Thursday, March 19, 2009

Proof that Racism is at the heart of Breed Discrimination

Donald Butler, a member of the Public Safety Committee for Horicon, Wisconsin, believes that Horicon should ban Pit Bulls. His rationale for wanting Pit Bulls out of Horicon is simple, if shockingly discriminatory.

"Horicon is not a ghetto. This is one breed of dogs we do not need."

Many educated dog advocates, attorneys, and scholars have stated that breed discrimination is often a guise for classism. Never before, however, has a public official come right out and admitted such a thing!

We applaud Donald Butler for his bravery. It takes guts to admit that the sole motivation for wanting to get rid of Pit Bulls is because one believes that only "ghetto" people own Pit Bulls. Is it possible that Mr. Butler believes that, by banning Pit Bulls, all the people with darker skin will leave Horicon with their beloved Pit Bulls?

Mr. Butler, despite his bravery, made quite the ass of himself for such assumptions. Even if true, he has shown himself to be a racist, pure and simple. However, Mr. Butler's belief that Pit Bulls are "ghetto" is, of course, erroneous. People like Helen Keller, Michael J. Fox, and John Stewart own Pit Bulls.

The author of this blog happens to hold three degrees and has authored several serious works, including a law review article, a scientific journal article, and a nonfiction book.

Well, if Pit Bulls are "ghetto," then Pit Bulls sure have improved the "ghetto!"

Author D. Capp holds an M.S. in medical science (biochemistry and genetics), a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a law degree.

Portis - penitent and perlexed

Clinton Portis recently expressed regret that he'd made comments trivializing dog fighting.In a May 21 interview with WAVY-TV in Norfolk, Portis said of accused dog fighter Michael Vick, "It's his property; it's his dogs. If that's what he wants to do, do it."

After a firestorm of public criticism, Portis backtracked, stating, " "I didn't know it would affect that many people, didn't think what I said was that offensive....I've never been into dogs, never dealt with dogs, don't like playing with dogs. But at the same time, there's a lot of people who are crazy over pets."

It seems Portis just doesn't know how to spin very well. What he's made clear by his latest comments is that he doesn't find dog fighting offensive, but he's sorry he opened his mouth because there are a lot of crazy pet lovers out there who found his comments offensive and said so. Portis has revealed the lesson he's learned from all this.

"From now on, I don't comment on nobody."

You're a stand-up guy, Portis. Just please stand far, far away from me

Author D. Capp holds an M.S. in medical science (biochemistry and genetics), a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a law degree.

The Government as Micromanager

Imagine you wake up in the morning, shuffle into the bathroom, turn on your faucet and eye the digital counter on the faucet that regulates your water use. You brush your teeth quickly, staying within your allotted water usage for that activity, then hop into the shower, which is timed to provide exactly four minutes of moderately warm water. You get out, quickly dry off and dress, then head out into the living room where you wake your 39-pound dog (dogs 40 pounds or over have been banned) and put some food in his bowl, which he eagerly devours. You open the backdoor and venture outside with your pooch, waiting for him to do his business. It's cold, and you're impatient, and you roll your eyes as he moves from place to place, sniffing. A slight drizzle begins, and you cross your arms for warmth. When your four-legged friend finally does his business, you pick it up promptly with the pooper scooper, then deposit it in an environmentally-friendly and sealed, county-approved bin for animal waste, then you let your dog back inside and follow him in, closing the door behind you. You eye the living room and hope it looks the same way when you return, since it's illegal to keep your dog in a crate, on a tether, in a kennel, or alone in the backyard.

With a sigh, you grab your wallet, biodegradable cell phone, and keys. You hop into your compact, fuel efficient vehicle and drive to your work three miles away (the sale of SUVs and vans were banned long ago, and only those who use a wheelchair or have two or more children may apply for an exemption. Also, since the law now places a $3,000 tax penalty on anyone who commutes to work more than five miles each way, you had to accept a less-than-ideal job closer to home). You stop for coffee on the way, but you're only able to get decaf (caffeine was banned years ago), and as you view the selection of fruit and vegetables that comprise the breakfast offerings behind the counter, you find yourself missing the occasional bagel or muffin. With a sigh, you pick up your drink and make your way to the building. You've made sure you aren't wearing any cologne or perfume, because those are prohibited since some people have chemical sensitivities, and as you get out of your car, you quickly sniff your armpits (since deodorant is banned, too, and you didn't have time toput a whole lot of time into that area earlier in the shower). On your way to your office, you stop in the breakroom and add some hot water to your coffee. The only vending machine offers unsweetened juice, low fat milk, or unsalted nuts and dried fruit for sale. You put in a hard day at the office and, on your way home, you stop at a drive-through and order a bottle of water (soda is a thing of the past), a grilled, trans-fat free chicken sandwich on whole grainbread (white flour was banned a year ago), and a side of apple slices, which you plan to feed to the 39-pound dog. You have to be careful with what you feed him because, if he gains a pound, you'll have to euthanize him.

