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
Fox News reported yesterday that the world’s oldest dog has died.
Unfortunately, they were dead wrong about that dog’s identity.
According to the initial Fox report: “Chanel, a wire-haired dachshund, died at her owners’ home in Port Jefferson Station on Long Island, N.Y.”
Accurate enough — not to mention fair and balanced — but a bit off, timing-wise. Chanel died at age 20 nearly five months ago.
It was the new World’s Oldest Dog who died this week: Otto (above), also a dachshund, residing in Britain.
Otto, nearly 21, was officially crowned the most senior canine in the world by the Guinness Book of Records in October of last year, after the timely death of Chanel.
On Wednesday, Otto’s owner took him to the vet, who recommended that Otto, suffering from stomach tumors, be put down, according to the Daily Mail
Peter Jones, 68, said he and his wife Lynn, 53, were devastated by the loss. The dachshund-terrier mix was playful to the end. They attributed his longevity to “plenty of love, plenty of good food and regular check-ups at the vets.”
Describing his pet’s final day, Jones, of Shrewsbury, said: “He slept in my bed. He woke up in the morning and he gave me the usual kiss…I was having a bath, he wanted to play, and he brought me his ball. But as soon as I bounced it a couple of times he went asleep again. He was absolutely cream crackered.” (British readers, translation please.)
Most who would pick up the story from the British press got it right. But apparently the folks at Fox News goofed up in Googling, came across the old stories on Chanel (left) and re-reported her death instead.
Others would go on to repeat the error (though we’d hope they’d have it corrected by now), including Shortnews.com.
A new world’s oldest dog will be named by Guinness.
Rest in peace, Otto.
And you, too, Chanel.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, book, chanel, dachsund, death, dies, dog, dogs, error, fox, fox news, guinness, internet, media, mistake, news, oldest, otto, pets, records, world, world's oldest dog
Reports of Casey Johnson’s funeral have been greatly exaggerated.
Both TMZ and RadarOnline reported the heiress was buried Sunday — without her dog Zoe, who is reportedly still alive.
Now, still more celebrity-centric websites are reporting that information was erroneous. No funeral has taken place.
Nicky Hilton and Bijou Phillips, Johnson’s lifelong friends, went to the home Johnson shared with Tila Tequila last week to pick up Johnson’s two dogs, Zoe and Elvis.
Johnson before her death had expressed her wishes to be buried with Zoe’s cremated remains, and Tequila insisted there were plans to put the dog asleep so that it could be buried with the Johnson & Johnson heiress.
Spokesmen for the family have denied the claim.
The whole thing — too many celebrities, too much drama, too many lies, too many abbreviations and all the shabby reporting – is giving OMD a headache.
Posted by John Woestendiek January 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bijou phillips, burial, buried, bury, casey johnson, celebrities, celebrity, cremated, dogs, elvis, erroneous, error, euthanized, funeral, nicky hilton, put to sleep, radar online, tila tequila, tmz, zoe, zoey
We’re proud to unofficially unveil the sign that will welcome visitors to “Newt’s Nook — A Home for Pitbulls.”
Now under construction in Celina, Texas, the shelter was made possible by a $5,000-plus donation from a Dallas strip club owner — the amount being a refund of what she paid to attend a dinner to receive an “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Newt Gingrich’s organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future.
American Solutions, as we told you yesterday, mistakenly bestowed the honor on Dawn Rizos, the owner of The Lodge, a popular Dallas strip club.
When former Speaker of the House Gingrich, a week before the awards ceremony, uninvited Rizos, he agreed to refund the $5,000 that she, as instructed, had submitted in exchange for the privilege of eating dinner with him. He refunded her airfare as well.
“At first our feelings were hurt,” Rizos said. “But then we figured at least we could make something positive out of his bad manners.”
About the same time Rizos got her refund, she heard that Animal Guardians of America had an urgent need for a heated and air-conditioned shelter for rescue dogs, primarily pit bulls, at its sanctuary in Celina.
“We do a lot of charitable work and we love animal rescue groups,” Ms. Rizos said. “The cost was about the same as the amount Newt sent back to us, so we decided to do something good with it.”
The formal dedication for Newt’s Nook is scheduled for early November.
“We’re sorry that Dawn was treated so unfairly,” said Annette Lambert, director of the Animal Guardians chapter in North Texas. “But this will be great for a lot of wonderful dogs. I hope Newt will stop by sometime to see what we’ve built in his name.”
Rizos says Gingrich is invited to the opening, as well as to The Lodge, which describes itself as “the country’s best-known and most-honored gentlemen’s club,” and one that has “set national standards for elegance and integrity, and helps hundreds of people support their families and improve their lives.”
“He’s always welcome at The Lodge,” Ms. Rizos said. “We don’t hold a grudge. And we still have a lot to talk about.”
(Photo: The sign, created by The Lodge bartender Bryan Callaway, that will welcome pit bulls to their new shelter; courtesy of Mike Precker)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 29th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american solutions for winning the future, animal guardians of america, award, celina, ceremony, dallas, dawn rizos, dinner, entrepreneur, error, gentlemen's club, house, invited, lodge, mistake, newt, newt gingrich, newt's nook, pit bulls, pitbulls, refund, shelter, speaker, strip club, texas, the lodge, uninvited
You can’t consume media these days without tripping over this story — roughly 240 Americans wind up in emergency rooms every day for sprains, fractures or other injuries from a fall caused by a dog or cat.
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said dogs and cats account for about 1 percent of the 8 million fall-related injuries that end up being treated in emergency rooms each year.
Yes, 1 percent. Why, then is it such a big story? I’ll tell you why. Partly because newspapers are becoming less likely to do their own work these days. They want to fill their newsholes as cheaply as they possibly can — so they rewrite, or use wire stories, which are often already rewrites. And bloggers? They’re even worse, rewriting the rewritten rewrites.
Just as a sentence gets screwed up the more times it’s repeated from one person to the next, so can news, or alleged news.
Here’s what Reuters reported: ”Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said dogs and cats account for 88 percent of all fall-related injuries in emergency departments.”
Some simple math: 87,000 falls a year is not 88 percent of 8 million.
What the CDC did report was that 88 percent of reported pet-caused falls were caused by dogs, but that’s entirely different from saying 88 percent of all falls were caused by pets.
If 88 percent of all falls leading to hospitalization were caused by pets, that would be a big story. One percent? That’s barely a story at all. Yet it’s everywhere.
Words, math, dogs –they’re all easy to trip over. But before we start portraying pets as a health hazard — and at this point I would ask how many of those falls were caused by dumb humans, as opposed to dumb animals — we might want to take steps to get the facts right and put them in perspective.
(Photo courtesy of ihasahotdog.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bloggers, cats, cdc, centers for disease control, coverage, dogs, emergency rooms, error, fall, falls, health, hospitals, injuries, journalism, media, news, news media, newspapers, ohmidog!, pets, report, study, trip