society:

Although the exact location and lineage of the first domesticated dog is still under debate, the impact that humans have had on the domestic dog as a species is undeniable. Dogs play an astonishing range of roles in human society. Many individuals put their faith in rescue dogs when stranded in the wilderness or capsized in cold water. Others rely on guide dogs to get them safely to multiple destinations on a daily basis. Drug dogs, de-mining dogs, police dogs, termite- and even cancer-detecting dogs are trained and utilized as substance detectors even in the face of competition from the latest technology. There are herding dogs, hunting dogs, sled dogs, and various other specializations that are crucial to the livelihoods of many individuals, not to mention the role dogs play in entertainment and the pleasures of individual dog ownership – sufficiently reinforcing to sustain 74.8 million dogs in the United States, at a cost to their owners of over $100 billion (American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, 2007).

But despite their importance as companions and co-workers there has been surprisingly little research into just what makes the domestic dog so uniquely suited to life with human beings.  According to Udell and Wynne:

The causes of the characteristic behaviors of dogs can be understood at two levels. First are the phylogenetic influences on behavior that arise as a result of the unique evolutionary past of domestic dogs. Second, and perhaps more importantly (at least in the sense that they are available for modification in real time), are the ontogenetic causes that are the history of contingencies of reinforcement each domestic dog experiences within human society during its lifetime.

The phylogeny of dogs is particularly interesting because, instead of natural selection by the environment, artificial selection by humans is responsible for the hundreds of breeds of domestic dog that exist today. There is also evidence that selection for desirable physical and behavioral traits has led to many changes in social behavior as unexpected byproducts (Hare & Tomasello, 2005). This has led some scientists to attribute the propensity of dogs for human social interaction to convergent evolution, where the two genetically distinct species were shaped by similar selective pressures (Hare & Tomasello, 2005).

There is, of course, no question that genes play a role in the behavior of domestic dogs, but a dog’s individual environmental history plays a major role in shaping its behavior over its lifetime. From the time a puppy is brought into a human household it is completely dependent on human caretakers for all of its needs. The majority of reinforcers a dog will have access to throughout its life are controlled, either directly or indirectly, by humans. This is comparable to the situation of young human children, and may explain in part the similarities in sensitivity to human social stimuli shown by dogs and children. However, unlike children, domestic dogs remain dependent on humans for primary reinforcers, such as food, water, access to mates, and even touch, throughout their lifetimes. Consequently, their access to reinforcers is contingent upon appropriate behavioral responses within the human social environment.

Unlike our close biological cousins the great apes, dogs seem to have innate abilities in attending to and correctly responding to human glancing and gestural cues even without prior training or conditioning.  They also appear to have an innate sense of how to use glances and gestural cues to communicate with humans and other dogs.  According to Udell and Wynne:

One of the most interesting behavioral characteristics of the modern domestic dog is its predisposition to attend and respond to human social gestures and cues.

Ever since Darwin (1859) the search for human-like social cognition (behavior controlled by human and conspecific social cues similar to that observed in humans) has focused on our closest genetic relatives, particularly chimpanzees. Though much remains controversial in this field, it seems clear that chimps and several other species of primates are only modestly successful on many tasks designed to test for human-like social reasoning. Thus, chimpanzees are only able to follow gaze and show joint attention under a limited set of conditions (Barth, Reaux & Povinelli, 2005; Tomasello, Call, & Gluckman, 2001).

 Dogs, in contrast, though they share much less of our genetic material than do chimpanzees, nonetheless show a spontaneous ability to follow human gestures to find reinforcing objects, even in the absence of training in the laboratory. Most remarkably, even dogs raised with minimal human contact can follow a human point and gaze gesture without explicit training (Hare, Plyusnina, Ignacio, Schepina, Stepika, Wrangham, & Trut, 2005).

So, why do dogs have stronger innate skills to communicate with us than the apes that we share so much of our genetic heritage with?  The study discusses several theories:

The possibility that dogs learn to attend to human social cues simply because of the intensity of their interactions with humans is refuted by the observation that even puppies and domesticated fox kits that have had only minimal exposure to human beings, nonetheless respond very accurately to human cues in choice paradigms (Hare et al., 2005).

