Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pathetically Biased Writing in today's Vancouver Sun

There was an absolutely horrible opinion piece in today's Vancouver Sun about pit bulls - and how there should be a complete pubilc space ban on all dogs until there is adequate animal control policies are in place so that basically dogs and their owners aren't allowed to go anywhere or do anything. The writer is obviously a dog hater of the nth degree - it's absolutely despicable.

But what's REALLY despicable is her use of statistics and a study put out by the CDC and her convenient non citing so that she can conveniently use some parts of it and not others. She wants a complete ban of pit bulls and rottweillers and uses the study to support her stance - but the study that she's using to support it actually says

"Breed-specific legislation does not address the fact that a dog of any breed can become dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive. From a scientific point of view, we are unaware of any formal 840 Vet Med Today: Special Report JAVMA, Vol 217, No. 6, September 15, 2000 evaluation of the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing fatal or nonfatal dog bites. An alternative to breed-specific legislation is to regulate individual dogs and owners on the basis of their
behavior."

The link to find this quote is at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/dogbreeds.pdf - I am not afraid of you finding out what the sources of MY information are - unlike the author of today's article in the Vancouver Sun!

I wrote a "letter to the editor" of the Vancouver Sun (of course, how could I not?) - it had to be under 200 words - here it is:

I am horrified that Marilyn Baker is allowed to use parts of a CDC study for her own benefit in her opinion piece in May 29th's paper - saying that pit bulls and rottweillers cause the majority of dog bite fatalities and she thus recommends sweeping breed bans like Ontario and Winnipeg - when the same study also says "Breed-specific legislation does not address the fact that a dog of any breed can become dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive. From a scientific point of view, we are unaware of any formal 840 Vet Med Today: Special Report JAVMA, Vol 217, No. 6, September 15, 2000 evaluation of the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in preventing fatal or nonfatal dog bites. An alternative to breed-specific legislation is to regulate individual dogs and owners on the basis of their behavior." I WILL cite the study Ms. Baker refused to cite - it's at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/dogbreeds.pdf - if you want to build your own opinion on BSL - you should go read it YOURSELF!!!


Here is her article - which is YUCK! Read it at your own discretion!

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/editorial/story.html?id=feb7f36a-2baa-429f-a6b8-7af59e2c2e5b

First, let's ban all the dogs
Seriously: Until effective animal control enforcement is in place, we should keep dogs out of all public spaces where people walk and children play

Marilyn Baker
Special to the Sun


Tuesday, May 29, 2007



CREDIT: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun, files
The vast majority of dog owners are responsible; unfortunately it just takes a few to spoil things for the others.

'Every school is just a wasteland of dog crap." This is the view of Michael Potts, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 407 in Vancouver.

His union of school janitors is in favour of banning dogs from schoolyards.

I would go further. Until we get some effective animal control enforcement in place, I think dogs should be banned from all public spaces -- including parks and sidewalks -- where people walk and children play.

I am happy that the city of Richmond has banned dogs from the new rural park at Terra Nova. Good on it.

For the most part, the problem is not the dogs. It is the dog owners. The vast majority of them are responsible owners and fine, intelligent citizens, with no chip on their shoulders and no axes to grind. Unfortunately it just takes a few to spoil things for the others.

No one enjoys seeing dog poop on sidewalks. It's no fun to step in a moist canine offering when taking the kiddies for a park outing. Nor is it amusing to be told by a neighbour, whose backyard has become a health hazard due to dog dirt, that "it makes great fertilizer for the grass."

But the poopy owners are nothing compared to dog owners who blithely ignore the posted signs and unleash their dogs in public spaces. Talk about arrogance. They believe that dog bylaws were made for somebody else, but not them.

When recently confronted with a large uncontrolled dog, I politely mentioned the city leash-up bylaw to the owner who was ambling along behind. He smirked and told me that it was a cat.

Is there a law of nature that says that the size of the dog is inversely proportional to size of the owner's brain?

