Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Odis, pit bulls, stun guns, and fear mongering

I'm going to tie everything up in one post about the tragic story that's been unfolding in the last week about the shih-tzu that was killed by 2 dogs in Dartmouth.

There are several aspects to cover - the idea of how to protect yourself and your dogs if unattended dogs do suddenly come out of nowhere and start to attack you and your dogs or heaven forbid, your children - what can you do? That's one thing;

The fact that this story is showing once again that bylaw A300 is absolutely useless in protecting dogs, humans - and being a deterrent to irresponsible owners - one week later the dogs who attacked and killed Otis are still in their home unrepentent. And when and if the owner is charged - it will just be a slap on the wrist, and at worst the dogs will be killed, a small fine and they will be allowed to go out and repeat the procedure and begin again - maybe they'll try a more interesting breed next time.

News coverage in the last week - don't get me started! Okay - that's where I'll start!

In order to be a journalist - I guess you have to go to journalism school, right? Just like I have to go to blogger school in order to be a blogger.

And at journalism school they teach you that you have to be objective and not put in your own thoughts and ideas....

Rick Howe. News 95.7 - he should NOT talk about dogs. Ever. At least not pit bulls - or - as he likes to say "I like to call them pit bull type dogs". What a joke.

He talked about the Otis story on Friday - and here's some of the things he said -

"The attacking dogs are described as “pit bull like dogs” – just google dog maulings or something similar and most of the stories involve such dogs – these pit bull like animals.   99% of them are related to pit bull type dogs. Is it time to ban this breed.

A horrific story – and the very latest in a number of these incidents that seem to happen with regular occurrence with this type of dog.

Should we require some kind of licencing of dog owners who want to be owners of these dogs who tend to border on being vicious at times – do we make more stringent requirements for people to own these kinds of dogs = at 4:20 of 7:30

Netta says you don’t need a licence to be a parent of humans and there’s no way to enforce it

When talking about how pit bull type dogs are not at the top of list for dog bites Rick says -

The problem is – when these dogs do make the news these more vicious breed dogs, when they chomp on you it’s a whole lot worse than when a poodle chomps on you."

These are actual verbatim quotes - I taped the show - so these are actual things he said on the air on Friday.

What really irks me is that a lot of people listen to his show - so he has put out there into the ether that pit bulls a "vicious breed dogs" - and that they are at the top of list for "dog maulings".

I really wish he WOULD HAVE googled dog maulings - because he would have been very surprised what he had found - it would have been a ton of top results of NON PIT-BULL RESULTS.

I googled "dog maulings"

These are the top results I came up with:

#1 - the Diane Whipple case in San Francisco - do you all remember the breed of those dogs? YES! Presa Canario - NOT pit bulls...

#2 - "Manslaughter charge for mother in baby's mauling" - in Quebec - in 2010 - by a husky dog - NOT a pit bull...

#3 - "Delaware man gets jail time in dog mauling case" - - it doesn't mention the breed of the dogs in the story - but it certainly has a familiar tone  -

"A Delaware man received a stiff sentence this morning for allowing his dogs to badly maul an elderly man who underwent several surgeries for his injuries. Virgil Mitchell III, 34, will serve 180 days in jail and was ordered to pay $380,000 in restitution to cover medical bills stemming from the attack by his Cane Corso mastiffs. Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge Everett Kruger also ordered Mitchell to perform 240 hours of community service, including 40 hours at a dog shelter or humane society, and barred him from owning dogs for five years. Mitchell will be placed on work release after 45 days in jail, but must spend all non-working hours in jail for the remaining 135 days.

James Bright, 67, of Delaware, was attacked by four of Mitchell's dogs on Oct. 5 while walking near the man's home on S. Washington Street near London Road. Mitchell had pleaded guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor count of failing to confine a vicious dog and four second-degree misdemeanor counts of allowing animals to run at large. Mitchell's dogs were seized by authorities and euthanized. He had been charged six times since 2001 with allowing his dogs to roam and one of the dogs also had bitten someone in 2008.  He pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors in a plea arrangement to avoid a felony charge. "The victim is satisfied with the punishment and wants to see the defendant start paying back his outstanding medical costs," Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O'Brien said in a news release."

The First hit that mentions a pit bull - is 27 hits down - and it says "pet pit bull mix"

So that's pretty disingenuous of Mr. Howe to say that about his googling. It's absolutely untrue.

And saying that incidents like what happened with Otis are a regular occurence is also untrue - it happens so irregularly that we should hand all our guns over to our dogs - we'd be a lot safer.

