Tuesday, August 16, 2011

reflections on the case in Pacifica, CA

My dog offered a sobering lesson the other day, which I'll get to in a minute. He's a large, 85 pound husky-mix and not quite two years old. I've had him since he was a pup. He's my right hand man; my shadow. Well trained, gentle, beautifully socialized and responsive. When we get playing, of course it's fun to tickle and tease, wrestle and chase. Sometimes we get sliding across the hardwoods, me laughing and him panting and wagging with the goober-eyed look most dog owners know well. But on this day, I was getting him a little too riled and I pushed too hard and it scared him. He tensed up a bit and mouthed my arm harder than he normally would. His message was clear: "Please stop."

Reality check: My dog is an animal, not a little person. I mean, I know he's not a little person, but his teeth in that moment offered the full reality that - Oh yeah - I'm getting an 85 pound dog super amped and the only way he can tell me to stop would be to correct me, much like a dog would correct another dog who was being overbearing. "Stop!" Elliot showed considerable restraint by pulling short of a stronger correction, but what I really wanted to thank him for was revealing the blessed beast that lives inside every house pet dog. I wasn't with my house pet in that nano-second; I was with the primordial wolf who knows his strength and his boundaries. Elliot is most decidedly an animal before he's a dog, and he's a dog before he's a house pet. Yep - Got it.

I've fallen back on that lesson several times this past week as the media prodded at the dog related fatality in Pacifica. He's an animal before he's a dog, and a dog before he's a pet. Darla Napora of Pacifica loved her dog completely, but something terrible happened in her home and now she's one of 30 or so people a year who are killed by dogs in this country. This particular case is making investigators and onlookers absolutely crazy because no one can figure out what really happened.

Yes, the dog (Gunner) was a large unneutered male, but that alone does not give us the answer. In nearly all of dog related fatalities, we get a roadmap of several messed up circumstances that typically lead straight back to the whys of each tragedy. (KC Dog Blog's Road Map) Not in the Pacifica case however. Final forensics reports may or may not reveal the key to the incident ...Was there a physical abnormality such as a brain tumor in the dog? A pregnancy related fainting spell? (Darla was pregnant) ... but at the end of the day we have to accept that we may never know what triggered the incident.

Following any dog-related tragedy, the formula response from opportunistic politicians and media types on a sky-is-falling mission is exhausting. Intelligent people don't want to be manipulated into fear though; they want to be informed. Knowing that, we've declined all media requests for interviews since news first broke, preferring to wait for forensic reports to help fill in the blanks. It could be two or three more weeks before we the final results come in. During that wait, we've so appreciated this letter from the National Canine Research Council that was sent to the editor of the San Mateo Daily Journal:

Even as we share the grief of Ms. Napora's family, we do well to keep two things in mind. First, serious incidents involving dogs have always been exceedingly rare, though they generate news coverage that creates an impression they are more prevalent than they actually are. There are roughly 78 million dogs in the U.S., and 308 million human beings. Annually, there is one dog bite-related fatality for every 10 million human beings, and every 2.5 million dogs. Second, official reports may shed some light on the unique calculus of an incident; but they are never a basis for generalizations about all dogs, or even one kind of dog. To illustrate, consider the following. The week before Ms. Napora died, a pregnant woman in Milwaukee, Sharon Staples, was shot to death in the street, in the presence of her 13 year-old son. Police arrested three teenaged boys in connection with her death. There are over 20 million teenagers in the United States. What will the investigation into the death of Sharon Staples tell us about teenagers?

Reports concerning the death of Darla Napora cannot be used to generalize about any of the other 78 million dogs.

Out of respect for Darla Napora and her grieving family, and due regard for their love for their dogs, we must not assume we know more than we do. The more deeply one examines any incident, the more likely one is to appreciate that its complexity cannot be reduced to a simple prescription. - Don Cleary National Canine Research Council

Darla Napora will be buried on Wednesday with Gunner's ashes. The second pit bull in the home - a little six year old female - was returned to her grieving husband, and when we talked on the phone, the couple's nieces and nephews were squealing with delight to see her again. Authorities determined through dental impressions that Tazi was not involved. According to her owner, the incident scared her so badly that she hid under a table and shat and peed herself, shaking like a leaf when she was discovered, and she's still showing signs of having experienced a trauma. Tazi's yet another reminder that dogs' reactions to events can be as individual as ours.'

Greg Napora and his family have asked that people please avoid implicating a breed type in this incident. After all, Tazi is a pit bull. He told me by phone: "I really wish I knew what happened, but at the end of the day, Gunner was an animal." There it is again. The fact that he still loves his dogs is probably the greatest but hardest to understand lesson of all.

Rest in peace, Darla and Gunner.

64 comments:

Bev said...

My heart goes out to the Napora family, their friends & loved ones. Losing a family member is hard enough; when it involves two members of a much loved family unit, there are not words enough to explain or comfort.

Rest in Peace, indeed.

Marie said...

Excellent response, thanks BAD RAP.

This story has had national coverage, as i'm sure you're all aware. I've been as troubled by the reaction from the bully loving community as from the event itself. To love pit bulls does not mean we must adamently deny the possibility that one might cause harm.

Dogs are animals, and animals deserve respect and awareness. I tell my friends this when they want to get a purebred puppy rather than a shelter dog. I tell them this when they want to get a lab instead of a pit bull. Learn your canine's language, and if something seems amiss, don't wait to have the dog checked out. If your dog seems out of sorts don't escalate.

I'm at a loss on this one, I wish we knew what happened between Gunner and his owner... My heart goes out to Mrs. Napora's husband and little Tazi. A sad story from start to finish, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

I am so saddened by what has happened in Pacifica. As a pittie parent, I too, struggle for what could cause a dog to turn on his owner and what I can do to prevent this from happening in my own home. My boy shows zero aggression and loves other people and dogs, so my hope is that I'm raising him with enough training and stability that this will never happen.

ruthm said...

Thank you for the arm crunch story.
I have an orange cat who did the same thing to my arm when I was "playing" to hard with the other cat.
I wasn't quite sure what that was all about - now it is clear.
So smart these wonderful animals!
And a very sad story about the pitbulls and family. Ruth Moser

Leslie said...

As usual, Donna, your thoughts are eloquently and wisely expressed. I've been grappling with how to craft my own response for DogTime, but I may simply refer people to your post. So appreciate your insight and your voice.

dave said...

