start with pit bull advocate Anne-Marie Goldwater’s delirious
statement: “We use derogatory words to identify a certain subgroup of
dogs which does not form a ‘race.’ Like blacks, Latinos, Arabs... these
aren't races. Just like there is only one race, the race of human
beings, there is only one ‘race’ of dogs, it's called dog: canis lupus familiars.”(1)
so, Ms. Goldwater. The dog is in fact a domesticated subspecies of the
wolf, itself divided into more than 450 breeds or variants, easily
identified by their morphology (phenotype) and able to predictably
produce offspring true to type. No one has ever seen a couple of
registered pit bulls such as the american staffordshire terrier produce a litter of poodles.
in dogs, just like races in humans (2)(3), are an inescapable reality,
and this reality is not limited to appearances, but also concerns
Genes Versus Training
often say: “there are no bad dogs, but only bad masters.” Bill Bruce,
for example, the deceased author of the current canine municipal
regulations of the city of Calgary, was a staunch believer of the above
saying as the following quote demonstrates: “We believe that canine
aggression is essentially a human problem, and if we solve the problem
at its source, the canine problem will resolve by itself.” (4)
is in fact, the solution that was recently adopted by our present
liberal government: more surveillance and the obligation by dog owners
to keep their pets on a leash, but without a muzzle, in the case of pit
bulls. In other words, since breeds and behavior are a social construct,
it would be unjust to discriminate against one or another canine.
would it really be unjust? Of course not! As most honest breeders,
agronomists, and veterinarians can tell you, genes play an important
role in aggressiveness, even if the acquired or training aspect of
behaviour also matters. (5) All dogs are not born equal. The favorite
saying of the pro pit bull advocates,copy-pasted
from Jean Jacques Rousseau's preposterous theory of the noble savage,
“there are no bad dogs, but only bad masters,” is completely untrue.
Depending on the breed and purpose, breeders will select at birth or
shortly after, the most docile specimens of a litter for company, and
the more aggressive ones, for protection. The others are sold for
reproduction to a puppy mil or simply culled.
this mean that all pit bull dogs are dangerous? No. An undetermined
number is not (see below). But since there is presently no test for
effectively separating the wheat from the chaff, it would be safer to
banish them all together. These born killers have a very heavy genetic
past. They were made by mating extremely aggressive breeds that were
selected for thousands of generations for their gameness, strength,
overdeveloped predator instinct, high pain threshold, and impulsiveness.
These factors combined with the incredible power of their jaws cause
extremely serious injuries. Furthermore, pit bull attacks are by
definition unpredictable and incredibly violent.
most dangerous pit bulls are those that are trained to be aggressive by
mostly ill-reputed individuals, such as drug dealers or gang members or
even ordinary persons who like to scare or intimidate others. Although
law prohibits them, dogfights still occur and dogs are still bred for
this purpose. Only the most aggressive dogs are used while the other
less performing subjects are sold on the market where there is a high
demand for pit bulls. Others are sold to breeders, both black market and
legal, where they are reproduced cheap by the dozens without any
consideration for their behaviour traits as long as they are true to
type. Unsuspecting clients end up buying these Jekyll and Hyde's without
knowing where they come from. Many of these dogs are quite innocent
looking until the day they change without warning into the monsters they
In 1960, Louis Leaky sent a secretary
with no college education into the Africa bush to study chimpanzees.
Despite the objections of "experts" Leaky persevered. Leaky felt that
with little formal training would be more likely to describe what they
were seeing rather than what they thought they should be seeing.
I think everyone will agree that hiring Jane Goodall for the job was a brilliant move. Keep Jane Goodall in mind while you watch this video, The Trouble With Experts, then continue reading.
bull advocates make a lot of noise about their "experts" and tout the
perceived consensus among "experts" as proof that "pit bulls" are not
the problem, owners are. Here are four of the more impressively
PETER L. BORCHELT
cited BORCHELT in their anti-BSL position statement and BORCHELT was
called upon to provide his "expert" opinion in favor of pit bulls when a
NYC council member sought to ban them:
BORCHELT provided the above "expert" opinion about the safety of pit bulls AFTER he was sued for a million dollars
for providing his "expert" opinion to a retired fire fighter about the
safety of a pit bull that he was in possession of. The pit bull attacked
the retired fire fighter. Despite the fact that the pit bull had a
known documented history of previous aggression, BORCHELT assured the
retired fire fighter the pit bull was safe. During the civil trial,
BORCHELT testified under oath that the pit bull was not vicious. Yeah.
