The following excerpted opinion piece from the Halifax-Plympton Reporter, “Pit Bulls should be registered weapons,” was written by Massachusetts Republican State Committeeman Richard Greeley. (Sections of his article appear in block quotes, and my comments follow.) You know, we expect the nanny-staters to push overly bureaucratic, bloated government-type legislation like breed bans and mandatory registrations of guns, dogs, and the like. We do not expect a Republican State Committeeman to claim that a breed of dog (an animal) should be registered like a weapon. As a Republican, shouldn’t he know that breed-specific legislation doesn’t work just like gun control doesn’t work? Shouldn’t he also know that breed-specific legislation has been repeatedly ruled unconstitutional? Well, his whole article is devoid of proper research, so perhaps we shouldn’t expect him to know anything about the breed-specific legislation issue, which is why his uneducated opinion should be dismissed. And while his reply to my letter was respectful, I don’t think he bothered to read any of the research or supporting evidence I included before dismissing them. As Mr. Greeley himself pointed out to me, his piece is an opinion piece, and certainly he is entitled to his opinion. But when politicos foster uneducated and wildly ignorant opinions about “pit bulls,” a lot of innocent dead dogs is often the result.
He begins by name-calling saying,
…It has been said that figures dont lie, but liars figure. And regarding temperament and dog bite statistics with respect to pit bulls, liars on the wrong side of this issue clamp their jaws down on certain figures and shake furiously.
Pit bulls, i.e. the American Staffordshire terrier, the Pit Bull Terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and the American Bulldog, have been subjects of constant debate in this country. Given the plurality and severity of pit bull attacks on people recently, the debate is heating up again.
Did he just allude to that long-debunked urban mythology about “pit bulls’” having locking jaws? If he isn’t embarrassed yet, he should be because ironically that myth is told by the very “S.O.B.s” he claims own “pit bulls” as status symbols. And he insinuates that breed fanciers lie and manipulate statistics??? Oh that’s rich considering that he defines “pit bull” as four different breeds and then refers to them as if they were one! Hmm…wonder if that might massively skew statistics, lumping a handful of breeds, their mixes, and their lookalikes together? I think that’s what’s called “fuzzy math.”
Mr. Greeley can’t even seem to master the simple concept that “pit bull” isn’t a breed even as he defines “pit bull” as four breeds (though “Pit Bull Terrier” isn’t a breed either). Does it not follow that if you can define the “pit bull” as at least four breeds (and their mixes and lookalikes, like most breed-specific legislation does) that statistics on “pit bulls” would be incredibly skewed and therefore meaningless? Really? That simple concept is too hard to follow???
Next he inserts a couple of incidents in Massachusetts that involved that non-existent “breed” “pit bull” which supposedly proves Mr. Greeley’s uneducated opinion that “pit bulls” are inherently vicious and aggressive, though all actual scientific evidence (some of which I included in my letter to Mr. Greeley) points to the fact that there is no such thing as an inherently vicious dog breed. He adds,
…what is not stated in these statistics is what would happen when a dog fails the [temperament] test in a neighborhood environment. Trained professionals who conduct these examinations in a controlled test environment do not allow a dog to follow through on a particular act when it shows a failing behavior. A corgi that fails in the lab might cower in fear or try to run away when at home. A pit bull that fails in the lab might just open a 100-stitch gash in your 3-year-olds face.
Again, Mr. Greeley seems to have dismissed the article I sent him about the Labrador that mauled his French owner’s face unrecognizable. Perhaps you heard of her. She was the first successful face transplant recipient in the world. As I told Mr. Greeley, dogs of any breed can do extensive damage in the rare instances when they attack.
But Mr. Greeley wasn’t done being ridiculous. He goes on to say,
Pit bulls are quite often used to instill fear in those who come near them. Why? Because they do. And the only reason pit bulls are used for these purposes is because these people cant get their hands on a hyena…The preferred breed of weapon for dog-fighting rings, drug cartels, gangsters, and, lets face it, the arrogant and abrasive neighbor who wants to show the Jones and the Smiths just how much of a bad S.O.B. he thinks he is, is the pit bull.
