After its news reports blamed two pit bulls for the mauling Saturday of a 7-year-old girl, ABC2 News in Baltimore took steps to correct the error.
But take a look at the news report (above) and see if you agree with me – that they only compounded it in this story touted as “the real truth about dangerous dogs.”
Rather than clear the name of pit bulls, they besmirch that of American bulldogs, lumping them in with pit bulls and saying they share the same “aggressive” traits and legendary jaw power – or “muscles of mastication” as one vet calls it.
“They have muscles of mastication. They have muscles in their jaws that are so strong they have 500 pounds of pressure. They can snap a broom just like that,” Dr. Kim Hammond, of Falls Road Animal Hospital, says in the report. “They’re a predator if you’re lower on the food chain and they’re good at their job, and they’re going to win.”
Those remarks – inaccurate and irresponsible as they might be in reference to pit bulls or American bulldogs – were apparently being made about pit bulls, which he also compared to “a loaded gun.”
My guess is that ABC2 sent a reporter out to do the knee-jerk, misconception-spreading, how dangerous-pit-bulls-are story, then learned it was two American bulldogs that were actually involved in the attack on Amanda Mitchell, who remains hospitalized with severe facial injuries.
For the sake of expediency, it appears, the report portrays pit bulls and Ameridcan bulldogs as peas in a pod, which wouldn’t be so bad if the pod wasn’t 99 percent wrongful stereotype and 1 percent fact.
Mitchell was playing outside when the dogs escaped from a neighbor’s yard in Dundalk Saturday. Both dogs were later seized by Baltimore County Animal Control and, with the consent of their owner, euthanized.
On Monday, the Baltimore County Health Department issued a correction – identifying the dogs involved as American bulldogs – and, after more than a few complaints from vigilant Internet commenters, ABC2 corrected the story, pointing out that police had provided the misinformation.
In all fairness, the breed of the dogs was also misreported by other media outlets, including the Baltimore Sun.
Even though most news outlets have corrected their reports, the misinformation remains – not just in the public consciousness, but on Google, where search result summaries of news reports since corrected still describe the dogs as pit bulls.
Tragic as it is, the story goes a long way in helping to understand how pit bulls have gotten, and continue to get, a bad rap – based largely on police mistakenly identifying dogs, “experts” who may not know what they’re talking about and the news media’s dutiful reporting of such misinformation.
What gets lost amid all the assumptions and jumping to conclusions is this: Any breed or type of dog has members who can turn violent or aggressive – be it pit bull, bulldog or Chihuahua.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abc2, aggressive, animals, attack, attacked, baltimore, baltimore county, breed, bulldogs, dogs, dundalk, erroneous, error, girl, health department, labels, mauling, misconceptions, misinformation, mistake, news, news media, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, police, reinforcing, report, reporting, safety, stereotypes, television, tv, violent, wmar
If you happen to be strolling around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Sunday and run into a pack of pit bulls, fear not — they are there to make friends, influence people, and lick away any misconceptions you may have about the breed.
B-More Dog, the organization behind “Pit Bulls on Parade,” plans to make group walks like Sunday’s a monthly event, held in various parts of the city — all aimed at erasing the stereotypes surrounding the breed.
While all breeds are welcome, dogs must be signed up in advance to take part in the parades. So while it’s too late to get your dog into Sunday’s, you can find out about participating in next month’s by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To check out Sunday’s parade, show up around the Inner Harbor at 11 a.m.
Pauline Houliaras, a founding member and current president of B-More Dog, came up with the idea for the parade after noticing how often she’d be stopped and asked about the dogs she was walking. Her own dog, Ravenopolis, she found, often got greeted on walks around the harbor by tourists and locals alike, who’d stop to ask questions and pet the dog.
Taking the concept to the next level, B-More Dog organized groups of pit bull owners to walk together and spread goodwill about the breed. Then they decided, rather than just do it once a year, to try and parade pit bulls every month.
