Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chako's Pit Bull Service Dog Training Program Gets Airtime

We have officially launched our Pit Bull service dog training program. We take rescued Pit Bulls and train and place them as service dogs to assist persons with disabilities. News 10 visited our pilot service dog trainee, Junior, to see him in action and learn more about this innovative program.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

U.S. Military Bans Its Own Hero Dog

Many have heard of the heroic search and rescue dogs that helped find survivors in the aftermath of the September 11th World Trade Center attack, or the War Dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq that have saved the lives of American soldiers. Few, however, have heard about America's first and most decorated War Dog -- Sergeant Stubby. Apparently, even the U.S. military has forgotten about him, because all across the United States, military bases are banning Stubby's kind.
Born sometime around 1916, Sergeant Stubby was a little Bull and Terrier dog (or, Pit Bull, as we call them today). He served with the 102nd Infantry in the trenches in France for 18 months and participated in four offensives and 17 battles. Stubby learned to warn his fellow soldiers of impending toxic gas attacks and incoming artillery. His captured a German spy by the seat of his pants. When he returned to the U.S., he was invited to the White House and honored as a hero.
Stubby received the following honors and awards for his heroism:
  • 3 Service Stripes
  • Yankee Division YD Patch
  • French Medal Battle of Verdun
  • 1st Annual American Legion Convention Medal
  • New Haven World War I Veterans Medal
  • Republic of France Grande War Medal
  • St Mihiel Campaign Medal
  • Wound stripe, replaced with Purple Heart when introduced in 1932
  • Chateau Thierry Campaign Medal
  • 6th Annual American Legion Convention
  • Humane Education Society Gold Medal
None of this matters to the U.S. military. Instead of honoring the heritage of the American Pit Bull Terrier and the many lives Stubby saved (who knows, maybe some soldiers today would not be alive if Stubby hadn't saved their great grandfathers), military leaders have decided to embark on a full offensive against any and all American Pit Bull Terriers.
In the most recent example, Camp Pendleton has banned the breed. Duke is a gorgeous blue Pit Bull that lives on the marine base with his favorite soldier. According to pleas all over Facebook, Camp Pendleton authorities have given Duke's owner an ultimatum: Get rid of Duke, or he may be confiscated and killed.
The reason for the ultimatum has nothing to do with Duke's personality or behavior. The reason is because he is an American Pit Bull Terrier.
And apparently, American Pit Bull Terriers don't belong on American military bases. Perhaps they prefer the German shepherds or the Belgian Malinois. (Don't worry, I have nothing against those awesome breeds!)
We are sorry, Sergeant Stubby, that our military leaders today have forgotten your bravery and service to this country. We know it's not very patriotic of them to ban a breed that shares part of our nation's name. It's woefully sad that the very breed that inspired the formation of the K9 military corp has now become a victim of the very nation it has served for so many years.

R.I.P. Sergeant Stubby. If you can.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Open Letter to the United Kennel Club

Dear United Kennel Club:

Since 1898 you have been serving the purebred dog community. Your charter dog was the American Pit Bull Terrier. Our respective organizations both love the breed, but we propose to you that it's time to do what's right for the breed and change its name to American Bull Terrier.

I've personally shown UKC American Pit Bull Terriers with my family since the 80s. I grew up around UKC show and weight pull events. I love the breed. The breed name American Pit Bull Terriers fills me with pride.

Unfortunately, the breed's name is a small part of its downfall. We recognize the name is not the cause of the problems the breed faces. Names don't cause owners to act irresponsibly or communities to implement bans, but the name does not do the breed justice in today's world.

Yes, we know these dogs have, as part of their history, been used for bull-baiting and dog fighting, among other things. We know changing the name is not going to end dog fighting or breed specific laws.

However, the best name for the breed is and, frankly, always has been American Bull Terrier. It's a name that is straight to the point. These are bull and terrier dogs -- derived from overseas cousins and developed on the early American frontier.

Changing the official breed name will have a great deal of positive effects. For one, every breed specific ordinance that refers to the UKC standard for the American Pit Bull Terrier will have to be, at the very least, rewritten. If the UKC doesn't have an American Pit Bull Terrier standard, than the law becomes vague and ambiguous and likely unenforceable as written.

Additionally, we send the message that dogfighting is not the end-all and be-all of this breed. In fact, dogfighting is a cruel and ridiculous "sport" that we should do our best to banish. Humans don't need to fight dogs to prove gameness or worth. There are many other avenues for demonstrating a dog's drive, stamina, endurance, and no-quit attitude.

Chako Pit Bull Rescue has been working with Pit Bulls directly for about 15 years. Our founder has owned, handled, trained and loved Pit Bulls for over 30 years. We love the breed. We know you do, too. We know a rose by any other name will smell just as sweet, and a breed by any other name will be just as wonderful. Changing the name to American Bull Terrier can only do good. At most, its effect will be neutral. At best, it will start a positive upswing for this breed by removing the fighting reference from the breed name and, in one sweep, shaking the validity of breed-specific ordinances across the United States.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pit Bull Service Dogs Get Noticed!

Two Pit Bull service dogs made the November issue of California Employer Update, a publication of the California Chamber of Commerce. Chako fans will likely find the two dogs very familiar -- one is our very own ambassadog Savvy. The second dog is named Idge and belongs to a Chako volunteer.

The article discusses the issue of animals in the workplace -- from pets to service dogs that assist persons with disabilities. In particular, the article notes that any breed of dog may be a service dog pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. To highlight that point, the article includes a photo of two Pit Bull/Amstaff service dogs laying calmly side by side during a public outing.

Download the entire article as a PDF. Reprinted with permission from the November 2010 issue of California Employer Update, published by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Leaving Lucy

Well, we're packing up on our last day in Santa Clarita. Saturday, we drove from Sacramento to Agua Dulce with three dogs and three people to drop Lucy off at Villalobos. Roland, one of volunteers, was with us with his Villalobos rescue dog, Dulce. He wanted Tia to see her since it's been years since he adopted her from Villalobos.

The trip was smooth and seemed shorter than I thought it would. Lucy got a little ancy in the crate toward the end of the trip, so we made a final stop to let her potty and stretch her legs. Of course, when three Pit Bulls pile out of an SUV that has big orange "Chako Pit Bull Rescue" magnets on each side, people notice. A number of people stopped to pet the dogs, and one couple in particular loved little Lucy.

After that last stop, we made the final leg of the trip to Agua Dulce. Tia's directions were perfect, so we found it with no problem. We delivered some donations that a shelter volunteer up here had asked us to pack (those took up the very last bit of room in the car). Tia met Lucy, and I gave her the whole spiel on Lucy's history again, with some more details about what I've observed of her temperament since she's been in my custody. Tia graciously let me go back to the kennels so I could see for myself what accommodations little Miss Lucy would have, at least during the transition to their new place.

Then, we took a few photos (since dog folks are notoriously camera-happy about anything and everything they do with their dogs), and left. I have to admit I got a little teary-eyed on the way from Agua Dulce to Santa Clarita. I really wish I had a spot for Lucy myself, but all of our foster homes are full. I know Lucy is safe, and that's a lot better than being euthanized.