Hare and Tomasello (2005) considered the possibility that domestic dogs’ high sensitivity to social cues is an evolutionary legacy inherited from wolves, the dog’s closest wild relative and progenitor. If general social traits common to wild canids have simply been inherited by domestic dogs, then wolves also should do well on tasks involving social cues. However, when compared to wolves and wild foxes, domestic dogs (including puppies) make significantly more correct responses on choice paradigms where social cues serve as the discriminative stimuli (Hare & Tomasello, 2005; Hare et al., 2002). This is true even though the wolves tested had been socialized and raised by humans in their homes as pets. Thus it does not seem that domestic dogs simply inherited the predisposition to attend to social stimuli from wolves.

Research was also performed on foxes that were selectively bred over several generations for tameness but not raised in captivity.  Studies found that fox kits selectively bred for tameness performed just like domestic dog puppies on tests designed to test their abilities to correctly attend to and interpret human gestural cues.  So, according to Udell and Wynne:

These results suggest that during domestication, traits that were often selected by humans, such as lack of aggression and fearlessness towards people, may have carried with them other genetic traits that led to a heightened responsiveness to human social stimuli (Hare & Tomasello, 2005; Hare et al., 2002). It also is possible that by removing genetic tendencies towards aggression and fear towards humans, other pre-existing social behaviors were no longer blocked and thus could increase in frequency.

Yes!  Even though cats have been domesticated for 8,000 to 10,000 years they don’t pay attention to or respond to humans in the way that dogs do.  But then, we don’t have a history of training — or breeding — cats to hunt, track, herd or protect us.

Dogs co-evolved with humans.  Our species belong together.  The human world is the dog’s natural environment.  We humans are responsible for making them what they are through a long history of selective breeding and by our day to day interactions with them.  Deep within our evolutionary roots we understand them and they understand us, perhaps much more than any other pair of species on this earth.

What about dogs that “go bad”?  Are some breeds more prone to aggressiveness?  Is breed profiling any more accurate than human racial profiling?  Udell and Wynne note that:

So if there is a genetic component to some aspects of behavior that have a clear impact on human-dog interaction, what about bans targeting “bad dog” breeds such as pit bulls, or profiling based on genes in general? Can these be justified by maintaining the position that behavior is a product of genetic tendencies as well? Evidence suggests that the answer is no.


….. even in times where one breed may show proportionally higher levels of aggressive behavior, there is evidence that this is not solely due to an inherited “bad dog” gene. In fact, the type of owner, not the breed of the dog, is the best predictor for dog attacks (Gladwell, 2006; Siebert, 2004). In a quarter of fatal dog attacks, the owners previously had previously been arrested for illegal fighting, and many aggressive dogs are ones that have been abused, starved, or deprived of medical attention. In addition, some owners seek out breeds that have a reputation as “bad dogs” and then shape the aggressive behaviors that later seal their fate. According to Randall Lockwood, a senior vice-president of the ASPCA, “A fatal dog attack is not just a dog bite by a big or aggressive dog. It is usually a perfect storm of bad human-canine interactions—the wrong dog, the wrong background, the wrong history in the hands of the wrong person in the wrong environmental situation” (cited in Gladwell, 2006, p. 26).

Gladwell, Siebert and Lockwood all correctly place the blame in the right place.  On the shoulders of humankind.  These studies on the power of interspecies gestural cues demonstrates very strongly that our dogs quite literally look to us for guidance on how to navigate a world that becomes increasingly more difficult for them to live in.  When humans beings fail them through a lack of proper socialization, harsh treatment and neglect — sadly it is our dogs who pay the price.

The dog truly is our best friend.  Let’s remember to treat him like one.

May 29, 2008 at 9:02 pm Leave a comment

Telling Tails of Aggression

This week’s Misguided Science Award goes to researchers at the University of Victoria who used a robotic dog to study how long versus short or docked tails affect canine behavior. 

The study concluded that dogs approach a dog with a docked tail more cautiously than they do a dog with a ‘complete’ tail.  According to one researcher, this could make a dog with a docked tail more aggressive. 

