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.



Anonymous said...

Shame the Breeders

Is there a List?

Anonymous said...

"Bite me" said the pit bull..

Anonymous said...

i think you owe it to yourself to do a bit more research. i'm disappointed in your blog, as I have been a supporter of your work before. I won't be reading your articles any longer. Thank goodness your not in a position of power.

Anonymous said...

I live in a village where our one pit bull has attacked a leashed dog and pulled half of its face off. How do we go about getting the ban in place? Is there a group(s) already working on this here in BC? How did the other provinces achieve their bans - what was the process? Help, we are held hostage here!

Victoria S. said...

For God's sake is NOT the dog...its the owner that should be banned. I personally know lots of pittbulls that would NEVER harm a fly let alone people. QUIT blaming the breed. Go after the owners!!!

Amanda Evans said...

Hi Bill I saw your piece in the paper and thought, "Finally someone who still has that rarest of commodities ... common sense." Thank you for taking a stand. In many ways it would be a safer world if toothless, trailer-park inhabitants were walking around with a live hand-grenade instead of a pit bull. (I am not being facetious here ... your detractors will have to ask someone to look up that word for them lol) But it is absolutely true as in order to harm anyone I would have to pull the pin on a grenade whereas the pit bull just goes off on it's own making it infinitely MORE dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Ban dogs!
Ban cats, they kill wildlife!
Ban cars, pollution and death!
Ban guns, murders!
Ban knives, british-style murders!
Ban alcohol, domestic abuse and DUI!
Ban marijuana, idleness!
Ban gays, AIDS!
Ban! Ban! Ban!

Anonymous said...

Please read this article and explain how pit bulls should not be banned.

Lets get rid of these monsters. Thank you Bill.

Rob C. said...

The dog you chose to use for the article above was mine. His name was Treasure, and he lived up to his name every single day I spent with him. He was beautiful to look at and his personality was just as beautiful. You can see it clearly in the picture if you really look at it. My two boys grew up with him, and even as adults, they cried the day he left this world and I did too. It is pretty ironic that you chose to use a dog that would at least be a strong contender for "The Best Dog Ever", should such a thing exist.

Treasure was the mascot for Missouri Pitbull Rescue. He was known and adored by hundreds that knew him and thousands that weren't lucky enough to spend time with him. You should have done better research.

I am more than a little disturbed and saddened that you have decided to dishonor the memory of my beloved pet in such a negative way. He deserves much better treatment than that.

GetAPetaHome said...

Doctor?! You are the ONLY EXPERT whose opinion should count. I am sorry so much of the population consists of outright psychopaths or sadly naive people. Daxter's dad, and the other voices of reason should be granted with the highest regard. The reason Travis the chimp turned out to be so dangerous is plainly, because of the harm a chimp is capable of causing. This is the reason they are so restricted. Pit bulls have been just as deadly, no, actually more so, as anything equally aggressive and powerful from the "wild", would be outlawed. The footage of a bully breed removing Kyle Dyer's lip in 1/10 of a second should have been a wake-up call. Four hours of surgery, 70 stitches, and a skin graft from another part of her body, gave her a "new lip" as the dog had removed her entire lip! Wow....but lips are complex, and the newly surgically fashioned one will never look, talk, or smile like she could before. Worse was footage where she blames herself for "petting the dog wrong". No creature that does this to a human under any circumstances is a pet. I hope and pray my children are wise enough to steer clear of pits at friends' homes.