I'm not going to get into statistics because I don't have them - but the stories that make it into the news here in Nova Scotia are at the rate of about one or two a year. If you take into considerations that there's tens of thousands of dogs in Nova Scotia - that's pretty good.

And in those tens of thousands are probably thousands and thousands and thousands of those dreaded pit bulls. And only one or two tragic incidents.

That we all agree happen because of OWNER irresponsibility.

So I think it's safe to say that Rick Howe - and any other public person - needs to stop spouting off the garbage about pit bulls are vicious and are killing at a great rate, and something needs to be done to them. The fear mongering has got to stop.

My last agenda item is for the owners of dogs who want to protect them against the mongrel hordes - the owners of all the Otis's out there who are afraid that their dog is next and are scared to walk their dogs right now.

I was actually asked for advice about this - what could be done, so I did a bit of research for techniques and have come up with some ideas - I used to own dogs that could kill little dogs - and I was also cognizant of that fact and was careful not to let anything bad happen - and now I am the owner of little dogs who are on the other end of the spectrum so it's interesting to feel the dichotomy of the situation, as it were.

The problem is - a couple of the ideas are actually illegal here - down in the United States - personal protection is held very dear - so you're allowed to carry whatever you want - but up here in Canada - you're not allowed to carry anything.

Stun guns, or "personal tasers" - they are a big item down in the States and very popular - but alas, they are illegal here - and it seems to me that if you didn't get the dogs at the exact right moment - you could piss him off and be in a much worse state very quickly - there is a crazy website down in the States - - that is all about stun guns just for tasering dogs - marketed to joggers and dog walkers.

You could also carry mace or bear spray - which you could pick up at outdoor supply companies - I'm not sure if that's available in Nova Scotia or not - someone suggested once that you could also carry another obnoxious smelling spray to spray into the face of an attacking dog and that would work just as good as bear spray - and is legal.

You could carry a stick - there is a good idea in a link at -

It says to carry a stick 2 feet long and one inch in diameter.  point the stick at the dog’s nose and keep it there. Make the stick the obstacle the dog must overcome in order to advance. If the dog stops its advance, you have thwarted their initial attack. While still pointing your stick at the dog, take a small step towards them. If the dog backs up, take another step. You are now taking their territory from them. Repeat as often as necessary until the dog retreats. This sounds fine until you meet a dog that doesn’t back down.

If the dog does not back down, keep pointing the stick at them. The stick must be used as a joust, not a club. If you swing the stick and miss, you leave yourself open for a counterattack. The goal is to have the dog grab the stick so that their mouth is occupied. When they grab the stick, they will instinctively pull.

Pay attention-here’s the part a lot of people don’t know: When the dog pulls on the stick, DO NOT PULL BACK!! They are much stronger than we are and have a lower center of gravity. Pulling back plays to their strength and you will not win this tug-of-war. Additionally, if the dog releases their bite on the stick while you are pulling (probably with all your strength) you may stumble backwards and while trying to recover your balance the dog will be free to attack again.

The better move is when the dog grabs the stick, wait for it to pull and at that moment take a small step into the dog. This will push the stick into the dog's mouth. The dog can easily be injured by this action, so please be as gentle as possible. The idea is to defeat it, not kill it. You need to be focused on keeping the stick in the dog’s mouth, rendering it useless for biting anything else. Again, you do not want to push so hard as to injure the dog, but you do want to create enough of a negative experience so as to make the dog retreat and (hopefully) cause it to possibly not attack other dogs.

If they do not grab the stick and do not back away, begin poking the dog with the stick. They will soon grow tired of being jabbed and retreat.

It's been interesting all the same old prejudices that have come out on Facebook since this story hit - especially since yesterday when ATV announced the Bully Expo that's taking place in August - see below for link to the video - some people were asking other dog people if they would attend, and whether or not they'd take their own dogs - and the answers that people have been giving - that only "certain" types of people own pit bulls!

In this day and age, it's ridiculous the prejudices that people still have.

I will go to my grave with my belief that all dogs are equal, all dogs are the same. There is no breed characteristic that makes one dog more aggressive and prone to attacking another dog or human. I will never believe it. But that is me. I am stupid I guess. It has cost me friendships that I cared about, but in the long run it's the dogs who are the ones who stick around anyway.

The Bully Expo is going to be August 6th at Cole Harbour Place

CTV Atlantic - Family pet killed in Dartmouth dog attack - CTV News

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