We checked into the very dog friendly La Quinta Inn in Santa Clarita. Our plan was to spend the next day in Santa Monica to take the dogs to the beach. Well, Santa Monica is not, apparently, a very dog friendly town. Not only do none of the patio restaurants we encountered allow dogs on the patio (except for the dive stands), but none of the beaches allow dogs...at least none that we could find. So, we ended up having to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway until we could find a place that was a little less crowded and didn't have any life guard towers.

Finally! We found a little place near a Vons and Chevron and took the dogs to the beach. We put them on long lines and let them chase the tennis ball. Vinnie got rolled in the waves a few times--butt over head--but had a blast trying to catch the tennis ball in the rolling waves. All three of the humans got pretty soaked, too, and Roland's phone might not ever recover.

The dogs pooped out when we got back to the hotel. I don't think they stirred all night, though Vinnie didn't feel very well. He probably swallowed too much salt water or maybe got a touch of vertigo, but he's much better this morning.

Now, we're off--cleaning up the hotel room, packing up, and heading down for the continental breakfast. I've got tons of video to work through and edit when I get home, and then I'll be posting Lucy's trip to Villalobos on our YOUTUBE channel. So, stay tuned!

In the meantime, I've uploaded a few seconds of the dogs' beach fun (yes, we dog folks reallly are camera-crazy). A little girl walked up to Roland and Dulce on the beach and said Dulce (who is mostly white with a few black spots along her fur), looked like a Dalmatian. Roland kind of nodded and said, "Yes, she does look a little like a Dalmation" to which the little girl replied, "You know, Dalmations are not good with children."

Roland got such a kick out of that statement, I don't think he mustered a reply. Fortunately, for the little girl, Dulce is not a Dalmation. She's a Pit Bull, and Pit Bulls by and large are very good with children. Dulce and Vinnie in particular are true to their Pit Bull heritage in that aspect.

Vinnie gained a fan, too. A father from Iran and his little girl watched us play with the dogs. The father asked what kind of dogs they are, and we told him they're "Pit Bulls." He commented that Pit Bulls are dangerous, and we did a bit of polite educating. He watched us a short while, and then asked if his little girl could throw the ball for Vinnie. Of course, we agreed, and Vinnie made two new friends that day on the beach.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Two Pieces of Equipment Every Dog Owner Should Have

I'm often asked what's the best collar and leash to buy for a Pit Bull. Every dog is different, so there is no one "best" collar for every dog, but there is one collar and leash style that every dog owner should possess.

Martingale Collar

A strong, quality martingale collar is an essential piece of equipment for just about every dog owner. A martingale collar is a collar with a chain or fabric/leather loop that constricts a little so that the dog cannot back out of the collar. (See: Wikipedia for martingale photo and full description). This collar is wonderfullly functional when used by itself for dogs that walk well on leash or as a back up to a training collar, training harness, or head halter. When fitted properly, the martingale should just barely slip over the dog's head, which will prevent the dog from being able to back out of the collar because the collar will tighten when tension is applied to the leash. The collar does not, however, choke the dog in the same way as a traditional slip collar. Martingales, like most collars, should not be left on unsupervised dogs.

European Training Leash

This lead has a clasp on each end (rather than on only one end, as with most traditional leashes). It also has one or more stationary or floating D rings along the length. Alternative names for this leash are police leash and six-way leash. (See an example of a European training leash online). This is the must-have piece of equipment for every dog owner. It is a versatile and secure leash that will allow you to attach one end to a primary collar or harness and the other end to a backup collar. You can also loop it around your body for a hands-free set-up or even use it as a temporary tether when out and about with your dog.

We talk about these pieces of equipment and others in our Pit Bull Owner's Guide, a short E-Book that covers a broad range of topics, from equipment to homeowners' insurance and beware of dog signs. Order it online. Your purchase helps us to continue our work !

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lucy, the Dog That Would be Dead Today If...

...Chako had not pulled her from the Sacramento Shelter. Lucy was one of our Canine Good Citizen (CGC) training candidates at the Sacramento shelter. During her time in the shelter, she went from being a sick, lethargic dog to a happy, wiggly, healthier dog. As her health improved and days passed without anyone adopting her, she began to exhibit aggression toward other dogs. She'd bark and lunge at them as she passed kennels. She would even bark at dogs that were on leash elsewhere.

But she was and is a total sweetheart with people. Because of her developing dog reactivity, the shelter staff pulled her out of the adoption area and put her into the "isolation ward." She was slated to be euthanized. The shelter emailed us, but it pained us to tell them we were completely full. We couldn't take in another dog.

We put out several calls for help. In a last ditch effort, I contacted Tia Maria with Villalobos. I know she's full, but it never hurts to ask. Tia agreed to take Lucy, so Rachele and I went to the shelter and bailed Lucy out of doggie jail.

While Lucy waits for her transport to Tia, she's staying with me. She's borrowing Savvy's comfy indoor-outdoor run (he hardly uses it, so he doesn't seem to mind as long as she doesn't start decorated his bachelor pad with girlie stuff). So far, she has been a perfect little angel.

She hasn't snarked at a dog since she's gotten here. In fact, she seems to want to play and even had a very nice on leash introduction to Savvy. At one point, she was nose-to-nose with the cat and gave the equivalent of a doggie shrug as she sniffed briefly and then moved on. She doesn't "do her business" inside the kennel (she does it in the appropriate outdoor area). She walks well on leash. She comes when called. She sits. She stays. That CGC training really paid off! She even laid down quietly inside for some crate time. She doesn't chew up her bedding. She doesn't tip over her water bowl. She doesn't try to climb out of the kennel.

About the only thing she does, occasionally, is whine and bark when she sees one of us outside and tries desperately to make us let her out of the kennel (which I do about three times a day for play/walks). Poor gal. We'd love her to find a home where she doesn't have to spend most of her time in a kennel, but alas, this is the only temporary spot we have for her while she waits for her transport to Tia (and her spay, which is tomorrow).

Lucy wouldn't be alive right now if we hadn't been able to get her out of there. It amazes me that such a wonderful dog almost didn't get a second chance at life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Forgotten Dogs

There's been lots of celebration about the Vick dogs finding homes and happy endings. Such joyous stories help to warm my heart, but there's a much greater sadness that wells inside me for the many other dogs who aren't finding happy endings. There are no news camera for Lucy, Pickles, Coconut, Charlotte, or Sharky. There very likely won't be a happy ending for dogs like Lucy -- a tiny Pit Bull "Terrier" gal (maybe a mix) with bat-like ears and the face of a gremlin. She's a total love bug with people--submissive, eager to please, and affectionate.

However, she's a terrier, and true to her terrier heritage, she's a little hot head around other dogs. So, she's scheduled to be euthanized--humanely of course--because of course the shelter cannot adopt out a dog that is dog aggressive. They don't have the resources to put individual attention into dogs and to screen homes and take the time to find an experienced, responsible home who will be Lucy's perfect match.

