Sunday, October 25, 2009

Out of the mouth of City of Sacramento Animal Control

News10 did a story about a Pit Bull Attack. Immediately following that story, it aired another story about National Pit Bull Awareness Day in Sacramento (October 24th). In the middle of talking about the Pit Bull walk, News10 interjected the interview of an Animal Control officer from the City of Sacramento. The officer's name is Clinton Nelms, and he apparently adopted a Pit Bull from the shelter that had behavior issues. (Incidentally, News10 misspelled his name as Melms). Nelms states in the interview that he tried to rehabilitate the dog, but the behavior was not eliminated. Nelms, wearing his animal control uniform and standing in front of the City of Sacramento animal care building, goes on to say he believes that, unless Pit Bull ownership is regulated (think: Breed Specific Legislation!), all Pit Bulls will be banned.

During this interview, News10 shows footage of a white Pit Bull-looking dog in a kennel -- presumably at the very same animal care and control agency. The dog is in a kennel with a sign that says "keep fingers out of cage." The dog also wears a thick chain collar around its neck that's held in place by a large padlock.

The entire interview with Nelms and the background footage is disturbing, and we wonder why having an image of a barking Pit Bull wearing a ridiculous and intimidating collar was chosen as a backdrop for this story. We have questions we'd like answered. You'll have to watch the video (link below) to understand our criticisms and concerns.

First, why is the shelter adopting out dogs with aggressive behavior issues in the first place?

Secondly, does the agency want to ban Pit Bulls -- currently in violation of state law? Do they really and truly think Pit Bulls are inherently aggressive with (unspecified) "behaviors" that can emerge at any time?

Thirdly, why is News10 showing a dog wearing a thick chain collar with padlock? Did News10 ask to see a "scary" Pit Bull? Or did Nelms or another worker choose to show them this particular dog? Was the footage News10's way of "juicing" up the story with the most sensationalized image it could find? Or is the City of Sacramento intentionally selecting negative images to show News10?

Fourth, what was the full context of Officer Nelms' statements. In a preliminary statement, a shelter worker stated that Nelms' interview was heavily edited and "not entirely accurate." Just how heavily edited was his interview? Was News10's editing fair, careless, or intentionally misleading? We're asking News10 to supply Officer Nelms' entire, unedited interview for comparison.

Finally, and most curiously of all, why in the hell is there a dog in the City's kennel that has a thick chain link collar and padlock? Did the dog just come in off the street and no one had five minutes to spare to get the collar off (and if so, why did they then let News10 back to view THAT dog)? Or is this some new policy with the City of Sacramento? Are they now advocating keeping Pit Bulls on thick chain collars with padlocks?

Take a look at the footage (of the relevant portion of the clip) HERE:

We'll be interviewing Carol (and Idge) later, so stay tuned for THAT enlightening video!

We implore all Pit Bull advocates to contact the City of Sacramento Animal Department of General Services to express your opinion about Nelms' ' interview. You can go to their online form here:

Or you can call the animal control agency directly at 916-808-7387

After all, everyone who pays taxes and the mandatory dog licensing fees should have a say in what this agency is doing with all our hard-earned money!

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.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Slanted online polls

I think it's about time we talked about the entire regime of online news polls. You know the kind--a news story prompts an Internet media agency to post a poll asking a yes-or-no type question, and then provides a list of selectable answers. Instead of the answers being simple and objective such as "yes," "no," or "I don't know/have no opinion," they are often phrased in a way that makes at least some people have to "say" things they don't really mean (or choose not to vote at all).

The following News10 poll caught our attention tonight:

Following Friday's death of a Delhi child from a pit bull attack, do you think pit bulls should be allowed in homes with small children?Yes. Pit bulls are only dangerous if they are not trained properly.No. Pit bulls are too naturally aggressive to be around children.

I know many of our members wanted to vote, but some just couldn't bring themselves to select either answer. Both answers mandate that, in order to vote, one must assert that Pit Bulls "are dangerous."

Yes. Pit Bulls are no more potentially dangerous than other dogs of similar size.

That, at least, is a true statement. (At least if you believe the National Geographic bite force tests which show the Pit Bull's jaw strength is less than that of both the Rottweiler and the German Shepherd).