Thanks for this -- well reasoned. I want to push back on just one point, which is that "serious incidents" are rare. I guess that's true if we limit "serious incidents" to human fatalities. But as anyone who's been around dogs knows, there are many more minor but tragic incidents than are reported in the media. My admittedly anecdotal experience over a decade at the dog park is that the owners of aggressive dogs (I include Rotts, Mastiffs, pits) often say something like, "She's the most gentle, sweet dog in the world… except for that one time." They always seem to have one story, at the end of which lies a dead cat, a mauled terrier, or a scarred child. Not serious enough to get tallied in the debate over these animals, but heart breaking to someone.

Like the time a Rott decided to explore beyond the dog park and found my yard a block away, where he casually killed my feline companion of 12 years. He'd never done anything like that, the owner assured us as he apologized. But that was little compensation to me and my kids as we cried over our companion's dead body.

I begin to see a similarity to the arguments of gun owners and fans of aggressive dog. Both camps assure us that if everyone behaves responsibly and uses common sense, no one will get hurt. But people (and pets) do keep getting hurt. And the owners are not persuaded by that: they love what they love, no matter the dangers to those around them. They are unmoved and unswayed by the tears of those left in their wake.

Thanks again for your post, and for listening to my perspective.

- Dave

Sarah said...

Thank you for this thoughtful response. My heart goes out to the Napora family!

Kriss said...

I grew up in Pacifica and I have 3 dogs, all 3 have Pitt in them, 2 were saved from Michael Vick's Shenanigans. This story really hit home and I am very sorry for the loss this family has suffered. However, this article was very well written and should put perspective in every dog owner's home, as to what pets are. I love my girls, they are wonderful animals, more a licking machine and less a fighter, however I know they would protect my family and I when the time comes. I wish I had words that could help the Napora family at this time. Just know strangers care too and may peace be with you at this time. Kriss in Tennessee

Jen said...

Dave - you have my sympathies on the loss of your cat. That must have been terribly difficult for you and your family.

I would take issue with your statement "fans of aggressive dogs". I don't know anyone, outside of maybe dog fighters and a few other sick people, who are fans of aggressive dogs. I believe I speak for all of us here when we say we don't like aggression in our dogs, and if we see it, it needs to be addressed immediately in a responsible and humane way.

Dogs are, as stated above, animals. One common trait of animals is prey drive. It's built in to animals as part of their essential being; stronger in some than others. Cats will catch and kill mice and birds even if they're not hungry. A dog attacking a squirrel, cat, or other small animal doesn't indicate "aggressiveness" or a danger to people any more than the cat's behavior does - they are two different things.

I think your problem may be not so much with gun owners or owners of large dogs, but with irresponsible people. If you can figure out a way to ban or remove them from society, you're a better man than I. But punishing those of us who are responsible, and curtailing our freedoms because others cannot act responsibly will never solve the problem - this is why violence increases in areas with strict gun control, and bites increase in areas with breed specific legislation. It may make people feel better to ban what they see as the dangers around them, but unless the people who are the root cause are identified and dealt with, feel good measures will only create a false sense of security and cost time and money that could be better spent on effective solutions.

No one wants to see an occurrence like this. Let's work together on solutions that will have a real effect. And in the Pacifica case, blessings to the family in the wake of what happened.

Dianne said...

Thank you Donna, for putting a "face" to this tragedy, both human (Greg) and canine (Tazi). My heart goes out to them. We may never really know what happened. About a month ago, one of the best behaved dogs in the shelter bit someone in the stomach -- we are at a loss to know why. Please let the Napora family know we are so sorry for their losses.

Lyn said...

Jen, wonderfully put.
Dave, truly sorry for the loss of you companion.
Every morning I walk my pittie mix on a leash, he is well trained and responds to me very well. Now, having said that, yesterday while we were walking, we were charged by a very aggressive dog with his teeth showing and he was growling. Fortunately for me, I was able to get out of the scary situation even though I was quite scared. What breed of dog? Border Collie. My point to this story is the fact that dogs are dogs. There are no aggressive "breeds" just aggressive dogs. Was I mad at the dog, no, I was, however, VERY torqued at the owner and if I had found out who it was, they would have caught an unpleasant earful.

Anonymous said...

Such a well written article, Donna. I wish it could be published in the newspaper so that any person with pit bull doubts or prejudice could read it. An article written with warmth, caring, yet very clear facts should be read by everyone. I was a victim for years of newspaper hype about pit bulls. The Vick case turned me around and I fostered pit bulls and adopted one. Love the breed. Thanks, Donna, for once again putting into words what so many of us feel but can't so eloquently express. RIP Darla and Gunner.
Cindy

EmilyS said...

I think Dave's post exemplifies one of the issues: some animals have more rights than others. For a dog to kill a cat... OMG!!! vicious, my kids are next ! (though in fairness to Dave, he did NOT go to that particular place)

For a cat to kill a bird (or someone's pet rat).... well that's just what cats do. No one EVER calls a cat "aggressive" for expressing its normal/natural prey drive. And of course cats must be outside where anything that happens to them is someone else's fault.

Jen's post is spot-on. NO ONE "likes" aggression. NO ONE applauds the (vanishingly) rare occurrence of dog-related human fatalities or (also rare) serious injury. We all mourn these victims and puzzle at the circumstances (which have so very very many things in common as Karen Delise has outlined in her writing).

But those of us who ARE "fans" of dogs with strong personalities regret where society is heading... on the one hand to bland, "average" , "easypeasy" dogs. And on the other to increasing ignorance and intolerance of what is normal natural behavior. AND to the refusal of so many dog owners to learn about dog behavior. Donna is a smart dog owner... some less smart owner might have pushed her dog past its screamingly obvious polite requests to "please stop it", gotten bit, proclaimed the dog "dangerous" and told the papers "he attacked without warning"

We don't know the circumstances of this latest tragedy. Maybe it's a total one-off. Or maybe we'll learn about why it happened and find it not so different from most others. But at the end of the day, the lesson has to be "such incidents are rare and tragic... but in the scheme of things that kill people, dogs are the LEAST of our problems". The media hysteria does no one any good.

James FitzGerald said...

Very well put, Donna. Thank you. As several others have stated, the reponse from some in the bully community has been disheartening to me. Denial serves no good end. It only makes Pit advocates lose credibility on other issues as well.

And thank you Jen for a well stated rebuttal. I join you in offering condolences to Dave for his loss.

Anna said...