Their findings were based on a series of observations regarding how dogs at a dog park approached the robotic dog when it was fitted with a long or short tail.  The robotic tail wagged on some trials and stood up stiff in others. 


First, I am absolutely flabbergasted that anyone would consider that dogs’ reactions to an obviously fake, robotic dog represent valid data on dog-dog behavior.  I am certain that even the most sheltered, apartment-dwelling city dogs innately understand the difference between real and robotic dogs.  And in most cases they’re not going to react the same way to a robotic dog that they will to a real one. 

Second, it does not appear that the group conducted an initial study of how dogs with long and short tails (remember, not all short tails are artificially docked) wag them in different situations.

I’ve spent a lot of time watching dogs interact with each other.  In my experience, short-tailed dogs don’t just wag their stubby little tails when they’re happy and excited.  They typically wiggle the whole rear half of their bodies. 

Tail-wagging doesn’t always indicate happiness or friendliness.  Generally speaking, it indicates arousal.  The soft, slow wag of a lowered tail can indicate calm interest.  The rapid, loose wagging of a tail held at mid level (combined with a butt wiggle in a short-tailed dog) may indicate excited, friendly anticipation.  Rapid, stiff, wagging of an erect tail generally indicates intent arousal – and may precede an aggressive response. 

So, when robo-dog wagged what was very likely a short, stiff, erect, electronic tail he may have been communicating a weird, artificial kind of aggressive intent.  I don’t find it the least bit strange that dogs avoided robo-dog or behaved in an antisocial manner toward him if that was the situation. 

When robo-dog wagged a long tail at mid-height (especially if that long tail was constructed in a way that allowed it to flex as it wagged) he communicated an odd but friendly demeanor.  I would expect confident, social dogs to approach a ‘thing’ that behaved that way to investigate it.

In neither case do I believe that the dogs studied mistook robo-dog for a real dog.

As you can probably guess based on what I’ve written here, I don’t for a minute believe that having a short or docked tail predisposes a dog toward behaving aggressively toward other dogs. 

I have a different theory.  Check out the video below for frightening footage of a short-tailed dog demonstrating some extremely aggressive behavior:

Did docking his tail make this Airedale wire-haired fox terrier violently aggressive – or was it an owner who forced the poor beast to listen to death metal music that sent him over the edge?

Studies have indicated that listening to classical music, panpipes and whale songs may have a calming effect on dogs.  Is it then a stretch to suggest that exposure to gangsta rap, death metal and the music of Richard Wagner could turn them to violence?

Are the vicious pibbles and rockwilders we hear so much about in the media innately hostile beasts – or have they been ruined because their owners exposed them to too much teevee violence and musical mayhem?

It’s food for thought…. 

March 24, 2008 at 9:48 pm 9 comments

Problem Dog

Argus, the passive-aggressive Pitbull.  OMG, he’s the freakin’ Woody Allen of the dog world.  Be afraid.  Be very, very afraid…..

(thanks to Coconutmonkey for this)

February 22, 2008 at 5:32 am 5 comments

BSL Rears its Ugly Head in MN

From an AKC Legislative Alert Wednesday, February 20, 2008:

Minnesota House File 3245, sponsored by Representative Dennis Ozment, seeks to lift the state’s current prohibition on breed-specific legislation. If passed and signed into law, the changes imposed by this bill would have a profound impact on all dog owners in Minnesota. It is imperative that all dog owners and breeders in Minnesota contact the members of the House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee to express their opposition to the bill as currently written.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) supports reasonable, enforceable, non-discriminatory laws to govern the ownership of dogs. We support laws that: establish a fair process by which specific dogs are identified as “dangerous” based on stated, measurable actions; impose appropriate penalties on irresponsible owners; and establish a well-defined method for dealing with dogs proven to be dangerous. The AKC strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be “dangerous” based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs. As currently worded, HF 3245 conflicts with AKC’s reasonable, non-discriminatory dangerous dog position. Specifically, it would:

* Establish a task force to study and recommend a uniform, statewide, mandatory system of dog owner and dog obedience education training according to commonly accepted standards and best practices for each breed or mixed breed of dog.