I'm polite when I mention that a district is not an off-leash area. Many say that they didn't know, in spite of the huge signs that lead into the parks and walking trails. And 99 per cent of these people sincerely believe that they can control their canines in any situation. They laugh pleasantly and say that their dog is friendly and wouldn't hurt a fly, let alone rip a kid's face off.

But the vast majority of horrific maimings has been done by dogs whose astonished owners invariably tell the cops, the coroner and the victims' families that they had "no idea" about their pet's aggressive dark side.

Canada does not keep statistics on dog bites. The Canada Safety Council estimates that there are about 460,000 dog bites annually. The United States does track dog bites -- injuries and fatalities. Injuries requiring medical attention are high, with one estimate coming in at 4.7 million dog attacks annually.

While the onus is on dog owners to control their pets, there are certain breeds that are more dangerous and warrant special attention. Pit bull terriers are by far the most vicious by a factor of three over the next most vicious breed, Rottweilers.

An unusually detailed study of dog bites from 1982 to November 2006 shows that pit bull terriers, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes were responsible for 74 per cent of the attacks, including 68 per cent of attacks on children and a shocking 82 per cent of attacks on adults. In more than two-thirds of the cases, the life-threatening or fatal attack was apparently "the first known dangerous behaviour by the animal in question."

Attacks by pit bull terriers are typically unprovoked, occur without warning and are far more likely to cause serious injury or death.

I would like to see pit bull terriers and Rottweilers banned, or at least be subject to special regulations. In some jurisdictions, if owners wish to keep pit bulls, they must be leashed, muzzled, neutered/spayed, and the owner must carry liability insurance.

Ontario has outlawed pit bulls. So has Winnipeg. There are reportedly 37 American states with partial bans on this breed.

In areas in the U.S. where pit bull terriers are not banned, the actuarial realities of public liability insurance are having a beneficial effect as owners find it more and more difficult, if not impossible, to get insurance to cover the horrendous damage their pets can wreak on victims.

While we're waiting for improved dog control enforcement, walkers, parents and park lovers can take the advice offered recently by an Ontario resident: Don't ever walk without a big stick and always carry a cellphone with the Animal Control number handy. I would add "wear protective clothing" to that.

People need to fight back. The only way to bring this problem under control is to repeatedly hit irresponsible dog owners in the pocketbook with big fines for poop and bigger fines, lawsuits and jail time for attacks by unleashed dogs.

Marilyn Baker is a writer based in Richmond.

2 comments:

  1. marjorie10:56 AM

    Since they likely won't print it, here are my 200 words (exactly!), in response:

    "As a dog bite researcher, I was disappointed grossly misleading information was included in Marilyn Baker's article, 'First, let's ban all the dogs' (May 29, 2007, Vancouver Sun).

    No country keeps tabs on all dog bites. Even the '4.7 million' (U.S.) figure Ms. Baker used is an estimate based on a random-dialed 1994 telephone survey of just over 5,000 people. However, in Canada, hospital injury reporting data hints at what's actually going on here.

    The Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program released a report showing which breeds have caused injuries serious enough to require treatment in hospital. This is what they found:

    'Of the 385 records in the study, 278 (72.2%) specified the breed of the dog. There were 50 types of purebreds and 33 types of cross-breeds identified. The most common breeds were German Shepherds (40), Cocker Spaniels (16), Rottweilers (16) and Golden Retrievers (15).'

    These figures represent only the most serious dog bite injuries in Canada. For many Canadians, though, this information is a revelation.

    The fact remains, any dog, of any size or shape, can be either a danger or a model canine citizen, depending on its owner. Let’s target the correct end of the leash."

    ReplyDelete
  2. marjorie10:07 AM

    Nope. No surprise. They didn't print it. I can only assume that's because...well...it contains facts that refute the pervasive myth that 'pit bulls' are the most dangerous dogs in Canada.

    ReplyDelete