B-More Dog is an outreach and education organization that formed in the fall of 2007 to speak out against breed specific legislation being proposed in Baltimore County. That legislation, which would have required all pit bull owners to muzzle their dogs and confine them in locked kennels, was not passed.
Since then, B-More Dog has gone on to focus on improving the breed’s image and promoting responsible ownership of pit bulls and all other breeds through education, mentoring, and outreach.
Its members work with local shelters to provide information packets about the breed to adopters. B-More Dog also offers a “Humane Education” program in which members take their friendly, trained and well-mannered pit bull to community centers and after-school programs.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 4th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, b-more dog, baltimore, bmoredog, breed, breed specific legislation, breeds, dogs, downtown, goodwill, harbor, humane education, image, information, inner harbor, march, myths, outreach, parade, pauline houliaras, pet owners, pet ownership, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, pride, responsibility, responsible, stereotypes, training
Names: Buddy Holly (named after the performer) and Peggy Sue (the fawn-colored one, named after Holly’s hit song)
Ages: Buddy is 3; pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty Peggy Sue is 4
Encountered: At what’s billed as the largest free-standing cross in America, located near Interstate 40 in Groom, Texas.
Backstory: The two pugs, and the couple who owns them, were headed home to Hobart, Oklahoma after a Christmas visit to Arizona.
The owners of the pampered pugs planned a stop at the cross, which is 19 stories tall and, in the flatlands of the Texas panhandle, visible from 20 miles away.
They were big fans of God, Buddy Holly, pugs and, judging from their racing jackets, NASCAR.
Buddy Holly and Peggy Sue enjoyed a long potty stop on the periphery of the property, then jumped back in the car while their owners went to see the church and gift shop.
To see all our Roadside Encounters, click here.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, black, breed, breeds, buddy holly, church, cross, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounters, fawn, god, groom, largest, nascar, panhandle, peggy sue, pets, pug, pugs, road trip, roadside, roadside encounter, texas, traveling, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
Dogs are too smart to hold elections, and it would be presumptuous of us to do it for them. But if there ever were a vote for which breed to make class clown, the bull terrier would be a strong contender.
I say this having only limited experience with the breed – virtually all of it through a woman named Marilyn Bailey, and most of it in the last three days, during which time her two dogs kept a smile on my face, made me laugh out loud and even brought Ace out of his diarrhea doldrums enough to play.
Ace is better now, thanks in large part of Marilyn, who spoiled him with cottage cheese, eggs, rice and other forms of pampering, and to Browser (above left) and Ivy (above right), whose goofiness — though young Ivy is far goofier than old Browser — is, while laughable, also somehow soothing, like an old sitcom.
Marilyn and I worked together at a newspaper in Lexington, Kentucky. That was 30 years ago, and I believe her bull terrier then was named Hot Shot. In the interim, I’ve seen her maybe three times. Yet, when she heard about our travels, she invited us to stay when we came through Seattle, and she treated us like family — in the good and functional, kind and caring sense of the word.
She’s a serene and laid back sort, which can be an advantage when one is raising bull terriers, or when one is married to Carleton W. Bryant, as she is.
If Marilyn and Carl were a Chinese food entree, they’d be sweet and sour something.
If Marilyn is the epitome of graciousness, Carl is the personification of sarcasm, prone to hilariously biting comments, skewering those in need of a good skewering, and a bluntness that can leave you disarmed. Acerbic and gruff as he is, though, there are signs that, deep down, he’s actually a tender-hearted soul.
Marilyn is a copy editor for the Seattle Times, Carl is a media consultant whose current projects include a website he developed called MrThoughtful.com.
It offers a solution for those men who just can’t seem to remember to acknowledge significant dates – birthdays, anniversaries, etc. — with a card, or, at best, wait to the very last minute to do so.
The website serves as an automatic, surrogate card buyer.
Users register and create a profile of events and relationships — who in their lives they should send what cards to when. Then, as the significant dates approach, they receive by mail the appropriate card and envelope, as well as an email reminder to make sure it gets to the intended recipient.
