Ethics Hero: Chandra McKinnon


There is moment in my favorite Saturday matinee movie, “The Vikings”—okay, it’s tied with the original “Journey to the Center of the Earth”–where Ernest Borgnine as Ragnar, the Viking King, is about to be thrown, hands bound, into a pit of ravenous wolves by his Britsih captors, A Viking, we have learned, can only go to Viking Heaven, Valhalla, if he dies with a sword in his hand. Just as Ragnar about to be tossed, Tony Curtis cuts his restraints and hands  him a sword, and the Viking King, beaming, leaps into the pit with a victorious shout of “VALHALLA!” They didn’t have CGI back then, so we only got to hear the sounds of him killing snarling wolves left and right until he was finally mauled, but I always could picture Ragnar’s battle in my mind.

That’s also how I picture Chandra McKinnon, a Canadian law clerk, as she fights off the hoards of mindless anti-pit bull breed hysterics over at The Post That Never Dies, Unethical Website of the Month: Dogsbite.Org . which has over 5,000 Facebook shares and which has been attracting dog breed bigots regularly since 2015.

Chandra leaped into the pit shortly after I gave up trying to reason with these idiots. I finally added this to the post:

In the future,  comments to this post that consist of nothing but repeating the same disproven myths and ignorant beliefs about the various pit bull breeds will not get through moderation. Any serious, well-researched, civil comments presenting counter arguments and genuine statistics to the facts and expert opinion discussed in these posts are welcome. Citing as authority will guarantee rejection. Lumping multiple breeds together as “pit bulls” proves laziness, bias and ignorance, and will also result in the comment being spammed. Dumb arguments like “You can’t prove they aren’t pit bulls!” will have the same results.

It is depressing how many people will hold on to a factually unsupportable bias despite every effort to enlighten them, but then prejudice against humans works the same way.

It was getting ridiculous. The commenters, sent my way in intermittent waves by the website’s defenders, are usually semi-literate and always immune to reality.  I have banned more commenters on that post than any three elsewhere on the blog. Here is part of a typical rant from one of them, since banned under the Ethics Alarms Stupidity Rule:

Mr Marshal, why is there a FB page titled Our Pets were Attacked by Pitbulls?… If pitbulls are no more aggressive than other breeds, then why are there no similar pages for other breeds?? Why no “Our Pets were Attacked by Poodles” FB page??…Because these breeds have never killed a human EVER, so most likely will not maul another dog!! …As an ethics person, do you think it’s ethical to prioritize the lives of one breed, the fighting pitbull, over the lives of numerous other breeds, and say well I don’t care about the lives of all those other breeds as long as we can own our pitbulls?? Doesn’t matter that pitbulls kill and injure multiple other breeds each and every day, as long as I fullfill my selfish want for a breed that has no purpose in today’s society since it was bred for a sick bloodsport, then I’m fine with that!! IS THAT ETHICAL???

However, I also object to having unchecked misrepresentations, bad stats and bad arguments on the site, so the pollution has to be addressed. Thus the timely intervention of Chandra has been a gift from the Viking gods. Here is a typical retort to the Dog Breed Racists, in this case responding to a commenter who contrasted herding breeds with those vicious, aggressive “pit bulls”:

Amazingly enough there was a study conducted by the BCSPCA wherein they re-homed 40+ dogs, half of which were what you would call “pit bulls”, the other half were non bully breeds including your general herders (who by the way alternate with hunters for top of the dog bite lists annually in Calgary, AB). The purpose of the study was to see which breeds exhibited aggressive behaviours (adoption, although fantastic, can be an extremely stressful event for a dog).

At the conclusion of the study, the BCSPCA released the results. Not one of the “pit bull” type dogs had exhibited ANY signs of aggression at all, and not one of the “pit bull” type dogs was returned to the shelter.

Now, for the non-bully breeds (including your herders), it would appear that there were reports of aggression by these dogs, some where the new homes decided to retain the dog and work with a trainer to address the aggression, and some where the dogs were simply returned to the shelter.

Surprised? I was not, because the peer reviewed scientific study on this specific subject matter confirms that breed is not a predictor of aggression (AVMA Dog Bite Risk Prevention: The Role of Breed). The American Temperament Testing Society, Inc. results confirm that “pit bull” type dogs rock temperament testing because they are such positive, responsive, intuitive and wonderful dogs. I am sure you will be quite dismayed to see where your herders landed when it comes to temperament (which includes aggression)….seems they did not score quite as well as the bully breeds. But a dog is a dog is an individual, so.

In fact, they beat out all of your herders when it comes to temperament.

Please, though, by all means…reply with the peer reviewed science on the specific subject matter that supports your opinion…I have been waiting for this group to come up with something, anything, for years now….still waiting.

