Can So-Called “Pit Bulls” Get a Fair Shake from the Media?
Editor’s note: Soon after publishing this post, I was watching America’s Funniest Home Videos and there was a clip of an overly-exuberant Golden Retriever who knocked a child down and excitedly licked the child’s face and kept bopping at the child with his nose.Â The audience of course roared with laughter.Â What’s the difference between the Golden Retriever in the clip and the “pit bull” mentioned in the police blotter below?Â The Golden Retriever has better P.R.
Look at this police blotter from the September 5, 2010 issue of the suburban Chicago newspaper The Courier News which describes two citations for dog owners in the Chicago suburb of Bartlett:
Citations in dog bites: Tickets were written for a dog running at large, biting and attacking, and for dangerous behavior after the dog, a Rottweiler, bit a passerby on the 500 block of Illinois Street at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The victim, who police did not identify, was left with puncture marks on his arm but refused medical assistance. A resident on the 300 block of Seneca Street also was cited following an incident at about 3:30 p.m. Friday. The resident was given tickets for dog running at large, biting and attacking, and for dangerous behavior after the dog, a pit bull, ran from the back yard and jumped on a 2-year-old boy who was left with a scratch under his right eye, possibly from a bite.
Look at the difference in the way the two “attacks” were reported.Â For the Rottweiler, the incident is described matter-of-factly.Â The dog bit a passerby.Â Yet for the “pit bull” “attack” (and for the umpteenth time, “pit bull” is not a breed!) the newspaper conjectures about whether the scratch under the boy’s eye is from a bite or a scratch.Â That one just might have readers scratching their heads!Â Reason would dictate, that if there’s a scratch, it’s probably a scratch, not a bite.
The “pit bull” incident sounds more like a dog getting loose from its yard and exuberantly jumping up on a child.Â It does not sound like an attack.Â But as with all things involving so-called “pit bulls,” the owner is guilty until proven innocent.
In the past, people have asked me if “pit bulls” could get a fair shake from the media, or just a fair shake period.Â What do you think?