EmilyS, thanks for pointing out the double standard regarding cats and dogs. Two of my four dogs have high prey drives and would chase and perhaps kill cats if allowed. Of course, they are not allowed, but it's not always easy to walk them past all the (owned) cats wandering through our neighborhood. Some of those cats come into our yard to hunt birds, lizards, and snakes and harass our hens. I always shoo the cats away before letting the dogs out. The cats' humans are lucky I'm a lot more responsible with my pet predators than they are with theirs. (Our city has a leash law for cats as well as dogs, but try getting anyone to enforce that!)

Marianne said...

Thank you for such a well written, insightful article that puts a very sad, complicated issue in perspective. Refreshing to read calm understanding and intellect when others choose to promote fear and ignorance. I think we all need to make more of an effort to understand how our dogs communicate with us and listen and respect those communications. Thank you for the work you do! My heartfelt condolences to the family!

Jacky aka Queenijax said...

now that was an informative piece. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Looking for some perspectives on pit bulls and surprised to see what appears to be some reasonable objectivity here.

I've had two experiences that have colored my perspective.

One evening as I pulled up in my driveway and exited my SUV, I was charged and attacked by two very determined and aggressive pit bulls. A portion of the attack was captured on my home security video. I tried to fend them off until I could reach my front door, by spraying their faces, eyes and open mouths with pepper spray, but the spray ran out and the attack persisted until I ended it with a shot from my .40 cal licensed handgun.

A couple of years prior to I'd been fly fishing in a remote mountain stream and was sitting on the ground next to a trail, my back to a rock. Two unleashed pit bulls emerged on the trail, downstream, saw me, and immediately charged at me. Completely stunned at this, I drew my handgun. The owner emerged behind the dogs and screamed at me not to shoot and he yelled at the dogs trying to control them. With great difficulty, and barely it seemed, he got the dogs under control. I remained sitting the whole time, still somewhat stunned.

What is odd to me is that all four of the dogs mentioned appeared to be beautiful and well groomed and well cared for, notwithstanding that I saw a lot of teeth bared at me.

Frankly my view of pit bulls or anything that looked like one would be wholly negative, except that I recently had a very positive experience on a hiking trail, meeting a couple with a beautiful and very friendly pit bull. Not enough to completely change my perspective, that will take some doing, but a start. Part of my negativism is that I don't understand why the two unprovoked incidents occurred, though honestly, I'd like more understanding and that is one reason I visited this site.

Pam said...

Eloquent and fair as always, Donna.
Thank you.

Donna said...

Anon - Thanks for checking in here. We all learn from our experiences, especially the scary experiences. When trying to grapple with why any perceived danger would want to cause us harm, it's natural to look for definitions so we can avoid future harm. I challenge you to consider that in your situation, you experienced dog behavior - more specifically pack behavior - rather than "pit bull behavior." Dogs that may be perfectly well behaved when with their human leader can loose all civility when they're on their own and packing -- it's very similar to what happens when human mobs come together. We get ugly. I don't know if that's what happened in your situation, but in the first incident you outlined, you could replace the faces of the dogs with any breed and have the same response from the dogs. As far as your second example goes, it's highly possible that the dogs were as surprised by you as you were them. I've had loose dogs charge me in camping areas and shouted "Go Home!" and they did just that. It's what most animal control officers advise when people encounter strays. Many dog experts will tell you that they first decided to learn about dogs and dog behavior because of a frightening experience in their youth, so you will find a lot of sympathy in our corners. But we stop shy of embracing breed stereotypes because - in part - it's actually more dangerous to let yourself believe that certain breeds can harm you but others won't. Dog behavior falls across the full spectrum of all breed types. Even huskies, like my boy in the photo - have been known to cross the line with people when poorly managed, but of course I don't fear him because I know the beast and am comfortable with canine norms including body language.

Back to stereotyping. Many women who've been assaulted by men grapple with trying not to fear the same 'type' of man (age, height, race) while they recover from the trauma. It's one thing to know that profiling is wrong, but quite another to erase it from your bodily response. We're encoded to fear predation for good reason. Exposure to what we're afraid of helps us overcome our paralyzing fears, and I encourage you to seek out dogs like the ones we brag about in our pages to help you gain back your footing. Life is too short to fear it; especially when information is available to help you master it. Best luck with this path you're on.

colleen said...

Thanks for this thoughtful piece. I saw Darla's obituary in our Seattle paper yesterday and it mentioned she was a big supporter of BAD RAP and the pit bull cause. I didn't know she was the woman fatally mauled by her dog that had been mentioned in the news a few days earlier. (Of course, in the news, it was "Fatally mauled by pit bull," not "Fatally mauled by dog.") I'm already a supporter of the pit bull cause, but I hope this essay reaches others who are struggling to find answers after this incident particular or similar instances in general, regardless of breed.

Maureen said...

Thank you for offering words of reason.

Many tears for all concerned -- now and in the journey ahead.

DubV said...

First off, this comment will likely never make it onto your page. Why? Well, it isn't in line with your agenda and may seem slightly insensitive at this time.

However, I consider you taking this opportunity to defend the breed rather insensitive. But, you'll likely keep all dissenting comments off any page related to the Napora's with the excuse that it defiles her memory or something to that effect. That will be useful for you as your internal justification, at least.

This blog post makes me wonder what could possibly happen to change the mind of Bad Rap member's surrounding this breed.

So, I ask you all, can you think of any type of evidence (a set of statistics, an individual circumstance concerning you or others, etc) that would change your mind about this breed?

If you cannot come up with something, then you cannot possibly claim to have an open and objective mind regarding this.

I'm curious because you would think that having your wife and unborn child killed by your dog would at least change your mind about that individual animal and possibly cause someone to change their position on the breed.

Instead, you have Greg still loving his wife's killer, and this blog in seeming awe of this.

imageimp said...

So terribly sad... The lesson that our dogs are not "fur kids", but rather smoothed-out predators, should be noted by all. Even wolf packs, though, have rules of conduct and tender affectionate relationships. Breed-specific blame helps no one and unfairly places guilt on the owners of those dogs that unexpectedly betray their family or friends, as well as displaced panic in others... In 45 years of dog ownership (& I have herding dogs, which are quite capable of dominance & aggression if not kept in their "place"), the only time I've been bitten was about 3 months ago - by an unprovoked smooth, red, mini-daschund - just ran up & nailed me in the leg... I still don't hate daschunds!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insightful and compassionate comments on this Donna. Also, for your response to the writer who had two bad experiences with dogs (in pairs) off leash. May Greg Napora find some comfort and peace during this very difficult time in his life. I don't think we will ever know why or how this tragedy happened.

pitbull friend said...

