…Publishing ignorant “pit bull” hysteria.
I like “Not the Bee,” an oddity-collecting, usually political website that up until today sent me a daily bulletin. Today, however, the site decided to join the ranks of those who spread ill-informed anti-pit bull breeds propaganda. I saw a new wave of this coming: a recent news story had recounted how two “pit bulls” in Tennessee had killed a five-month old and a two-year-old and attacked the mother, wounding her grievously. “Not the Bee’s” appeal to authority is conservative pundit Michael Knowles, who as far as I can determine, has no special expertise about dogs whatsoever. Nonethless, NTB quotes a Knowles tweet [“I know some people like them, but we should obviously kill all the pit bulls.”] and headlines its irresponisble (and damaging) story, “Michael Knowles is 100% correct about pit bulls and I could care less how much you think I’m a monster for saying so.”
No, I don’t think the NTB writer (Jesse James) is a monster; he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about. His screed relied heavily on this chart…
…and without even examining it I assumed that it came from the anti-pit pull breeds, thoroughly debunked website, Dogsbite.com. Sure enough, that’s where it came from: the #1 spreader of anti-pit bull breeds hysteria in the nation. Who knows how many innocent, loving dogs it has been responsible for getting killed?
One of the people who has thoroughly debunked Dogsbite is me: this 2015 post designating it an “Unethical Website of the Month” has attracted more comments than any other post here. I’m not going to rehash the information relayed in that post: read it (and the links.) The immediate smoking gun proving that neither “Not the Bee,” nor Knowles, nor Dogsbite have done minimal research on their topic is that they refer to “pit bulls” as if that is a descrete breed of dogs. It isn’t: there are several separate breeds that are commonly (and incorrectly) called pit bulls by the news media, which also is prone to call dogs pit bulls because police have reported them that way when they aren’t any of the pit bull breeds. DogsBite itself says, “If it looks like a Pit bull, it’s a pit bull.” Science!
Hey: I get to reference the recent post about the Times story erroneously calling what was obviously some kind of mixed breed “a Golden Retriever”!
The two dogs featured in the story about the Tennessee attack were Staffordshire Terriers, the same breed that Brad Pitt’s character uses to help wipe out members of the Manson Family in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” They are quite a bit smaller than the American Pit Bull Terrier, the only breed that actually has “pit bull” in its name. Familiar features of many reported attacks were still on display: parents allowing powerful dogs to roam around small children, which is negligence per se regardless of the breed, and two dogs, which tends to trigger pack behavior. The story about the Tennessee attack concludes, “details of how the attack unfolded and why the pets became aggressive remain unclear.” They will stay “unclear,” too, at least to the public.
In addition to being a composite category being compared to single breeds, the “pit bull” attacks in the chart are also inflated by the undeniable fact that a lot of bad, violent, criminal individuals train their dogs to kill, and in recent decade, the favored breeds for that task have been bully breed-terrier mixes. Illegal dog-fighting and the canine abuse it entails are also almost exclusively the dominion of pit bull breeds. Abused dogs and dogs raised to be aggressive are dangerous no matter what the breed is. Nonetheless, “Not the Bee” justifies its dog racism by explaining that the dogs were bred to fight in the 12th Century, as if other breeds were not. “This breed wasn’t bred for its intelligence and sociability,” NTB writes. Well, 1) it isn’t “a breed” and 2) strangely, dog experts have determined that the American Pit Bull Terrier is both sociable and intelligent; so is the Staffy.
I’ve got to go walk Spuds now (whom everyone immediately identifies as a “pit bull,” but he is clearly a very fortuitous mix), so I’ll close with this: if your blog or website shows that you might rely on emotion, bad sources and lazy research, it isn’t much use to an ethics blog like this one: