Thursday, September 04, 2008

Language that kills

California towns and ciities can enforce mandatory breed specific sterilization under SB861 but they can't label any breed as dangerous. The city of Manteca doesn't seem to understand that nuance of the state law, and is finally getting called on the discriminatory language of their new spay/neuter ordinance.

San Francisco stops just short of calling pit bulls dangerous and instead, uses the term "High Risk" when it discriminates. An odd way to look at pit bulls, considering the city is posting a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person(s) who brutally murdered a pit bull puppy named Pogo (above) after he disappeared from a SF dog park.

One has to wonder, does labeling a breed "high risk" or "dangerous" open individual dogs up to random acts of torture? After all, animal control agencies generally set the tone for how a community views its animals. It's not a big stretch to see that, by holding any animal in such a negative light, a city's more violent citizens might feel justified in dealing with them violently. "It's just a dangerous pit bull, after all."

High risk, indeed.

We hope that Pogo's killers are ratted out and brought to justice and we hope cities like SF and Manteca see the incredible harm that's created by applying such derogatory labels to its animals.


Pip said...

I was already thinking today about the connection between language and perception – prompted in my case by a sound bite from the Republican convention in which Palin made the crack, “What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick." Such a casual mention of my favorite breed – but what is it telling people who hear it? And it spreads – many of the articles google pulled up while I was trying to get that quote riffed on the pit bull theme in their titles or tag lines. A small thing, sure, but it’s small things like this that build up and change public perception over time.

I can’t even comment on Pogo, it’s so heartbreaking, even without that smiley picture.

Jane said...

Speaking of language, last night Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin compared herself to a pit bull. Sheesh. What an offense to pibbles everywhere.

Anonymous said...

I, too, found Sarah Palin's remark disparaging to say the least, especially since we recently had an incident here in Lodi where a pit bull escaped, attacked an elderly cat and its elderly owner. The owner shot the dog and it died. Unfortunately, the cat had to be euthanized. The owner had to have 8 stitches and may have to undergo rabies treatment. Some of the bloggers, one in particular, were less than receptive to any info I tried to provide, including Bad Raps web site. One blogger commented, "...keep your dog off leash and they will die. If you have the misfortune of running across the wrong person you might too." I complained to the newspaper 3 times before they deleted it. The article is at under Most Popular, "Animal control finds owner of pit bull that attacked Lodi man and his cat."

Cornelia, aka Misbud02.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping someone would bring up Palin`s comment.
I wrote to the Governor`s office and asked for a retraction and an apology.
It was done politely but I pointed out that this kind of comment perpetuates myths and stereotypes about these dogs.
I provided the link to BadRap,Animal Farm and Pit Bull Placebo and suggested(politely) that she do some reading.
That remark certainly got picked up by the Pit Bull google alerts over and over and over again.
I wonder if she would like it if ALL Parents or ALL 17 yr olds were stereotyped.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon post this link(Thanks BadRap) on that Lodi story.

Prey Drive is not aggression
I don`t want to sign up.

You would think ONLY Pit Bulls chase cats and kill them.
I had a "champion" cat killer for 10 years.He wasn`t a Pit.
I`m sure he killed 1 cat/week for those 10 years and he didn`t go off our property.
Sometimes a shortcut across the farm is not a good idea.
I don`t think dogs care if you have a name and you eat Friskies at home.
You`re no different than any other vermin to a dog that doesn`t know you.
Of course this owner is responsible because the dog was loose and went on the cat`s property but if your cat is going to be outside unsupervised,things like this can happen.

Anonymous said...

Oh look what just came through in the Pit Bull google alerts.
Sarah Palin has a blog and you can leave comments!

Anonymous said...

Oh wait a minute.
Forget that last post.
Those blogs aren`t real.
Boy do I feel dumb.
Almost as dumb as Sarah Palin for making that comment in the first place.

Donna said...

So is Palin trying to wrap herself around SF's definition of a pit bull....

bred to fight, guard, attack, or act aggressively and have the physiological capacity to inflict serious bodily harm ?

Or our definition...

