Blaming breeds shows ignorance, lack of research

Kamloops Daily News
February 9, 2013 01:00 AM

I appreciate that Mel Rothenburger's recent commentary regarding pit bulls was merely his opinion (and we all know what they say about opinions, right?). But I also appreciate the importance of responsible and accurate dissemination of public information to educate rather than mislead. It is imperative to address Mr. Rothenburger's opinions with qualified research that better speak to his confusion regarding pit bulls.

In his article entitled 10 Things About Pit Bulls and Dog Parks (The Daily News, Jan. 31), Mr. Rothenburger indicates that research qualifies his statements. These statements are in fact completely unqualified and therefore have the unfortunate potential of grossly misinforming the public.

Mr. Rothenburger states, "I can find no instances of people being maimed by Chihuahuas . . ." A modicum of research reveals an article in the October 2012 Vancouver Sun indicating exactly what Mr. Rothenburger said doesn't exist (Windsor's Three-Pound Chihuahua Molly Labelled Dangerous After Postal Worker Bitten On Ankle).

The truth is there is no research that identifies any breed, let alone "overwhelmingly," as being responsible for "attacks" and dog bites in either Canada or the U.S.

According to the National Canine Research Council (NCRC), "There is no national system in the United States for tallying reports of dog bites."

NCRC also affirms that dog bite statistics "fail to accurately show which dogs bite, why dogs bite, or describe just how frequently owners irresponsibly allow their dogs to become a problem to people or other animals."

According to the NCRC: "Bite totals become even more misleading when subdivided by breed descriptors. It is impossible to breed label dogs of unknown history and genetics solely on the basis of their appearance."

Mr. Rothenburger's breed-targeting, blame-laying accusations are often connected to breed specific legislation.

According to research conducted by the HugABull Advocacy and Rescue Society, operating in Vancouver, the Canadian Veterinary Journal reported: "Data from Canadian jurisdictions with BSL and finds no evidence that it has reduced dog bites."

Instead, they target spay/neuter, early socialization, and a higher standard of owner responsibility as factors that need to be addressed for effective dog legislation.

I invite Mr. Rothenburger and anyone else who may be confused by his ill-informed statements to conduct appropriate research before jumping to, or spreading, misinformed conclusions.

This is the information age after all, leaving us with no excuse to be ill-informed about any issue that impacts our communities.



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