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I don't think the problem is necessarily with the pit bulls themselves. They are bred for aggression but they, like all other dogs, are also bred to listen to people. In the hands of the right owner, any pit bull can be as safe as a kitten. But the real problem is that not every owner has the desire or knowledge to safely control their dog. So if a country or state wants to ban a certain kind of dog because they can't trust that their owners will be responsible, then that's their decision to make.

This is all true. My Bo Bo was a very gentle, loving dog around people, but he was VERY dog-aggressive. I watched Cesar Millan and tried to use his techniques for stopping DA but was not successful. I NEVER let him off leash when walking him, and walking him in a park was difficult when other dogs were there.

 

Pit bulls are very strong, willful dogs with high activity traits. An owner MUST BE THE PACK LEADER or he will not be able to control a pit bull successfully. I give Millan as THE example of a successful pack leader with 50 dogs in his kennels, half of which are pit bulls and he controls them all.

 

Having said all that, let me also say that once you have experienced pit bull love, no other breed will take its place.

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"For every fatal dog bite in the United States, there are 230,000 bites that are not treated by a physician.

................

Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, has conducted an unusually detailed study of dog bites from 1982 to the present. (Clifton, Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to November 13, 2006; click here to read it.) The Clifton study show the number of serious canine-inflicted injuries by breed. The author's observations about the breeds and generally how to deal with the dangerous dog problem are enlightening.

 

According to the Clifton study, pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes are responsible for 74% of attacks that were included in the study, 68% of the attacks upon children, 82% of the attacks upon adults, 65% of the deaths, and 68% of the maimings. In more than two-thirds of the cases included in the study, the life-threatening or fatal attack was apparently the first known dangerous behavior by the animal in question. Clifton states:

 

If almost any other dog has a bad moment, someone may get bitten, but will not be maimed for life or killed, and the actuarial risk is accordingly reasonable. If a pit bull terrier or a Rottweiler has a bad moment, often someone is maimed or killed--and that has now created off-the-chart actuarial risk, for which the dogs as well as their victims are paying the price.

 

Clifton's opinions are as interesting as his statistics. For example, he says, "Pit bulls and Rottweilers are accordingly dogs who not only must be handled with special precautions, but also must be regulated with special requirements appropriate to the risk they may pose to the public and other animals, if they are to be kept at all."

The financial impact of dog bites

Dog attack victims in the US suffer over $1 billion in monetary losses every year. ("Take the bite out of man's best friend." State Farm Times, 1998;3(5):2.) That $1 billion estimate might be low -- an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that, in 1995, State Farm paid $70 million on 11,000 claims and estimated that the total annual insurance cost for dog bites was about $2 billion. (Voelker R. "Dog bites recognized as public health problem." JAMA 1997;277:278,280.)

 

According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites cost insurers $345.5 million in 2002, $321.6 million in 2003, $317.2 million in 2005, and $351.4 in 2006. The number of claims paid by insurers was 20,800 in 2002, but fell to 15,000 in 2005. The insurance payment for the average dog bite claim was $16,600 in 2002, but rose to $21,200 in 2005. Liability claims accounted for approximately 4 percent of homeowners claims. Dog bite claims in 2005 accounted for about 15 percent of liability claims dollars paid under homeowners insurance policies."

 

http://www.dogbitelaw.com/PAGES/statistics.html

Not a "chox mix." Not a "buff mastiff," either: a "shred of historical evidence" for Merritt Clifton. Click on photos to enlarge.

 

 

How unnerving it must seem, how humiliating, to be a professional breed-basher this week! Spend years stoking the urban legend machine, and what happens? Famous athlete gets busted for dogfighting, his "ticking time bombs" turn out to be good dogs, and the news is all about friendly pit bulls nestled in the loving arms of their foster moms and dads, or playing happily with other dogs. Playing with children, even.

 

It's almost enough to make a person feel sorry for Merritt Clifton. Almost.

 

Clifton is the editor, and I use the term loosely, who lists the "chox mix," the “Dauschund," the “East Highland terrier,” the “Weimaeaner,” the “Buff Mastiff,” etc. among dogs that bite: these are "clearly identified" animals, he states, labeled by people "with evident expertise." ["Clearly identified" and "evident expertise" also mean that the blue heeler, the Australian blue heeler, the Queensland heeler and the Australian cattle dog are described as separate breeds in Clifton's odd tabulation of dog bites, and mixes are lumped together with dogs labeled purebreds.]