If that reality seems far-fetched, it isn't. Legislators in America are quickly becoming micromanagers of our lives, and while some ofthe above regulations might seem like a good idea, others clearlyfall into the area of unwarranted intrusions into personal lives.

Let's rewind to today. A cluster of new California laws are set totake effect July 1. These new laws include a ban on junk food and soda in schools, recycling programs for plastic bags, and increased fees for bottles and cans that are recyclable.

The ban on junk food arose from Senate Bill 12, passed in 2005, and details the type and number of calories food items must contain in order to be sold. It also specifies how foods must be prepared (or how they must NOT be prepared). Senate Bill 965, passed the same year, limits the type of drinks schools may sell to the following:

1) fruit-based drinks that are composed of no less than 50 percent fruit juice and have no added sweetener,

2) Vegetable-based drinks that are composed of no less than 50 percent vegetable juice and have no added sweetener.

3) Drinking water with no added sweetener.

4) Two-percent-fat milk, one-percent-fat milk, nonfat milk, soy milk,rice milk, and other similar nondairy milk.

This year, Assemblymember Sally Lieber proposed a law that would make it illegal for parents to spank their children. Another law will prohibit drivers from talking on their cell phones without using ahands-free device. Yet another pending law would require all dogs in the state to be sterilized by the age of four months. Still another law makes it a crime to leave a dog tethered in the yard for more than three hours, even if the owner is present with the dog (say,working in the front yard on the car with the dog on a long line) or camping with the dog. It doesn't stop there, another proposed law would regulate what type of lightbulbs we use.
These laws slowly chip away at the personal freedoms upon which this country was founded. Every year, more laws add to the ones already in existence, managing what we can wear, drive, and eat. Many places already limit (or are proposing to limit) the type and number of pets you can own, how high your fence should be, what size or breed of dog you can own, whether you can leave your car parked on the street overnight, sleep in a parked vehicle, or even wear baggy pants. Personal choice is on the verge of being obsolete, because the government has decided it knows what is best for us and our children,and like a good little proactive parent, the government is involved in every facet of our lives.

It will soon become time to change our nation's motto. America was once the Land of the Free. Now, it is the Land of the Over-regulated.

Author D. Capp holds an M.S. in medical science (biochemistry and genetics), a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a law degree.

Media Bias: 'The BLACK defendant' syndrome

Is the media truly objective and unbiased? How media agencies report stories show their prejudices (and, no, we are not talking about FOX News!)

Let's take this example --Pittsburgh Live! In this story, published May 12, 2007, about a dog attacking another dog, the headline reads: Pit bull attacks dog in Brackenridge (

In the following story, dated July 25, 2008, the headline reads: Dog attack in Erie County kills toddler (

At no time, in the second story, does the paper mention the breed of the dog. Other papers describe the dog (and include photos) as an Old English Sheepdog.

In April of 2005, News 10 of Sacramento reported a story where a Queensland Heeler and Pit Bull attacked another dog. ( The headline only referred to the PIT BULL. In response to this obvious bias in the reporting of the story, we sent the following email to News 10:

"Regarding this tragic story, we are almost as saddened by the bias displayed in the headline as we are by the horrible event itself. Why, if a Queensland Heeler AND a Pit Bull both attacked and killed the dogs was only the PIT BULL mentioned in the headline? That is akin to telling a news story about a white man and black man who rob a store together but having the headline read: Black man robs store."

To News 10's credit, they recognized the bias in the headline and responded as follows (in an internal email copied to us):

"The reader has a point. How about we change it to something like: Roseville Woman Mourns Pets Killed in Dog Attack?"

They subsequently changed the headline.

People who report the news are as subject to bias as the rest of society, but as the watchdogs of society, it is crucial that news professionals make a concerted effort to recognize their prejudices and report the news in as objective a fashion as possible. Bias in the media harms society by causing people to perceive issues in a certain way that may not represent reality, and these perceptions often find their way into laws that affect millions of people...and animals.

Author D. Capp holds an M.S. in medical science (biochemistry and genetics), a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a law degree.

