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Breed specific legislation doesn't prevent dog bites and it doesn't prevent dog bite fatalities. It never has, and it never will. As a local Australian Government Minister complained back in 2006, "If I keep expanding the restricted breed list, we will have no dogs left in New South Wales."
And here's the issue: whenever the media, the courts and the city councils buy into the "safe breed"/"dangerous breed" fallacy, the general public is the biggest loser.
Instead of being informed and reminded about the importance of socialization and training and proper care and supervision of all dogs, parents are encouraged to think their families will be magically inoculated against dog bites if they simply buy a "safe breed."
I wish with all my heart that politicians and the media could be held liable for lulling parents into this false sense of security. Whenever a child winds up in an emergency room with an injury caused by a "safe breed" — and this happens tens of thousands of times each month in North America — proponents of BSL are complicit and should be held accountable.
As it happens, such a concept may be beginning to dawn on members of the press. When a Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death last week by eager shoppers, David Carr of the NY Times held a mirror to the media:
The willingness of people to walk over another human being to get at the right price tag raises the question of how they got that way in the first place. But in the search for the usual suspects and parceling of blame, the news media should include themselves.Gawker thinks the NYT is blowing smoke:
Just a few days ago, the same newspaper writers and television anchors who are now wearily shaking their heads at the collective bankruptcy of our mass consumer culture were cheering all of it on.
Of course, it was just Wednesday that the Times was mythologizing gluttonous consumerism, and not long ago that it literally serenaded the frenzied crowds chomping at the bit for their iPhones. And the holiday edition of high-end-consumption porn rag T Magazine is due in the next week or two, right? It's true that Black Friday is a stupid, fake idea, but media cheerleading of crazed consumerism is here to stay. If an unfolding economic depression wasn't enough to stop rabid consumers from breaking down doors to buy LCD television sets, a single death isn't going to reform desperate newspapers.No surprise there: 60,000 hospitalizations from dog bites each year still haven't transformed hysterical calls for BSL into editorials demanding that people take the time to socialize and train their new puppies. This doesn't mean the day won't come: just that we shouldn't stand idly by while the truth about dogs is, well, trampled underfoot. Please: donate.
In related news, the blogging world was saddened to learn of the tragically early death of Doris Dungey, an expert economist who wrote under the name Tanta. She died in November at the age of 47, of cancer.
Tanta used her extensive knowledge of the loan industry to comment, castigate and above all instruct. Her fans ranged from the Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times who cited her in his blog, to analysts at the Federal Reserve, who cited her in a paper on “Understanding the Securitization of Subprime Mortgage Credit.”You may be wondering what this sad news has to do with dogs, pit bulls or breed specific legislation. This:
Tanta liked to chew on the follies of regulators, the idiocies of lenders and — a particular favorite — clueless reporters, which according to her was just about all of them. She did not approve, she once wrote, of “parading one’s ignorance about mortgages in an article full of high-minded tut-tutting over ignorance about mortgages.”Consider that the average business reporter knows quite a bit more about mortgages than the typical reporter knows about dogs, and you'll get an idea of the frustration some of us feel whenever a journalist is sent [or stays home] to write about dogs, let alone a controversial type of dog like the pit bull.
But also consider this: during her lifetime Tanta's blog came to be recognized as a "crucial source of prescient analysis," according to the New York Times. A hopeful sign, perhaps, that someday the press may grant a dog blogger [or two or twenty] a bit more recognition. Yes, I'm a dreamer.