And, of course, Chako, like many other rescues, is full. We do NOT euthanize dogs (unless they pose a danger to people, and since we are so picky about that when we take in dogs--knock on wood--we haven't had to euthanize a dog for over 12 years). So, that means, when we are full, we stay full until we can find one of our dogs (like Pickles), a new home.  If I did continue to take in dogs beyond Chako's capacity, I'd end up on the news as one of those "hoarder" ladies who really had "good intentions."

Lucy only has until the end of the day, today. Then, her hope of a happy ending vanishes.

She's not the only dog out there in need of a happy ending, but if you have space in your life for a dog reactive little gremlin who loves belly rubs, let us know today, as soon as you possibly can. And if you don't have room in your life for a dog like Lucy, then we urge you to consider Pickles, or Charlotte, or Coconut, or any other Pit Bull who hasn't had the benefit of news cameras to help them find their happy endings. Hopefully, the forgotten dogs in shelters and rescue will be someone's adoring companion soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Responsible Breeding - Is there such a thing?

Chako Pit Bull Rescue does not oppose RESPONSIBLE breeding. We believe that, although there are a lot of rescue dogs in need of homes, we understand some people have specific desires to show dogs and be involved in the show community. Some people want proven "working line" dogs (recognizing that that's no guarantee a puppy from such a line will be working quality). We also recognize that responsible, thoughful, and purposeful breeding is the only way to preserve purebred dogs with consistent breed temperament and structure.

Of course, we're not saying that purebred dogs are any better than mixed breed dogs. But we recognize there are people who are true breed fanciers and want to preserve the ideal of their beloved breeds. However, we feel it important to let people know that we believe responsible breeders only breed dogs that meet the following criteria:
  • Have obtained a working, obedience, or show title;
  • Are structurally sound and mostly conform to the breed standard (recognizing no dog conforms 100% to the ideal breed standard);
  • Have passed all relevant health tests (hips, elbows, thyroid, cardiac and any breed specific genetic tests); and
  • Perhaps most importantly, have demonstrated the proper breed temperament
Responsible breeders must ALWAYS take back dogs that do not work out in their homes -- and that includes the breeders on both sides (sire and dam). Breeding a pup is a lifelong commitment to that pup. So, technically, a dog should NEVER end up in a shelter since all dogs are the result of breeders, at some point (either that dog or a prior generation was produced by a breeder). Breeders should NOT breed a litter unless they have suitable, responsible homes lined up in advance of the planned breeding.

Responsible breeders breed limited litters. They do not churn out litter after litter after litter. Those that do are called "puppy mills."

Responsible breeders avoid inbreeding close relatives and only engage in line breeding or outcrossing after much research and consideration.

Every breeder should ask the question -- WHY am I breeding? The answer should be "To better the breed" not "I need extra cash." In fact, if you breed responsibly, you will never make a living off breeding. Most responsible breeders breed not only to better the breed, but because they also want to take a puppy themselves from the planned breeding. That's different than the pet owner that wants a reproduction of "fluffy." Responsible breeders know that breeding will never yield you an exact reproduction of either parent.
Remember that when you breed, you are deliberately bringing several lives into the world. Your duty to those lives continues until each of those lives end. That's a 10-17 year commitment, generally (times however many puppies you have produced).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Going Beyond the Myth

September 25th is the premiere of Beyond the Myth, a documentary about Pit Bulls and Breed Specific Legislation. It will show at The Guild Theater in Sacramento. Doors open at 6:30 and the film starts at 7:00 (and tickets are available in advance).

I've had the pleasure of meeting Libby. She flew out to California to interview me in person way back in September of 2007 (I'm pretty sure it was 2007, but it might have been 2008). I took her to an AKC dog show and we toured San Francisco, interviewing various people about the effects of San Francisco's anti-Pit Bull ordinance. We knew we were kindred souls when, on the drive back from the show in the bay area (with my Amstaff, Savvy, in tow), Libby asked me if I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer (hey, we didn't always talk about dogs).

Heck, yeah! Gosh, I used to love watching that show. Libby said one of her favorite episodes was the musical. Well, wouldn't you know it, I happened to have the musical available to listen to in the car. So we did. And our inner geeks were released, to Savvy's dismay. (I don't think he's much of a Buffy fan, but it's hard to tell since he's perfected his nonchalance act so well).

Anyway, it's been three years (I think), and now finally the film is complete, and we get to see it on the big screen one night only in Sacramento. Don't miss it. I'm sure going to be there!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Unleashed Dog Incident in East Sacramento

I am a Chako volunteer and owner of a pet sitting business. Of course,volunteering with Chako has made me ultra aware of being a responsible dog owner and the signs to look for when an owner is less than responsible.

While walking one of my doggie clients yesterday, we approached a corner house where a dog was laying out front with children playing in a tree house. The dog noticed our approach and lifted his head, stretched and laid back down. He gave no indication that he felt like moving anytime soon.

Before crossing the street, I yelled out to the kids to ask if their dog was tied up (I couldn't tell from the distance we were at).

One of the little girls called for her mother, who apparently was across the street, out of my line of vision.

The mother walked over and grabbed the dog's collar. After I had visual confirmation that the dog was contained, I walked by with my dog. At no point did the other dog bark, growl, or show any signs of distress that we were walking by.

We passed the house and were about halfway down the block when I heard paws pounding pavement and tags clanging together. I whipped my head around to see the dog was running at full speed, directly for the dog that I was walking.

Without hesitating, I jumped in front of my dog and reached for my Spray Shield (Spray Shield is a citronella-based animal deterrant) and sprayed the oncoming dog in the face from a distance of about 10 feet, while yelling "get back" in a firm voice. He slowed down with a confused look on his face for maybe a second and then continued toward us, but from the side this time which I reacted to by stepping forward and spraying him again,
this time covering his eyes with the white foam. His hesitation was long enough for the owner to finally come up behind him, grab him and walk off.

The owner said nothing to me.

This incident took place in Sacramento's famed Fabulous 40's neighborhood - not exactly the place where one would expect to find irresponsible owners. Just goes to show you that money can't buy common sense, I suppose.

Thankfully, I was prepared and had practiced this exact scenario in my head a million times before (and yes, I've practiced physically reaching for my equipment as well). I leave the safety off my Spray Shield and shake it before every walk. I was quite shaken up after the incident. I have no idea what the dog's intentions were and I wasn't about to give him a chance to show me.

Neither I nor the dog I was walking deserved to be put in this situation. Not everyone is as prepared or experienced with this kind of thing as I am; what if it had been a child or elderly person walking a dog passed this house? Would they have been able to protect their dog as quickly as easily? And if a fight had ocurred, would they have the knowledge, strength, or equipment to break it up?

Please, please, please - leash your dogs! And if you must have them out in an unfenced area with you, tether them securely. The Spray Shield worked like a charm this time, but I shouldn't have had to use it in the first place.