Just in case you missed the colored text above indicating an external
link, click here.
PETER BORCHELT is a member of an elite club known as Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists. According to the civil lawsuit article, he charges $300 an hour to fix your dog's problems. You can find his fee schedule here. BORCHELT'S gun for hire, er uh I mean "expert" witness page is conveniently malfunctioning.
Richard. All of that money and all those years spent studying to
acquire impressive degrees was no guarantee that he would be able to
demonstrate critical thinking skills. He still fell prey to the common
fallacy known as Proof of Assertion.
It is a documented fact that President Roosevelt's "pit bull" was a
dangerous menace. It is a documented fact that Edison did not own Nipper
and there is no documented proof that Thomas Edison ever owned any pit
quote is from a 2010 KOMO news interview. Compare that to HA'S blog
post in 2008, where HA cited research that stated red and golden cocker
spaniels were more likely to display aggressive behavior than black
cocker spaniels and that yellow labs were "significantly more
likely to be reported with aggression problems" than the black or
chocolate variants, yet JAMES HA promotes the crazy notion that dogs
artificially selected for violence only require a loving gentle family.
in the 2010 KOMO interview, DR HA stated that mastiffs, chows,
shepherds, rottweillers and dobermans are "all more genetically
aggressive than" dogs that had been artificially selected for combat for
200 years. HA goes on to add that genetics is roughly 20-30%
responsible for temperament. YET, at the roughly 4:00 minute mark of his
presentation on "Behavioral Genetics" DR HA stated that in studies of
selected dog breeds, none were gripping breeds btw, for defence
behaviors ie, guarding, attacking, biting there is a 14 - 20%
heritability rate "which in genetics world is important". He immediately
followed up with "there are different genetic predispositions in
different breeds." Towards the end of this 2011 youtube video, HA states that 30-50% of behavior is genetics. My head was spinning just trying to keep up with all his facts.
unspoken assumption among early behavior geneticists, an assumption
that was shared by most for many years, was that some psychological
traits were likely to be significantly influenced by genetic factors,
whereas others were likely to be primarily influenced by shared
environmental influences. Most behavior geneticists assumed that social
attitudes, for example, were influenced entirely by shared environmental
influences, and so social attitudes remained largely unstudied until
relatively recently. The evidence now shows how wrong these assumptions
were. Nearly every reliably measured psychological phenotype (normal and
abnormal) is significantly influenced by genetic factors.
Heritabilities also differ far less from trait to trait than anyone
initially imagined. Shared environmental influences are often, but not
always, of less importance than genetic factors, and often decrease to
near zero after adolescence. Genetic influence on psychological
traits is ubiquitous, and psychological researchers must incorporate
this fact into their research programs else their theories will be
‘‘scientifically unimpressive and technologically worthless,’’ to quote Meehl again. Genetic Influence on Human Psychological Traits
BORCHELT, IAN DUNBAR, RICHARD POLSKY and JAMES HA believe that purpose
bred dogs, artificially selected for violent combat for 200 years are
not genetically predisposed to violence. BORCHELT, DUNBAR, POLSKY and HA
believe it is equally wrong to think that nature plays second fiddle to
nurture in dogs. Unfortunately, they have been able to convince others
of their distorted beliefs too.
The costs of chronic and widespread psychopathic behavior are not some
nonjudgmental natural phenomena in which the fittest survive. North
America is not "nature red in tooth and claw," in which there is no
right or wrong in being predator or prey in some oddly natural order of
things. We control our social destiny as no animals and no other humans
in history have done. We are rational people choosing to deny our own
responsibility for personal and social well-being.
dislike anthropological comments, now pop social science, that compare
psychopaths to wolves and speak of some misinterpreted Darwinian
survival of the fittest. Such academic wags are engaging in what seems
to be the opposite of anthropomorphism. It is tempting to say that our
masses have somehow become baitfish for the psychopathic shark, or sheep
for the antisocial wolf, but this is not quite the case. In modern
society, human predators are not acting out of some instinct, and their
prey are not genetically predestined to become part of a figurative food
chain. To say that most human predators are acting animalistically, out
of some natural but hypertrophied survival or territorial imperative,
is to give them more credit than they are due, and to deny them the
responsibility that we are entitled to demand for their actions.
agree that we can see remnants of our phylogeny in our brains and
behaviors, but it is a mistake to search there for answers to behavioral
questions. Sadistic, amoral, or intraspecies violence (not related to
mating contests or, in a few species, competition for food) is not often
found in nature. It has little evolutionary value. Thus predatory
sexual violence, for example, cannot be correctly termed "animalistic,"
since no "animals" engage in it. Preying upon the elderly or disabled of
one's own species, a hallmark of psychopathic opportunism, has almost
no parallel in mammalian nature. Human psychopathy involves human
experience and human choice.