This Ethics Hero award is given to Chandra in thanks and gratitude, both from me, and these  unjustly maligned dogs…



26 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Chandra McKinnon

  1. Breed racism, pure and simple, and based on as little fact as human racism. It is documented (by the AKC among others) that other breeds are temperamentally more aggressive than pit bulls, the only difference being that no one group has tortured them, taught them to fight for their lives, and do not have a Michael Vick to lead the pack of the dog-fighting culture. (At least in America: in China the Sharpei was bred specifically (the excess of skin and bristly fur) to train as fighting dogs, and still are, but where’s the American outrage here? Americans own Sharpeis, but whose going after them? Why? Because they have to be taught to fight, their physical characteristics do not ipso facto breed aggression into them.)

    I’ve decided that the pit bull controversy is a good IQ test. Under 80, and you think pit bulls are a menace. With the minimal ability to think (above 80, where a cashier can count change), you might just learn something about these dogs and not jump on the hate/fear/stupidity bandwagon. (Seems that entire cities are run by morons: any wonder they have other kinds of trouble?)

  2. Jack, I thought I should tell you that I am at least one person that has been informed and convinced by your coverage of this topic and defense of these dogs. I’ve had no experience or interaction with these dogs before and so had no reason to give the subject any thought and accepted the notion they are probably naturally aggressive as I’d heard. Thanks to a post you did years ago, I now speak up and point out breed bigotry when I hear it. Thanks for all you do.

  3. My brother-in-law breeds bullies and all of his dogs have been some of the best dogs I have ever known. They have played with my smaller dogs and with small children with never a sign of aggressiveness. I can not say the same for my smaller dogs. I have only met one bullie I didn’t like and that was because he was raised by an idiot who thought it funny to make him mean!

  4. So, there are no FB pages that say X. Well there we have it. Significant scientific proof for all you deniers.

    So the evidence of a FB page is evidence of truth now. I wonder if the page is peer reviewed.

  5. My across the street neighbor has two. He hides them from “the authorities”. They look and bark like madly ferocious creatures, but have been such sweet animals from the first instant we were introduced. The level of prejudice against this highly intelligent, loyal and loving breed is incredibly unjust.

  6. Then, there is this furball – lovingly named “Lord Remington Winchester, Esquire” by our son:

    He is a dog of letters, you know.

    I don’t know what his breed is. Some say Chocolate Lab and Pit Bull; others, say Chocolate Lab and Doberman. Others, still, say, Chocolate Lab and something else but 100% sweet. I agree with the third group. He is charming, plays (very) well with other dogs, and has a great temperament.


  7. Chandra McKinnon can’t even quote from the study truthfully so you may want to find another hero. The study is also far from scientific.

    I was part of the board that was tasked with recommending to the Commandant of the Marine Corps what to do about dog bites occurring on installations. I wasn’t a fan of the recommended breed ban that was instituted but to act as if there is no data to support the notion that American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, and American Staffordshire Terriers often are aggressive is to ignore reality. We reviewed the data, was briefed by behaviorist, vets and other experts, dogs are individuals but there are breed behavior traits, to not recognize this is to be just as biased as the breed haters.

    One study I recommend reviewing is an older one that has been duplicated by the US Navy with similar results although not public record.

      • No worries Steve, I have broad shoulders. The second study you mention is the one that Rebecca Ledger was a co-author on. She is a widely recognized Animal Behavioural Scientist. The study that you linked is well known to me, and does not support your position at all. In fact, it supports the position that this type of dog is no more aggressive than others, in fact, this type of dog is often far less aggressive. If you review Table 1 of the study it clearly breaks down the aggression aspect. I would also take this opportunity to point out that 52% (23) of the dogs in this study were labelled as pit bulls, and 48% (21) were other breeds – so there were more pit bulls than other breeds. The dogs labelled as pit bulls exhibited less aggression towards owners (ZERO aggression actually) than the other breeds, less aggression towards strangers, towards other dogs, towards cats, towards children under the age of 12, over food, when being stepped over…..those are quite a few of the every day things that most dog owners are looking for. When being moved or responding to skateboarders or joggers, the group labelled as pit bull had one incident more of aggression than the group labelled non-pit bull (so 3 non-pit bull type dogs responded aggressively to skateboards and 4 pit bull type dogs did so as well). I fail to see how your reference to this study supports your position? In fact, this study also refers to the attached study. Over a 17 year period there were 28 dog bite related fatalities in Canada (the whole darned country). Of the 28 dog bite related fatalities, one was attributed to a Staffordshire Terrier, the other 27 – attributed to non-pit bull type dogs. Enjoy Steve, and I recommend that you read the entire study this time (just saying, because you tried to use Rebecca’s study as your foundation…and, if you read it, it does not support your position at all).