Magically and with little effort, they appear to be thoughtful guys, fooling everybody. (There’s also a MsThoughtful.com, but the marketing pitch is slightly different. It’s for the woman too ”busy” to buy cards, as opposed to just being a negligent oaf.)
But back to their dogs, dog show quality both, and members of what, to me — with their huge and sloping, football-shaped heads — is one of the more unusual looking breeds of dogs. It was rare, back in Baltimore for Ace to run into a bull terrier. The one time he did, he approached it slowly, almost as if he wasn’t sure it was a member of his species.
Browser, 11, is a mellow sort, content to sidle up to you and stay there – for days, it seems. Ivy, not yet two, is contagiously playful. By the second day of our stay she had Ace fired up. Of course, they chose to let loose in the formal living room, where she’d run up to Ace, jump on him, then scurry away, somehow managing, while traveling at high speeds, to slide her whole muscular body under the sofa, before repeating the process.
Ace, who likes to softly bite the legs of the dogs he’s playing with, or stick their entire head in his mouth, had some difficulty with the latter, but that didn’t stop him from trying.
Both Browser and Ivy have an endearing habit of approaching when you are seated, bowing their head and pushing it softly into our stomach. Ace will do this from time to time, but only for half a minute. Browser seemed happy to stay in that position for five minutes.
While speedy dogs, as Ivy showed, they are also very adept at standing still — perfectly still. It’s almost as if they become statues, motionlessly pondering what to do next and whether it’s worth the effort.
Both loved to snuggle, Browser for extended periods, Ivy only briefly before nibbling your ear, climbing your torso or scooting off in search of something more interesting.
Once seated in Marilyn’s lap at their home in Kirkland, though, she settles down, almost as if hypnotized.
Marilyn sent us off with a huge care package — sandwiches, beverages and apple cobbler for me, and for Ace, dog biscuits, atop which she spread peanut butter. Carl, who provided us with several great Seattle area tours, sent us off with a list of places to see on Oregon’s coast and one of his website’s promotional caps, allowing me to show the world just how incredibly thoughtful I am. Ivy and Browser — members of a breed whose faces seem to say, “Yes, I’m a dog, and I plan to engage in some dog-like antics. You want to make something of it?” — sent us off with a warm and giggly feeling.
One day soon, I’ll need to thank them for all that southern hospitality, Seattle-style.
Maybe I’ll send them a card.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 14th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, antics, behavior, breed, breeds, browser, bull terrier, bull terriers, carl bryant, clowns, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, greeting cards, hosts, ivy, marilyn bailey, mr. thoughtful, mrthoughtful.com, pets, reminders, road trip, seattle, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace
Carolyn Baker, 63, of Cleveland Heights, died of a heart attack in Feburary — not from being mauled by the family Rottweiler, the News-Messenger reported today.
Baker was found dead at her back steps, wearing only a thin polyester nightgown and boots, with bite marks on her arms and shoulder. That, apparently, was enough for the police, and subsequently the press, to indict Zeus, the family’s 9-year-old, 140-pound Rottweiler.
“Cleveland Heights Woman Dies Afer Being Attacked by Rottweiler,” one headline read. “POLICE: Woman Mauled to Death by Dog,” shouted another. “Woman Found Mauled to Death by Pet Rottweiler,” concluded a third.
As ohmidog! reported in February, police and, in turn, the news media, may have jumped the gun — perhaps a little too eager to place blame on a dog because of his breed, which is, of course, nothing new.
Zeus was seized by authorities and impounded, despite the family’s contention that the dog was actually trying to rescue the woman, and that any bite marks were a result of him trying to drag her back to the house.
It took almost six months, but now Cuyahoga County Coroner Frank Miller says there were few dog bites on Baker, that she died of a heart attack and hypothermia, and that her injuries indicated “the dog was trying to help her.”
Had the results come in sooner, Zeus might still be around.