If the human predators,
psychopaths and others, are not to be seen as "animals," should they be
seen as "only human," part of the "human condition"? And should they be
treated according to the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have
them do unto you"? Should our lofty principles and sense of ethics cause
us to treat them with understanding and forgiveness alone? Of course
OUR SENSE OF FAIRNESS IS KILLING US
of the biggest obstacles to finding answers to chronic antisocial
behavior and violent crime, and at the same time one of the least
appreciated, is our sense of fairness.
citizens are heavily invested in the premise that all people value the
tenets of our Constitution. Many go further, and believe that a very
liberal interpretation of the Constitution is important to protecting
our republic and its representative democracy.
criminals and psychopaths do not value the same rules and tenets, except
for themselves. Instead, they use them against us. Thus they take from us
in a very serious way–by turning our deep convictions (and guilts about
going against those convictions) to their own ends. We hobble
ourselves, but not the crooks, with our rules. In this, one of the most
dangerous games, the playing field is wildly tilted in favor of the
But isn't our sense of fairness in the face
of adversity a mark of our civilization? Isn't this what separates us
from the animals, and even from the very criminals we seek to control?
Don't we need that sense of fairness to keep out society intact?
First, life is full of situations in which we need to do something
distasteful, try to do it within our rules of law and ethics, and
somehow accomplish the goal. Most of us agree that we need to slaughter
animals from time to time. We do it as humanely as possible, but we get
it done. And we do it in such a way that our needs for food, safety,
efficiency, and profit are met. We also agree that some public health
needs are important enough to require suspension of some rights of
people who have not been convicted of any crime; this suspension is
sometimes based merely on the possibility that they may become ill and
represent a danger to others. We require that certain people with
infections be reported, treated, and in some cases prevented from
infecting others (via quarantine or even incarceration).
we shrink from controlling the criminal or probably criminal, even when
the danger is far more obvious. We are so bound by the tenets of
fairness and basic equality upon which we have founded systems of
Western law (and some, but not all, Western religion) that we
steadfastly prevent ourselves from seeing some exceptions to those
tenets. We recognize that there are exceptions–for children and a few
other groups–but we fail to apply them to psychopaths and other
chronically predatory people until the damage has been done.
Firm Action Need Not Threaten Our Democracy or Our Ethics
wrestle endlessly with the question of who is the greater danger: those
who would openly subvert society and overthrow it, or those who we fear
would weaken it by suspending our rights, one by one in the name of
protecting us from some internal threat. While we have been interminably
discussing this weighty issue, the psychopaths, who don't trouble
themselves with contemplation, have been gaining ground. It is not just a
question of finding a solution that protects us from violence while
guarding against the possibility that we will throw the Constitution out
with the crooks. Our philosophical struggle with the issues has become
truly obsessive. We are frustrated, but complacent. Reformers disagree,
obstruct each other's actions, and accomplish virtually nothing in the
way of real solutions. If this were an invasion, with clouds of war
gathering on the horizon, would we be so complacent?
is no "if". To fail to act is to make our world even smaller–to give up
our streets, parks, stores, and schools to predators who neither
believe in nor adhere to the rules we hold dear for ourselves. To fail
to act is to continue to limit our freedoms at the hands of those who
laugh at our naiveté. To fail to act may be to lose our democracy.
"They" Are Different from "Us"
have no wish to dehumanize people when I say that those who purposely
endanger others in our streets, parks, and schools, even our homes, are
qualitatively different from us; the enemy is at our door. Most of our
energy must be diverted to immediate defense, not merely to studying his
motivations. There is no (reasonable) ethic which requires that we
treat him as we treat other adults; indeed, to do so is foolish. If we
treat him as if he were like us, we will continue to fail, and he will continue to take from us.
