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No True Pit Bull.

  • Jul. 19th, 2012 at 1:45 PM
Commie

I haven't paid much attention to Pit Bull bans, as I'm not a dog owner, probably won't be until I retire and can give a dog the attention it needs, and I have no particular interest in that breed. I've pretty much bought the Cesar Milan assertion that it's just the latest in a long line of "scary" dog breeds. But then I ran across dogsbite.org, and their survey of dog-caused deaths reported in the press. Pit bulls outnumber other breeds by an order of magnitude, and in the case of Dobermans, by two orders of magnitude. It goes back to 1982, so by rights it should include a lot of cases from before Pit Bulls were the popular attack dogs. And yet it's still heavily weighted.

Even accounting for sampling error and press bias, that's interesting. What's even more interesting is the response of Pit Bull fans. To say the least, it's cult-like. Attacking the messenger, victim-blaming, demanding unreasonable standards of proof, and even advocating violence. (Actual quote, "Seriously, I hope someone kills her.")

But the most interesting to me is how they go about providing counter-evidence. The above links directed me to the National Canine Research Council, and their 2010 Investigation on dog-bite related fatalities is laugh-out-loud funny in its evasion. Of the identifiable breeds, there's a couple of huskies/sled dogs, a couple of Rotties, a couple of German Shepherds, a couple of miscellaneous. And the rest are all Pit Bulls. Their universal response:

The dog was reported to be a “pit bull.” NCRC was unable to obtain documentation from the owner or authorities that substantiate the breed. NCRC did obtain photographs of the dog. NCRC submitted the photographs to NCRC’s expert advisor who concluded the breed of the dog could not be reasonably determined from the photographs.

Ok, fair enough. But then you read those exact same words again.

NCRC submitted the photographs to NCRC’s expert advisor who concluded the breed of the dog could not be reasonably determined from the photographs.

And again.

Photographs were submitted to NCRC’s expert advisor who concluded that the breed(s) of the dogs could not be reasonably determined from the photographs.

And again and again. After a while, I started to feel a bit of a dog-like grin coming over my own face. In fact, NCRC's un-named expert advisor never once says "Yeah, that's a Pit Bull." In fact he or she never says, "No, that's a... something else." The only identification they do allow as "reasonable" is one Rottweiler. But when it comes to questions of Pit Bull identification, he or she is a complete know-nothing. "Pit Bull? What Pit Bull? I don't see a Pit Bull."

They don't even attempt to examine the implications if some of those reports are accurate. The assumption is that if the "expert" doesn't identify it as a Pit Bull, it couldn't possibly have been a Pit Bull. They have to, because even if you eliminate half of them it would still be an over-represented breed in dog attacks. Apparently there's some breed of dog out there that everyone calls a Pit Bull, all news outlets identify as a Pit Bull, and we don't know what it is, but it's definitely not a Pit Bull. And no, they can't tell you how to distinguish those evil impostors from the real, loveable thing.

And ironically, if you don't accept these out-of-hand dismissals by some unnamed person(s) who works for an organization that's opposed to breed bans, the ratios are very similar to those reported by dogsbite.org: Pit Bulls massively outnumbering attacks by other "dangerous breeds", and completely overwhelming the poor Doberman, which I'm starting to believe is the breed that's really been unfairly slandered. (There were no Doberman-claimed attacks in 2010.)

(At this point I'd really like to insert a video of Norm MacDonald's "Whatever happened to Dobermans" bit, but I can't find it on YouTube at the moment.)

Comments

(no subject) - marieoroumania - Jul. 20th, 2012 04:44 pm (UTC)
ernunnos wrote:
Jul. 20th, 2012 05:14 pm (UTC)
They're mutts... until you talk to their owners, who are proud of their Pit Bulls. You can't have it both ways. I'm not missing the point, I'm demanding some consistency. My pet = Pit Bull, that dog that attacked someone = mutt. This is a perfect example of the "No True Scottsman" fallacy.
(no subject) - marieoroumania - Jul. 20th, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
lds wrote:
Jul. 20th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Okay, have to jump in here, because I don't know much about breeding dogs or what different breeds are bred for or anything like that, so I'm reading Ernunnos's posts and the subsequent comments to learn things.

BUT... though I am ignorant in that area, I know a thing or two about semantics and human communication, and I have to call "bullshit" here.

There is only one AKC-recognized breed that has the words "min" and "pin" as the first syllables of its name. If someone says "min-pin," am I to assume that it's a breed somewhere in the general vicinity of a miniature pinscher, or should I just assume that they mean, hey, it's a miniature pinscher, but that's a lot of awkward syllables, and even harder to write and spell it all correctly?

I think I'll assume the latter, thank you. With some lattitude, of course, because if I had a dog that was 75% of one breed, I wouldn't want to over-explain, every time someone asks about my dog. I could understand calling a dog a "min-pin" even if it isn't AKC paperable. But the implilcation would be the same: it's a purebred, or majority, one specific breed.

Similarly, there is only one AKC-recognized breed that has the words "pit bull" in the name. There are a number of other breeds with "bull" in the name, but the combination is unique. Now, okay, I am willing to recognize that there are some stupid owners out there who have dogs that do not have any American Pit Bull Terrier™ in them, but they like the bad-boy reputation, so they might call their dogs by the "pit bull" shorthand in a misguided and stupid attempt to bolster their "street cred," or some other nonsense. But as an uninvolved but curious bystander, if I hear an owner describe their dog as only a "pit bull," I'm assuming one of two things:

1. The dog has at least 50% American Pit Bull Terrier ancestry, or
2. The owner is a fucking liar.

That's what language is for, especially when language is formalized by law (such as the trademark symbol I used above jokingly) or by an organization meant to set formal standards (like the AKC). So no, I'm not buying that "pit bull is not a breed." Yes, it is, and every time you try to use that as an argument, you're undermining your own credibility. Use a different argument. That one doesn't work.
holywar wrote:
Jul. 22nd, 2012 07:15 pm (UTC)
That's what language is for, especially when language is formalized by law (such as the trademark symbol I used above jokingly) or by an organization meant to set formal standards (like the AKC). So no, I'm not buying that "pit bull is not a breed." Yes, it is, and every time you try to use that as an argument, you're undermining your own credibility. Use a different argument. That one doesn't work.

Surely with all your talk of "semantics and human communication" you're aware of the concept of brand dilution? Pit bulls are the Kleenex of the dog breed world.
lds wrote:
Jul. 23rd, 2012 05:23 pm (UTC)
Please see my acknowledgment of same in my previous comment, paragraph 5, sentence 3, and my opinion of it in numbered list item #2. Thank you, come again.
holywar wrote:
Jul. 25th, 2012 06:37 am (UTC)
stupid owners...bad-boy reputation...owner is a fucking liar

Sure. Nobody else ever uses the term incorrectly, and for any reason other than street cred. My example is much closer to reality than yours, and I don't see how you can claim otherwise, short of being deliberately obtuse.
(no subject) - marieoroumania - Jul. 24th, 2012 09:30 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - marieoroumania - Jul. 24th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - marieoroumania - Jul. 24th, 2012 09:41 pm (UTC)