The Cleveland Municipal Court ordered him destroyed in April.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breed, carolyn baker, cleveland heights, conclusions, coroner, cuyahoga county, destroyed, dogs, euthanized, executed, heart attack, innocent, journalism, jumping, mauling, news, news media, ohmidog!, pets, police, press, report, rottweiler, stereotypes, zeus
Whether an Australian couple’s half million dollar investment in keeping their $300 dog alive was successful is expected to be learned today.
Kylie Chivers and John Mokomoko have been locked in a six-year battle with the Gold Coast City Council in the Supreme Court over its identification of their dog Tango as an American pit bull, as opposed to an American staffordshire terrier.
The city’s ruling that Tango is a pit bull meant the dog was automatically deemed dangerous and would be required to be euthanized.
To avoid that, the family moved Tango to a kennel more than five years ago, where it could be registered as an American staffordshire terrier.
Today, a judge is to decide Tango’s fate in a decision which could have ramifications for thousands of dog owners, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports. The city is arguing the American pit bull and American staffordshire terrier are the same breed, which means it would fall under its breed ban.
“The fallout of the decision could be horrendous,” said Mokomoko, 47, who works as a Brisbane airport security officer.
The case prompted Mokomoko to work 98-hour weeks at his former security job at a desalination plant to pay the cost of the kennel, weekly travel, lawyers and documentation, including Freedom of Information requests, and video evidence.
Along with thousands of pages of documents, the couple also obtained DNA samples from Tango’s parents and submitted a breed identification test to the court, arguing the 22-point identification checklist was flawed.
The American staffordshire terrier clubs of Queensland, Victoria and Northern Territory have asked the city council to drop the case.
If the family wins, Mokomoko believes it will prompt litigation from other owners who may have had their dog wrongfully identified as pit bulls.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 6th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american staffordshire terrier, animals, australia, ban, breed, breed-specific, checklist, city council, definition, description, dogs, euthanized, gold coast, identification, identifying, john mokomoko, news, ohmidog!, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbulls, put down, tango
The city council in Jackson, Miss., plans to reconsider a proposal to ban pit bulls from the city after last month’s death of a five-year-old girl.
City Councilman Jeff Weill believes he has enough votes to ban pit bull terriers from the city, the Clarion-Ledger reports.
Weill, who has long pushed to ban pit bulls, had all but abandoned his idea. But the Feb. 12 attack that killed Anataisa Bingham in Terry has rekindled concerns.
The city considered outlawing pit bulls in 2006, but ban was removed from a proposed ordinance when pit bull owners and breeders complained.
Only two council members oppose banning the breed, one of whom, Tony Yarber, is a pit bull owner.
Weill said he plans to bring the ban up for a vote next week at a meeting of the council’s rules committee. If it passes, the ordinance would move to the full council for public hearings and a final vote.
Weill suggested the ban could be gradual, and said it might make exceptions for pit bulls that are already family pets.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attack, ban, breed, breed-specific, city, city council, council, death, dogs, girl, jackson, jeff weill, law, legislation, mississippi, ordinance, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls
In the process of tallying the numbers of purebred dogs in America — or at least those that are registered — the American Kennel Club detected some interesting trends, such as how the nation’s most popular dog, the Labrador retriever, is losing ground in some towns.
The fastest climbing breed, meanwhile, in terms of popularity, is the Havanese.
According to the AKC figures, more U.S. cities featured a breed other than the Labrador Retriever in the top spot this year than in 2008.
The German shepherd took over as No. 1 in Columbus, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Miami, Providence and West Palm Beach.
The Yorkshire terrier bumped the Lab in Oakland, Tampa, New York City and Philadelphia.
And the bulldog became top dog in Los Angeles (despite other surveys that say Chihuahuas are the most predominant breed there). The AKC says celebrity bulldog owners — Adam Sandler, Kelly Osborne and John Legend among them — might be a reason behind the bulldog’s rise.
In what strikes me as a particularly odd tidbit, the bull terrier — 57th nationally — is the most popular breed in Newark, N.J. (Please feel free to explain that to me if you know the story behind it.)
