Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The *Breed Specific Excuse*

Two recent attacks on shelter workers, and the responses of those who run those shelters made me think.  We have decided to introduce a new feature here at Scorched Earth, we will be recording and sharing examples of the *Breed  Specific Excuse* when it is repeated by those who know better.  You know the one... "its not the breed, any dog could have done this."

We will introduce this new feature with just a few examples of the *Breed Specific Excuse*.  Here is one  reported by on December 12, 2012.  A local dog trainer comments on a mauling that killed two year old Savanna Edwards.
A local trainer with 25 years of experience, Mose Hugghis, says this sort of thing could happen with any breed."Sometimes you need to know the health of the dog, if it's not feeling good, if it's not active around other kids," he said. "Putting the dog in that situation can be harmful sometimes. But in this situation here, it could be any breed."
"It could be any breed..."

Just last week we saw the *Breed Specific Excuse* trotted out twice.  In Port Clinton Ohio, Nancy  Benevento-Brown, owner of Island Safe Harbor Sanctuary had the honor.   Per ToledoNewsNow "Brown said this is the first time anything like this has happened at her shelter, and she doesn't want the dog's breed to take the wrap."This happens with any type of dog, given the right situation," she said. "I have been bitten many times, and the dogs that bite me are Chihuahuas.
"This happens with any type of dog."
In Kentucky it was the same story. reported the *Breed Specific Excuse* statement of Metro Animal Services Director Justin Scally ""You know, we don't know exactly what caused the incidents. Anytime you deal with animals, you have that unpredictability about what they may or may not do,” Scally said.  MAS said that's true of any breed, any animal, not just pit bulls.
"That's true with any breed."
The *Breed Specific Excuse* comes from a person of perceived authority.  This time it came from Ed Schock, the Mayor of Elgin Illinois.  
Ed Schock
This quote from the Daily Herald appeared in an article covering a pit bull attack on the Mayor and his dog. Here is an interesting fact.  A breed specific law had been proposed in Elgin but the proposal was dropped.  Note the quote "The council backed off after pit bull owners pleaded with the city to "punish the deed not the breed."     
   "Earlier this year, Councilman John Prigge championed a proposed law that would have automatically classified all pit bulls as dangerous dogs. But the council backed off after pit bull owners pleaded with the city to "punish the deed, not the breed."For his part, Schock Friday said he has no intention of revising the law to specifically target them."I think we have to let the ordinance work," he said. "It could have been any breed of dog."
There it is, the familiar "it could have been any breed of dog." 

The quote below is chilling.  It is taken from an American Veterinary Medical Association policy statement and is found on the Best Friends Animal Society website. Best Friends Animal Society and the AVMA are staunch opponents of any regulations based on breed.  They quote an epidemiologist who apparently realizes that some dogs are bred for aggression.  

"A dog of any breed can become dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive." 
Dr. Jeffrey Sacks, epidemiologist for the CDC, said. "Fatal attacks represent only a
very small proportion of dog bite injuries and shouldn't be the primary factor driving
public policy regarding dangerous dogs." 

There we have it "A dog of any breed can become dangerous."

 At least Dr. Sacks has acknowledged that dogs can be bred for aggression but he goes on to say that fatal attacks should not be the primary factor driving public policy regarding dangerous dogs BECAUSE THEY ARE A VERY SMALL PROPORTION OF DOG BITE INJURIES.  What?????

This is Savannah Edwards.  Shouldn't the death of this beautiful child be considered during public policy debates?
Fatal dog attack, Savannah Edwards

How about Isaiah Aguilar, killed by a pit bull in February 2013.
2-year-old Isaiah Aguilar died on Saturday from a pit bull attack.

Christian Gormanous, should his death by pit bull in January 2013 impact public policy debate?

Should the pit bull mauling death of Elsie Grace impact public policy debate?
Elsie Grace mauled to death by two family pit bulls

Four Americans have been killed by dogs so far in 2013, all of them were killed by pit bulls.  Shouldn't this be part of public policy debate?

The *Breed Specific Excuse* is so irrational but appears so often that there must be a reason.  Here is a possibility.  Maybe folks get paid to say it.

The Animal Farm Foundation (motto "Securing equal treatment and opportunity for "pit bull" dogs) pays a bounty of $150 for each pit bull passing the AKC Canine Good Citizen test to shelters and rescues holding AKC CGC tests.  Collies do not count, Labs are left out in the cold, only pit bulls earn the money.  The AFF also offers grants to non profits.  The "I Am an Individual" grant can earn a shelter up to $2500 just for "removing barriers" to pit bull adoption.  Pesky little barriers like a home check, which is done by rescues placing Golden Retrievers and Greyhounds.  Ditch that for pit bulls. No yard?  No fence? No problem.  Placement of pit bulls, known to be dog aggressive, into "only dog" homes?  A foolish barrier, ditch that.  Placement of pit bulls with experienced dog owners?  Heck no, hand 'em out to anybody who wants one.

Does the AFF send a check for repeating the *Breed Specific Excuse*?