May 20, 1989, a 7 year old boy was raped, stabbed, sexually
mutilated and left for dead in a park in Tacoma, Washington. The next
day, police arrested Earl Kenneth Shriner, a violent sex offender who was
well known to the authorities for violent sex crimes dating back 24 years.
was so unusual about this particular crime and this predator that they
earned a mention on this blog? Shriner openly talked about his deranged
fantasies of rape and torture. The authorities were well aware of the
extreme danger Shriner posed to the community and they were frustrated
that there was nothing they could do about it.
surprisingly, when those details were made public in the days after
Shriner's arrest, there was massive public outrage. This outrage was
channeled into a victim advocacy group. They called themselves The Tennis Shoe Brigade and they demanded that lawmakers pass laws making communities safer. And they got it.
In 1990, Washington State legislators unanimously
passed the first sexual predator law that allowed the state to lock
someone up indefinitely in an effort to protect the community from
future crimes they MIGHT commit.
Over the next
25 years, nineteen states passed similar laws and of course legal
challenges claiming the laws were unconstitutional were close behind.
Funny, each time the laws were challenged, the courts upheld the
right of the state to protect the community from violent predators.
tragic story of the 7 year old Tacoma boy and Earl Shriner seems out of
place here, yet there is a ring of eerie familiarity.
a day goes by where I do not read or hear about situations where
people complain to the authorities about loose and menacing dogs but the
response from law enforcement and animal control is "Sorry, we can't do
anything until after the dog bites." And of course, everyone's
favorite, "Sorry but we have to witness the violation."
It is hard to imagine an incident
more horrific or more preventable than the brutality Earl Shriner
inflicted on that 7 year old Tacoma boy in 1989. Yet an even more egregious
example of the unnecessarily tragic limitations of our laws has been
playing out in Dayton, Ohio since February 7, 2014. Enter the story of
For the last couple of years Klonda
Richey did not feel safe on her own property. The complaints she made to her
violent felon neighbor ANDREW NASON about his vicious dogs were not only
ignored by NASON but also ignored by the Montgomery County Dog Warden
when the violations were not witnessed by ACOs. Klonda's paper trail of
well documented complaints seemed to only escalate
the tension between her and NASON and his vicious killer dogs. Threats and
intimidation by NASON were captured on video surveillance. The police
advised Klonda to seek a protection order and the magistrate, for
whatever insane or political reason, denied her request. As a result,
Dayton now has a dead
woman it needs to explain.
The $64,000 questions is: Why do dangerous dogs have more rights than dangerous humans?
we as a society can lock human beings up indefinitely to prevent future
crimes they might commit, why on earth can't we take similar actions
against dangerous DOGS? Why are dogs afforded this ridiculously excessive burden of proof?
murder of Klonda Richey should be a wake up call. I hope the good people of
Ohio can channel their outrage into something as productive as The Tennis
Shoe Brigade and just maybe, we will see the rest of the states start to fall like dominoes.
“Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger.” – Dr. Francis Collins, former director of the National Human Genome Project and current director of the National Institutes of Health
The term was invented by the pro-pit bull lobby, for the sole purpose of using both “real discrimination” and our love for dogs to get you to feel sorry their Pit Bulls. Their purpose is designed to combat people nationwide who are screaming for legislation in regards to Pit Bulls.
The dog “species” as a whole have killed 42 Americans in 2014. Pit Bulls and their mixes have killed at least 31 of those 42. It is important to note that breed was not identified in three fatalities. Frequent human kills by dogs is a breed specific problem, and therefore “Canine Discrimination is not a bad thing. It is necessary. Pit Bulls and their mixes are responsible for 100% of all human deaths (so far) this year by canines.
There are over 400 different recognized breeds of dogs in the world. How is it, only one breed can be responsible for over 90% of all deaths caused by dogs?
Lets take a look at the word discrimination. Webster’s three definitions:
1) the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people
2) the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not
3) the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing
We can throw out the first one because it refers to the legal definition of discrimination, which pertains to PEOPLE. The Constitution protects people from unjust discrimination. There is no national legal wording that protects dogs or cats from unjust discrimination by breed, and there should never be! So we throw the legal definition out, which, I would like to point out is the definition that the pro-pit bull lobby wants you to think of when they sell their rotten and selfish bill of goods.
What does that leave us?
The ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not and the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing.
Let’s now talk about the “dog” as a species. They all derived from the wolf if you go back in time far enough, but at some point, some of them became domesticated. Not for pets, but mostly for work. Mankind discovered the dogs are excellent helpers when it comes to work. Not all jobs were the same, and not all dogs had the same desires or abilities.