To find out where your dog ranks nationally (keeping in mind the nation’s most popular dog isn’t a breed at all, but the mutt), click here.
There was only one city in America where the Labrador retriever didn’t factor into the Top 5 – Providence, R.I. In 2008, the Lab was No. 2 in Providence.
Over the past 10 years, the AKC says, the fastest growing breed nationally is the Havanese, having risen from 92nd to 32nd. Also rising quickly in national popularity have been the bulldog (from 21st to 7th); the French bulldog (from 73rd to 24th); and the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (from 58th to 25th).
Working K-9 breeds favored by law enforcement and the military have shown modest gains as pets over the same period, with the Belgian Malinois seeing its popularity rise from 95th to 81st, the border collie going from 71st to 52nd, the bloodhound rising from 51st to 43rd, and the Doberman pinscher climbing 23rd to 15th.
The AKC suspects easy-to-groom breeds are becoming more popular, as evidenced by the mastiff climbing from 39th to 27th and the Rhodesian ridgeback going from 56th to 48th. Higher maintenance breeds, meanwhile, such as the Komondor, the Puli, the Irish terrier and the Sealyham terrier, have all seen their AKC popularity ranking drop in the past 10 years.
Even pre-Bo, the AKC, the Portuguese water dog was on the rise in popularity. The breed chosen by the First Family ranked 80th a decade ago and climbed to 60th in 2009.
(Photo: The Havanese, America’s fastest growing breed/Courtesy of AKC)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: akc, america, american kennel club, belgian malinois, bloodhound, bo, border collie, breed, breeds, bull terrier, bulldog, cavalier king charles spaniel, chihuahuas, cities, city, doberman pinscher, french bulldog, german shepherd, havanese, komondor, labrador retriever, mastiff, obama, popular, popularity, portuguese water dog, puli, purebred, rhodesian ridgeback, trends, u.s., yorkshire terrier
For the 19th consecutive year, the Labrador retriever is the most popular purebred dog in America — but its lead is slipping, according to the American Kennel Club.
The AKC released its 2009 registration statistics today during a press conference in New York City, and they show the German shepherd overtook the Yorkshire terrier last year to become the second most popular breed in the nation for the first time in more than three decades.
Should it continue its climb, the German shepherd would return to the position it held in the 1920s, before slipping in popularity until after World War II.
“Labs have been America’s top dog for nearly two decades due to their loyal and gentle nature,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “But the German shepherd dog has gained ground recently, quite possibly due to the increased attention they receive for their security efforts at home and abroad. Hailed as the world’s leading police, guard and military dog, this energetic and fun-loving breed is a loyal family pet, ideal companion and dependable K-9 partner when duty calls.”
(The AKC, and many others, insist on calling German shepherds “German Shepherd Dogs,” apparently to avoid confusion with those who watch sheep in Germany.)
Here are the AKC’s top ten, with links to AKC pages with information on those breeds.
|2009 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.|
|1. Labrador Retriever|
|2. German Shepherd Dog|
|3. Yorkshire Terrier|
|4. Golden Retriever|
|10. Shih Tzu|
(Photo: The German shepherd is No. 2 and rising fast/by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek January 27th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2009, akc, american kennel club, beagle, boxer, breed, breeds, bulldog, dachshund, figures, german shepherd dogs, german shepherds, golden retriever, labrador retrievers, list, most popular, poodle, popular, popularity, registration, released, shih-tzu, statistics, top ten, yorkshire terrier
It’s not just Los Angeles, and not just California whose shelters are awash in Chihuahuas.
That’s 230 more than during the same period last year.
As of yesterday, there were 84 Chihuahuas awaiting adoption.
The shelter is offering a special deal this weekend with a Chihuahua adoption fee of only $36.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 18th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abundance, animal, arizona, bevery hills chihuahua, breed, breeders, california, care, chihuahuas, control, dogs, glut, los angeles, maricopa county, media, movie, pets, phoenix, pop culture, population, surplus