DubV, I'm a little baffled by your assertion that one cannot be open and objective about a type of dog if one is not willing to demonize it under some circumstances.

Dozens of people in my family were systematically killed by gentiles in Germany. While I have a deep loathing for the Nazi regime, I am not willing to demonize Germans or gentiles. In fact, I have many close friends who are one or both.

Does that harm my credibility when it comes to discussing humans? If so, fine with me.
--pitbull friend

Donna said...

a "dog" attacked Ms. Napora, not a "breed." ONE DOG, not a million dogs. there are a lot of medical conditions that can cause dogs to become unexplainably aggressive, some of these being tick borne diseases, seizures, brain tumors, and a host of others. trying to say this happened because the dog "is a pit or a pit type or whatever breed you may choose to call the dog" indicates a person incapable of critical thinking. such is the case with most of the public. my heart and prayers go out to the family.

salope62 said...

Unpopular as my comment might be; we are not "parents" to our dogs, nor are they our "babies". As the article clearly states; dogs are animals first, then dogs. We are caretakers for them, and responsible for them, but anthropomorphizing that relationship is disingenuous and disrespects the animal's inherent nature. I would like to point out something that I've not yet seen in print; the dog did not kill the woman outright. She died of blood loss, which means that the dog stopped short of outright killing her. In addition, it has been determined that the bitch wasn't involved; most prey-driven animals will join into a chase and kill, feeding off each other's energy. These dogs did not. Something else was going on, something we may never know.

Anonymous said...

I'm "anonymous" who posted about my own two experiences, one of which was a determined attack and the other of which was a aggressive "charge".

After my first incident, just a charge, I sought counsel from dog fanciers on how to respond in such a situation, and was advised to issue a loud, confident determined command.

I had this in mind when the serious attack occurred. Actually what happened in more detail is this. I pulled up in my driveway in my SUV after work. Before I exited the stopped vehicle, I saw the two pit bull dogs running toward the vehicle and they jumped at the driver's side window trying to get at me through the window, hitting it again and again, teeth bared. I waited for them to run off and waited until they disappeared way down the street. Then I secured pepper spray from my hiking pack that I kept in the vehicle, and was also carrying my licensed .40 handgun. I quietly exited and walked calmly toward my house door. I barely made it past my vehicle before the two dogs were streaking at me very fast. I turned toward them and gave loud, stern commands, "No!, Stop!, No!, Stop! as I'd been told. The effect was absolutely nil. When they were within less than 10 feet, I began spraying them alternately with pepper spray in their faces as they alternately lunged at me. The spray seemed to make it harder for them to see me and one paused a moment to wipe his face in the grass before resuming. I tried to back toward my door as I sprayed eyes, noses, and directly into mouths. When the spray ran out and I hadn't reached my door, I had no choice but to resort to my handgun.

I once had to pepper spray an aggressive lab with the same brand of spray when I was walking and it drew closer and closer barking and growling. One tiny puff of pepper spray sent it streaking away.

What was different and in my perception very dangerous about these pit bulls is that they simply would not stop the attack despite having a whole can of pepper spray in the most concentrated application being sprayed in eyes, noses and open mouths.

Donna said...

That sounds incredibly scary, anon. Two points:

Dogs are bolder and less likely to be dissuaded when they're acting as a pack. In our area, a pair of dogs that were identified as chocolate labs terrorized a woman and her dog a few months ago. I'm quite sure they would've been much less bold and easier to scare off with shouts or pepper spray if they were acting solo. In this case, they had to be beaten off of their victim. (News report, just so you see I'm not making this up... http://novato.patch.com/articles/woman-dog-recovering-after-attack-by-two-dogs-in-indian-valley )

Second point, we've learned that using visual analysis alone for breed identification is unreliable, especially when people who aren't dog experts are doing the identifying. So the "labradors" in my news story may have been another breed or a mix of several breeds -- and same holds true with the "pit bulls" in your story. (Research on the unreliability of visual breed identification here: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/resources/breed-identification/ )

Knowing that peoples' collective track record for breed ID is so bad actually frees us up to view dog behavior as a whole, which is much more helpful when trying to understand how these things go down, and especially, how to prevent them in the first place. I think you might want to do some research on pack aggression. As I said, it's not a breed specific behavior. While the National Canine Research Council reminds us that dog bites are on a steady decline in this country, dog attacks involving unsocialized packs of dogs still factor into many of the recorded incidents each year and they can include any breed type of dog. Even small dogs weighing less than 27 pounds have participated in packing together and harming people, according to a 1983 study "Attacks by Packs of Dogs Involving Predation On Human Beings," by Borchelt et al., published in the journal "Public Health Reports." It's not happy reading, but worth the understanding.

According to the Borchelt study, "The past history of the social interactions of dogs with people in a variety of circumstances is probably an adequate predictor of whether these dogs are inclined to bite someone." In other words, if dogs aren't socialized to people properly (ie, they're kept as resident dogs in garages or yards instead of as family pets) they're more inclined to revert to unruly and sometimes dangerous pack behavior when the situation presents itself."

Now that I've scared you (sorry!), I wanted to also point out that hundreds of thousands of families live with "packs" - without issue. If you came to my house, you'd be greeted by four rather obnoxious and overly friendly dogs. Dogs can and do certainly engage with the world as a pack and still be safe -- the key is having a leader and being reasonably well socialized to start.

I hope you were able to hound your animal control until they impounded the dogs you encountered in your SUV that day. Please tell me you did.

Last point - I need to remind that our world is full of dogs - roughly 78 million dogs in the U.S. according to NCRC - but despite the high numbers, they've brought substantially more benefit than harm to our societies. The key to creating safe, humane communities is understanding what makes dogs tick and especially - how to modify human behavior so people can do a better job managing their animals.

And finally, finally! You don't know me but hopefully we have some credibility here. Twelve years of rescuing hundreds and hundreds of pit bull type dogs from every imaginable situation, and the dogs have never brought us harm. That's why the Pacifica case is so remarkable - we ALL want to know what happened because we all know how rare a dog related fatality is.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this Donna. I had been waiting to hear BADRAP's response to this horrific news. This story has been on my mind often, all week long. As a long time supporter of BADRAP and APBTs, it troubled me to keep seeing the victim's support of BADRAP mentioned in many of the AP articles esp. because Gunner was not neutered.

Donna said...

It's time to ask commenters to identify themselves. Let's hope that invites more civility, less nasty.

DubV said...