* Allow all statutory or home rule charter cities, or counties, to recommend to the task force specific breeds of dogs to be designated as dangerous or potentially dangerous based solely on the specific breed of dog.

For a copy of the bill, click here   WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:Contact the members of the Minnesota House Public Safety and Civil Justice Committee who will consider this bill. Let them know that, if passed as currently written, HF 3245 will result in unfair and discriminatory dangerous dog policy in Minnesota. For some EXCELLENT tips on how to write your letter please check out our friend Wallace the Pitbull’s website.  

Find out who your legislator is and how to contact him/her here:

We strongly suggest that you take the time to write a letter and send it via the mail rather than to send an email.  Many of these people receive hundreds of email posts a day and, frankly, email is a lot easier to ignore than a written letter is.

UPDATE:  The bill was returned to its author on March 3, 2008.  We’ll continue to monitor it’s status, but hope that it has gone to bed for good.

February 21, 2008 at 12:41 am 11 comments

The Threat is Real


And it isn’t from vicious, baby-killing pibbles….. 

Today Steve Salerno from published a wonderfully entertaining and insightful article about how our deeply flawed system of broadcast journalism habitually takes odd, random occurrences and uses them to manufacture epidemics designed to terrify the mindless hordes who still take what they see and read in the news at face value. 

In Mr. Salerno’s words, “by definition, journalism in its most basic form deals with what life is not.  By painting life in terms of its oddities, journalism yields not a snapshot of your world, but something closer to a photographic negative.” 

Instead of actually taking the time and effort to <gawd forbid> research a story, media pundits bent on achieving celebrity status at any cost manufacture stories using sound-bites, anecdotes, pointless opinion polls, twisted statistics and information culled from “experts” who are focused more on advancing personal agendas than in presenting accurate data. 

According to Salerno, “Nowhere are these foibles more noticeable — or more of a threat to journalistic integrity — than when they coalesce into a cause: so-called “advocacy” or “social” journalism. To begin with, there are legitimate questions about whether journalism should even have causes.  Worse, for our purposes, the data on which journalists premise their crusades are drawn from the same marginalia discussed above.  Just as journalists who run out of news may create it, journalists who run out of real causes may invent them. It’s not hard to do. All you need is a fact or two, which you then “contextualize” with more so-called expert opinion.” 

So what’s the panic du jour?  

Well, according to Jim Crosby at  a new record was set when 33 people were killed by dogs in 2007.  Most of the fatal attacks were made by unsupervised sexually intact dogs.  A record I’m sure some twit in the media will spin into “an epidemic” that animal rights advocates will use to try to put yet more limits on pet ownership. 

I think that Mr. Crosby is spot on when he says, “What I see these numbers indicating, based on my on-scene investigations, is that irresponsible owners tend not to spay and neuter, tend to chain their animals out for extended times with little or no socialization, and that Pits are currently popular with owners who maintain their animals with less wisdom and care than most of us. Once again, it’s the two-legged problem behind the four-legger that precipitates the problems.” 

Amen brother.   

And sad to say, instead of listening to voices of reason (how pointlessly boring would THAT be), the folks we’ve elected to serve us in cities, counties and states across the country are swallowing the twisted, self-serving media hype hook, line and stinker. 

According to my friend at, Aurora, Colorado enacted a breed ban in 2005 largely as a knee-jerk response to the reinstatement of the adjacent City of Denver’s breed ban. She goes on to say, ‘City Councilmember Bob Fitzgerald explained the need for a citywide pit bull ban thus: “We don’t want ‘those people’ here.” ‘ 

O-kay… Just who are ‘those people’ Bob Fitzgerald wants to keep out?  If he wants to limit the kinds of people who can live in Aurora, why can’t he leave innocent dogs out of the equation and pass a law limiting residency in the city to law-abiding heterosexual white people with above-average incomes who drive hybrid cars and drink merlot? 

Watch out for the coming storm.  The media will be digging their ugly little claws into these statistics soon, and dog owners across the country had better be ready to get mauled.

February 14, 2008 at 6:04 am 8 comments

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