Gregarious and affectionate with people, including strangers. Optimistic, confident, resilient to stress. Happy to be touched, appropriately
submissive to people, biddable, good natured, reliable and well balanced. Typically very eager to please.

My Sally looks great with a big lipstick mark on the top of her head, btw. No offense to hockey moms.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Not only does sf acc label pits (and labs that have big heads, or cattle dogs that have short fur, etc.)as "high risk" but if you read the adoption info it tells you that dogs labeled as high risk are animals that can injure and kill other animals and humans. We know any breed of dog has the ability to harm or kill, as they are animals with teeth. The SFACC is basically telling the public, if you are adopting a pit bull from our shelter, they are more likely than any other dog in our shelter to kill someone. Good going, ACC. From their website:

"Higher risk dogs.........have the physiological capacity to inflict serious bodily harm (including death) to humans or other companion animals."

Donna said...

>The SFACC is basically telling the public, if you >are adopting a pit bull from our shelter, they are >more likely than any other dog in our shelter to >kill someone.


What a bonus for adopters. Do they pay extra for that? (j/k)

I imagine this language opens the city up to liability. Because, why would you knowingly* adopt out a dog that you believe could inflict serious bodily harm?

Anonymous said...

I just sent them the link to the autopsy reports and the 15 Breeds at NCRC and asked them to reconsider the language being used.
I think it`s 36 Breeds in the U.S. and ~50 worldwide that have killed.
It`s amazing that no one in Power seems to realize that they are making Pit Bulls attractive to the wrong people with this kind of language.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anons for the web sites.
You can be assured I will put them to good use.

And poor, poor Pogo. I hope the perpetrators of this heinous crime pay dearly.

RIP oh little one.


Kirsten said...

I have been thinking about language lately, too. There was that frickin' Palin remark, and then I spent a day at my local RSPCA and got a real first hand taste of Australia's archaic dog laws. There is rampant BSL, but also, in Brisbane, if a dog "instills fear" in anyone, it is labelled dangerous, and penalties and possible seizure by authorities ensue. Even if it's just yapping @ the fence as they walk past.

So, in this climate I have been thinking about language, and how to begin to effect change. I certainly think language: a) devalues pit bulls; when people have a problem with them they ALWAYS quote misinformation and hearsay, b) it hypes the breed to abusive, inappropriate owners (of any animal full stop) wanting a bad*ss tough dog.

I'm just glad there are so many loved pitties in great homes, because they set the example that changes attitudes.

Anonymous said...

Ugh the Sarah Palin comment made me gag. Alaska recently had two major incidents involving pit bulls (I live in AK) and she seems to have forgotten it already.

I hope that Pogo sees some justice. He was adorable.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from Sarah Palin? She allowed her state goverment to spend $400,000 on an effort to keep it legal to shoot wolves from low flying airplanes. They chase the wolves with the airplanes and gun them down. Why? Because trophy hunters were worried the wolves would eat too many caribou and elk. So if she hates wolves, why do you think she will care about pit bulls or any other animal?

Anonymous said...

It saddens me to see people so mean to animals. As a loyal pit owner, I could never imagine my precious baby having to go through what "humans" feel is their own version of discipline. Whenever an animal abuser is caught, I firmly believe they should have to endure the same horrendous conditions they put that particular animal in. If you dragged a dog to its death, then you should be dragged to death as well.

As far as Palin goes, she lost my vote!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Donna for seeing Palin's remark in the same light that I took it.... as all of the positive elements of the pit bull character, not the negative stereotype. I love hockey and I love pit bulls! My pittie looks fabulous with a face-full of water mellon, which is as close to "lipstick" as she'll ever see!
As far as the tragedy of Pogo, I too cannot comment because there is just nothing I can say to make that situation anything less than the horrible, unspeakable tragedy it already is. Whomever did this should thank his/her lucky stars that I am not the person who finds them out....

Anonymous said...


When will the ignorance and cruelty cease?

BSL, wholesale euthanasia, kidnapping, mutilation...

Even the moniker Animal "Control" leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but speaks volumes: the attitude of animals as dangers and nuisances. How about Animal "Welfare," instead? How about the language of "guardian" versus "owner"?