Donna,

You stated that I was incapable of critical thinking (like most people you added). However, I posed a simple question and neither you nor the other few people who responded to me even tried to answer. It was not a trick question.

I'll repeat in quotes.

"This blog post makes me wonder what could possibly happen to change the mind of Bad Rap member's surrounding this breed.

So, I ask you all, can you think of any type of evidence (a set of statistics, an individual circumstance concerning you or others, etc) that would change your mind about this breed?

If you cannot come up with something, then you cannot possibly claim to have an open and objective mind regarding this."

Again, this is similar to asking a libertarian what minimum set of evidence they can imagine that would change their view of the free market, or asking an atheist what would make them believe in a personal god.

I posed a simple question and it was sidestepped.

I stand behind the assertion that if you hold a belief and cannot even imagine what would make you change your mind then you are neither open or objective regarding it.

DubV

Doug said...

The unpublished comment forwarded to me didn't seem nasty at all. Perhaps I can rephrase it in a way that can avoid your censorship and avoidance issues.

Did you mean to imply that firefighters, paramedics, and police on scene were ever confused about what happened? Exactly who are you referring to when you say this is "making investigators and onlookers absolutely crazy because no one can figure out what really happened?"

Please… Who was confused? When and how so?

Can you provide assistance as to who planted the ridiculous rumor circulated by pit bull advocates claiming this gruesome death was the result of a fall from a ladder - a stunningly dishonest attempt to avoid the obvious, self evident and easily observable injuries consistent with pit bull attack?

Does speculation that BADRAP participated in the creation of this deliberate, public misdirection have any basis? Was Cindy Marabito the originator? Can BADRAP offer any assistance to locate the unnamed “neighbor” who was quoted in the Marabito article?

And please stop with the ludicrous equivocation of a Labrador attack with pit bull attacks. I’m more than a little familiar with the parties described in the Novato article you linked to, having worked with and known Capt. Royer for decades - having worked at the San Marin Sta., etc. That very unusual occurrence does not compare to pit bull attacks. In fact, we can’t begin to talk about a pregnant woman being attacked by a pit bull without thinking about another Novato firefighter – the Novato firefighter whose pregnant wife was held hostage by a pit bull until an off duty S.F.P.D. neighbor shot and killed the pit bull. Yes, absolutely a pit bull in a nice neighborhood and home – not that pit bull advocates didn’t try the usual end runs around these incontrovertible facts.

Doug Spencer, Paramedic/Firefighter (ret.)

Jim Crosby said...

Hi Donna:
As with the others, I send my sympathies out to the Napora family-the ENTIRE family. I have refrained from commenting on this case so far due to the lack of hard information, and that is the crux of the matter. In all the fatal attacks I have investigated the truth lies in the details-and those reach far beyond the "Oh, the dog did it" realm. This case deserves detailed and specifically informed investigation. The case must have all the forensics examined, including the bite marks (thank DOG the investigators had those comparisons done-that indicates a better than usual commitment to investigating!)and the background and behavior of the dog. How did the dog's actions add up in the dog's view? Somehow, something triggered the dog, and so much more could have been learned had the police not shot the dog on scene. Some of that info may still be gained by working with the surviving dog.
I hope that this inquiry continues, and as I have said many times, the actions of the individual dog must be evaluated, in dog terms, so we can understand what happened here and can learn for the future.
IF anyone is interested I talk about just these issues at
http://canineaggression.blogspot.com/
And I'm always here for you guys. Call me.
Jim Crosby
Jacksonville, FL

Donna said...

Jim - Agreed on the need to examine dogs more closely in these events - preferably alive so temperament can be noted. The great dane show community demanded the same in 2009 as you know when the dog in Texas killed it's owner, but beyond a rabies exam, I don't believe they got much. You would know more than me on that end. We seem to be in a better place where forensics are finally getting involved, which is a help to advancing the discussion beyond hand wringing and paranoia.

To answer Doug's question - Forensics experts are still currently involved in puzzling through necropsy reports but the community (SF bay area including Pacifica) is educated enough at this point to understand that breed type is not the answer in these incidents and yes, the average person knows that there is a missing piece that we may or may not discover although people want one badly. You'll have to discuss Cindy Marabito's ladder theory directly with her. I'm sure it'll be an interesting conversation.

To those who may have lingering fears, it's certainly telling that authorities allowed Tazi the pit bull to go back to her home to be a comfort to Greg and his family during their time of grief.

Donna said...

DubV - It seems you're talking with two different Donnas here. Frankly, I don't know how to answer your question. We aren't seeing dog owners reject their dogs as a result of the Pacifica incident and I'm going to assume that's because most people understand that the factors involved in tragedies are not breed specific. In fact, we received two adoption applications yesterday and the Berkeley Shelter reported some very nice adoptions this week of pit bull type dogs. People here have a level head about these things.

Debs said...

My heart goes out to the Napora family for their loss. I hope that they can have all their questions answered as to why this tragedy happened. I am also very glad that Tazi was returned to them and its great to know that Gunner will be buried with his mistress.

Thank you Donna for bringing to light what a lot of people forget. That Dogs are dogs first.And its not a "breed thing" that makes any dog attack. I have been attacked by a GSD, and a chihuahua, and even bitten by my own rescue when I tried to break up a fight. Totally my fault. But I do not blame the breed, and I for sure didn't blame my dog.

I have 2 rescues a lab mixed with something, and a Rottweiler. Both are amazing friendly dogs. I have seen both kill and eat a rabbit that unfortunately entered my fenced in back yard. My Rotti loves to play chase with my cat (and the cat chases him back) but I know the difference between play and prey drive. I have caught both going after my cats when the cats go zooming thru the house which of course a simple "No chase Kitties" stops them. I do not leave either of them alone in the house with the cats, because I know if I am not there it would be death for the cat. Why because they are dogs and that is their nature. It is a matter of humans learning dog behavior and teaching them instead of leaving them to their own devices.

9da0e770-c9bd-11e0-a382-000bcdcb2996 said...

maybe someone can stand up here and tell the truth about that dog Gunner..he was not an APBT... there is no such thing as a 125lbs..it's a point that needs to be cleared up.

Donna said...

There is no evidence that suggests Gunner was 125lbs. According to credible witnesses, he was closer to 85lbs.

Rachel said...

