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Letter to Editor of City Pulse in Toronto

Babs
August 31st, 2004, 09:38 PM
With the hopes of reaching Media to start telling the "other" side of the story, I sent this email to City Pulse tonight. We need all the help we can get! It's time to start making noise ladies and gents....

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Dear City Pulse,

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate City Pulse for taking an interest in the Pit Bull ownership and legislation opinions this past week, and for taking an admirable, unbiased position on the topic.

I have a lead for a continuing news perspective which may be of interest to you.

As you already know, the topic of Breed Specific Legislation, (BSL) has become one of the hottest news topics with growing municipal interest in passing BSL as an answer to reducing the number of Dog Bite incidents in municipalities.

I believe the hysteria originated through the spread of biased media reporting that projects generalized, misinterpreted dog breed attacks. I read the Globe and Mail's report on the Torontonian attack around Church Street last week, and was astonished that an esteemed Newspaper would write such an uninformed, unresearched piece of material.

I have been conducting research for the past few months on this issue. I have been in contact with officials in Ottawa at the Canadian Federation of Human Societies (CFHS). I have made inquiries to Health Canada trying to find dog bite statistics in cities like Kitchener where BSL has been imposed for a few years.

What I have discovered is astonishing.

- Despite both my efforts, and those made by the CFHS, Health Reports from specific cities like Kitchener providing data collected on dog bite incidents since BSL was introduced has not been provided. This begs the question... "why not?". It would appear something is being hidden, but perhaps not by Health Canada. It seems they may not have accurate reports on file provided by Kitchener since BSL was introduced. Officials at the CFHS have stated that very little, if no follow-up has been done performed to track bite incidents in Kitchener since the BSL was passed in the late 1990's. It is as if the problem was given a band-aid, and then forgotten.

- Esteemed Veterinary professionals have stated that it is impossible to correctly identify the breed of a dog, without knowing its breeding origin. Not even through DNA testing can this information be identified. Very few individuals are qualified to make an educated guess, and this very rarely includes Veterinarians because generally, they do not specialize in specific breeds. Police Officers have absolutely no qualifications necessary to identify dog breeds, and have mistaken breeds such as the Jack Russell Terrier, calling them Pit Bulls during investigations of dog injuries. More information on the innacuracy of identifying breeds can be found at http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPpitbulls.htm

- Many Media reports cite that Pit Bulls have "Locking Jaws", or "Powerful Jaws unlike other breeds". Neither of these points are based on any factual evidence, nor are they true. Pit Bulls are no different physiologically from any other type of dog. Dr. I Lehr Brisbin of the University of Georgia states, "To the best of our knowledge, there are no published scientific studies that would allow any meaningful comparison to be made of the biting power of various breeds of dogs. There are, moreover, compelling technical reasons why such data describing biting power in terms of 'pounds per square inch' can never be collected in a meaningful way. All figures describing biting power in such terms can be traced to either unfounded rumor or, in some cases, to newspaper articles with no foundation in factual data." Furthermore, Dr. Brisbin states, "The few studies which have been conducted of the structure of the skulls, mandibles and teeth of pit bulls show that, in proportion to their size, their jaw structure and thus its inferred functional morphology, is no different than that of any breed of dog. There is absolutely no evidence for the existence of any kind of 'locking mechanism' unique to the structure of the jaw and/or teeth of the American Pit Bull Terrier."

As a concerned humanitarian, this issue touches me deeply. I personally see BSL as nothing more than a hysterical, holocaustic act towards short haired dogs. BSL is not a solution. Dogs will continue to bite provided irresponsible ownership is permitted. The more breeds that are banned, the more hybrids that will be bred. It is inconcievable that some day all dog breeds will be banned... but with BSL in force, this is entirely possible for the future.

This public terror and hysteria surrounding Pit Bulls is the result of bad reporting by trusted sources. As I mentioned, the Globe & Mail, a national newspaper provided opinions based on unfactual information. I recently read an article in the Toronto Star that stated these dogs have "Locking Jaws". The fact that most dog bite news involving Pit Bulls could in many cases have been several other breeds of short haired dogs is even more disconcerting.

For your own amusement, see how quickly you can identify the Pit Bull image located on this page: http://www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html. It took me 13 tries before I could identify the right dog, and I've been following Pit Bull BSL for months.

The unfortunate result of this mass hysteria is that now we have elected city officials who will make decisions based on Public Opinion. Naturally, to keep their elected positions they need to do what the public wants. If that Public Opinion has been formed upon one-sided and very inaccurate information, then the legislation that will ensue is not only unfair, it is ignorant, unethical and unhumanitarian.

I am contacting you with this information because out of all news reports I have read lately, yours have proven to be the most interested in public opinion. The media needs to report both sides of the story, and there is indeed a story here that needs to be investigated and revealed before major decisions are made. Specifically:

1) Why are statistics not being followed up on in Kitchener?
2) Why won't Health Canada provide City-specific statistics where BSL has been imposed?
3) Why are members of the Police and the Media allowed to incorrectly and assumptively state the breed of a dog without having prior authoritative consultations before publishing news about dog attacks?
4) Myths about Pit Bulls like "Locking Jaws" and "Powerful Jaws" need to be dispelled. Here are a couple links with more interesting facts regarding Pit Bull Myths: http://www.austinlostpets.com/kidskorner/2October/pitbull.htm
http://members.aol.com/bstofshw/facts.html
http://www.badrap.org/rescue/myths.cfm

I would be happy to provide you with more information, or ongoing research should you desire to investigate this story further. I implore you, please be the first to report the "other side" of this story. It is one that needs to be heard. My thanks for your consideration of this information, and I remain,

Sincerely Yours,

Concerned Animal Rights Advocate

heeler's rock!
August 31st, 2004, 10:08 PM
NICE JOB!! Good work Babs and I hope you get through to tell the other side of the story! It's nice to see someone that has done their homework before writing an e-mail of that magnitude!!! :D

Cactus Flower
August 31st, 2004, 10:15 PM
Babs- brilliantly written! You should have your own column!

Kudos, bravos, three cheers and other such exaltations! :D

Sneaky2006
August 31st, 2004, 10:22 PM
Ditto!!! Awesome job!!!!

Babs
August 31st, 2004, 10:25 PM
I unfortunately don't know the first thing about writing editorials, who to contact, or how to get things published.

The only hope I have is that someone will pick up the story. City Pulse is widely followed in Toronto, and the exposure would be significant.

Thanks guys

Luba
August 31st, 2004, 11:30 PM
Hey did u not see the piece that Pam Seatle did, it was excellent I gave her two thumbs up...she was great :D