And anyone who wants to say, "But German Shepherds don't kill babies." Um. Yes, they do. In fact, there were at least 27 human deaths caused by German Shepherds between 1979 and 1998 in the United States (and deaths caused by police dogs are NOT included in this number). Great Danes caused 8 human deaths during this same time period.

These numbers come from the CDC Report, and unfortunately, it's impossible to tell how many deaths were caused by Pit Bulls during this time period, because the CDC study only references "Pit Bull type" dogs (it doesn't say "German Shepherd type" dogs, in comparison). So, we have no way of knowing what "Pit Bull type" dog includes. Does it include Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Boxers and American Bulldogs and all the other breeds commonly mistaken for Pit Bulls (like Presa Canarios, Bandogs, Dogos, and anything else that has short hair)?

We'd like very much to see News10 and other agencies change they way they craft their online polls to include more neutral (and factually correct) statements as answer options. We don't mean to pick on News10 because, after all, we LIKE News10 (especially after their exceptional story on Continental Airlines and its horrible breed discrimination policy):D (Of course, we're totally objective on that point!)

But, come on... enough is enough with the slanted online news polls!

Should you wish to send your POLITE comments to News10, you can email the agency at

CDC Report:

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.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Continental says NO to Pit Bull puppy

Joey is a 4 month old Puppy rescued by the Chako Rescue Association in Sacramento. When Libby Sherrill, the filmmaker creating the documentary BEYOND THE MYTH, came out to California for an event, she met Joey and bonded with him. Joey is rambunctious and full of energy, though as happy go lucky as any pup could be. His energy level, however, makes him a harder placement because he needs a very active home. Thankfully, Libby is a very active woman and lives in the country in Knoxville, TN.

Well, Libby needed to fly home to TN, and she wanted to take Joey with her (in the Cargo hold of the Continental plane, with the little pup safely in a kennel). Continental, it turns out, doesn't like Pit Bulls and won't fly any Pit Bull over 6 months of age or over 20 lbs. Joey is about 4 months, but he just misses the weight limit at about 27 lbs.

Continental explains that "safety concerns" have led it to adopt this policy, which prohibits even "mixed" breed dogs that may be part Pit Bull (though their website says they allow "crossbreeds," the representative on the phone told us that information is wrong and the website simply has not yet been updated).

So, Joey had to stay in Sacramento while Libby flew home, without him, to TN.

Continental's policy is not driven by safety. What can a 4 month old puppy do that a 90 lb German Shepherd or Rottweiler could not do? Are they afraid that little Joey will break out of his kennel and damage the aircraft?

Well, I'd like you to meet this rescued German Shepherd from the bay area.

His name is Greylin, but it really should be Houdini. He's busted out of three kennels (destroying them in the process), escaped an enclosed dog run, and sailed over a 7 foot privacy fence. Continental will fly him, no problem, in a standard plastic Vari-Kennel in the Cargo hold of its aircraft which would no doubt prove as ineffective a containment device as the other three kennels he managed to demolish.

And he is not alone. Take a visit to Captains Kennels (a boarding kennel) that declares on its website, "Escape proof kennels, specifically German Shephards. If you own a German Shepherd, you know what we mean."

So maybe Continental should ban all Pit Bulls and German Shepherds. But wait! Border Collies are also often escape artists! "High intelligence does mean they learn quickly - but that includes how to do anything they set their minds to. They are master escape artists who can virtually pick the lock on your gate."

And the list goes on. Jack Russell Terriers, Malinois, Akitas, Huskies, Malamutes and many other breeds are well known for their abilities to escape confinement -- whether it be a fence, a crate, or an outside kennel; but for some reason, Continental has deemed a 4 month old Pit Bull pup weighing a mere 20-something pounds to be more of a menace than a high-drive, chew crazy, kennel-destroying German Shepherd about four times his size.

Apparently, it's only a secret to Continental that many different breeds of dogs can get out of SOME kennels. In other words, if Continental was really concerned about safety, it would mandate that all dogs be transported in secure, escape-proof kennels. But, no, Continental has chosen to discriminate against Pit Bulls, even little pups confined securely in crates -- even escape-proof crates -- and blissfully allow all other breeds on its aircraft.

CHAKO says "Shame on Continental" and urges everyone to contact Continental airlines at 800.WE.CARE2 (800.932.2732)(Apparently, they don't REALLY care -- at least not about a little rescue puppy needing a lift to his new home)

See Joey's story on the news at Beyond The Myth's site at

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.