I think it's important to note that at no time did I feel personally threatened by this dog; the drives for aggression directed towards humans and those directed toward other dogs are unrelated, separate drives. It's very possible that because this dog does not show any ill-will towards his humans that his owner is under the mistaken impression that her dog is not a threat. Maybe she thinks that a dog that is great with humans could not possibly kill another dog. I'll reiterate that I do not know what he would have done had he been allowed to reach my dog, but clearly this owner needs to wake up to the possiblities of what could have happened. She should also consider that if her beloved family pet kills or seriously injures someone else's family pet that her dog may lose his life as well. Dog aggression, regardless of breed, can be properly managed in many instances but it should never be ignored.

~Rachele is the volunteer Social Media Coordinator for Chako and owner of Pawsitive Attention Pet Services.

Friday, August 6, 2010

$400,000 Insurance Claim from Daschund Bite

I was on the phone earlier with an insurance agent looking at a new policy. The agent owns a Pit Bull and specializes in offering coverage to breeds like German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls that other companies often blacklist, so the topic of dog breeds and insurance coverage naturally came up.

The agent said he's got policies for over 500 Pit Bull owners, but so far only one claim -- and it's the result of a Daschund's bite. Apparently, the dog ripped off the woman's lip. The dog had a bacterial infection in its mouth that transferred to the woman, so she ended up having serious health issues above and beyond the initial horrific injury.

The claim is now up to about $400,000. At least in this particular insurance agent's case, the Pit Bulls and Rottweilers have proven to be less of a liability than the Daschund.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Labrador and Cattle Dog Maul Three-Year Old in Alabama

I'm back on the press again. Take this story from Fox News. Madisyn Shelton is a three year old girl in Alabama. She was attacked by her neighbor's dogs and bitten more than 50 times.

The news article never mentions the breed of the dogs involved. One has to watch the video to see footage of the dogs in custody. It's only then that the viewer sees a Labrador Retriever and a Cattle Dog. Breed isn't mentioned in the headline. Breed isn't mentioned in the story.

Fortunately, Alabama has an ordinance that allows it to adequately target dangerous dogs, so the dogs will likely be euthanized. Hopefully, Madisyn Shelton makes a full recovery.

And while we're on the subject of dangerous dogs and breed, Coyotes attacked a Chihuaha in Littleton, Colorado, which is just outside of Denver. Denver, of course, has a ban on Pit Bulls. Fortunately, the little Chihuahua didn't live in Denver, else he wouldn't have had Pit Bull neighbors to come to his rescue. Yes, that's right. Buster, the Chihuahua, was saved by his neighbor's Pit Bulls. They ran the Coyota off and then stayed with the Chihuahua to protect him.

"They were circling him and sitting by him. Making sure he was all right," Buster's owner said.

Photos of Concord Dogs: Not Exactly Pit Bulls

I submitted a public information request to Contra Costa County Animal Services for photos of the dogs confiscated from Steven Hayashi that were reported to have fatally mauled Mr. Hayashi's 2-year old grandson.

In response to that public information request, I received the following photos that show questionable breed heritage and mixed breed dogs of undetermined origin. The photos clearly demonstrate the issues with breed identification.

The reason Chako is posting these photos is in response to debate about whether the dogs were, in fact, Pit Bulls. Apparently a cousin of Hayashi's has been on forums claiming the dogs were all mixes, not Pit Bulls. While I believe breed is irrelevant, I think it makes absolutely no sense to even comment on breed without photos.

I don't think it does any good one way or the other to distort the truth. If the dogs are purebred Pit Bulls, then denying that they are simply reduces one's credibility. If the dogs are not Pit Bulls, then labelling them as such is just another way of perpetrating a falsehood.

Unfortunately, the angle of the photos makes it difficult to tell for sure. One dog is only visible from the side, with its head turned away from the camera. At least one of the dogs is very noticeably un-Pit Bull like in its appearance and appears to be a labrador or possibly mastiff mix.

So, take a look at the photos, and if you think you can tell what breeds these dogs are, speak up in the comments section.

From my perspective (and having only the photos to go on), these dogs are mostly mixed breed dogs. One looks nothing like a Pit Bull. If I met the first dog on the street, I'd swear it had no Pit Bull in it whatsoever.

People have said that even the owner calls the dogs Pit Bulls. The owner procured his original dog from a shelter. The shelter apparently released the dog unsterilized, which is a huge "NO" in California. Anyone who has worked in rescue understands that shelters are not often accurate on identifying breed, and they tend to call anything that looks remotely like it could have some bull or terrier breeds in it a "Pit Bull" mix.

A shelter that releases a dog unsterilized is already suspect in its reputability to begin with. Therefore, it matters not what Hayashi thinks his dog may be. In actuality, he just doesn't know. He didn't see the parents, and he got his dog from a shelter that apparently called it a "Pit Bull mix." That's a designation applied to almost any dog of mixed breed origin with shorter hair in many shelter systems. It's come to mean nothing.

What is undeniable is that the media has labelled these dogs--all of them--as Pit Bulls. The San Francisco Chronicle reported, "The toddler was fatally mauled when he entered the home garage where the family kept...pit bulls."

I don't know about you, but I don't see Pit Bulls in the photos below.




One final point, just because I have to comment on it. Very few, if any, of these dogs would match San Francisco's breed checklist for a Pit Bull.

As an example, the second dog has a narrow muzzle, a narrow chest, and absolutely nothing that is well-muscled. San Francisco's checklist calls for a broad skull, strong underjaw, a heavy and muscular neck attached to muscular shoulders, a deep broad chest and wide front and muscular hindquarters. There's nothing broad, deep, wide or muscular on that dog. It matches almost nothing of San Francisco's checklist.

(NOTE THERE WERE FIVE Dogs in the household, two were outside at the time of the attack, and the photos submitted were not all high quality. One dog had its head completely turned away from the camera, on a side shot. The other dog was in poor condition and the photo was somewhat graphic so we opted not to publish it).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The cold, hard facts about the media and dog attacks

In yesterday's post, I looked at how two different media outlets reported the two most recent dog-bite related human fatalities in California. Still, one example doesn't make a rule. Today, I'm going to go with some cold, hard statistics, thanks to research done by Libby Sherrill for her documentary Beyond the Myth.

Libby interviewed Carl Friedman, the former Director of San Francisco Animal Care and Control. Hardly, an opponent of breed-specific-legislation (BSL), he wrote a canine response working group report that cited Denver, Colorado as a "best practice" for breed specific legislation. Denver, of course, has an outright ban on Pit Bulls and has euthanized thousands of innocent dogs.

However, even he recognizes that the media gives unequal coverage to dog bites. In an interview with Sherrill, he stated, "When a Pit Bull, let's say, mauls somebody or a Pit Bull bites somebody, chances are you're going to see that on the first or second page of the newspaper and probably on the five O'clock news or six O'clock news. If another dog bites somebody or a different breed bites somebody, chances are it won't even be reported."

Sherrill's documentary looked at how the media reported on two significant dog-related fatalities of children. The first was Kate-Lynn Logel, killed in 2005 by her family's Malamutes. A newslibrary.com search containing the phrase "Kate-Lynn Logel" yielded 18 articles.

A newslibrary.com search containing the phrase "Nicholas Faibish" yielded 292 articles.

