Time to refresh discussion on pit bulls

HugABull is co-hosting an educational event in Vancouver.

To the editor:

Re: Sensitivity to Others Needed From Pit Bull Owners, Sept. 28 Capital News.

Our hearts and sympathies go out to any victim of dog aggression. If the writer had a negative experience with a pit bull, I fully understand her caution around the breed and I would not stand in the way of an opportunity for a victim to share her voice.

However, emotional pleas and gruesome slide shows should not inform our public policy. And with due respect to the author, nor should the “evidence” presented in this letter. If you follow the links, they lead to the website dogsbite.org, and to a related site that openly calls for a “pit bull holocaust”.

Dogsbite.org is a site run by a handful of activists committed to the extermination of a breed, and desperately hanging on to outdated models of animal control. They rely on a small sample of studies that use media reports to build their data set, and they ignore the dozens of peer-reviewed studies that point to many other factors in dog aggression. They are literally the last bastion left in the anti-pit bull movement, because every other animal welfare organization has moved beyond the dialogue that targets a nebulous notion of breed.

On another note, I find it unfair to accuse pit bull advocates of promoting their breed at the expense of offering workable alternatives. The City of Calgary has the lowest bite rate on the continent because they target and enforce ownership, not breed. The SPCA has a sample (non breed discriminatory) bylaw kit on their website available to municipalities at no charge. Those sound like alternatives to me.

HugABull is also co-hosting an educational event in Vancouver, which includes a screening of the film Beyond the Myth and a panel discussion featuring local experts in animal control, animal law, and animal behaviour. We are inviting municipal and media representatives to join us, because the writer is right in one respect: It’s time to move past the discussion where pit bull haters cry “vicious breed” and owners respond with “cherished family pet.”

When you look to the data and to the experts who work with dangerous dogs every day, two things are pretty clear. At the end of the day, pit bulls, rottweilers and other breeds are just dogs. And tying up resources with an outdated debate isn’t making anyone’s child safer.

While our two events are sold out we have tickets available to media and municipal representatives.

Should anyone associated with this publication or the City of Kelowna wish to travel, we would be pleased to reserve seats for them.

April Fahr,

Vancouver

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