Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Denying a Dog's Danger - Pit Bull Advocates In Denial But Ban On Breed Has Wide Support

Pit bull unhappy
Pit bulls are bred to 'fight and kill' and “should be banned”: children’s plastic surgeon

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column 

Tuesday January 13, 2015

By Bill Tieleman

"Based on my extensive experience, I believe that the risk posed by pit bulls is equivalent to placing a loaded gun with the safety off on the coffee table. In my opinion, these dogs should be banned."
- Dr. David Billmire, paediatric plastic surgery director, Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Pit bull advocates are as fierce as the dog breed that has killed and maimed more people than any other by a wide margin.
But worse, many pit bull owners and supporters are simply in denial.
And my column calling for a pit bull ban in British Columbia, like those in place in Ontario since 2005, Winnipeg since 1990 and many American cities, stirred up some of the nastiest emails and comments I have received in many years.
An angry reader in Prince George [name withheld] emailed me directly:
"You and your opinions can fuck right off. Nobody needs your half assed informed articles causing problems for the tame and loving animals we know and love."
Equally charming and articulate was this email, replete with spelling and grammar errors: "I thought that same way about the breed because of clowns like you writing this bullshit. Until I bought one as a protector for my famy cus I work away & since we socialized her n discouraged aggressive behaviour she is now worthless as a guard dog but the best most loving animal I have ever owned... You sir are what's wrong with the work [sic] fuck off."
Stunningly, last week's column was shared on Facebook over 15,000 times.
And by no coincidence, over 14,000 readers of 24 Hours Vancouver voted "No" to banning pit bulls, in what was obviously a coordinated effort to skew the results.
My sin? Pointing out the need for action after three serious pit bull attacks in B.C. in just two months and citing U.S. statistics showing 25 people were killed by pit bulls in 2013 alone, including 18 children -- making up 78 per cent of all fatal dog bite deaths, even though they account for just 6 per cent of all U.S. dogs.
Dog mauls elderly man
Despite being "tame and loving animals," since last week's column, an 87-year-old man was mauled to death by his own pit bull in Maryland; only a police helicopter and intervention saved a California man's life after four pit bulls attacked him in his own alley; a 10-month-old Florida child was severely maimed by the family pit bull; and a puppy and its owner were savaged by a pit bull in a Florida dog park, also caught on camera.
Sadly just another week in pit bull attack news.
Unfortunately, pit bull advocates go into denial when faced with these grim stories, blaming "bad" owners -- even the parents of attacked children and babies -- and saying their pit bull is sweet and loving.
Several people invited me to meet the family pet and change my mind -- but that's not the point. No doubt some pit bulls behave well but far too many have not or have suddenly snapped, leaving a defenceless child scarred or dead -- and sadly some of these incidents were in the dog's own home.
I prefer to listen to Dr. Billmire, who, in Cincinnati alone, has dealt with so many horrific child injuries from pit bull attacks that he has stepped out to criticize the breed.
"I recently gave a talk summarizing my 30 years of practice in paediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery, and one segment was titled 'Why I Hate Pit Bulls.'
"I watched a child bleed to death one night in our operating room because a pit bull had torn his throat out, " he wrote. "I have had to rebuild the skull of a child who had his ears and entire scalp torn off. I am currently reconstructing the face of a child, half of whose face has been torn off down to the bone. I have had to rebuild noses, lips, eyelids, jaws and cheeks of numerous children."
"Now, I am a dog lover and virtually every one of my family members has a dog. But it is a fact that different dogs have always been bred for specific qualities. My sheltie herded, my daughter's setter flushes birds and my pug sits on my lap -- this is what they are bred for.
"Pit bulls were bred to fight and kill and, unfortunately, many current breeders favor these aggressive traits. There is no need for any dog with the characteristics," he concluded.
Sorry, but Dr. Billmire is right -- pit bulls are simply too dangerous and a ban is needed for public safety.


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Enough with Attacks, BC Must Ban Pit Bulls Like Ontario and Winnipeg do

Pit bull on a big chain
16-day-old baby, 6'5, 250-pound man, and therapy dog all mauled in British Columbia in just the last two months

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday January 6, 2015

By Bill Tieleman

NOTE to my readers:  There has been an organized effort by pit bull advocates to share the 24 Hours Vancouver version of my column since it went online early this week in order to vote “No” on a reader survey asking if pit bulls should be banned in BC.  

Over 14,000 Facebook shares and coincidentally – over 14,000 “No” votes to overwhelm the “Yes” side.  I have also had some really obscene, nasty and insulting emails and Tweets questioning my facts, my education, my research, my journalism, my grammar and coming close to threats.

That doesn’t deter me, as regular readers know from past experiences:  my office break-in and trashing in 2007 over Basi-Virk coverage and death threats from China investigated by the Vancouver Police Department in 2008.  

But I will not post obscene insults or personal attacks on those commenting here or myself – and this site is 100% moderated by me.  Lastly, I welcome comments from pit bull owners who disagree – that’s democracy.  But some people are way out of line and it only hurts their cause with the rest of us.  Now here’s my column:

"How do I go from a birth certificate to a death certificate? ... Those dogs cannot be domesticated. They cannot." 

               - Jeremiah Rutledge, father of two-year-old son Beau, killed by family pit bull, April 2013, Fulton County, Georgia.

A 16-day-old baby is viciously attacked in her own Saanich home by the family dog, suffering serious lacerations requiring extensive plastic surgery.

A six-foot five-inches man weighing 250 pounds is mauledby two dogs outside a Langley store, requiring 19 stitches, after saying "Hi, pups" to the pair tied to a mountain bike, which they dragged behind them to get at their target.

A miniature pinscher therapy dog is literally disemboweled in front of its shocked owner outside a Kitsilano post office by a sudden, unprovoked attack by another dog.

The common element? The attackers were all pit bulls. And these three reported B.C. incidents happened in only the last two months.

In the United States, statistics show that 25 people were killed by pit bull attacks in 2013 alone, including 18 children -- that's 78 per cent of all fatal dog bite deaths even though pit bulls make up roughly six per cent of all U.S. dogs.

The non-profit tracks fatal attacks and reports that between 2005 and 2013, pit bulls killed an astonishing 176 Americans -- or one every 19 days -- representing 62 per cent of all dog bite deaths. Rottweilers, another fighting/guard dog, killed 33 in the same period, for a combined total of 74 per cent.

The website chronicles each human death in horrifying, sourced stories with details about the dog involved.

It's time British Columbia followed the lead of Ontario and Winnipeg and banned pit bull breeds here as well, for the safety of us all.

Bring on the howls

You can hear howls of outrage from pit bull owners already. They will say it is "bad" owners, not bad dogs; that other dogs also attack and kill; and that breed bans don't work. Defending pit bulls is a major industry.

Yes, irresponsible owners help create monstrous dogs intended solely to fight and maim, but family "pets" have also killed at home. 

Yes, other dogs sometimes fatally bite, but not anywhere near as often as pit bulls. 

And breed bans actually do work.

In Ontario, pit bulls have been banned since 2005: no breeding or importation; existing pit bulls must be neutered; and if walked in public they must be leashed and muzzled.

Toronto city statistics prove it works: pit bull bites are down 92 per cent, from 168 reported bites in 2004 from 984 licensed dogs to just 13 bites in 2014 from 501 pit bulls.

Winnipeg stats tell the same story: severe dog bites are down since pit bulls were banned in 1990.

B.C. should ban pit bulls too, because continuing to whine about bad owners, not bad dogs, and doing nothing didn't save a baby, a man or a therapy dog from vicious pit bull attacks -- only a ban will.