Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Deja Vu in Fremont

In April 2003, an 80lb registered American Bulldog named Kain attacked a small boy in Fremont, ripping off part of his ear. The media immediately reported it as a pit bull attack, despite the fact that the dog's owner and the shelter knew it to be an entirely different breed.

Here we are again. A large male dog reported to be between 80-130lbs attacked a Fremont mother and child, and once again, the Diana Diamonds of the world have been clucking and tsking about banning these horrible pit bulls. Never mind that this current attack - not unlike the one in 2003 - was certainly not a surprise -- the dog had a well known reputation for being a problem dog and human aggressive biter.

Why did it happen? Well, not because of his breed. It happened because - in each situation - very troubled dogs that were known to have issues with people were not properly contained.

It's THAT horrifically, tragically simple.

A reporter contacted us for an interview and wanted to know what would lead a pit bull to attack a child. (I'm always amazed at these kinds of questions; somehow our experience with pleasant family pets gives us license to speculate on the behavior of sketchy randomly-bred dogs we've never met. Scary, huh?) I asked if she was sure that it even WAS a pit bull. Pit bulls typically don't come super-sized unless they're mixed with something else or are imposters altogether. I was pleasantly surprised when she hesitated and admitted that, No, she hadn't considered that the police may have made assumptions.

Of course, the police are not trained in Breed ID. And, breed misidentification is as common as plantar warts at the YMCA...a disturbing trend that is bedeviling wonderful dogs everywhere.

I reminded her that whether or not the dog was a pit bull or an AB or a mix or something completely unknown, the real issue wasn't the label, but the "perfect storm" of circumstances that lead to such frightening events.

We're so very relieved that the Fremont mom in this storm was brave, resourceful and that her child is safe. And we can only hope that this reporter helps her, and the rest of the bay area understand that blaming a breed is just another way to confuse people away from the real issue: Troubled dogs need to be obsessively contained, or put to peace. Period.

By the way, we haven't met this dog, but he doesn't look very much like a pit bull to us. Then again, who cares? His rap sheet is the only thing that anyone should be looking at.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

As I watched the news that day, I said to my husband, "That isn't even a pit bull." He asked how I knew with just that bad picture. I said, "It's just too darn big."

Anonymous said...

Take a look at this week's Newsweek. The My Turn essay is a wonderful one written by a reader about his beloved, well-behaved pit bull. Kudos to Newsweek for publishing truth. Very unlike Diana Diamond and the Palo Alto Weekly!

Marthina McClay said...

Yes, too big for a Pit Bull! The face is wrong as well. This brings me to the scariest point of all. How can we even advocate BSL when we can't even properly identify the breed being banned??!! I won't say what breed I think he's mixed with as this will definitely take away from the all important history this dog had. Blaming a breed for the lack of responsibility of man is not logical or workable - I'd rather have an epidemic of Plantars warts!
Marthina McClay
Dog Trainer/Behavior Counselor

Anonymous said...

Most definately. Whenever I see a Pit attack on the news, more often than not they have bitten before and are allowed to run free in the neighborhood even after the owner has already been fined. My mom points out the breed, I point out that the dog shouldn't have been loose in the first place ---> owner responsibility (or lack thereof). Simply fining owners like this doesn't work because they have absolutely no regard for others. They don't care!

~brooke

Anonymous said...

We recently had an american bull dog escape from its home and scared a bunch a screeching young teenage girls and supposedly bit the girl. A Sheriff was called in and shot the dog saying it was running toward him in a menacing way. well the news reported it as a PITBULL ATTACKED then the next morning it was made known to the public that it was a Bulldog But the damage had already been done. the word PITBULL was everywhere. I contacted the reporter and informed her that I believed that this family dog who escaped through a glass sliding door was dead due the mass hysteria that the media has created in dog bite issues and wanted her to be held accountable for inaccurate and irresponsible reporting . She stated that she got her info from the Sheriffs office who stated it was "a pitbull type" of dog. My conversation ended with me strongly encouraging the station and newspapers to reconsider their wording from now on to say "UNCONFIRMED pitbull" until it HAS been confirmed the type of breed or better yet just say "DOG " and mention no breed at all and that they could better serve the commmunity by reporting their story accurately and then maybe using a few minutes to educate the public about bite prevention. I reinterated that I and the local pitbull communities want the media to be held accoutantable for the damage,fear and hysteria that they are causing in our community. . I promised her that I would be a thorn in her side. Well within the hour their on line site had changed the wording to BULLDOG.. then the next day the Editor of the Tribune called and left me a message to inform me that they in the future will "try " to be more "watchful" in their wording and that the "unconfirmed" might not be such a bad idea..not an apology but at least they know that I will be watching them and I wll be the WATCH DOG for irresponsible reporting in this matter.....My dog wont bite them but maybe I will !!! LOL!!
Crystal Tampa FL