Reno, NV - In February, we wrote about a Washington State resident working to gain support for breed-specific laws in his area (See: Activist Questions 'Journalistic Integrity' of Article by Sue Manning of the Associated Press). Our post scrutinized a "pet poll" designed by the Associated Press and Petside.com and an article written by Sue Manning. Today, the SRUV blog brings us a new Fact Cooker, blogger Mark Robison of the Reno Gazette-Journal.
The Clifton Report
A recent article by Mark Robison is the most recent example of dishonest pit bull advocacy. Fact checker: What's so scary about pit bulls? misrepresents the Clifton Report, fabricates its own statistics, and makes incorrect assumptions.
One of the most egregious errors is Mr Robison's claim that "Impound stats by primary breed show that pit bulls make up about 17.3 percent of dogs." Mr Robison fails to give reliable sources for his statistics, so we are unable to discuss them rationally. The attempt to base breed population on shelter intake statistics shows the most specious reasoning. Shelter intake statistics for pit bulls demonstrate only that pit bulls are a highly liquid asset. People pick them up then dump them off at shelters more often than other breeds for obvious reasons: they are a volatile breed. That is the only conclusion that can reasonably be drawn from shelter intake statistics about pit bulls. People are far more likely to keep a retriever for the entire life of the dog.
See: Blog post in full
The post also discusses the nonfactual claims Robison makes about The Clifton Report and that Robison did not contact Clifton prior to regurgitating them. It seems Robison only relied on emails and "educational bulletins" sent by pit bull advocates and national animals groups targeting his region. As the post points out, The Clifton Report is the "only ongoing, updated, authoritative statistical report of dog bites, and thus is a favorite target of pit bull advocates."
Recent Nevada Developments
There is a backdrop here worth noting. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval recently signed into law Senate Bill 223, a felony animal cruelty bill named Cooney's Law. Cooney was a beagle-mix that was badly tortured and killed by its owner, Raymond Rios. Due to poor animal cruelty laws, authorities had to let Rios go. Under SB 223, Cooney's death would have been a felony crime. State and local animal welfare groups are rightfully excited by the new law.
When SB 223 was introduced, Ledy VanKavage, a lobbyist for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, began promoting AB 324 to Nevada lawmakers. The bill sought to reduce the ability for authorities to deem a dog dangerous and to prohibit breed-specific laws. The combined meaning of the bill, one, make it more difficult to label a dog "dangerous" and two, restrict cities from adopting pit bull laws, only has one benefiting group: dangerous dogs, primarily pit bulls.1
It seems AB 324 got stalled in committee. Needless to say, Nevada has been a focal point for animal advocacy groups of late, specifically the northern region covered by Robison's newspaper. It is doubtful Robison will ever reveal which advocacy groups "spoon-fed" the substance of his article to him, along with his deceptive Find the Pit Bull photo game.2 One day though, while enjoying a hike, Robison may have to face, "What's so scary about pit bulls?"
1More communities are making it easier to declare dogs dangerous (See: Recent Los Angeles County news). The bill presented by VanKavage and Best Friends illustrates their mission to protect dogs, specifically dangerous dogs, over the risk of innocent persons and animals being mauled and killed by them.2If only the pit bull problem was an online photo game. The 30-year old pit bull problem, however, is hardly a game. Individuals are being permanently disfigured, maimed and killed by this breed at a chilling rate.
04/26/11: Blogger Dissects Deceptive Online Pit Bull Identification Test, 'Find the Pit Bull'
02/11/11: Activist Questions 'Journalistic Integrity' of Article by Sue Manning...
11/30/10: Collection of Best Friends Animal Society Related Posts - DogsBite.org
10/15/10: The DNA Paradox: Hired Gun Ledy VanKavage Flip-Flops Position...