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17 thoughts on “Animal Behaviorist Responds to Statements Following Trinidad Fatal Pit Bull Attack

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  1. semyonova is the lone vice of reason in a sea of idiots. thanks for this blog post. i never tire of reading her opinion about dogs and especially pit bulls.

  2. semyonova has a way of putting dog behavior — normal and abnormal in perspective.

    When I read that all dogs are predators or even all dogs bite – I have to stop and think about my experience – which I know is limited, but I have lived with dogs all my life, and never once did I think I was living with a predator. Never once did I wait for that fatal day when the dog went off. So far from that, actually.

    The phrase "all dogs can bite" has morphed into "all dogs bite." And it's not true. All people can bite, too.

    It is impossible that so many people would let predators into their homes – knowing and waiting for that fatal day… preposterous!

    Alexandra says it best:

    Saying that the pit bull defines what the dog is, is like saying that Charles Manson defines normal humankind.

    this woman who died in agony should not be dismissed as just something that happens with dogs. She deserves, at the very least, the acknowledgement that her community, city, and country failed her. Her death should be for something.

  3. If someone wants an item for protection, they should invest in a hunting knife or gun. Some guns can run as cheap as $500 on some used gun sites; and are certainly a better investment then a pit bull or any dog for that matter.

    When it comes to the dogs are predators bull they're missing one of the most important reasons dogs and their breeds exist. People wanted dogs who's predatory inclination as controlled and specific. Which is why it's easier to keep retrievers and pointers from killing and easier to make terriers and molossers to kill.

    And yes, predators do not randomly kill in most cases. Several fatal cases of big cats were done either because the human proved too much of a stimuli, or the cat was indeed hungry. When wolves do kill it's generally to remove any serious threat or competition. But even in both cases those are extremely rare.

    This "researcher" should be banned for her lack of common sense and poor journalism.

  4. Journalist Kevin Baldeosingh (a "he") has a Wikipedia page (that he probably created himself) and is an active self-promoter.

    I thought this piece was especially hysterical, "Trinidad & Tobago’s preeminent satirist." He also likens himself to some kind of equal rights crusader (and Jonathan Swift).

    Baldeosingh cherry-picked data from the Gladwellian piece that Gladwell had already cherry-picked to death. I somehow doubt Trinidad newspapers would find this amusing.

  5. More from Baldeosingh:
    "But what really prevents me from being a true Trini is that I am sometimes wrong. Even worse, I'm the only newspaper columnist in Trinidad and Tobago who's ever wrong. For example, many years ago I wrote a satirical column about pitbull dog owners, in which I described them as uniformly stupid, valuing VCRs more than human life, and having small penises.

    Some months after that column was posted on my website, I started getting about ten e-mails every day from American pitbull owners who had come across the piece. For over three weeks, they bombarded me with claims about how loving their dogs were and why I should be killed by one of them. This only confirmed for me how right my opinion was.

    Some months ago, however, I read an article about pitbulls called "Troublemakers", written by the half-Jamaican writer Malcolm Gladwell for The New Yorker. Gladwell cited tests which showed that pitbull dogs were calmer than other breeds, and pointed out that these dogs had been bred to fight in front of excited people, so that if they were innately aggressive toward human beings they would have been useless for the sport.

    He also noted that, since people favour certain breeds at different times, there would be more of those dogs and therefore more incidents involving them. Thus, perceptions of dangerous dogs change, as shown by the movies The Amazing Dobermans in the 1970s and Cujo in the 1980s.

    If any pitbull owner had made these arguments to me, I would have changed my opinion—well, halfway, because it turns out that certain types of individuals shouldn't be allowed to own large dogs. "In about a quarter of fatal dog-bite cases, the dog owners were previously involved in illegal fighting," writes Gladwell. In 1998, rastaman Christopher Charles was killed by two pitbulls owned by multi-millionaire Steve Ferguson, who's now in jail fighting extradition to the United States.

    Looks like he swallowed it all!