What did mankind do? We began to meddle with the dog species. Through discriminatory, artificial selection through controlled breeding, mankind created many different breeds of the dog species. It took hundreds of years to do. Each breed had a purpose, and they were inherently good at what they were bred for, thanks to the discriminatory breeding practices of humans.
An example of discriminatory selection for breeding---The breeders end goal in this example is to create a breed that was sleek and fast, so he would not be mating big, thick boned dogs. He would instead select longer boned dogs to breed with each other, so they would create the sleek and long boned puppies. In turn, he would grow the pups until they were old enough to breed themselves, and select and use only the ones that helped him reach his end game. He would purposely select against, discriminate against, a thick and muscled breed of dog or pup in this breeding cycle. He also would not select a dog with short and stubby legs, so that stubby dog would also be discriminated against in the selection of the the dogs that were allowed to mate with each other, when his end game was to create a racing greyhound.
The dogs became naturals at what they were discriminately bred to do. With some training, they were given the opportunity to hone their natural abilities and become even better at what they were bred to do. The breeds each developed instincts.
Puppies, almost fresh and wet from the womb have shown their instinctual abilities from a very young age, before any training had taken place. Their instincts were inherent, much like it is an instinct for a rattle snake to curl up and bite you, or the instincts of an eagle to hunt for it’s food. Young Pointer puppies will begin pointing. Young Beagle puppies will put their noses to the ground sniffing away at things as soon as they are able. It is natural for them.
The breeders did a really good job in their discrimination, in the process of their selection of dogs to mate with one another, to make all these breeds. It took hundreds of years for them to work and breed their way through the species of dog to get these final products (breeds), and now, suddenly, Pit Bull owners in 2015 wants us all to ignore these historical facts?
They toss out the words “breed discrimination” as if it were some sort of a crime? They demand we do not discriminate against pit bulls and they demand we treat them the same as we would treat any Cocker Spaniel, or Pug, or Labrador Retriever, despite the fact it was discrimination that created ALL of the different breeds.
Some breeds are really good at hunting, or pointing at birds, and some dogs were really adept at mountain rescue work. Some breeds are really good at being lap dogs, or chasing a fox, or scaring a raccoon up a tree, and lastly, some dogs were really good at fighting, gripping, and killing. Pit Bulls were hand selected to fight, in other words, man discriminated in favor of the Pit Bull's violent and savage traits.
To breed Pit Bulls, they crossed bulldogs with terriers. They used bulldogs for their strength and grip, and terriers for their tenacity, smarts and smaller size, and their hold and shake attack style.
This is what Pit Bulls were bred for. Dog fighting. All too often they use their animal aggression against humans, but now the owners of Pit Bulls want us to ignore the differences between Pit Bulls and Pugs, despite the fact that it took breeders hundreds of years to purposely create these differences.
The differences of the breeds of dogs are what makes the dog unique. Ignoring the Pit Bull's desire and ability, and instincts to grip onto another warm blooded animal, and hold and shake until there is blood and death, is about as stupid as ignoring a Greyhound's speed by putting a Pug or a Beagle on a Greyhound track to race against other Greyhounds.
Avoiding this dog may save your life.
Your life, and the lives of your children may one day depend on your ability to recognize a Pit Bull from a block away.
Creating special regulations or laws for pit bulls may save your life. Laws we simply do not need to create for every breed of the canine species. A law created to protect us from Pit Bulls, would be of no use to enforce onto Pugs and Chihuahuas.
Do all dogs bite? Yes, and Pit Bull owners are always quick to point out how nasty Dachshunds can be....but let me know when you see a Dachshunds lift a 12 year old boy off the ground and shake the child until he is dead.
Lets stop with this “breed discrimination talk”, like there is something wrong with it. It is perfectly, moral, legal and ethical to discriminate against a breed of dog.
It strikes me as awfully funny that owners of Greyhounds never complain when we recognize the speed of their dogs.
Come to think of it, the owners of hounds are pretty damn proud when we recognize how great they are at tracking.
"Finding a drug odor is called an alert. Most dogs alert by scratching but true to his pit bull nature, Popsicle prefers to indicate narcotic odors by biting or chewing at the location of the smell. If Rudy weren't quick to intervene, Popsicle could rip the source of the suspicious scent to shreds."
Myth 39: The serious to fatal damage the aggressive breeds inflict when they attack isn’t due to their genes, but rather due to having the wrong kind of owners.