 

No MLA format for Clifton: no footnotes, no in-text citations, no pages of works cited. And because some editors, reporters and columnists can't tell a peer-reviewed study from a pig in a poke, Clifton enjoys a certain amount of air time. Here he is on CNN, talking about pit bulls in general and the Vick dogs in particular:

Considering the risk the fighting dogs pose to shelters, potential owners and other animals, "they just don't have a chance," Clifton said.

 

"You can compare it to what happens with exotic cats and people who keep tigers in their backyard. It's not the tiger's fault, but you are still on the menu. They are victims, but you do have to treat them as animals that belong in maximum security."

Imagine how ignorant and how biased you'd have to be to make that sort of remark.

 

Now that the wheel of Karma is bearing down on him, Clifton is beginning to sound shrill:

Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, takes issue with my previous post, in which I wrote: "Remember that only a generation or two ago, pit bulls were renowned as 'America's family dog.'"

 

He promptly e-mails me, saying:

 

This is a total fiction. There isn't a shred of historical evidence that pit bulls ever amounted to more than 1% of the total U.S. dog population until under 15 years ago, or that they were ever commonly kept as family pets (or indeed by anyone except dogfighters) until then.

Clifton says that between 1900 and 1950 [according to search results on the NewspaperArchive.com website] 35 breeds of dog accounted for 3.5 million newspaper articles or ads which included the word "dog" and a mention of the breed's name.

 

Pit bull terriers, Staffordshires, and American bulldogs account for 34,770 results, roughly 1% of the 3.5 million, leading Clifton to believe that from 1900 to 1950 "pit bulls" made up no more than 1% of the U.S. dog population.

 

There are so many things wrong with this, it's hard to tell where to start.

 

Forget duplicate ads. Forget multiple references to Lassie and Rin-Tin-Tin and Balto. Forget short stories, movie and book reviews, and breed names used figuratively or used in advertising. Forget the regional, racial and socioeconomic factors that affect what goes into a newspaper. And most of all, forget that Clifton failed to search for bulldogs and bull terriers: the two names most closely associated with the "pit bull" breed in the first half of the 20th century. Set all that aside, and the bias and ignorance still loom large. "Not a shred of historical evidence!" Not a shred, dammit!

 

To digress just a bit, how is it that people who don't know anything about dogs become dog experts? How is it that Jon Katz -- who allows his dogs to worry sheep and calls it "herding," who believes stockdogs are trained with a clicker, who views the no-kill sheltering movement as a threat to America's children, who [as far as anyone knows] has never trained a dog to do much of anything and has never attended a real sheepdog trial even as a spectator -- how is it that Jon Katz has become, in his publisher's words, "one of the country's most respected" writers on dogs?

 

How is it that Merritt Clifton -- who wouldn't recognize scientific research if he tripped over it, who thinks German shepherds are bred to "herd," who can't be troubled to edit his spelling errors or find out what dogs are really bred for, who has [as far as anyone knows] never cared for or trained or even patted a pit bull, who has written about "the custom" [known only to him, apparently] "of docking pit bulls' tails so that warning signals are not easily recognized," and who writes that "temperament is not the issue, nor is it even relevant," since virtually all pit bulls are "bad moments" waiting to happen -- how is it that Clifton has become an "expert" on the breed?

 

 

"There isn't a shred of historical evidence" [Clifton writes] that pit bulls "were ever commonly kept as family pets (or indeed by anyone except dogfighters)" until the 1980s.

 

Wrong. Again.

 

On the left: one example of a pit bull on a citrus crate label. I grew up in a region famous for its citrus crops, and love historic crate labels. Lots of the old ones feature popular breeds -- Airedales, Saint Bernards -- and these days modern breeds are occasionally photoshopped into old citrus labels. The Pup Brand label is an authentic oldie. This facsimile is for sale here.

 

At the top of this post is a photo of a book called The Dog Album. From the dust jacket: "For the nineteenth-century businessman, newly engaged couple, or Victorian family dressed in their Sunday best, a photo session was indeed a special occasion. Which makes it all the more fascinating to see how often the family dog participated in the event." The Dog Album includes a dozen or so photos of pit bull type dogs with their people. There are more pit bulls in this book than collies. More pit bulls than pugs, in fact. Even more pit bulls than Saint Bernards.