After this recent mauling a friend of mine called and we discussed this tragedy. She went on telling me how dangerous pit bulls are. I of course own a pit. She owns an Australian Shepard. I found her remarks so ironic considering her dog has bitten several people (including me in the face) and has been put on home quarantine. This friend of mine had the audacity to warn me that my dog will turn on me eventually. I sent her this blog - so she could understand and have a better perspective. She responded with how well it was written and acknowledged that she will forever keep her dog and has not even considered getting her training to deal with her aggression towards people. It blows my mind away how irresponsible her actions are.

As for cats, its tragic when they are attacked. I would love to point out that there are "leash laws" regarding cats as well as dogs that go completely ignored. Cats should be contained the same as dogs.

DubV said...

No one is willing to answer my simple question. All that has been published are attempts to say it isn't a good question. But I think you should reflect on whether that is really the case or if really there is nothing that could happen that would convince that pit bulls pose an elevated public safety risk.

What if your very own pit bull killed your significant other?

I'll go. What would change my mind about the breed from a negative to a positive?

A scientifically valid study showing that the elevated fatality rates per "dog capita" that at least seem to be attributed to this breed really are due to confounding factors such as breed identification and owner irresponsibility.

See it isn't hard.

Unknown said...

Interesting comments. I have been reading about this story over the past few days, and it appears to me that the tide of public sentiment has shifted towards breed scapegoating, if not hysteria.

The most commonly cited piece of evidence appears to be a statistic indicating that pitbulls are involved in a disproportionate number of attacks compared to other breeds.

The frequent rebuttal to this seems to be that the breed identification that is the premise of these stats is inherently faulty, thereby rendering the stats meaningless.

The rebuttal to this rebuttal appears to be that the stats have been extracted from public agency records that can be scrutinized for error by any motivated citizen, and therefore are as reliable as any contrary evidence put forth by breed advocates.

What is the rebuttal to this?

Millie said...

Dear DubV - You say no one will answer your simple question which is ""This blog post makes me wonder what could possibly happen to change the mind of Bad Rap member's surrounding this breed." Please allow me to answer your question...NOTHING. Just as NOTHING one black, NOTHING one muslim, NOTHING one gay, NOTHING one Christian could do that would cause me to turn away from an entire race, religion, or orientation because of the act or acts of a few, NOTHING that one or more pit bull or any other type of dog can do will make me turn my back, or judge an entire breed on. That would be very narrow minded of me, or anyone else. You obviously have a problem with the breed for whatever reason, my suggestion to you is don't own one, work with your local community to enforce dangerous dog laws that do not target a specific breed, and allow us bully loving, responsible owners to love our dogs in peace. You have no idea why what happened..happened...sadly no one does...but look at the man who has lost the most and see the love in his heart for the one thing left that he holds dear, his dog and leave him and us in peace. Millie H

Jackie said...

I just found out about this incident last night, Wednesday. I don't have TV service and I don't read local papers. I listen to NPR for all my information.

I have a new puppy, a four month old Pit Bull/Catahoula mix that I adopted from a rescue group in Ventura a month ago. He has a pit bull body with Catahoula markings.

I was at a small dog park in Castro Valley, and he was trying to play with some small children through the fence in the large dog park next door. I was standing about 10 feet away when one of the boys, who was about eight years old, said to his sister, "Don't pet that dog. He is a pit bull." I gently corrected the child and said, "He is a mix, and he is very friendly, and you can pet him." Then the father said, "That is what the woman in Pacifica thought also." I didn't know what he was talking about, but, more firmly to the father I said, "You are teaching your children ignorance and prejudice." He walked away mumbling to himself. Little did he know that there were two pit bulls in the large dog park where his kids were playing. He did not have a dog. He brought his kids to the park to play with the dogs.

I am 47 years old, and I have had a variety of animals, including dogs, all my life. I have worked and volunteered in both boarding kennels, grooming shops and animal shelters. I have also shown my dogs in a variety of dog sports, completing over 37 titles since the early 1980's. I have lived all over the Bay Area and I walk my dogs everywhere.

Over that time, I have had my dogs and myself bitten and attacked by dogs in every breed group that exists. One of the worst bites I received as an animal control officer in the field was by a lab mix on one of my calfs. Though I was wearing thick jeans, I still had several puncture marks and very nasty bruises.

I have a very healthy respect for ALL DOGS, and I am very cautious of all dogs, except my own. All dogs can bite and cause damage. All dogs can become loose and become afraid and bite.

I never let any dog approach mine while on a walk, to the disapproval of many people who insist their dogs are friendly.

As a petite female, I have a personal line I draw that I won't have a dog that weighs more than me. If I can not control a dog with a leash in my left hand, I won't have that dog.

Even though I have been attacked and my dogs attacked by pit bulls, I ALWAYS blame the person who is handling the dog. I don't blame the dog. That dog got there because of human interaction. Dogs are created by humans. They are not wild animals we are bringing into society. It is not the same as walking a tiger on a leash.

Blaming a dog for an attack is like blaming a gun for shooting a person. Somebody has to aim the gun and pull the trigger. Triggers don't get pulled on their own.

I firmly believe and support dangerous animal laws that target the individual animal and incident. Laws that are breed specific never work. They waste a lot of money and time. A dangerous animal law that targets the specific incident and animal is the best.

Thanks, BADRAP, for doing a fantastic job.

Captain Awkward said...

Thanks for posting this thoughtful, well-spoken piece.

DubV, I don't know if you're going to come back and read this, but you might be interested to know that in Canada, where they have similar dog bite rates as in the US, most of the bites are by huskies or other "northern breeds." Is it because there is something wrong with these types of dogs, or is it because there are simply more of them? You can look at info on fatal dog attacks in Canada here: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/uploaded_files/tinymce/DBRF-Canada-Copy-for-website.pdf

You're asking for a simple study on a question that is not simple. You can read about this topic here: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dogbites/the-problems-with-dog-bite-studies/

And, I'm sure you can find stats like this for US cities, but this one was just staring me in the face, so I'll post it: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/dogbites/dog-bites-in-canada/ This shows that dog bites in Ontario were not reduced by banning pit bulls.

Also, John Bradshaw, dog expert and researcher, just published a fantastic book that summarizes the most recent (last 10-15 years worth) of research in dog behavior called "Dog Sense". I highly recommend it if you are interested in science-based theories on dog behavior. In the book, he asserts that there is no scientific evidence to back up the claim that dog aggression is genetically based. He spends quite a bit of time on the issue of aggression; it is worth the read.

Rachel said...

DubV

I think your question was. Is there anything that would make me change my mind about Pit Bulls. The answer is no. Here is why. I believe that a majority of the maulings could have been prevented if the owners of the dogs had proper education and training about their dogs. I believe that if they paid attention to the warning signs and acted accordingly then the maulings could have been avoided. I know that other breeds maul, attack and kill.