The study showed that 68% of news articles reporting "pit bull" or "pit bull mix" attacks mentioned "pit bull" in the headline. Only 8% of news articles reporting on attacks by other breeds mentioned the breed in the headline.

This type of inequitable reporting is not limited to dog attacks. It's so common in the media, that it has a name: agenda-setting. What agenda setting boils down to is simple. The media decides what's important to report on, and in making that choice, the media tells people what's important, and how the media reports on those issues influences how people think about those issues.

So, next time you take in a news story about a dog attack (or, really, any other issue), before you form an opinion on the subject, it might be wise to do your own research based on sources outside the media (which can admittedly be hard to do, since even the Centers for Disease Control used the media as a source in its famous 1997 dog-bite related study).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Two newspapers, two fatal dog attacks, two different styles of reporting

Today, a dog killed another 2-year old child. This time in San Diego. As sad and tragic as this horrific incident is, it unfortunately stands as an example of inequitable news coverage.

California has seen two recent fatal. In one, a dog identified as a Pit Bull killed a 2 year old in northern California.  Today, a dog identified as a German Shepherd killed a toddler.

Let's take a look at how two media outlets reported the attacks.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported the "Pit Bull" attack as follows:
Owner of pitbulls that killed CA boy arrested.
It even reported on a nonfatality involving a dog identified as "Pit Bull":
Pit bull bites 7-year-old Oakland girl in the face

The German Shepherd attack was headlined as, "Dog mauls toddler to death in Tierrasanta"

San Francisco chronicle also reported on the German shepherd story: 2-year-old mauled to death by family dog

But when a Pit Bull simply bit a girl in the face in the Oakland incident, the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned the breed in the headline: Pit Bull bites 7-year old Oakland girl in the face.

And the Concord fatality:
Step-grandfather talks about killer pit bulls

The unequal reporting makes an association between "Pit Bull" and attack or mauling but not other breeds because the other breeds generally aren't mentioned in the headline. Unless you clicked on the story of the German shepherd, you'd have no idea what the breed was (and may have even assumed it to be a Pit Bull because that's what people are used to seeing in headline news). The day the Oakland girl was bitten in the face by a Pit Bull, other children in the bay area were bitten by dogs not identified as Pit Bulls. It happens every day in every city in America, and yet most were not reported.

The old adage, "Dog bites man, isn't news. Man bites dog, is news," has taken a dark turn in today's society. Now, it's "Dog bites man, isn't news. Pit Bull bites anything, it's headline news."

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thanks to one prejudiced woman and an anti-Pit Bull shelter, Chako was founded

Today I met with a nice gal interested in volunteering for Chako. She asked me how and why I founded Chako, so I told her The Story. I've told it only a handful of times, but it's both sad and amusing at the same time.

I was a graduate student at Texas A&M in 1996. I bought a house there, since Texas real estate was ridiculously cheap at the time (a shock to someone like me from California). Being young and naive, I decided I'd get a dog (nevermind the instability of a college student's life, budget issues, etc.). I grew up around Pit Bulls. My parents owned champion show and weight pull dogs. I knew I wanted a Pit Bull. I wasn't going to show my dog, however. I just wanted a companion.

So, I eagerly strolled into the only shelter in the small duet town known as Bryan-College Station. That was the Brazos County Animal Shelter.

I walked up to the lady at the counter and said, "I'd like to adopt a dog. Do you have any Pit Bulls?"

She looked at me like I was about to pull out an Uzi and pepper the place with bullets. Her eyes went narrow and she replied, "No. We don't adopt out vicious dogs."

Of course, I knew Pit Bulls had a bad rap, but not quite that bad. "Pit Bulls aren't vicious," I told her.

"Why do you want a Pit Bull? Only drug dealers have Pit Bulls."

I found the conversation very strange. Only drug dealers have Pit Bulls? What the hell did that make my parents? Would I have to start checking their sock drawers?

I took a breath. "I'm not a drug dealer. I'm a doctoral candidate at Texas A&M University."

She shrugged. "Sorry, but we don't adopt out Pit Bulls."

"Well, what do you do with them when you get them?" I asked.

"We euthanize them," she responded, matter-of-factly.

I was astonished. "What do you do with puppies?" I mean, they had to have some kind of system for puppies.

"We euthanize them, too."

"Even puppies?!" What kind of sick, cruel, twisted organization would kill puppies? I wondered.

"Yes. We don't adopt out vicious dogs," she repeated.

"Well, if you get one that you're going to euthanize, can you call me?"

Her eyes narrowed again, and she tilted her head. "What? Do you mean like a rescue?"

I had never heard about "rescue" before, but I figured out what it must be from the context. "Yes," I replied, without hesitation.

She pushed a ledger book toward me. "Put your information into the rescue book."

I did.

Then, I went home and researched Pit Bull rescues on what counted as the Internet at that time. There were virtually none. The United Kennel Club had a national rescue, but that no longer existed.

So, I formed the Chako Pit Bull Rescue Association (what it was called back then) and started pulling dogs from the Brazos County Animal Shelter.

Soon thereafter, I got a call from a woman named Deirdre about a dog in a shelter. The name of the shelter escapes me. The dog was a Pit Bull, and it was scheduled to be euthanized because the shelter had a policy that mandated all Pit Bulls be killed. She volunteered at the shelter.

I became a woman on a mission to save that dog, writing faxes, making phone calls -- you name it. It was so long ago, I can't remember for sure what the outcome was, but I think they ended up transfering the dog to another shelter that did not have a "kill all Pit Bulls" policy. (Oh, how I wish I could remember for sure.)

Anyway, Deirdre ended up adopting a dog from Chako. That dog was named Carla. Her name today is Carla Lou, and she just celebrated her 16th birthday. Oh, and she happens to be the mascot for the wildly successful Pinups for Pitbulls, which Deirdre founded.

People often ask me how I came up with the name "Chako." It's in honor of my childhood dog, Chako. He was the greatest dog that ever lived. I swear. Yes, I know everyone's childhood dog is the greatest dog, but really he was! (Apologies to my current dogs, Tauri and Savvy, who thankfully cannot read this blog).

I had a vision in my head of Chako somehow falling into different circumstances, through no fault of his own, and ending up in one of those "no Pit Bulls" shelters. I imagined him in a concrete cage, alone, until finally someone went into his kennel, snapped a leash on him, and walked him to a room where he'd be killed...for no other reason than he happened to be a Pit Bull.

I get teary eyed just thinking about it, and it never even happened. So, for all the "GREATEST DOGS IN THE WORLD" out there who have found themselves--through no fault of their own--homeless, Chako Pit Bull Rescue exists. Unfortunately, we cannot save them all, but we can save one at a time.

And that is the story behind Chako Pit Bull Rescue.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Top 15 fatal or serious dog attacks in recent U.S. history that were not caused by Pit Bulls and not heavily reported in the media

There has been a lot of talk in northern California lately about Pit Bulls and possibly banning them because, frankly, "we only really hear about Pit Bulls killing people."