    • Well now, the Marines have banned the following breeds from their housing pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf-hybrid breeds. It also looks as though Camp Pendleton (is that not the largest Marine installation in San Diego?) is looking into how an exemption to this can be obtained. I hear they are also banning “sleeve tattoos” and instituting body fat standards for you guys….going to be a tougher year on the Marines than the dogs dude. Now if you are in the army and want to live in one of their shacks, well these are the banned breeds in army housing… Pit Bulls, (American Staffordshire Terriers and Staffordshire Bull Terriers), Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows and also wolf hybrids. If I understand your position, you feel that the one attack by a dog of the “type” you refer to as a pit bull was sufficient to warrant a ban on all of these breeds, regardless of the three previous attacks by dogs who were not of this “type”? One dog? Really? And the Marines managed to put together a board to come up with recommendations? As far as the “article” that you refer to, this study failed peer review on the same basis that most of these types of “articles” (I am sorry but it is no really a study after it fails peer review) fail. If you are going to be all that you can be…you should be able to tell me why if you actually read it. Never mind, I have never been one to hope for intelligence when there has not even been a blip on the radar of intelligence to start with . The limitations and bias (again) is that this article was based upon a retrospective review of files. Further, there was no confirmation of actual breed involved. Yep, that is right….the author said that (breed not confirmed). So what that means is, could have been a Staffie, could have been a sheltie, maybe it was a Great Dane, or a Wolfhound, maybe a lab, a pointer, a retriever….who knows, because the author of your little articles says he does not know either. Now, if you are in the Marines, as you claim, and you think that you can make an argument against a breed of dog using an article where the dogs’ breeds were never confirmed – well this causes me great concern for the people you are supposed to be protecting… my usual scenario to assist the slow: If I conduct a peer reviewed study to determine whether an orange or a kiwi has more vitamin C, but I use apples instead of oranges….how reliable is my statement that oranges do have more vitamin C than kiwis? If that is what the Marine Corp. was relying upon to make its decision, well that speaks volumes about the Marine Corp. now does it not? Oh, for the record, the American Veterinary Medicine Association peer reviewed scientific study Dog Bite Risk Prevention: The Role of Breed was one of those peer reviewed studies on the subject matter where they did something kind of important Steve … they confirmed the breed of dog involved! LOL

  8. Growing up we bred 4 kinds of dogs. English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinschers, And Pitbulls.

    All of them were great breeds. Loyal, smart, loving, beautiful, protective.

    The pit bulls were stronger and when they loved you, their size and weight could push us over as kids and when we first got the first pit bull, we were afraid. I remember my dad explaining they were great dogs and educating us as time went on because the neighbors started rumors and told their kids they were dangerous dogs.

    My dad was great at explaining that they were not dangerous, and sadly… he and my uncle were into dog fighting for awhile, and cock fighting, and watching it as a kid really made me sad.

    But even the one they did fight with “Zeus” was friendly and loving to us kids and only fought when put in the “ring” with my uncle’s dog.

    My mom and aunt weren’t happy about the fighting so they only did it a few times (thankfully) and we bred them for years and other than chasing a chicken once and killing it, Zeus was like a big puppy and never showed any aggression to a human.

    But, All the dog breeds at one point killed a chicken or duck… the Spaniels loved to chase them most when one got out.

    So my experience for those 4 breeds was positive and all the dogs seemed equally loving and great.

    Of course each dog has its own personality, but no breed seemed “bad” or dangerous.

    I think because they are so strong and can loch their jaw, those who are into dog fighting seem to like that breed.

    People were afraid of Dobermans too, not sure why but ours were sooooooo loving!

    • 1. Pinschers are wonderful, but from WWII through the sixties they had the reputation pitbulls do now. Watch the movies and TV shows from that era. They were used as guard dogs and attack dogs. People forget these things.The TV and movie portrayals also added to the myths. One reason the shows used those dogs, and later Rottweilers, is that they have stub tails, and you can’t see them wagging when they are “acting.” Dogs can’t fake viciousness if their tails are visible.

      2. (Pit bull breeds don’t have locking jaws. That’s a myth. That would mean that they literally can’t let go once they bite something. They do hold on and shake, but that’s a general terrier trait. I could lift my previous Jack in the air when we were playing tug with a rope, and he would just hang there, three feet off the ground.

      3. Thanks for that story!

  9. Oh my, should we be concerned about you, Jack? I noticed this line in Steve’s second link: “Indeed, ownership of dog breeds considered high-risk or ‘vicious’ has been linked with general deviance (Barnes et al 2006).”

    • 1. All that means is that a lot of thugs, criminals and outlaws gravitate toward pitbull breeds, mistreat them, and create maladjusted dogs, thus explaining the statistical anomaly. In this case, the correlation is a causation.
      2. I don’t own a pit bull breed, but my dog, a Jack Russell Terrier, is essentially a little pit bull, created from the same basic mix as the pit breeds: a bulldog and a terrier. Earlier, we owned an English Mastiff, which is the alleged “muscle”in bulldogs. Mastiff, however, means “dog.”

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