Guest Blog: Who cares about THOSE dogs? by Jackie Marshall

For a year and a half, I have been dreading the inevitable: the criminalization of dog ownership.

At first, I approached the members of my German shepherd training club and asked them to support my pit bull friends by opposing SB 861. They would have no part of it. "It's just THOSE dogs; it'll never happen to our breed." No matter what I wrote or said, such as "I guarantee that our dogs are next," nobody would support me in my anti-BSL campaigning because nobody would bother with a bill that didn't affect them personally.

Then, all of a sudden, the powers that be wanted to criminalize dog breeding in Sacramento County (with Sac City close behind), but this time it isn't breed specific; it's dogs of any breed. I spent quite a bit of time opposing that, too, but I couldn't get any of my German shepherd buddies to support those efforts either. This time they said, "That law will never pass." And of course it's no surprise that it did. None of the dog people at those meetings would support each other; they just bickered in a "Well, why would I support poodle/spaniel/mutt breeders? Those dogs are useless anyway." In other words, who cares about THOSE dogs, and who cares about the people who love them?

So now California wants mandatory spay and neuter laws statewide, which everybody says will never pass. It does not make exception for ranch dogs, unless they are registered AKC, which pretty much guarantees that they won't work. All the people who swear by mutts will be out of luck forever. Breeders will have to pay fees. Breeders will have to get permits. Dogs will have to have paperwork about their shots, breeding, and residence addresses formally registered with the State. All of a sudden, again, no surprise, the German shepherd people are up in arms! Please, everyone, take action! They are going to make laws about breeding OUR dogs! Please help immediately! Fight this new bill!

But I for one do not care to participate any more. I have no sympathy for dog owners who don't care a damn about other dog owners. Maybe the "Nazi" in German shepherd lineage has finally kicked in...well sure, make those dogs illegal, they are just show dogs or family pet mutts! Uh huh. Not the important kinds of dogs: OURS.

The ranchers with long lines of working dogs find them important, and so do people like me who have had a blessed experience with a mutt, and all the people who swear that their best dogs have been of indecipherable lineage and they'll always adopt mutts from the shelter. It's my opinion that MY dogs are important, as they are police K9 candidates (which may not matter to you if you're a criminal). But it sure as heck is also my opinion that the State shouldn't be determining what kinds of dogs THEY will let US find important. Who cares? It won't be happening to MY dogs, because everybody wants my dogs. In fact, it just drives my puppy prices up, as they will be in demand when only Germans can breed them.

So the rest of the GSD people are out of luck, as far as finding support here. They let too many pit bulls go under the needle, so I no longer care about their rights to hobby breed. As far as I'm concerned, they're on their own, like pit bull people have been for a long time. And I've learned a valuable lesson in modern self-centeredness.

Author: Jackie Marshall

Saturday, March 14, 2009

When Public Officials Go Bad

Kory Nelson has declared War on Pit Bulls. He's Senior Assistant City Attorney for the City and County of Denver, Colorado, and he has made it his personal mission to eradicate Pit Bulls from the United States, even going to far as to call up Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco to give him unsolicited tips on how to exterminate this breed of dog.

Nelson even wrote an article for Municipal Lawyer titled, "Why Pit Bulls Are More Dangerous and Breed Specific Legislation is Justified." He is a man with a passion for killing Pit Bulls. In 2002, Denver euthanized 338 Pit Bulls.

A study reported in a 1994 Pediatrics article titled, "Which Dogs Bite? A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors" sought to determine dog-specific factors independently associated with a dog biting a non-household member. Cases were selected from dogs reported to Denver Animal Control in 1991 for a first-bite episode of a non-household member in which the victim received medical treatment.

The study found that children aged 12 and under comprised over half of the victims. The breed of dog responsible for the most bites -- the German Shepherd Dog.

Kory Nelson's article advocating the mass killing of dogs contains a small biographical blurb about the man who has made exterminating a breed he considers dangerous his personal mission in life. That blurb contains one very interesting piece of information.

Kory Nelson owns a German Shepherd.

Since German Shepherds were responsible for the most dog bites resulting in medical attention in the aforementioned study, we suggest Denver ban German Shepherds next. Of course, after German Shepherds, Denver will have to ban Chow Chows because they were second on the list of biting dogs (then Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and Akitas).

German Shepherds, often bred for protection work, have frequently made the news for attacks. An 8 year-old Chicago boy was attacked by a neighbor's two German Shepherds on Christmas Eve (2005). A Lancaster, PA police dog mauled a girl on a school playground. Little six year-old Bailey Prosser was mauled by a German Shepherd in 2005.