Of course, we know that's not true. In 1980, the first year the CDC study covered fatal dog bites, Great Danes topped the list of dogs that killed people.

But the issue isn't about breed. It's about making sure that people who own dogs choose to own dogs that are SAFE around people and managed responsibly -- regardless of breed. It's about not having a false sense of security because one owns a Labrador or a Golden Retriever or a Border Collie (all of which have been involved in fatalities or serious dog attacks on human beings).

It's about preventing deaths from any dog, regardless of breed.

We are going to take a moment and remember the victims of fatal dog bites from dogs other than Pit Bulls, to remind people that, if we really care about public safety and making sure people aren't seriously hurt or killed by dogs, that we cannot and should not just focus on one breed of dog.

Below are 15 recent fatal or VERY serious dog attacks across the United States that have not made national news:

  1. Carolyn Mahon, Rottweiler, Florida, critcally injured.
  2. Kyle Holland, five years old, killed, Labrador and German Shepherd/Husky mix, Michigan
  3. Hoa Yun, Rottweiler, killed, Oceanside, CA
  4. Krystal Brink, 3 years old, killed, "Sled Dog," Alaska
  5. Olivia Rozek, infant, killed, Illinois, Siberian Husky
  6. Boys, Labrador and German Shepherd, MD
  7. James Sims, 11 years old, Labrador, mauled, Washington State
  8. Christian Elder, 3 years old, Labrador, lost ear in the attack, Virginia
  9. Ashlynn Anderson, killed, 4 years old, Oregon, Rottweiler
  10. Robert Hocker, infant, killed, Husky, Minnesota
  11. Liam Perk, 2 years old, killed, Florida, Weimaraner
  12. Baby (name not released), critical condition, Labrador Retriever, Kansas
  13. Triston Reed, 9 years old, mauled, Washington, Border Collie
  14. Dustin Faulkner, 3 years old, killed, Husky, Georgia
  15. Kate-Lynn Logel, 7 years old, killed, Denver area, Colorado, Alaskan Malamutes
Chako advocates euthanizing dogs, of any breed, that are vicious or have demonstrated that they are a danger to human beings. We believe in tough laws that hold people criminally responsible if they keep a dog they know to be dangerous, and that dog hurts a human being. We want to have all dogs treated humanely and to be kept as family pets, not isolated in small kennels, back yards, or kept on chains their entire lives. We don't want a single child to die from a dog bite, ever -- regardless of the breed of dog involved. We want to see all dog owners be held equally responsible for their pets and equally accountable for any injuries their dogs cause.

We hope the media reports responsibly on this issue, and gives comparable coverage to dog bites of all breeds, based on the severity of the bite and the injury, not the breed involved. We care about all dogs and all people, and we want to see society deal responsibly with this issue, for all dogs and all human beings.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Heroism forgotten, mauling not

His name is Thor, and despite the toughness of his name, he's a marshmallow. When a fire started in Thor's home, he barked to wake his family, and then he grabbed the bassinet where the family's three-month old baby lay and dragged it to the front door.

"It sounds like the real hero here is the family pit bull," said Frank Connolly, assistant executive director of the Elkhart County Red Cross. Source: WSBT-TV

If not for Thor, the family, including the baby, would have died.

But Thor didn't make major headlines. Hardly anyone remembers him or what he did so very recently.

The nation, however, is talking about dogs (identified as Pit Bulls, but we don't know for sure what they were yet) that mauled a two year in Concord, CA -- dogs that rarely (if ever) got to sleep inside a home with the family. They were left outside or in the garage, isolated, undersocialized, nervous around strangers since they weren't walked outside and rarely exposed to new people or new places.

Because some other dogs, somewhere else, that were never really treated as family pets killed an unsupervised child that wandered into his grandparents' garage (a child that was almost a stranger to the undersocialized dogs, especially the dog described as most aggressive), dogs like Thor who get to sleep inside and, in their spare time, save families and babies from burning buildings, will pay a horrific price... as will their owners.

Dogs are simply dogs. It is up to the Human species to do right by them, since we have chosen to bring them into our world. Embarking on a campaign to villify creatures that are incapable of truly understanding right from wrong and completely rely on us for their housing, feeding, training, and socialization is not only wrong, it's cruel and stupid.

The Human species needs to get its act together -- and not by banning or villifying animals that aren't as intelligent as we think we are. We need to ensure that children like Kate-Lynn logel (killed my malamutes), Kyle Holland (killed by a labrador/husky mix), Krystal Brink (killed by sled dogs), and Nicholas Faibish (killed by a Pit Bull type dog) are remembered, not because of the breeds they were killed by, but because of what they have tragically demonstrated.

Animals are animals. If we don't do right by them, if we don't treat them humanely, socialize them, train them, and (if need be) humanely euthanize the ones that just aren't safe, then both species will pay the price.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dog Reactivity

We finished our second Dog Reactivity Workshop (well, four sessions total, if you want to be technical, since each was broken up into two small groups). I want to give a big round of applause to the students (both human and canine) who completed the workshops.

For those who did not attend, here are some tips to managing dog reactivity in your dog. First, try to determine why your dog is reacting to other dogs (in a way you disapprove of, we assume). Is the dog excited, wanting to play? Anxious? Fearful? Dominant? Acting out of prey drive?

If your dog is fearful, avoid harsh corrections whenever possible. Imagine that you have a phobia. Say it's spiders or snakes or bees or enclosed spaces. Then imagine that you're confronted with that thing you're afraid of. The spider is crawling toward you. It's big. It's black. You can see its eyes and hairy ickiness. Then imagine that while you're about to freak out, someone starts slapping and yelling at you.

Obviously, they won't be helping your situation. The better way to deal with fear is through prolonged, slow desensization. You see a photo of a spider. Then you look at a spider from across the room. Etc. All the time, you're working on relaxation techniques or getting positive reinforcement (dollar bills, chocolate, whatever your particular lust is). If you got a five dollar bill just for looking at a spider across the room, you might not mind looking at one so much.

That's not to say correction isn't appropriate at times. Let's say your dog isn't particularly fearful but is prey driven. The dog is acting on instinct wanting to go after an animal. It could be a squirrel or a cat or whatever. In those situations, your dog may or may not want to take a reinforcer (like a treat or even a toy). It's focused on the smaller thing. That squirrel consumes its vision. You want to combine some desensitization work (seeing squirrels in the distance) with correction and reinforcement...but the key is to make sure the correction is approrpriate for your dog. A verbal correction such as "eh-eh" may often do for softer dogs. Once you get your dog out of the "zone" and looking at you, reward it. Give it a very tasty treat. Its favorite toy. A butt scratch. Whatever your dog really likes. Rinse and repeat.

Then work toward reinforcing your dog for choosing to look at you (rather than being prompted). Maybe you see the squirrel across the street. You've already practiced getting your dog out of the zone. Now see how your dog does on his or her own. Don't say or do anything, just be a pole. Wait your dog out. At some point, your dog is probably going to get over it and look at you. The moment he or she does! Bingo! Reward! And make sure you've got a super duper special reward. No, I don't mean kibble. No, not a dog biscuit. I'm talking about cooked steak or chicken. Something smelly and tasty and yummy (this assumes your dog is motivated by food or treats, and make sure he's hungry). Even "jackpot" the dog for choosing to look at you (that means give him a handful). Bestow verbal praise. Then end on that positive note.

