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17 thoughts on “2012 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Kills 3-Week Old Girl in Detroit

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  1. I actually refreshed the page twice this morning as I honestly could not believe it happened again….

    If this blog was not already close to a full time endeavor it certainly is now.

  2. Is the oh-so-sacred and precious DOG still being kept alive at taxpayer expense?

  3. Love the picture of the culprit, staring straight into the face of the camera. "Just couldn't help myself!" he says.

  4. In that case maybe they can sue the formula producer for not putting a warning on its product: do not use when in same house as pit bull!

  5. Mother of child, Marciella Ramirez, said the pit bull was a "big baby." Looks like they are trying to blame the ambulance in this case too: Mother speaks out after baby killed by pit bull

  6. I felt silly not realizing that Alexandra, in her well written piece, was referring to the baby formula excuse. But I think I uncovered a useful pun.

    I took formula theory to refer to the framework pit bull apologists use to explain attacks as not being related to pit bull genetics. They just need to find the correct formula to explain the attack, here formula referring to the logical/mathematical kind. What is any particular maulings formula? It usually goes something like bad owner, inattentive and dumb victim, and maybe a dash of something else, but never breed.

  7. OK, I cannot believe how stupid Ian Dunbar sounds in that linked interview. A person with a Ph.D should be able to think a little more critically than he does there.

    "Breedism is the racism of the canine world?"

    I don't even… Really, recognizing that some breeds have been bred for violent, questionable purposes and therefore make poor pets is the same as 'racism?"

    Then he ignores real statistics (pit bulls kill more people than all other breeds combined) and states that pit bulls are particularly accepting of children. That's an irresponsible thing to say, as it just encourages people with kids to get pit bulls, which should not be considered family dogs. They are (by a large margin) the breed that kills the most children. By that metric, I'd say they are the least trustworthy of breeds.

    He's also ignoring cases where dog rescuers (unlikely to abuse or neglect dogs) have been killed by their pit bulls. He's ignoring history and statistics. I wonder if he has read the books written by the people who (in the 19th century) imported and bred pit bulls for fighting in the US? That's the type of primarily source to read if you want to know what pit bulls were first bred for. I highly doubt Dunbar is even aware of such sources, because if so he'd know these dogs were bred to fight, in brutal matches that could last hours.

    That interview bothers me so much because Dr Dunbar should know better. A vet and "behaviourist" spouting such garbage just gives it even more credibility.

  8. At this point, it's clear to me that Dunbar totally fits Semyonova's definition of the 'science whore' — a term she didn't coin for no reason:

    Dunbar seems to go with whatever is the fashion as he perceives it. His PhD was about the formation of hierarchies in animals — the fashion of the day, but a thing that Mech abandoned and Semyonova later proved totally wrong. After that dominance PhD, Dunbar suddenly made career by publicizing what Karen Pryor had already published as if it was his own. That was good for dogs, so no problem there. But lately, he's been hooking up with Cesar Millan. Aside from the pit bull question, this is clearly strange development in a man who was all Karen Pryor until recently. I wonder if we'll soon be seeing Dunbar telling that it's really much better to choke your dog half to death…if only you give the dog a treat after.

  9. Continuing…

    I hope everyone has seen the comment Semyonova posted at that interview. It's at the very top of the comments list, so not hard to find.

  10. I have read Alexandra's explanation of the genetic component of working dog behavior, and I just now put it together with an old saying:

    If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    another version:
    Give a boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding. (goes for girls too of course)

    The genetic behaviors bred into working dogs dictate how they will interact with their environment, whether appropriate or not.

  11. Snack,

    Your hammer adage also works for Dunbar and other behaviorists. They make their living off of manipulating nurture and environment to influence dogs. They have studied how to do this. They have dedicated their lives to it. Well, no wonder, with that "hammer" they think all dog behavior is the fault of humans and that dogs are nearly a tabula rasa. Dunbar is a tool, and nutters love to bring him up for a faulty argument from authority.

  12. DubV, I do believe that most of these big-name gurus made the genuine mistake you describe when the pit bull problem first became clear. Say, late 1980s, early 1990s. Twenty-some years along, I think something else is going on. Most of all that their egos don't allow them to say 'oops, we made a mistake.' But also that they've discovered how lucrative it is to pander to the pit bull lobby. Ego and personal finances above the interests of any animal, including the pit bull's.

    Evidence of this is clear in at least one guru case: Jean Donaldson. She is (was?) this past decade working on a PhD in evolutionary biology. This means she must have been exposed to the freshman level course that explains natural and artificial selection, reproductive isolation, and so on. Yet still she kept saying 'it's all in how you raise 'em' until very recently, when she finally, grudgingly, admitted that genes might play some small role…but continues to add that you can clicker-train aggression out of a pit bull.

    Makes you wonder if she thinks you can really and truly clicker-train a pointer never to point, not even when you're not looking.

    I agree with you that the bunch of them have made themselves into tools for the pit nutters, but I'm much more skeptical than you are that there's any honest tunnel vision involved.

  13. Animal Behaviorists make money on both ends of the dangerous dog problem…Defending owners and helping to sue them as "Expert Witnesses".

    Then you have the $300 an hour training sessions.

    One noted AB was successfully sued for $1 Million after a Pit Bull he was training attacked a pedestrian. A few years later he was testifying for a City with BSL against the Nutters for a fee.

    They need the dangerous dog problem…victims be damned.

  14. As far as I can see, the only trainers/behaviorists that recognize the fact that pit bulls were selectively bred to display a dangerous form of aggression are Semyonova and Wilkes. It's sad, really.

    I do think a lot of it has to do with the huge, vocal pit bull lobby. A trainer can admit that other breeds have traits that can make them problematic pets. I could, for instance, write a blog post noting that Jack Russell terriers are active dogs with high prey drives and no one would really disagree or get upset. For a long time, those terriers were selected for their prey drive and aptitude for work. They're really intense dogs and few people can handle them. Everyone also agrees that border collies or sled dogs are terrible pets for sedentary people, because they were selected for their athletic ability. That's generally an okay statement to make too.

    However, if any behaviourist or trainer states the truth that pit bulls were selectively bred for the sadistic 'sport' of dog fighting and therefore shouldn't be marketed as family pets, a whole contingent of pit bull fanatics will have the behavioral equivalent of a nuclear meltdown. They'll gang up on any person who tells the truth about the breed's history. You have to have a thick skin to withstand that. Any trainer or behaviorist who also admits that pit bulls have been/are selectively bred for aggression will lose a lot of money (due to loss of clients), again due to the fighting dog lobby.

    However, denying the pit bull's history and calling them "nanny dogs" is immoral, in my opinion. It encourages people to get these dogs as family pets and that often leads to the disfigurement or death of a child. Pit bulls are also a danger to other pets. Most, if not all, of the pit bull maulings that occurred this year (and the last year and the year before that, etc) were committed by family pets. It also makes no sense for supposed 'dog lovers' to promote a breed that was bred to destroy other dogs in a horrid, brutal 'sport.'

  15. I don't know. I always felt that if you had to shoot an animal multiple times to stop it from killing, then it probably is not a safe family pet. Even the most dangerous humans usually only need to be shot once.

    Common sense, no? Thank you, Alexandra Semyonova, for yours.

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