  6. Good catch Vintage! I doubt Gladwell (or any of the 16 New Yorker fact-checkers) caught the contradictory rubbish!

    He writes first:

    "Pit bulls were not bred to fight humans. On the contrary: a dog that went after spectators, or its handler, or the trainer, or any of the other people involved in making a dogfighting dog a good dogfighter was usually put down. (The rule in the pit-bull world was "Man-eaters die.")"

    Then writes:

    "In about a quarter of fatal dog-bite cases, the dog owners were previously involved in illegal fighting."

  7. Lockwood also states in Gladwell's piece:

    I haven't seen a fatality involving a Doberman for decades, whereas in the nineteen-seventies they were quite common.

    There were attacks and media coverage of Dobermans during this period but only ONE fatality. According to Delisian data for this period (1970-1979), Dobermans killed ONE and pit bulls killed FIVE.

    Leave it to a Ph.D. dog bite fatality investigator to make such an error? Ignoring the difference between a living subject and a DEAD one? Indeed the 1970s was the "Decade of the Dobes" and the introduction of training dogs to attack on command, but this is vastly different than saying that killings by Dobermans were "quite common" during this period.

    The Delisian "one killing" by Dobermans in the 1970s became massively dwarfed by pit bulls after their leakage period began at the end of the 1970s. Not only were pit bulls by far superior killing machines, but the trend of using a dog as a weapon was already established too. The mid 1980s alarm by U.S. press groups reflect this horror.

  8. It appears to have become unacceptable to question the temperment of Pit Bull type breeds at all anymore in this country, and now it appears that belief is spreading.

    I have noticed how careful a person has to be when bringing up this subject to other dog owners, those who do not own pits. A small dog was killed by a Pit Bull at the dog park I frequent and other owners were discussing it, blaming everything on the poor, dead Yorkie. I see the blame is also frequently placed on human victims as well. I recently complemented a woman's nice looking Border Collie mix and she looked around then whispered to me that she had to go out of state to adopt him because the local resues had mostly Pits and Pit mixes when she was looking for a dog. If people risk saying anything negative about this breed around other people they do it in whispers. The control of public opinion concerning Pit Bulls has been astounding, there's never been a politician that could pull off anything with the media and public this complete.

  9. Excellent insights M. This is an under-the-radar issue that pierces its way into the mainstream only after a serious or fatal attack. It's a 3-day media event most of the time. Lawmakers can easily respond by doing nothing because they bank on the fact that it will be another 6 months to a year before the next gruesome headline. Action is usually only taken after 3 or more life-altering attacks have occurred in a city or county in a short time frame. This many attacks so close together often brings out common-man voices that demand action be taken too. Otherwise, the only other voice lawmakers hear is that of national and local animal advocacy groups (pit bull zealots), who combined spend umpteen millions annually educating elected officials that pit bulls are Nanny Dogs. There is no organized voice — multi million-dollar organization — on the other side to match these lobbying activities. If there were, the whispering would vanish!

  10. M,

    The only people I know who've succeeded to this level are Hitler, Kim Jong Ill, and his father. And that's probably where they get several of their oratory tactics from. Also helps that the vast majority in their community are gullible or stupid. Maybe mix of all three.

  11. Okay This behavorist is GREAT. If only she could come talk to all city/county/state officials! I am sending links to her site to everyone.

  12. Brilliantly illuminating, Ms Semyonova–putting pit bull behavior in the context of a cooperative social species makes it clear their eruptions of pathological behavior would never allow their genes to persist without human intervention–I will also say that, while it is harrowing to watch any creature undergo a mortal attack, the methods of the pit bull seem to reveal a genuine enjoyment of the torturous destruction, the extended enactment of the whole ghastly thing, whether baby, old lady, kitten, puppy, or horse–as their worshippers proclaim, with such evident pride, "A pit bull may not start a fight–but it'll always finish one" —Should we all appreciate their gladiatorial glory? I despise them, and their immoral, indifferent, callous, and impotent wardens.

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