Kory Nelson proves himself to be the worst kind of hypocrite -- one that uses the law as a weapon to embark on his own personal crusade to exterminate a breed he personally despises while owning a breed of dog that ranks #1 on the list of biting dogs for his own County.

German Shepherds, of course, are not banned in Denver, and Kory Nelson has no interest in banning them since he owns one.

Of course, CHAKO does not advocate a ban on German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, or any other breed. In fact, one of CHAKO's most active volunteers is a German Shepherd Dog enthusiast. However, we believe that persons who are public servants and have authority and power to affect the lives of citizens should not be allowed to yield that power as a weapon to act on their own personal prejudices. They should not use the law to target others while exempting themselves. They are public servants, not dictators.

Kory Nelson should be removed from his position. He is a disgrace to lawyers, and an affront to a free and just society. He is a hypocrite on a personal mission of destruction.

"Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They believed the freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth... that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government.... "

-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Author D. Capp holds an M.S. in medical science (biochemistry and genetics), a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a law degree.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Science of Breed Discrimination

It is often said that some breeds are genetically prone to aggression. A dog's behavior is determined by genetics. Human beings, however, are intelligent, sentient creatures who have free will. Dogs, of course, are also intelligent and sentient creatures, but being 'lesser' animals, different genetics apply to them...somehow.

Of course, genes are genes, whether in humans or canines. So, when politicians start banning breeds under the rationale that some breeds are more inherently vicious than others, they engage in breed profiling. If these same politicians were to say, on the other hand, that black people need to be eliminated because they commit the majority of crimes, that would be racial profiling. Racial profiling is wrong. Breed profiling is, however, somehow thought of as different. Dogs are not people, after all.

Dogs are not people, that is obvious, but humans, especially those called politicians, are perhaps a bit too arrogant and naive. If the argument is sound that some breeds of dog are genetically predisposed to aggression, then the argument is equally sound that some ethnicities within the human species are genetically predisposed to aggression. Dogs may be dogs, but science is science, and science is both objective and universal.

Sir Francis Galton, born in 1822, was the first scientist to study heredity and human behavior systematically. Since then, the science of behavioral genetics has advanced. There are several indications that behavior is genetic.

Behaviors can be altered in response to changes in biological structures or processes. For example, a brain injury can transform a shy, quiet person into a loud, aggressive jerk, and doctors routinely treat behaviors caused by mental illness with drugs that affect brain chemistry. Geneticists have even created or abolished specific mouse behaviors by inserting or disabling certain genes.

In humans, some behaviors run in the family. For example, mental illness tends to cluster in families.

Behaviorial similarities run across similar species. Chimpanzees are humanity's closest relative, sharing 98 percent of oru DNA. The two species also share behaviors that are very much alike. For example, both are highly social creatures. Both nurture, cooperate, demonstrate altruism, and even share similar facial expressions.

Recently, the science of behavioral genetics has shown that many human personality traits that most people see as a product of will are, as it turns out, products of genes. Novelty-seeking, for example, shows a strong genetic influence. In fact, studies demonstrate that certain behaviors such as alcoholism are related to growth hormone release. Another study looked at 124 unrelated subjects and showed that "higher than average novelty seeking test scores were significantly associated with a particular exonic polymorphism, the 7-repeat allele at the locus for the dopamine receptor D4 gene." ( What that means, basically, is that novelty-seeking is likely linked to a particular genetic variation in humans.

Genes affect a variety of human behaviors, whether or not individuals like to believe they do. Dog behavior is also influenced by genetics. In fact, humans share more of their ancestral DNA with dogs than with mice. Dogs and humans are so genetically alike that scientists study disease in dogs to learn about disease in human beings. ""When compared with the genomes of human and other important organisms, the dog genome provides a powerful tool for identifying genetic factors that contribute to human health and disease," according to Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Scientists also have evidence that genes influence aggression. Researchers at the University of Virginia, for example, published information indicating that sex chromosomes (those X and Y shapes of DNA in our cells) influence maternal and aggressive behavior in humans. Emilie Rissman, PhD, a professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Virginia remarked on her research, "It is our hope that these data could lead to the discovery of new genetic bases for aggression and parental behavior in other animals, including humans."

So, beware. If you believe that certain breeds of dogs should be exterminated because they are genetically prone to aggression, then it follows, logically, that certain human races or even genders are more prone to aggression than others. In other words, if you support breed profiling, then you must, according to science, also support racial profiling.

Welcome to the brave, new world.

Author D. Capp holds an M.S. in medical science (biochemistry and genetics), a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology, and a law degree.