Case in point, my girlfriend who knows her dog is a problem but does not want to deal with it. If my dog showed aggressive behavior I would have him evaluated immediately and if there was no resolution. I would put him down. No joke.

I think that blaming a breed is taking the responsibility off of the owners and not making them accountable. If pit bulls were to be wiped off the planet tomorrow another dog would take its place as the bogey-monster. What we all want is for these incidences to stop. In order for that to stop, people have to take responsibility. What we all want is for people to be educated and understand that fluffy cant be ignored in the back yard and be expected to behave.

I would follow the advice Bad Rap gives regardless of the breed of dog I own. They give good solid advice period.

GP3K said...

http://dogbitelaw.com/images/pdf/Dog_Attacks_1982-2006_Clifton.pdf

This is one example of the statistics that ban advocates use to bolster their position.

The flaw in this is what again? That nobody knows for sure how reliable the breed identification is?

Is that really a solid basis for rebuttal, or is it just a pat response to divert attention from the stats?

Donna said...

Captain Awkward - Thanks for providing the stats from Canada. It's not surprising of course that sled dog types are more likely to be involved in incidents in Canada -- Whichever type of large breed dog is most popular in any given area is quite often the breed that will show up in statistics. That's just simple arithmetic. It's part of the reason we saw a serious incident in the part of the SF bay area where chocolate labs are popular. In another example, the Navajo Nation is having a hec of a time with problem dogs that are mixed breed dogs, including a recent mauling death. But the type of dog again is irrelevant - it's the *anti-social behaviors* the dogs are demonstrating on the reservation that need to be addressed. Article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44165591/ns/us_news-life/?ocid=twitter
Once again reminding us that breed type is not the key to understanding the topic of dog safety.

There are by they way, tens of thousands of pit bull type dogs living in the SF bay area, and they absolutely top out as one of the most popular types of pet dog here. In Oakland, for example, they're the number one most licensed dog. People will continue to love their pit bulls here -- that's not going to stop because a fringe minority wants dog owners to fear their pets.

Re: Merritt Clifton. He lost all credibility when it was learned that the source for his data comes from reading newspaper clippings. Newspaper clippings! I'll just quote Brent Toellner here since he's already covered Clifton's methods in his KC Dog Blog:

"Clifton's study covers dog attacks over the past 27 years - and includes 2,695 dog bites - so roughly 100 attacks per year. One hundred attacks per year represents 1% of the total hospitalizations from dog bites each year and .03% of all emergency department visits each year.

Because Clifton relies only on media reports for his 'study', it is not only not complete, it's not a representative sample -- because it is subject to media bias -- which has shown that it would rather focus on the dramatic and fear mongering. And Clifton buys into it hook, line and sinker.

Public officials need to focus on actual data when making policy decisions. By doing so, they can make an actual impact on the number of hospitalizations from dog bites vs paying lip service to it. And the data continues to show that dogs do not represent a major risk in most communities -- and that the majority of the risk involves young children. That risk can be minimized through educating parents on how to introduce dogs to young children and to never leave their children alone with dogs unsupervised. But making decisions based on actual data, and not dramatized fear-mongering is the only way to make positive steps."

A more thorough analysis of Clifton's methods.

http://lassiegethelp.blogspot.com/2007/08/dangerous-breeds-dog-bite-statistics.html

Dianne said...

Anyone can go to the NCRC website and down load The Pitbull Placebo, all 233 pages, in PDF format.

Click here:

http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/publications/ncrc-publications/
and click on the cover.

the link on the Blog is giving me a 404

Also the CDC reports on dog bites show that breed is not a significant factor.
http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Dog-Bites/dogbite-factsheet.html
From their web site:
A CDC study on fatal dog bites lists the breeds involved in fatal attacks over 20 years (Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998 ). It does not identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic. Each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs.

Brent Toellner's excellent summary of fatal dog bites (linked above) shows breed is not a significant factor.
http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2011/01/dog-bite-fatalites-2010-final-report.html

In DC last year there were 10 bites considered "significant." Nine different "breeds" of dogs were involved.

Captain Awkward said...

GP3K-- I do not believe that pointing out that breed identification is notoriously poor/incorrect is a diversion whatsoever; it is pointing out a logical fallacy in breed ban supporters' argument. You can read studies on the inaccuracy of mixed breed identification here: http://nationalcanineresearchcouncil.com/resources/breed-and-behavior/

No who loves dogs wants dogs to bite people. What I, and others, urge is a fact-based approach to this issue. You cannot solve *any* problem without knowing what the real causes of the problem are. Just assuming that an attack is the result of the breed of the dog is a massive and incorrect oversimplification that does nothing to provide solutions to the problem that will actually *work*, and in reality, causes more problems itself.

Robert said...

DubV: What would be helpful in understanding your position and your question would be for you to state what evidence you're using to base your negative perception and why you feel that is valid information.

The problem, for example, with statistics is when people attempt to draw conclusions from incomplete data. This allows bias to cloud the facts.

When people see numbers for Pit Bull attacks, it can seem obvious that they *MUST* be dangerous. After all, they top the list.

But this is a lapse in logic on the same scale as someone believing that since most car accidents are said to occur within 5 miles of home that they'd be safer if they just move.

What dog bite statistics fail to take into account is the complete population of dogs, broken down by breed. The reports that collect these statistics are only taking in negative information. They are not counting all of the dogs that do NOT attack a human. So any conclusions that discuss the apparently likelihood of a given breed to be aggressive that is based on this data is inherently flawed.

This is why the CDC will no longer make any such conclusions from their collected data.

You even said yourself that your negative perception could be swayed by a comprehensive study that included per capita data, suggesting that you can see the inherent flaw in the statistics. So given that, again, what is it that has influenced your negative position?

So I'm not entirely certain what your point is in asking people what would convince them that the dogs are any more dangerous than any other breed - unless it's to try to trap people into an argument based upon a hypothetical.

I don't know of any advocate for Pit Bulls that would disagree with the notion that there are many ill-temperamented examples of the breed out there. Given that they are a popular breed, and that they also seem to be popular specifically for that "tough dog" image, there is a lot of abuse in how these dogs are bred and raised. There may even very well be dogs with highly questionable genetics winding up in the homes of otherwise responsible owners because of this.

Does this make the breed flawed? Or is this more an issue of some of the practices surrounding the breed, and it's dense population due to popularity skewing the statistics?