It takes work. It takes repetition. But soon you will likely have a dog that, when it sees another dog or a squirrel, automatically looks at you and asks, "Where's the treat?" (or ball or...whatever).

Use correction to remind a dog that behavior isn't tolerated and as a consequence for a dog that blows you off after it knows what is expected (and, yes, they do). Dogs are creatures of consequence. They learn that behavior equals consequences, so you want to give positive consequences for desired behavior and negative consequences for undesired behavior. A negative consequence can be as simple as not getting a treat, being ignored, or not moving forward--if that is appropriately "unpleasant" for your dog. I won't go into correction too much in a blog, because it's really the most misused form of dog training and benefits more from demonstrations. Otherwise, you risk doing more harm than good.

However, if you focus on trying to reward desired behavior, you can't do a whole lot of harm, even if you mess up and reinforce the wrong behavior. It's a lot easier to recover from wrongly reinforcing a dog than wrongly correcting a dog, especially with sensitive or soft dogs.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Auburn Attacks Pit Bulls

Will Wong, Auburn's Community Development Director, today released the draft dog ordinance that the city council has been pondering for months. Despite the fact that several city council members expressed their belief that all dog owners should be held equally accountable for their dog, the city is now considering an ordinance that singles out Pit Bulls.

In an email to one of our supporters (who kindly forwarded it our way), city councilmember Bill Kirby stated, "I support the spay and neuter of all dogs except licensed breeders and certified show dogs."

City Councilmember Keith Nesbitt told the supporter, "Staff will be bringing back recommendations for a stronger ordinance. I do not believe it will be breed specific."

When we directly asked city council member Mike Holmes whether Auburn would be considering a Pit Bull specific ordinance, his response was a succinct, "No."

That leaves a clear majority of the city council who have said they will not support a Big Brother government by enacting breed specific legislation. So what happened? Well, apparently, a few of them flip-flopped, but we'll find out for sure during the May 24th city council meeting.

Read the full draft ordinance via our Google Docs account.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Procter & Gamble purchases Natura -- Bye, Innova and Evo!

Procter and Gamble has purchsaed Natura Pet Products, which sells the premium dog food brands Innova and Evo. Innova has been a privately held company based in Davis, CA. Procter and Gamble also sells California Natural and Karma, among other brands.
Procter and Gamble has a very spotty record when it comes to putting the health of its customer pets over its bank account. A few years ago, Proctor and Gamble lowered the recommended feeding guidelines for its Iams and Eukanuba brands in order to claim its products were cheaper to feed. Pet owners and a competing manufacturer sued Procter and Gamble. According to the Dog Food Report, "The suit claims that Iams misled consumers by lowering the portion sizes. It also refers to five independent studies testing Iams feeding instructions and statements made by the company. In all five studies, the humane officer terminated the study because of 'significant weight loss suffered by the dogs following Iams' feeding instructions.'"

Visit the Washington Post to read more about what Proctor and Gamble did with Iams and Eukanuba after purchasing those brands.

Another nationwide class action suit against the company filed in 2007 claimed that Proctor and Gamble and other dog food companies misled customers about the quality of its dog food, stating, "Millions of euthanized cats and dogs are 'rendered' and ultimately made into pet food. Drugs used in the euthanasia process have been detected in pet food because the drugs are not destroyed by heat." You can download the complaint via our Google Docs account.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How To Get Your Dog Banned in One Easy Step

Auburn, California, as we've previously blogged, had an incident a few months ago where a small group of Pit Bulls attacked a teenager. After that attack, Auburn was looking at drafting a new anti-Pit Bull ordinance. Originally, council member Kevin Hanley wanted to ban Pit Bulls (Auburn Journal report), but he later discovered that banning Pit Bulls is illegal in California.

After many hours of advocacy and education attempts, it appeared that we had been successful in showing most of the Auburn City Council members that any new dog law should target irresponsible owners of all breeds, not Pit Bulls as a breed. Will Wong, Auburn Community Development Director, has been working on some draft ordinances to submit to the city council, and we've been in close contact with him about when these draft ordinances might be ready for review.

Just before the draft ordinances were finalized, a dog that the Auburn Journal identified initially as an 80-pound male Pit Bull escaped its owners yard, went into the neighbor's hard, and attacked a 91 year-old man, doing serious damage to his hand. A responding police officer chased and ultimately shot and killed the dog.

As it turns out, the dog is not a purebred "pitbull" (as Auburn spells the breed). The dog was identified by animal control as a Rottweiler / Pit Bull mix. What that means is, unless the owners have both parents on site (which doesn't appear to be the case), there really is no way to determine with any degree of accuracy the breed of the dog. Pit Bulls, as educated people know, generally do not reach the 80 pound mark (unless they are very overweight!). The breed standards for the various registries that recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier generally call for a dog between 40 and 65 pounds.

In a followup article, the Auburn Journal changed the breed reference from "pitbull" to "pitbull cross," referencing once in the second paragraph that the dog was identified as Rottweiler-Pit Bull mix.

Although, according to News10, the dog in question was actually a record-breaking, 80-pound Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Now that is one really, really big Bull! (For those who don't know, Staffy Bulls are generally between 24 and 38 pounds).

Of course, even though Pit Bulls are usually smaller, that doesn't mean they don't get up to 80 pounds. Sure they do, just like human beings sometimes reach seven feet in height. However, 80+ pounds is not typical of purebred Pit Bulls (of course, there are many mixed breed dogs identified by bystanders as either "Pit Bulls" or "Pit Bull" mixes).

Not that it really matters what breed the dog was in this case. What matters is that an irresponsible owner who, according to some reports, had a dog known to act aggressively in the past, continued to keep this dog and -- even worse -- keep it in an unsecured back yard from which it was easily able to escape.

Pit Bull owners (and owners of dogs that look like they might possibly have touched a drop of Bully Breed in their lineage), if you really want to make sure that anti-Pit Bull laws come to your town, all you have to do is let your dog roam loose--bonus points if your dog is aggressive and injures a person!

Of course, we have to point out the obvious once again -- the Auburn Journal has only, thus far, reported on Pit Bull attacks. The only mention of anything even resembling a non-Pit Bull dog attack is in a letter to the editor when a man states a good Samaritan tried to return a wallet when his Rottweiler "almost attacked" the good Samaritan. The other mention is a brief photo caption of a person holding out money as a reward for a dog that attacked a horse.

If you read The Auburn Journal, you'd think that Pit Bulls are the only dogs that bite in Auburn, which is obviously not true. The truth is that The Auburn Journal simply doesn't care to report on bites by other dog attacks. The old adage "Dog bites man isn't news, but man bites dog is!" remains true--except if the dog happens to look like it might be a Pit Bull or Pit bull mix.

To test this theory, we had one of our supporters contact The Auburn Journal to tell a reporter all about an attack by a Labrador Retriever. The Auburn Journal  hasn't yet bothered to return that message.