 

Vintage photos of people and their pit bulls are a staple on eBay. Here's a link to the photo below.

 

 

And here's a shot of a handsome pit bull with a group of railroad engineers:

 

 

 

On the right, a postcard of a lady. No, Zelig fans, it's not the same dog ;~)

 

A pit bull is the subject of New Yorker icon James Thurber's classic Snapshot of a Dog. "'An American bull terrier,' we used to say, proudly; none of your English bulls." "American bull terrier" was one of many names given to the dog now called a pit bull, according to American Kennel Gazette editor Arthur Frederick Jones. Jones wrote a chapter on terriers for the National Geographic Book of Dogs, and began the chapter with an appreciation of Joffre, the Staffordshire terrier his family owned when Jones was a boy.

 

Anyone familiar with pit bulls knows that these dogs have always been called bulldogs in rural areas and in southern parts of the U.S. When Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about the family bulldog, Jack, she's writing about a dog we would recognize as a pit bull. In the great children's book Sounder the dog of the title is half hound, half bulldog: that is, half pit bull.

 

Listen to Texan Jim Crainer of Hawgs, Dawgs, and Hunting:

Hello David,

 

I appreciate you taking the time to write. Your question is "Do I hunt with pitbulls and do I presently have any pups I'm selling or giving away". First, Do I hunt with Bull dogs? Yes, but I only use them in a catch dog capacity. When the hog is bayed up, I get as close as I can and release a protected vest covered and cut collar wearing bull dog to go catch the hog. I dont have bull dogs that I let hunt for me, but know of some people who do. Its just a personal preference on type of dogs is the reason I dont. Suprisingly to alot of people, some strains of bull dogs are good hunters and have a good nose especially for rig or hood hunting. But its like any breed of dog, you have to find the right dog to do it with. Such as, just because a fella has a blackmouth cur or a catahoula doesnt mean he will bay cattle or hogs. Or just because a person has a walker hound doesnt mean he will tree a coon. You have to go thru a number of them or get them from reputible breeders to find one that will work for you. Second, Do I have any bull dogs puppies to sell or give away? I usually raise one litter of bull dog pups a year, there is a picture of the two I kept on the baydog pictures, Under Dogs, picture #3. I do sell them occasionally when I raise a litter. Thanks again for your question.

 

Good Hunting,

 

Jim

[Crainer writes elsewhere that he favors the Carver line of pit bulls -- a fighting strain --and won't bother with a pit bull unless it's people friendly and can ride loose in the rig with other dogs.]

 

If Merritt Clifton actually knew much about dogs, or cared enough to study the history of dogs in the U.S., he would know all this. Pit bulls -- bulldogs -- have been common for the better part of a century and a half, though not as ubiquitous as they are today. They were, and are, kept and loved by all sorts of people.

 

The photo below was taken in the 1890s. The toddler is my maternal great-aunt [a wonderful woman who loved dogs, and owned some legendary ones -- legendary in our household, anyway] and her uncle Albert. Albert was crippled: the dog in the photo is helping to hide Albert's legs in addition to providing support for the child. Seventy years after this photo was taken, my great-aunt remembered the dog's name and spoke of him fondly as "our bulldog." Her parents were hard-working, pragmatic Iowa farmers who liked good dogs and didn't keep bad ones. They were not dogfighters.

 

 

 

(Thanks to EmilyS for the note that prompted this post.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: boundless etc. ignorance, Clifton, dogfighting, nitwit, pit bulls, rescue, Vick

 

 

Posted by Luisa at 8:54 PM

 

 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"When Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about the family bulldog, Jack, she's writing about a dog we would recognize as a pit bull."

 

All Wilder says is that he has a stump of a tail and his teeth show a little because he's a bulldog, and that he's brown and brindled. I do agree that one could question Jack's breed, but what makes you believe he was a pit bull?

 

January 31, 2008 12:32 AM

Katie said...

My grandmother was funny when she found out I got my first pit bull. She was so upset, scared, angry that I'd be so stupid. Until she met her and found out that the dogs now called "pit bulls" are pretty much the same as the "bulldog" her uncle had when my grandmother was a little girl (she's 89 years old now). Suddenly she wasn't scared anymore. She knows these dogs- they were commonplace family pets when she was a girl.