... as to Pogo's murderer - may you rot in hell.

Donna said...

Yes, language language language.

Anon, during this time of BSL-mania, we actually need to stay listed as owners of our dogs to remind the government that dogs are our property -- Property rights being one of those few ideals that are still considered sacred in this country.

I own my pit bulls and they own me. :-)

Anonymous said...

Donna -

Wow... sad and painfully ironic ...

...on a more positive note - it's nice to belong to each other, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I don`t think most people are taking Palin`s comment as a positive

[quote]“Soccer and hockey mom? A pitbull? No intelligent woman wants to be associated with that comment.”[/quote]

[quote]Oh, and as for pitbulls, I have nothing against them, but I’ll take Lassie.

She’s loyal, extremely intelligent, kind, strong, and gets the job done every time.[/quote]

Note the 2 different pictures at the link.
She`s done damage.
I`ve seen numerous comments by people on forums stating that her comment about Pit Bulls will change their vote.

I don`t think she meant that in a positive way.
She meant "attack dog" IMO

Anonymous said...

Has anyone looked at that link above?
Lassie has weighed in.
Too funny

Pip said...

Still on the subject of language... I have a bit of a lolcat / loldog obsession. But, as I've been reading the archives of ... I'm noticed that there are not nearly enough pitbull lols. Can't you just see a pic of Frodo looking adorable with the caption "I can has equal rights?"

Silly, yes, but it might be a good way to get positive images of pits into the public eye - maybe something to transform the impression of Palin's comment to the positive view?

Just a thought, as I look at too many lols...

Anonymous said...

I think BR should make a "My Pitbull is Prettier than Palin" bumper sticker :)

Anonymous said...


[quote].....With Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill) and John McCain (R-Ariz) fighting for every last vote, a coveted voting bloc like pitbull owners could very well decide the 2008 election, political insiders believe.

While Gov. Palin was not available for comment on the pitbull controversy, a spokesperson for the McCain-Palin ticket offered this official statement: "Gov. Palin does in fact have one thing in common with a pitbull: neither is capable of answering questions from reporters."[/quote]

Anonymous said...

“Gov. Palin does in fact have one thing in common with a pit bull: neither is capable of answering questions from reporters”

While this maybe true of Gov. Palin, I have to disagree with their assessment of the pit bull’s abilities. In all of the interviews, news articles, videos etc… that I have seen I have found these dogs to be quite capable of eloquent articulate answers to all questions anybody posed, with talking points such as love, forgive, eat, play, work, snuggle, sleep and then start over.

Now that’s change I can believe in!

Anonymous said...

What kind of dog is this?

Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy!
I`d like to know who was behind that line of hers?

[quote]True to the pitbull tag, Palin has been savaging Obama daily...[/quote]

Anonymous said...

Well at least they acknowledge polite correspondence.
Needless to say my correspondence was about "the remark" and tourist dollars and stereotypes such as "attack dog" and if she didn`t mean it that way,perhaps she could clarify and point out all their great qualities which you mentioned on here because the Media is taking it as "attack dog" and running with it.

[quote]Thank you for writing to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The concerns, opinions, and/or information you have sent are important and valuable to the Governor. Although she is unable to respond to each and every email herself, your message has been received and is being reviewed by the appropriate staff person in this office who can best address your need, suggestion, or comment.[/quote]

Anonymous said...

Boy the Bloggers and the Media are having a great old time with her remark.
Owners and supporters are starting to fight back and educate.
Maybe this remark might turn out to be a good thing,sorta like the Vick case is helping some more fight bust dogs.
If you have google alerts set for Pit Bull,every time you turn around that remark is coming through.
Somebody posted Wallace and Roo singing the Anthem on this one.

Anonymous said...

And Language that DOESN`T!
From CEO of Seattle HS!
Somebody is getting a thank you from me.

[quote]Rushing to ban pit bulls is the wrong response[/quote]

Anonymous said...

This looks like a good sign.

37 Pits and 1 mix breed seized in Las Cruces NM.
1 Euthanized so far due to health.
The rest being evaluated for health and ADOPTABILITY.