We’ve seen that the killing bite and unpredictable, uncontrolled aggression are genetically anchored in these dogs, and that they can’t be taught not to execute killing behaviour. They inevitably reach a certain age when they start to do it, looking for opportunities and excuses to do what we have bred them to do (see Myth 38). If you’re lucky, the first attack will be on your cat or another dog, and not on your child. This killing behaviour is not caused by the owner in individual cases; it’s just part of what the dog is. However, the killing behaviour is caused by certain people’s consumer behaviour. By buying these dogs, these people are responsible for making it economically profitable to breed for the killing bite and the hair trigger. Are these people all “the wrong kind of owners”?
The answer to this question lies in the kind of person who wants a dog with the killing bite in the first place. So who are they?
Well, in fact, they are the wrong kind of owners. Take a look around you. It’s mostly a group of people who – for some reason related to their personal psychology – specifically want a dog whose breed standard explicitly states that the breed has been selected for extreme aggression. Often these are people with an inferiority complex of some kind. They want something that will finally enable them to intimidate other people. They have an ego problem, and need to prove something to the world. Many are men who are (perhaps unconsciously) worried about their masculinity, that maybe the world won’t see it. Others are adolescents who watch too much MTV and learn that an aggressive dog is an essential consumer item, just like the Nikes, if he wants to keep up his macho hip-hop or skater’s image. Sometimes they are naïve people, who think all dogs are cuddly plush toys. None of these people have any idea of behavioural conformation (see Myth 38), of the unity of mind and body Nature gives to all creatures, and they are all, in their own way, consumed by vanity.
Experience (of which this author has a lot, alas) teaches that the owners of aggressive breeds can be divided broadly into three categories.
1) We all know there are people who try to conceal their inner feelings of inadequacy by acting extra tough outwardly. Many of them nowadays go buy a “tough” dog. These people, who are struggling with an inferiority complex or an ego problem, then try to force their pit bull/Am Staff (or Presa, or Dogo, etc.) on you because they feel the world owes them recognition. Many of us have experienced this. You try to avoid these people (and their dog) on the street or in a park, but they follow you, determined to inflict the dog upon you. (After all, what’s the use of having this proof of Manliness around if no one will look at it?) They cross the street to follow you so you can’t avoid a confrontation. Their dog runs up to yours in a park, and they refuse to call it when you ask them to. Usually, the dog wouldn’t obey anyway, and they don’t want this embarrassing fact revealed to you. But above all, they enjoy your worry about what their aggressive dog will do. They shout at you to stop acting so weird about their dog. They get angry, and they often get verbally aggressive. It is of extreme importance to these people to force their dog on you, because their need is so great to show the world they know better than everyone else. The dog is the way they can seek arguments and win for a change, since they never succeed in doing this on their own strength. When their dog does attack another dog and try to kill him, they are dumbfounded, because they really are too stupid to understand what these dogs are all about. Their cowardice surfaces – they don’t dare interfere with their attacking dog, and once it’s over, they disappear as quick as they can. Often you never see them in the park again, which is great, except for the fact that someone’s normal, peace seeking dog had to pay with his life first. But some of them don’t disappear for good. Some of them actually enjoy watching their dog’s aggression, and just make sure they’re gone before the police arrive. Tomorrow they’re back again, and blaming you for having called the police. There have been cases in which the owner of the attacked dog was terrorized as punishment for reporting the attack to the police, to the extent that the owner of the horribly wounded dog had to move to a different neighbourhood. Finally, many of the people in this category of aggressive dog lovers enter their dogs in illegal pit fights, a phenomenon which has resurfaced in many of our cities since these dogs became so widespread. Some of these specifically go to places where other dogs come, in the hope that if their aggressive-breed dog practices on your cocker spaniel, he’ll do better in the pit.