Author: D Capp

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Dangerous Dogs of Bloor

If you needed even more proof that one should “blame the deed, not the breed”, I’d like to introduce you to Jason Bloor of the United Kingdom.

You see, Mr. Bloor is not exactly a stand-up kind of guy.

In 2003, Mr. Bloor was suspected of conspiracy to rob a victim of domestic violence, Tania Moore. Her former fiancé, Mark Dyche, allegedly hired Mr. Bloor and 3 other men to rob and assault Ms. Moore. Mr. Dyche ended up standing trial for the murder of Tania (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article383400.ece)

In June of 2009, Mr. Bloor admitted to allowing his 3 Rottweilers to attack a woman and kill her poodle. (http://www.nowpublic.com/world/man-21-bled-death-after-alsatians-bit-him-51-times) He was charged under the “Dangerous Dogs Act”, “given a 12-month supervision order, sent on an offending behaviour scheme and had to pay £250 compensation…” (http://www.ukandspain.com/dangerous-dogs/)

After that conviction, Mr. Bloor moved on to Alsatians (German Shepherds). It was those 3 dogs that mauled Andrew Walker to death in May of 2009. (http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/cheadle/news/Lodger-killed-fighting-pet-dogs/article-1566859-detail/article.html)

But what does this all really mean?

For one thing, a person of less than moral character will find a way to do whatever vile thing he or she wants to do. Ban him from Rottweilers, he’ll move to German Shepherds. Ban him from assault rifles, he’ll move to handguns. Take away his drivers license, and he’ll simply drive illegally.

Jason Bloor is just flat out not the kind of guy I’d want to see in a dark alley, period. He wasn’t a responsible owner with the Rottweilers, and he surely wasn’t responsible with the German Shepherds. I have no doubt that if he had a pack of 3-legged Pugs, we would hear about them attacking someone. Keep in mind, neither Rottweilers nor German Shepherds are banned under the UK’s Dangerous Dogs Act, so I’m assuming that all those that voted in favor (favour?) of the Act were absolutely dumbfounded that despite all their well-intentioned banning, there are still reports of fatal dog attacks.

I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, if the Dangerous Dogs Act focused on irresponsible ownership and criminal behavior instead of a dog’s physical traits, Mr. Walker would still be alive today.

It’s a travesty that Mr. Walker’s death was ruled an accident. The only accident here is that Mr. Bloor will remain a free man, free to own more dogs that will no doubt kill again.

Author: Rachele L.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pit Bull Attacked in Dog Park

Recently, a woman wrote to the Auburn Journal that Pit Bulls were ruining the dog park she frequents. According to her, when a Labrador Retriever collided with a Pit Bull, a fight ensued, costing about $400 in veterinary bills. Apparently, she thinks Pit Bulls are the only dogs out there capable of getting into fights at dog parks. Never, of course, would a LABRADOR fight at a dog park (if you believe that, read on).

First, I'll tell you one sad story the media hasn't reported on, but if the headline read, "Pit Bull Attack in Dog Park," you can bet it would have made news (the Auburn story did, after all). It's the story of two dogs at a northern California dog park. One dog, an eight to nine month old Pit Bull, was romping around the dog park chasing after his ball. The other dog, a much larger golden-colored animal with a medium coat (the owner called it a Redbone Coonhound mix) charged across the dog park and attacked the Pit Bull.

The Coonhound latched on to the smaller Pit Bull, and both owners tried desperately to get it to let go. The Coonhound bit the owner of the Pit Bull (likely accidentally) during the scuffle. Off to the vet they went. To his credit, the owner of the attacking dog went with the Pit Bull owner to a veterinarian's office and paid the bill, which amounted to over $1,000 after surgery to repair an internally mangled ear.

Another case comes out of Miami-Dade, Florida and involves two Labrador Retrievers. (In perfect irony, Miami-Dade banned Pit Bulls). One dog -- we'll call him Brody to protect the innocent -- was happily playing with his ball when another Labrador Retriever went after the ball. The two dogs got into a fight, leaving the interloping Labrador Retriever with puncture wounds in his mouth and lip. Yes,that's right, two Labrador Retrievers got into a fight at the dog park. Oh my! What will "Pit Bulls are evil, Labradors are salt of the earth" Auburn lady say about that?

Let this be a lesson to everyone. Dog parks aren't the greatest idea, even for perfectly friendly dogs like the Pit Bull in the first story. Lots of bad things can happen. If that's the only place you can run your dog off leash, go during non-peak hours when it's nearly deserted, and leave when others start to arrive. It's great that cities and towns want to provide off leash spaces for dogs to run, but unfortunately, people bring dog selective or even dog aggressive dogs to dog parks, and that can spell disaster for your best friend. And for those who think it's "Pit Bulls" that are the problem at dog parks, this should be just ONE wake up call for you. Get over the delusion that only Pit Bulls have dogs among them that can be aggressive to other dogs. Dog aggression is an inherent trait in the canine species. It exists in all breeds. In fact, intraspecies aggression -- that means aggression toward members of one's own species -- is rather prevalent throughout the animal kingdom...even, and perhaps most especially, in the group of animals known as humans.

Read the vet's bill below showing what it costs to fix the poor Pit Bull's ear. Even worse than the financial cost is the pain the incident caused an impressionable young pup.

You can read the Auburn letter online at http://auburnjournal.com/detail/141250.html?content_source=&category_id=&search_filter=pit+bulls&user_id=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&event_ts_to=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=1&sub_type=&town_id=

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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Report: Auburn City Council meeting 1/25, No Peace for Pit Bulls

I and other responsible dog owner advocates attended last night's Auburn City Council meeting. I took the opportunity to speak to the council after listening to a report by city staffmembers who said that breed-specific legislation is burdensome and likely to be ineffective. In particular, they looked at San Francisco's ordinance mandating spay/neuter of Pit Bulls and found that, after the ordinance, a little over 50% of all dog bites were caused by animals that were spayed or neutered. Their conclusion: spaying and neutering does not reduce a dog's aggression toward human beings. We told them that during the November city council meeting, by the way. Removing a dog's reproductive organs does not turn an unstable, vicious dog into a sweetheart. Using spay/neuter to solve public safety issues won't work. Rather, the city should focus on targeting all irresponsible dog owners -- of all breeds.

Kevin Hanley who originally proposed the anti Pit Bull ordinance (in fact, he wanted to ban them entirely at first), said he wants Animal Control to keep a record of all Pit Bull owners in Auburn so that police can periodically drive by their houses. By the way, he wasn't entirely alone in his sentiments. Dr. Bill Kirby, another city councilmember (he's the bald guy on the right in the photo below) said he wanted to make sure everyone knew there would be no peace or love for Pit Bulls.

Yes, he really said that. You can hear his statements on our youtube channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vYva_Q6CC0

But before you head off to youtube, take a look at our photos from last night's meeting!

The City Council

A silent protester

A pit bull service dog attends

Now you can check out our youtube video from last night http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vYva_Q6CC0

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.