 

Somewhere there exists a picture of her sitting on the front porch with the dog, and I really wish that I could find it.

 

January 31, 2008 4:20 AM

Caveat said...

People like Clifton (a handful come to mind although he's the champ) are unfortunate and if they weren't so dangerous it might almost be cruel to mock them.

 

They have some kind of irrational fear and rather than trying to address and work through it through exposure and learning more, they support it with what amounts to gossip and a rather perverted form of creativity - they make stuff up and call it fact. Their lack of intelligence and analytical ability handicaps them further.

 

Of course, those in the media who are too lazy to read actual reports, court documents or scientific papers (they're boring) or consult with real experts (they use big words which aren't appropriate for the readership)just love people like Clifton.

 

Fortunately, while there are a few of these bozos out there, they are vastly outnumbered by honest experts and researchers on the subject.

 

My friend, who has bred AmStaffs for decades (I'd love to have one of her dogs but the Ontario govt insists on 'protecting' me from myself because I'm apparently not a grownup yet) told me that the bull dogs came to N. America with settlers from the UK. They were all-round utility dogs, watchdogs, hunting dogs and companions for the family.

 

They are still one of the best all-round utility dogs out there, especially as they are rather generalized in shape - nothing extreme, few health problems, minimal grooming, medium size, thrifty to keep.

 

I must fish out and scan my picture of 'Uncle Joe' (not sure who he is, maybe my maternal grandma's brother) sitting on the steps in Montreal with his bull dog in the early 30s.

 

Great post. Keep it up!

 

January 31, 2008 8:11 AM

Mac`s Gang said...

Great post!

 

Maybe it`s just time to ignore you know who.

 

I notice the only people that quote him are the "feeding frenzy" posters that jump in after an incident.

 

These are the same people that attack those that are looking at ALL the circumstances surrounding a bite or a

fatality.

They have no interest in finding solutions,they are only interested in blame.

Why would anyone with a brain cell blame a dog?

 

Maybe Hector,the media darling(abused by M. PR$#K )

could interview MC and get some answers!

I`d pay to see that interview.

 

January 31, 2008 8:18 AM

Caveat said...

Sorry for hogging comments but I followed the link, read Clifton's garbled list (alphabetical order would have helped). I note no mention of Bloodhounds, the 'pit bulls' of their day. Strange.

 

I guess ol' Clifton has never seen this:

http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/pictures/wwiposter.jpg

 

Or this:

 

http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/pictures/ww1.jpg

 

Looks as though the American Bull terrier (the Yankee terrier) represented the US in WWI.

 

I guess Clifton isn't privy to the work of Dr L Brisbin either. His research fellow debunked the Mechanical Advantage/Locking Jaw fable in 1988, published in the Proceedings of the S. Carolina Academy of Sciences in '89 using rigorous and reproducible scientific methods. The findings are unchallenged and unrefuted to this day. Also, Dr Brisbin, who has an interest in rare and endangered species of wild swine, uses the APBT exclusively to catch his research subjects - because they use a bite and hold grip which leaves the swine unharmed.

 

But there I go again, picking on a caricature of a self-styled 'expert'.

 

January 31, 2008 8:42 AM

Anonymous said...

Awesome post. Great job of researching the real Pit bulls (yes, all the newspapers and people back then called them bulldogs, bull terriers or bull dogs - not Am Staffs or APBT!!) - The fact that he would enter Am Staffs or APBT in a search of old newspapers shows how unbelievably clueless this man is.

Merritt-less Clifton is probably the worst "researcher and/or statistician" I have ever witnessed at "work." (and I use those terms VERY loosely).

The fact that Kenneth Phillips (Dog Bite Law) uses his stuff on his website shows just how "bright" the average person really is.

 

January 31, 2008 1:17 PM

Post a Comment

 

http://lassiegethelp.blogspot.com/2008/01/nitwit.html

 

And another...

 

http://lassiegethelp.blogspot.com/#sidebar6

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A lot of these pro-pit bull arguments are very similar to the following pro-smoking argument.

 

"My father/uncle/brother smoked all his life and lived to 90!"

