On June 20th 2014 your reporter Charlotte Alter wrote a piece entitled “The Problem with Pit Bulls”. In researching her story Ms. Alter has used only sources which support her hypothesis that pit bulls are dangerous, sources which have in fact proven to be unreliable time and time again. She did not research both sides of the story and conveniently leaves out the research of those who say pit bulls are NOT a dangerous breed. Ms. Alter’s aim is clearly to promote hatred of pit bulls and as such is unacceptable.
Of course, true to form of those who like to denigrate these dogs Ms. Alter trots out a photo of a three year old child that was bitten by a pit bull. While it is a horrible thing to happen to a child, it does happen from time to time. Those of us who love pit bulls are just as concerned when a child is bitten as those of us who don’t, however those of us who are responsible owners of ANY breed of dog know that breed has nothing to do with why dogs bite.
But it wasn’t KFC employees who broke down the door to Victoria Wilcher’s grandfather’s house and mauled the toddler until half her face was paralyzed and she lost the use of one of her eyes. Three pit bulls did that.
At this point one can only assume that these were unsupervised dogs allowed to run at large, but Ms. Alter has chosen such ridiculous imagery here that one has a hard time not picturing these animals with a battering ram at the door. Sensationalism at it’s best! Really TIME? Your readers expect better!
Pit bulls make up only 6% of the dog population, but they’re responsible for 68% of dog attacks and 52% of dog-related deaths since 1982, according to research compiled by Merritt Clifton, editor of Animals 24-7, an animal-news organization that focuses on humane work and animal-cruelty prevention.
Seriously? Merritt Clifton? A source that has been proven to skew the statistics to support their own theories? Well now, isn’t that great reporting! Perhaps Ms. Alter would do well to learn to research her stories more responsibly.
Clifton himself has been twice attacked by dogs (one pit bull), and part of his work involves logging fatal and disfiguring attacks. Clifton says that for the 32 years he’s been recording, there has never been a year when pit bulls have accounted for less than half of all attacks. A CDC report on dog-bite fatalities from 1978 to 1998 confirms that pit bulls are responsible for more deaths than any other breed, but the CDC no longer collects breed-specific information.
Ah, so now it becomes clear. Clifton is predisposed to hatred of pit bulls given his history with the breed. Does Alter not realize that this fact calls Clifton’s so called facts into question? Clifton has a clear bias against these animals.
Another report published in the April 2011 issue of Annals of Surgery found that one person is killed by a pit bull every 14 days, two people are injured by a pit bull every day, and young children are especially at risk. The report concludes that “these breeds should be regulated in the same way in which other dangerous species, such as leopards, are regulated.” That report was shared with TIME by PETA, the world’s largest animal-rights organization.
Oops, did she just trot out PETA? There’s a good resource (not) PETA has a 97% kill rate and by their own admission support the killing of strays in shelters, especially if those strays are pit bulls. Really Ms. Alter? Yet another biased source? One wonders at this point if you ever really went to journalism school.
The little girl’s grandfather shot and killed the three dogs that attacked her, and both he and his girlfriend are facing child-endangerment charges. KFC has donated $30,000 to the girl’s family to help with her medical bills, and more money keeps flooding in. But so far the outrage has been directed at the rude KFC employee, not at the growing problem of pit-bull maulings.
Did it occur to Alter that perhaps the Grandfather and his girlfriend were negligent and therefore responsible for the attack on the child? Apparently not. “The growing problem of pit bull maulings”? What the hell is Alter talking about? There has been no rise in bites by pit bulls, and not every bite incident is a “mauling.” Once again Alter resorts to sensationalism to make her badly researched point.
As pit-bull attacks become more and more common, they’re getting increasing attention on social media, but not always in support of the wounded children. In March, a Facebook petition to save Mickey, a dangerous pit bull in Phoenix, got over 70,000 likes. Mickey was facing euthanasia for mauling 4-year-old Kevin Vincente so badly that he cracked his jaw, eye socket and cheekbone. Kevin is facing months of reconstructive surgery, but more people were concerned with saving the dog than helping the boy. Mickey’s Facebook page has now become a social-media landing page to save other dogs that are considered dangerous.
Pit bull “attacks” are not becoming more common, what is becoming more common is owners of bully breeds who are incapable of handling and controlling their dogs. In the case Alter mentions here, the child’s babysitter and the dog’s owner are the ones responsible for the bite incident, due to their neglect. The court understood that fact and understood that the dog (Mickey) was responding the way any dog placed in the same conditions would have done. What Alter fails to mention here is that even though Mickey’s life was spared he has been sentenced to live life in prison where inmates will care for him. Mickey got a life sentence for the crime he committed. Justice was served.
Clifton says he’s seen an unprecedented rise in dog maulings in recent years, as more pit bulls enter the shelter system. Between 1858 and 2000, there are only two recorded instances of shelter dogs killing humans. From 2000 to 2009, there were three fatal attacks involving shelter dogs (one pit bull, one breed similar to a pit bull, and one Doberman). But from 2010 to 2014, there have been 35 shelter dogs who fatally attacked humans. All but 11 were pit bulls.
Again with the biased sources. We have already discussed Clifton’s predisposition to hatred of pit bulls so naturally his stats skew in the direction of “every attack is a pit bull attack”. But wait a minute here, how can Clifton be spouting this information if breed is no longer being recorded by the CDC?
Supporters say pit bulls are getting a bad rap. Sara Enos, founder and president of the American Pit Bull Foundation, said that it’s wrong to blame dog attacks on pit bulls, because it’s the owners who are to blame. “It really boils down to being responsible owners,” she said. “Any dog from any breed can be aggressive, it matters how it’s treated.” And, as TIME reported in 2013, pit-bull owners all over the country are trying to rebrand the breed, insisting pit bulls can have a softer side when treated humanely.
Really Alter? Trying to “rebrand the breed”? Um…NO. No one is trying to rebrand the breed they are trying to combat the damage done by pit bull haters, and set the record straight. These dogs do get a bad rap, and bite incidents are happening partially because of that reputation. I say this because the breed has become more popular with the bad element of society and we are seeing bully breeds in the hands of people who know nothing about properly raising dogs. If you know nothing about raising them right then it is a safe bet that somewhere down the road a bite incident will happen no matter WHAT the breed of their dog..
Many pit-bull advocacy organizations, including BAD RAP, did not want to comment for this story. But there is a growing backlash against the idea that pit bulls are more violent than other dogs. “There is not any breed of dog that is inherently more dangerous,” said Marcy Setter of the Pit Bull Rescue Center. “That’s simply not true.”
Really Ms. Alter? How hard did you try to get a quote from any pit bull advocacy group? I am a member of many of them and am well aware that most do not decline to speak to reporters when asked a question, as a matter of fact most jump at the chance. If BAD RAP refused to speak with you perhaps it is because they are aware of your bias and did not want their words twisted to suit your agenda.
She continues to babble on quoting PETA dogsbite.org and Merrit Clifton, three of the world’s most anti-pit bull sources, but at no time does she mention a single legitimate expert’s views. Really TIME? Do you call this responsible reporting? It isn’t, and due to that fact I wouldn’t be surprised if many people stopped reading your publication. Perhaps you would do better to employ writers that are capable of writing an unbiased article with both sides of the argument presented equally. Until then I won’t be reading TIME any time soon and neither will many people I know.
To Ms. Alter I say, better quit your day job, you are not cut out for journalism.
Until Next Time Remember
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