2) These are young adolescent male humans, who have reached the brink of adulthood but aren’t there yet. The adolescent male is searching for his identity and trying to get himself a satisfying spot in his peer group. The adolescent doesn’t always have bad intentions, but his brain isn’t ripe yet, and he isn’t yet capable of understanding the consequences of his actions (which is also the reason he has to pay so much more for car insurance than the rest of us). He sees the macho rapper on television, accompanied by the aggressive dog, and he wants one, too. After he’s finished saving up for Nikes, he saves up for a dog. He has no idea what he’s bought once he has the dog, thinking it’s just another consumer item. To him the dog isn’t any different than his other fashion accessories, to him the dog is a thing that will – just like his Portable Play Station – turn on and off if you press the button. The adolescent is, by virtue of his age, a bit rebellious. He is exploring various boundaries, sometimes pushing the envelope in his search for an identity. He just loves to show adults that he won’t do what they ask him to do, but that he makes his own decisions. Of course he won’t leash his dog just because some grown-up makes the request, are you kidding, what a loss of face! He isn’t prepared for it when his dog attacks a person or another dog, and he doesn’t know what to do. His toy is suddenly acting up. So he does nothing, offers no help, doesn’t dare interfere with his dog, and most probably just gets the hell out of Dodge as quick as his little adolescent legs will carry him. Adolescence is an age of natural egotism, and a time when even sympathetic boys often lose their ability to empathize with others for a while. So this kid isn’t capable of imagining the suffering the attacked dog goes through, nor the grief of the dog’s owner. He’s just glad his parents didn’t find out about what happened, otherwise they might take his dog away. “Tomorrow’s another day, hey, don’t be so serious about life, and besides, what could I do about it? The dog did it, not me.”
3) These are the Egotistical Innocents. They are members of animal protection clubs and humane societies. They read lots of sentimental stories about animals, and they watch lots of programs on Discovery Channel. They believe that all animals are sweet-natured cuddly toys. These people’s egocentricity is different from the adolescent’s. These people think they are the measure of all things, and they therefore believe that if a dog is nice to them, well, it means he’s nice, period. How the dog behaves towards others isn’t so important. The Egotistical Innocent lives in a fairy tale, failing to see that a dog is a living being with a will and personality of his own, and that the dog hasn’t been informed of the fairy tale. The Innocent is reinforced in the fairy tale by breeders who agree that the stories about these dogs are all lies, after all, look how sweet he is to the prospective buyer. The Innocent doesn’t understand what “fierce protector of home and hearth, averse to strangers” means, doesn’t know a secret language has been developed since these breeds started causing so much tragedy. She likes the idea of proving to all the world that even these dogs fit her fairy tale, and that they are the poor victims of vicious anti-animal propaganda. The Egotistical Innocent is delighted with her puppy and sees him as a sort of four-legged human baby. She doesn’t see that the pup is playing in an abnormally aggressive way at the age of eight weeks already. She is dumbfounded on the day when her “puppy,” who meantime is actually a young dog, suddenly, out of the blue (because the warning phase has been bred out of these dogs), launches an unbridled attack on another dog and seriously wounds or kills the other dog. She is stricken and disillusioned – not only about the suffering of the attacked dog, but also because her fairy tale has caved in. But not to worry. It only takes her a few days to restore her view of the world. She decides her dog is as sweet as she’d thought after all. After thinking awhile, she realizes the whole thing was the other dog’s fault. After all, the other dog growled at her sweetie, so what else could her sweetie do but defend himself? Sometimes the Egotistical Innocent will cry out that German shepherds bite too, or that even a dachshund can be dangerous under the right circumstances. Unfortunately, there is always a way for people who don’t want to face realities. The great tragedy is that the Egotistical Innocent’s dog will harm or kill many other dogs, because she continues to take him to dog parks, in the belief that it’s up to the other dogs to make sure they don’t get killed.
Fact: This Myth is true in the sense that these dogs always have the wrong owners, people who shouldn’t have a dog in the first place. However, this Myth is false because it’s the genetics of the dog that make him a killer, regardless of what kind of owner he has. In other words, these dogs aren’t killers because they have the wrong owners, rather they attract the wrong owners because they are killers.
Brown, S-E, The human-animal bond and self-psychology: Toward a new understanding, Society & Animals, electronic version, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2003.
Burrows, TJ, Fielding, WJ, Views of college students on pit bull “ownership”: New Providend, The Bahamas, Society & Animals, Vol. 13, No. 2, 139-152, 2005.
Frommer, SS, Arluke, A, Loving them to death: blame-displacing strategies of animal shelter workers and surrenderers, Society & Animals, Volume 7, Number 1, 1999.
Peremans, K, Functional brain imaging of the dog; single photon emission tomography as a research and clinical tool for the investigation of canine brain physiology and pathophysiology, Universiteit Gent, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Gent, 2002. http://www.uznuclear.ugent.be/research/phd_dissertations/Functional_Brain_LowRes.pdf
Oral history collected from dog owners in The Hague, 1994-2009.