Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween, Recycled

CBS recently decided to re-run this oldy moldy video report on scary pit bulls from 2005. (Pit Bull Restrictions Debated) CBS Redone

Why? My best guess is because it's a collection of Halloween-ish gore, including some sensationalistic quotes from a person-who-should-know-better at a south bay shelter. Scare tactics are perennial, so it seems - and so convenient during times when abused pit bulls, ghouls and UFO sightings make their way to into October headlines.

What bothers me the most, besides the fact that a few of us and our ridiculously friendly dogs are IN this report (Fools-R-We for participating in this trash piece) is that it's running adjacent to a report on the Vick dogs - Wha? - Despite the fact that only ONE of the Vick dogs was sketchy with people, and she was put to sleep, as was the responsible thing to do.

I know, I know. What can we expect? The media is known for acting like a bunch of scared little old ladies chittering about bogus insurance scams, and no one with any brains really cares what they have to say. But dammit! watching reports like these is like watching school bullies kick the crap out of your little brother. How do we make them stop?

Speaking of a burn, we were taken aback by a highly unethical exchange with a staff member of our own local paper, the San Francisco Chronicle. Seems Mr. Rose didn't like the fact that we were placing an an ad to promote our fundraiser Tuff Love in his paper. His out-of-left-field response to our request for ad space....

Pit Bulls can be fine animals. But I find it alarming that your organization dismissed the numerous maulings that result from seemingly sweet dogs that come from a line of dogs bred for fighting. As a journalist all my life (I'm 60 now), I can't count the number of times I've read reputable news reports about a pit bull family pet which, after a number of years with the kids, suddenly mauled one of the family.

This is not urban myth. This is a real problem.

I'd love to see a certified line of pits that can demonstrate several generations of tame breeding so that the animals could truly be trusted. I've found everything I've ever heard from the "religious" pit bull owners to be true — that they are truly beautiful and loving dogs. But until such a line can be established, they cannot be trusted.

Many pit bull owners point to the fact that other breeds have a greater history of biting. However, pits don't bite — they maul. And there's a big difference.

I think if you folks own up to the fact that there are difficulties with the breed, you might make a lot more headway. And the problems don't stem from responsible pit owners — they stem from the Michael Vicks of the work. And unfortunately, there are big numbers of these people.

Jim Rose
Production, Ad Lay Out Manager
San Francisco Chronicle

Geez. And all we wanted to do was attract people to an event that celebrates great dogs and their loving owners.

Outside of the fact that the Vick dogs were found to be people-safe (and many are A-Okay with dogs), his bigger mistake was letting the media educate him about dog maulings. Research from the National Canine Research Council comes in so handy during times like these.

I wrote to Jim and pointed out that, according to the NCRC ...

"There have been 58 fatal maulings in CA since 1965 -- an average of 1-2 deaths a year. At least 14 different breeds/types of dogs have been identified as participating in a fatal attack in California. The breeds include small and medium-sized dog (Pomeranian, Schnauzer) -- up to large and giant breed dogs (Malamute, Presa Canario)."

And, "California leads the nation in having the largest number of criminal, negligent and abusive owners receiving felony convictions after encouraging or permitting their dogs to exhibit behaviors which resulted in a fatal attack." And further, they outline ways that the media's portrayal of pit bulls has contributed to the unrelenting assassination of this one breed's reputation. (Pssst: Bookmark this website!)

Tuff Love was created, in part, as a response to media biases such as Jim's. I never heard back from him, by the way. But maybe he's busy checking his facts.

Speaking of Scary Ex-Fighting Dogs

Sophie is back in her foster home after a surgery to remove her bad eye....Thank you UCDavis. She has a permanent wink now....How fitting! (I picture her winking everytime a naysayer slanders abused pit bulls as 'ticking time bombs.')

And happier news yet ... Our little miss is going up for adoption. She deserves a home that can give her all the creature comforts a senior citizen like her has earned. We've been honored and privileged to know this dog and we look forward to seeing her relax into retirement. Her adopters should line up the toys, though....This girl is making up for years of neglect by enjoying lots of silly, happy, wiggly-butt play.

Dog bless you, Sophie. And kind thank yous to everyone who's sent toys, donations and good vibes to help her in her new life.

The Art of Dog

And finally, a slideshow of our Pit Bull Hall dogs, compliments of PBH Team Member, Maria Graizer. She sure has an eye. Enjoy.

PBH Slides


Anonymous said...

Those are fantastic! Such lovely pictures, and such happy dogs! Made my day a lot brighter, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Mary- I guess I will reconsider that Chronicle subscription. However, how amazingly disappointing! I realize it's impossible to have news reports that aren't biased or shaped in some way by reporters' opinions and previous experiences, but I expect more effort and ingenuity from the Chronicle.

Sixty years of news reports and editorializing from this closed-minded individual? I shudder to think what other stereotypes and misinformation he's perpetuated in his readers over the decades. Fox News and the Chron... not such strange bedfellows.

LibraryRat said...

Yuck, and I thought journalists were supposed to have integrity. I hope Mr. Rose does not represent the rest of the staff at the Chron. I sent Mr. Rose an email urging him to come down to the Tuff Love show to see what it's really all about! And thank you for the link to the NCRC! What wonderfully thorough and sane information they offer.

Sophie's such a sweet baby; I love to watch the videos of her gallivanting around!
-Keri in San Jose

Unknown said...

That's a good idea....I would actually dare him to attend your Tuff Love show and meet some dogs in person.

He's not a reporter, but even worse, his newspaper (and others) are suffering greatly for lost ad revenue, so he's not only small minded, he's also obviously not that bright either to deliberately tick off a group of people who pay his bills.

Let us know if he ever responds...somehow I doubt he will.