The only reason “pit bulls” instill fear in people is because of the media calling any and all attacking dogs “pit bulls,” though nobody, including Mr. Greeley, seems to be able to collectively agree on just exactly what a “pit bull” is. Some define the “pit bull” as three breeds. Others branch out and define a whole host of breeds as “pit bulls.” So, it looks like a “pit bull” can be just about whatever those with an anti-dog agenda want it to be, which makes the “pit bull” definition arbitrary and makes those who call dogs “pit bulls” look like utter fools.
To those of us who know and love bulldog breeds, they are the world’s largest lap dogs, they love children (which is how they got the name the “nanny dog”), and are the biggest clowns you’ll meet outside of the circus. I doubt Mr. Greeley has ever even been around the dogs he vilifies. But then, since he doesn’t even seem to know what a “pit bull” is, how would he know if he were ever in contact with one? Some have even confused Chihuahuas for pit bulls, so you have to wonder if there is a dog breed you couldnt call a pit bull. Is that it? Is Mr. Greeley simply afraid of dogs???
And usually somewhere in the “these people” reference is a bit of racism as well because when breed ban proponents insinuate or outright say that only gangsters, thugs, drug dealers and dog fighters own “pit bulls,” what they usually mean is minorities like African-Americans and Latinos. You know, those people. But we all know what, or more precisely who, they mean. (The racism issue will come up again later when Mr. Greeley relates “pit bulls” to rap videos. Again, it’s pretty clear which minority he’s referring to by using the “these people” language.)
And finally, after Mr. Greeley’s ramblings, he gets to what he is calling “the point,” which is good because we were wondering if there was a point other than just advocating — whether wittingly or unwittingly — for a whole bunch of innocent dead dogs:
Heres the point: Pit bulls are aggressive and dangerous, and should be kept as registered weapons only by those people deemed qualified by license to own them.
Mmm, nope. A whole bunch of innocent dead dogs seems to be precisely the point, or at least the outcome. Why? Because the uneducated, unsupported, and downright incorrect claim that “pit bulls” (whatever those are) are inherently aggressive or dangerous leads to bad legislation, which leads to a whole bunch of innocent dead dogs.
Again, bravo Mr. Greeley. Advocating for the registration of “pit bulls” as if they were handguns is the kind of stance we would expect from a nanny-stater and an uneducated knee-jerk. And just how effective are handgun registration laws Mr. Greeley? You’re a Republican. You should know this. (Hint: Gun control, like breed-specific legislation, has been a phenomenal failure because criminals don’t suddenly start abiding by the law just because you pass additional legislation.)
But here’s Mr. Greeley’s seeming qualifier (you know, the thing he thinks will make all us bulldog owners less angry at him for trying to vilify and ultimately kill our dogs.):
…It is absolutely true that any breed of dog referred to as a pit bull, in the hands of a capable and conscientious owner and trainer, can be an affectionate and loving animal. But the natural truth of the matter is that too many people are incapable of taming and controlling these beasts and are attracted to them for their aggressive nature and physical prowess, and thus seek to obtain them for nefarious reasons. Nippy Lhasa Apsos and Beagles seldom appear in gangster rap videos or nightly newsreels of major drug busts or dog attacks.
So he too thinks it’s the irresponsible owners and not the breed(s). Ok, so why is he advocating for breed-specific legislation then?
And is Mr. Greeley saying that “pit bulls” should be registered as weapons simply because they lack the more positive PR of supposedly cuter breeds? I wasn’t aware that certain breeds of dog needed press agents. And those “nippy” little lap dogs aren’t as benign as Mr. Greeley would have his reader believe either since those “nippy” dogs have been known to kill infants and maul small children too. But again, dog attacks by any breed are rare despite what the media sensationalism would have you believe. Children drown and people slip and fall in their bathrooms and choke on things way more frequently than dogs attack. Still, should we just give in to the nanny state and let them ban or regulate every little thing? If they had their way, they’d wrap the entire world in bubble wrap. Oh no wait, someone could choke on the plastic!
