If Only the Truth Had Such Good PR!
For some reason, the Toledo Free Press yesterday wrote a…well, gosh, I don’t know what to call it. The article — Former dog warden warns: watch out for pit bulls — about former Lucas County (of which Toledo is a part) Dog Warden Tom Skeldon, reads like an apologetic of sorts on the one hand, and a saving-face PR stunt on the other. Does Mr. Skeldon also have relatives working at the Toledo Free Press?
Anyone who has been involved in fighting breed-specific legislation (BSL) in the last 10 or so years knows the name Tom Skeldon like they know the names Kory Nelson or Merritt Clifton. These are the names of death. These men are responsible for the disinformation campaign that has seen the needless mass killing of thousands of adoptable, lovable dogs they inaccurately finger as “pit bulls.” One wonders if these men aren’t part of a death cult for what they have wrought. And so Mr. Skeldon is a former dog warden for a reason. One of those reasons seems to be that he can’t discern an American Pit Bull Terrier, or any other breed erroneously deemed a “pit bull,” from the broad side of a barn.
The article notes that,
Ohio law says “dogs commonly known as pit bulls” are inherently vicious and subject to certain regulations. The law went into effect…in October 1987.
And how much more educated and informed are we since 1987? There is no denying that a dog attack can be horrific. But a dog attack by any breed can be horrific, so why pass legislation that fingers a specific breed or breeds when any dog with a negligent or irresponsible owner can be a danger? And knowing this, why are certain breeds the legislative focal point rather than irresponsible owners, i.e. people.
So why does Ohio still hold to an archaic law and an outdated concept — the faulty idea that there is such a thing as an inherently vicious breed — when so much evidence and judicial precedent proves otherwise? Perhaps that’s why Ohio has a bill pending, HB 79 (and an amendment to HB 55) sponsored by Rep. Barbara Sears of Lucas County, that would overturn the “pit bull”-as-inherently-vicious designation. You can respect it when people — whether individually or as a collective — can admit their mistakes. We can be somewhat at ease knowing that at least some Ohio legislators are aware that Ohio’s and Toledo’s BSL is archaic, ineffective, unenforceable, and needs to change.
The article also points out that,
Toledo’s law — recently declared unconstitutional by Judge Michael Goulding — limits residents to owning one “pit bull” or “pit bull” mix and requires owners to keep their animal leashed and muzzled when not on their property…
Toledo’s ordinance was deemed unconstitutional because it was shown to exceed the purview of home rule power. Toledo is currently in the process of drafting a dangerous dog law, which will actually keep people safer since increasing penalties for irresponsible dog owners, not fingering specific breeds, is an effective deterrence. Hmm…so why do BSL proponents still not get that BSL is ineffective, unenforceable, and unconstitutional??? Why does Mr. Skeldon still adhere to obvious falsehoods like the following?:
The No. 1 biting dog is the pit bull and, since 1982, there has never been a year where pit bulls didn’t account for about half of fatal and disfiguring attacks, [Skeldon] said.
“Pit bulls are bred to grab ahold, hang on, shake and not let go. They are bred to kill. And they are very, very good at it.”
The number one biting dog is NOT the “pit bull” because there is no such breed. Though that “breed” may exist in Mr. Skeldon’s imagination, out here in reality the vague term “pit bull” has been used to put to death countless actual breeds and their mixes for being “guilty” of being a type. And when Mr. Skeldon mentions grabbing ahold and not letting go, he is alluding to this concept of “gameness,” a trait which can be found in many breeds, including Jack Russell Terriers. Is a Jack Russell a “pit bull” in Mr. Skeldon’s mind too?
As Mr. Skeldon should well know, in testimony from the Toledo v. Tellings case in 2006, Dr. I. Lehr Brisbin, Ph.D., who is a Senior Research Scientist at the Savanna River Ecology Laboratory and an expert in training, handling, behavior and the anatomy of bully breeds, gave the following testimony about “gameness” which the court affirmed:
Many pit bulls [which the court defined earlier as meaning the American Pit Bull Terrier] may also exhibit a behavior or trait referred to as ‘gameness,’ which, simply stated, is the ability or willingness to continue doing an action once begun, i.e. ’stick-to-it-iveness.’ Gameness, in itself, is not a negative trait. For example, the ability to carry out duties or trained tasks, despite injury, distraction, or frustration, is desirable in pit bulls which have been trained to be search and rescue dogs, protection dogs in the U.S. military, drug sniffing dogs, and therapy dogs.