 

Yes, but that means nothing. It is not the ocassional one that lives to 90 that counts. It is all the masses who died at 40 of heart attacks or at 60 of lung cancer. The statistics still show how terrible smoking tobacco is, to human health.

 

With pit bulls, it is not the ones who are lovely family pets that count. It is the ones who kill people. And one third of all dog attack deaths in the US are caused by pit bulls. The statistics still show that pit bulls are by far the most dangerous breed.

 

Rather than deny this, you would be better off arguing that an average death toll of 3 to 4 per year is not worth legislating against. After all, compared to the 400,000 Americans who die every year from tobacco related illness, pit bulls are a very minor problem.

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With pit bulls, it is not the ones who are lovely family pets that count. It is the ones who kill people. And one third of all dog attack deaths in the US are caused by pit bulls. The statistics still show that pit bulls are by far the most dangerous breed.

But when attacks are taken as a percentage of overall dog ownership, they don't even constitute one one hundredth of one percent.

 

Rather than deny this, you would be better off arguing that an average death toll of 3 to 4 per year is not worth legislating against. After all, compared to the 400,000 Americans who die every year from tobacco related illness, pit bulls are a very minor problem.

This is precisely what I've been arguing. The numbers don't warrant an emotionally charged ban. Perhaps better enforcement of existing ownership laws, but an outright ban would do little other than create a black market and enrage responsible owners.

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..If wolves cannot be domesticated, how do you think dogs became "man's best friend" in the first place?

Genetic selection over many generations of those tolerated around human campsites changed the innate make up - the animals that attacked humans were killed or driven off and did not contribute to the next generation. Later active and deliberate selection came into play.

 

It is rather like the way grass became wheat really - humans liked the grass that grew bigger seeds and tore out its competition and thus selected in favour of the bigger seeds.

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A lot of these pro-pit bull arguments are very similar to the following pro-smoking argument.

 

"My father/uncle/brother smoked all his life and lived to 90!"

 

Yes, but that means nothing. It is not the ocassional one that lives to 90 that counts. It is all the masses who died at 40 of heart attacks or at 60 of lung cancer. The statistics still show how terrible smoking tobacco is, to human health.

There is absolutely no comparison between this argument and the debate at hand. Tobacco isn't the issue... so-called "pit bulls" is the current topic. I fail to see your point, there are no similarities.

 

With pit bulls, it is not the ones who are lovely family pets that count. It is the ones who kill people. And one third of all dog attack deaths in the US are caused by pit bulls. The statistics still show that pit bulls are by far the most dangerous breed.

 

Rather than deny this, you would be better off arguing that an average death toll of 3 to 4 per year is not worth legislating against. After all, compared to the 400,000 Americans who die every year from tobacco related illness, pit bulls are a very minor problem.

What is a "pit bull?" What is your definition of a "pit bull;" a dog who kills or attacks a person? How much of America's society can identify a so-called "pit bull?" What do they actually look like?

 

How do these so-called "pit bulls" that are lovely family pets not count? A good majority of the American public claim to own this fictitious "pit bull 'breed'." The "pit bull" is currently the most popular supposed "breed" of dog in this country today. According to the "statistics" of the most popular registry who registers dogs as "American Pit Bull Terriers" currently register approximately 200,000 new "pit bulls" per year, discounting the countless unregistered dogs claimed to be "pit bulls" and every other money-hungry registry who will even register a cat as a "pit bull" (it's been done).

 

According to your statistics, going only by the number of approximately 200,000 per year which are registered by a single registry, how many "pit bulls" attack people each year (not counting all of these dogs which you claim have killed numerous people). Even with your unproven figure acquired by the ignorance of perception, the percentage is extremely small with your totally irrelevant comparison of tobacco smokers versus "pit bulls" which kill people. The fact is, your "statistics" are guesses at best.

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What is a "pit bull?" What is your definition of a "pit bull;" a dog who kills or attacks a person? How much of America's society can identify a so-called "pit bull?" What do they actually look like?

Remember that Lance does not reside in the US, so approaching this from a US centric POV is not appropriate.

 

 

 

:) I vote we try to keep this discussion the the Pit Bull thread.

 

Agreed. Perhaps this thread can be closed so as to ensure all points which are made by each side stay together.

 

http://www.scienceforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=28741

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