And where is the citation of Mr. Greeley’s statistics? The population size of so-called “pit bulls” is unknowable because nobody even knows what a “pit bull” is to be able to properly estimate their numbers. Yet Mr. Greeley can make the vague claim that “too many people” own these dogs for “nefarious reasons”? And simply because rappers have “pit bulls” or feature them in rap videos the dogs are supposedly dangerous? Beyond just being a poor analogy, somewhere in that comment is a thinly-veiled racism in an only-“those-people”-own-“pit-bulls” kind of way.
Even if the most common owners of so-called “pit bulls” were dog fighters, drug dealers, etc., which is not true, how is it the dogs’ fault that their owners are abusing them? See, now we’re starting to suspect that Mr. Greeley is a Humane Society of the United States’ shill. The HSUS, a radical animal rights group, pushed to have all of convicted dog fighter Michael Vick’s dogs killed because, the HSUS argued, the dogs supposedly could not be rehabilitated. Both Sports Illustrated and The Washington Post did excellent write-ups on Vick’s former dogs. The Washington Post article in particular notes that “Of the 49 [Vick] pit bulls animal behavior experts evaluated in the fall, only one was deemed too vicious to warrant saving and was euthanized.” And yet animal rights groups like PETA and the Humane Society of the United States were calling for these dogs to be killed, which many found incredibly unethical, inhumane, and downright sickening. But folks who had worked in bulldog breed rescue (like yours truly) knew better and advocated for these dogs to be spared. And, in fact, the overwhelming majority of Vicks dogs went on to be rehabilitated, fostered, and even adopted out, while still others appeared in the National Geographic show Dog Town.
Yet, the HSUS (which has pushed for breed-specific legislation), and ignoramuses like Mr. Greeley, keep bringing the media’s and the public’s attention back to dog fighters and drug dealers as the supposed predominant owners of “pit bulls,” with the results being attempts to ban these dogs and have them all wiped off the face of the earth. Not so surprisingly, the elimination of “pit bulls” goes along with the HSUS’ seeming end-goal of eliminating domestic animal ownership entirely, including agricultural animals we use for food:
We have no ethical obligation to preserve the different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding. One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding.- Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society of the United States, Animal People, May, 1993.
I hope Mr. Greeley doesn’t like steak…or chicken, or pork, or eggs. And if he does have pets, well gee, I hope he’s not too terribly attached to them.
So again, we have to ask. Is Mr. Greeley an HSUS shill? It’s no secret that the HSUS represents a formidable lobby in Washington and elsewhere. (And one could very well imagine that Satan would be a formidable lobbyist.) Yes, it does make one wonder, since Mr. Greeley so ably toes the HSUS line when it comes to “pit bulls,” if he hasn’t gotten something in return for his efforts.
Still, Mr. Greeley’s nonsensical and latently racist opinions aside, if AKC, UKC, and ADBA registrations are any indication, there are far more of us responsible bulldog breed owners out here than the very few irresponsible owners giving bulldog breeds a bad name. You just don’t hear about us because we’re doing precisely what we should be doing: responsibly owning our dogs. As is known worldwide at this point, breed-specific legislation in any form — whether an outright ban or merely restrictions like mandatory registration or muzzling — is unenforceable and therefore ineffective in keeping people safer. The same idiots who irresponsibly own “pit bulls” either ignore breed-specific legislation altogether, or simply switch to irresponsibly owning another breed.
Perhaps instead of arbitrarily requiring responsible bulldog owners — the only ones who comply — to register their dogs, we should instead require simpletons who write opinion pieces to garner free political press (and God knows what else) to register as weapons. Ignorant opinions have the capacity to kill far more frequently than any weapon.