Proving once again that dog ignorance and breed bigotry knows no partisan, ideological nor erudition boundaries, a bunch of conservatives are spreading false anti-pit bull propaganda. As is often the case, they don’t know what the hell they are talking about.
The impetus was an anti-pit bull abuse organization citing the work of Ann Linder, a Legislative Policy Fellow with Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Program, who wrote a paper, “The Black Man’s Dog: The Social Context of Breed Specific Legislation,” that argued that pit bulls have been unfairly tied to “gang violence by urban youths, as well as the hip-hop music scene.” The group then made the leap to arguing that anti-pit bull restrictions in the many American cities that have them are racist. Well, that’s demonstrably idiotic: the reason for all of those ignorant laws isn’t racism, but that the legislators passing them know zilch about dogs and are pandering to public hysteria. The hysteria is spread by the news media, popular culture, and a lot of otherwise intelligent people who should know better but don’t, and are too lazy and irresponsible to educate themselves. This group includes Conservative law prof and conservative pundit/blogger Glenn Reynolds. Shame on him.
Here’s the way it goes: since the pro-pit bull group cited a race-baiting Harvard scholar, that meant that the group must be made up of progressives, and thus wrong about everything in Instapundit Land. Conservative site College Fix posted about the foolishness of the “racism” claim. Instapundit host Reynolds snarked to his millions of followers:,
“Academics say fear of pit bulls is linked to… racism? I thought it was more about the biting: “Despite accounting for just 6.5% of all dogs in the United States, pit bulls were responsible for 66% of total fatal dog attacks between 2005 and 2017.” Why aren’t these academics following the science? I think they should be banned for “spreading misinformation.”
HA HA HA! Good one, Glenn! Why isn’t this academic checking his sources before making a high-profile ass of himself by spreading misinformation? As anyone with a smattering of canine education knows, there is no breed called a “pit bull,” but anywhere from four to eight distinct breeds that are lumped together as “pit bulls” by people, apparently like Reynolds, who don’t know a dog from a garden hose.
There are also several breeds and mixed breeds that even some dog experts mistake for pit bulls breed. My sweet, funny, gentle dog, Spuds, was sent on his awful journey through three abusive owners and two rescue organizations when Prince George’s County designated him as a “vicious breed” because he looks like he might be a “pit bull.” Indeed he might, but I have photos of nearly identical dogs that are American Bulldogs (not a pit bull breed), Dogo de Agentino (a mastiff breed, also not a pit bull breed), American Pit Bull Terriers (one of the pit bull breeds) and several mixes, some including the breeds lumped as “pit bulls,’ some not. It will take a DNA test to determine what he is, but there is no question at all that if a dog that looked like Spuds bit someone (no matter what the provocation), the police and media reports would attribute the episode to a vicious attack by a “pit bull,” thanks to confirmation bias and breed ignorance.
Ethics Alarms has an extensive series of pieces on the issue of dog breed bigotry and ignorance, which you can read here so I don’t have to rehash them. Do it. Don’t be like Glenn. People who casually advance this false narrative get dogs killed…dogs like Spuds.
Where did the stat quoted by College Fix and Instapundit come from? They didn’t track it down, but I did. College Fix took it from a three-year old piece in Forbes, whose lazy, dog-breed ignorant writer Niall McCarthy got it from…Dogsbite.org, an Ethics Alarms designee for Unethical Website of the Month in 2015. That site, the work of a dim-bulb phobic whose version of advocacy is to distort facts and cherry-pick statistics from sources almost as disreputable as her website, is infamous among knowledgeable dog owners. That original post, which I re-posted last year, is the all-time Ethics Alarms record-holder for comments. The defenders of the website have not only been thoroughly mocked and vanquished in the threads there, but metaphorically run through the brambles naked and bleeding.
Using a quote coming out of that source and calling it science is an embarrassment, and the whole sequence that has a respected conservative pundit passing off bad facts as reality is an excellent example of how bias makes us stupid.
Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit, Forbes and College Fix owe Spuds an apology.