Ashley said...

Thank you for writing this its helps put the human animal bond into a perspective that is sometimes overlooked.

My heart goes out to Mr. Napora.

As humans we need to remember that it is not a breed that attacks a human it is in the end a dog. Being afraid of dogs of one specific breed does not protect you from finding yourself in a dangerous situation with another breed. This is not to say that all dogs are vicious just that simply all dogs can bite regardless of their breed.

DubV said...

"I think your question was. Is there anything that would make me change my mind about Pit Bulls. The answer is no."

This speaks volumes. There is nothing that could change your mind? That is actually a bit scary.

DubV said...

"Dear DubV - You say no one will answer your simple question which is ""This blog post makes me wonder what could possibly happen to change the mind of Bad Rap member's surrounding this breed." Please allow me to answer your question...NOTHING. Just as NOTHING one black, NOTHING one muslim, NOTHING one gay, NOTHING one Christian could do that would cause me to turn away from an entire race, religion, or orientation because of the act or acts of a few, NOTHING that one or more pit bull or any other type of dog can do will make me turn my back, or judge an entire breed on."


You did not actually address my question, but instead its prelude. The question asked for any type of evidence at all. If it is a resounding NOTHING, then we have an issue.

I could discuss Delise's Pit Bull Placebo which I have read and other points, but I'll move on because this is not the time or place for any useful debate as the story is about a tragedy and the blog is moderated.

I just ask that people reflect on how healthy it is to hold a belief about a type of animal in such a way that nothing could possibly change your mind regarding it.

emilysilversage said...

DubV, you ask "So, I ask you all, can you think of any type of evidence (a set of statistics, an individual circumstance concerning you or others, etc) that would change your mind about this breed?" You've gotten several excellent responses about not judging an entire breed by a few dogs (who may not actually BE that breed.)

Now turnabout is fair play, so let ask YOU: what type of evidence would change YOUR mind?

Do you hold yourself to your own standard: "I just ask that people reflect on how healthy it is to hold a belief about a type of animal in such a way that nothing could possibly change your mind regarding it."

or not....

emilysilversage said...

so here's something for you, DubV: it is a statistical fact that males commit the vast majority of crimes.. (far MORE a fact than your notions about "pit bulls). http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/gender.cfm

Indeed, the vast majority of violent crimes are committed by males under the age of 35 (which I suspect is your demographic).

What would it take to convince you that all males under the age of 35 are dangerous and should be locked up?

I kind of suspect your answer would be just what folks have given you.

So.. how about you drop the pretense that your "question" is some kind of objective, scientific test, eh? In reality, it's a stupid meaningless "gotcha" that doesn't "get" anything.

Feel free to provide a link to your blog where you want to have a discussion about Karen Delise's work.

GP3K said...

So the Clifton paper is unreliable because it uses media reports as its basis for collecting data, and everyone knows the media is biased...right?

It seems to me that a more objective examination would be to find an example of a media report used by Clifton, and show how the report itself diverged from the facts of the case.

Is this actually done?

Merely suggesting that media clippings are an invalid source of data because the media is biased is nothing more than conjecture.

Using conjecture to dismiss a statistically derived conclusion is a red herring. Another logical fallacy.

I'm trying to keep an open mind here, parsing through the dozens of papers that have been linked on this comments page.

But the larger point is that the general public does not appear to be embracing these types of conclusions.

(Someone please correct me if I'm mistaken about that last point.)

Rene said...

Excuse me but where is the REAL facts of what happened.
Please.
I had heard she fell hit her head and the dogs were innocent

Can we have facts of the true story please.

Donna said...

Rene - there was no evidence of a fall. One of her dogs was not involved in her death, and one was. Forensics may or may not fill in the blanks once lab reports come back.

GP3K - I think Rene's post demonstrates why media reports are so unreliable. Someone else here read in the papers that the dog was 125lbs. We've taken the "let's wait and see" approach whenever a dog related incident hits the press because better information always comes out later. Unfortunately in many cases, we've seen cases where a dog is implicated but further evidence reveals the victim died of natural causes before being scratched or even eaten by a dog. And in yet more, dogs reported as "pit bulls" by non-experts have been confirmed by experts as other breed types at a later date. More and more people are realizing that newspapers are just not the place to go for a full analysis of any kind of event - certainly not an event that sells papers with gore/sexy headlines. I can tell you that every media outlet in our community was ringing our phone off the hook hours after this particular incident and they would've printed anything we offered - truth or not. That's the way the ball bounces.

Unknown said...

I happened to catch this morning's Forum on the drive to work this morning.

Why does the media seem to identify every dog that attacks as a "pit bull"?

The moderator, Scott Shafer, referred to the dog that killed Diane Whipple in 2001 as a "pit bull". The two dogs involved in the Diane Whipple incident were Presa Canario dogs. How anyone could confuse these two breeds is beyond me.

Breed identification and generalizing based on breed is far from an exact science. But if every dog attack you hear about involves a "pit bull" it is easy for the less informed to draw the wrong conclusion.

Frustrating...

pitbull friend said...

GP3K says: "Merely suggesting that media clippings are an invalid source of data because the media is biased is nothing more than conjecture."

Actually, the argument against Clifton's using media reports has less to do with the content of the media reports and more to do with what media report ON. Over and over again, if there is a mauling or death having to do with a "pit bull," newspapers far & wide cover it. They do not do so with other breeds. If Clifton had wanted to be comprehensive, he would have done the type of work Karen Delise and Jim Crosby do - get ALL information about deaths involving dogs from police or hospitals and then do extensive interviewing and forensics.

Newspapers could be 100% objective and they would still not necessarily cover all of the newsworthy events in an area because of simple lack of time & space to do so. They are not a reliable source for this type of analysis.

In the last 20 years in Minnesota, there have been two children killed by dogs. One dog was a "husky" and one was a "pit bull." Any guesses which one got SIGNIFICANTLY more news coverage?

Donna said...

thanks for filling in that blank pit bull friend. in my brain drain, I left that one off. it's been a loong week!

Donna said...

Some of the commenters are starting to repeat themselves, so I'm going to close off the comments to this thread now with a link to a statement from the organization that handled the dog(s) in the Pacifica tragedy.

There are many other places on net where people can continue to dialogue about this case, but duties call and we're ready to move on now. Thanks to everyone who contributed here.

From the Peninsula Humane Society:

http://pacifica.patch.com/articles/is-pit-bull-legislation-right-for-san-mateo-county