As ever, dogs can be trained to do good things or bad things; the bad things are an indication of an owner problem, not a breed problem. The court also affirmed in its decision that,
…pit bulls do not have locking jaws. Based on actual dog dissections and measurement of their skulls, the evidence demonstrated that pit bull jaw muscles and bone structure are the same as other similarly sized dogs. No evidence was presented to demonstrate that a pit bull’s bite is any stronger than other dogs of its size and build…[C]ontrary to information relied upon and perpetuated by earlier case law…and law review articles…assertions that a pit bull can bite with a ‘force of 2,000 pounds per square inch’ have absolutely no basis in fact or scientific proof.
Additionally, the court observed of Mr. Skeldon that,
[He] acknowledged that even if a dog was 50 per cent pit bull, if it did not “look like a pit bull,” the owner would not be charged. On the other hand, if a dog did look like a pit bull,” it would be classified as a pit bull and the owner would be subject to the “vicious dog” laws. No definitive description of a “pit bull” was presented. The warden also acknowledged that there is really no way to tell if a dog is or is not a “pit bull” and the determination is made by his or a deputy’s subjective judgment.
The Toledo Free Press notes that “…critics ‘howled’ that 54 percent of the dogs Skeldon killed in recent years were pit bulls. Yet the national figure in 2008 was 58 percent and, under Skeldon, the Lucas County rate of killing pit bulls per 1,000 people was 2.9, compared to 3.2 for the U.S.” But the above court opinion may show why Mr. Skeldon’s killing rate went down: By that time he had already confiscated and/or killed nearly every dog that looked like a “pit bull,” a determination which he admitted was subjective!
And while the Toledo v. Tellings decision was overturned on appeal at the Ohio Supreme Court, it should be noted that there were accusations of evidence tampering at trial. Hmm..so much that surrounds BSL appears, even to the untrained eye, to be shady and corrupt. Indeed, the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in the Tellings case was the first time that the public caught wind of the concept of a kangaroo court as pertains to BSL.
Still, in court cases like Toledo v. Tellings, these death merchants — i.e. those who attempt to sell doggy death to the public and make it palatable — continue to paint a false picture of salivating hell hounds that rip from the bushes to maul cherubic children (you know, so that the mainstream media will be able to regurgitate the same hypothetical horror story to an ignorant, or so they think, public who they hope will be crying out for unconstitutional legislation like BSL). These death dealers just can’t seem to master even the simplest of concepts. For instance, how many times has it been pointed out to these doggy mercenaries that the term “pit bull” has become, as they should well know, a slang term for a myriad of breeds that conform to their preconceived notion of a “dangerous breed” (though there is no such thing); breeds that are typically well-muscled with boxy heads and a supposed menacing look? (Although even small-breed dogs are now being called “pit bulls.” In 2003 there was an incident involving three men who had broken into an Irvine, California animal shelter to steal what they thought were “pit bulls” but turned out to be Chihuahuas! So, what is a “pit bull”? It’s anyone’s guess!)
How many times has it been pointed out to BSL proponents that if they can define a “pit bull” as a dog belonging to a range of 3-30+ breeds, which now even includes small-breed dogs(!), that statistics on so-called “pit bulls” are vastly skewed and erroneous to say the least. And yet when illustrating this simplest of logic, BSL proponents turn away over and over and ignore the facts in the interest of telling hysterical, hypothetical horror stories. So, a person of reason could only conclude that BSL proponents 1) have an agenda, or 2) are clinically insane or mentally deficient in some way, or 3) both.
Oh yes, and let’s not forget that BSL has been widely (as in globally) discredited as an effective tool in preventing dog attacks. So who in their right, informed mind would propose such legislation? Also, BSL has been shown time and again to be racist and classist, so proponents of BSL and the elected officials who go on to propose it, are additionally shown to be discriminators, not just of dogs, but of people. And yet Mr. Skeldon can, with a straight face, say “I love people — that was probably my undoing”? No Mr. Skeldon. You appear to love death. That was your undoing.