June 6, 2009

Actual dog experts[!] speak out against BSL

Hat tip to John Sibley for showcasing this terrific video on breed specific legislation. It should totally go viral, if you ask me.

Featured in the vid are Dr. Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson and Dr. Nicholas Dodman: experts on dog behavior and dog training, which is to say you will never hear them speak of "unpredictable" dogs that "turn on people" and must be banned. In a world where Google pundits* bring of the stupid, Dunbar, Donaldson and Dodman actually know what they're talking about.

"The biggest variable in a dog's demeanor is: how well was it socialized? How well was it trained?" [Ian Dunbar]

The video is the work of Drayton Michaels, "a 2007 graduate of the SFSPCA Academy for Dog Trainers. He has worked professionally with dogs since 2000. He owns and runs Urban Dawgs and Pit Bull Guru with his wife Vyolet, also a graduate of the Academy [source]."

*[What follows has much to do with dogs in general and BSL in particular. Seriously.] Writer and blogger Julian Sanchez took a recent look at pop philosophy and "the unhealthy illusion of knowing something":
On the one hand [...] a democracy can’t make ethics and political philosophy the exclusive province of cloistered academics. On the other hand, I look at the online public sphere and too often tend to find myself thinking: “Discourse at this level can’t possibly accomplish anything beyond giving people some simulation of justification for what they wanted to believe in the first place.” This is, needless to say, not a problem limited to philosophy. And I think it may contribute to the fragmentation and political polarization we see online, which are generally explained in sociological terms as an “echo chamber” effect or “groupthink.”

[T]here’s also the problem that the general glut of information and opinion makes it disconcertingly easy to kid yourself about how well you understand a particular topic. (My friend Michael Moynihan refers sarcastically to “Google pundits” who affect deep understanding after plucking a few talking points from a search—a sin I’m sure I’ve committed myself on occasion.) It’s something of a cliché, but the older I get, the more I find that learning more about an area where I once held a strong opinion will often mean realizing just how limited my own understanding is.
I like to imagine that the typical online breed-basher will wake up one morning, slap his forehead and exclaim, "What am I, nuts?! My entire experience with dogs consists of failing to housebreak that Labrador you hear barking nonstop in the backyard — and I'm telling Jean Donaldson and Ian frikkin' Dunbar they don't know what they're talking about...??!! Sheesh, I'm an idiot. I shall do penance by volunteering at the local animal shelter for the rest of my life."

If only ;~)


EveryoneThinksThey'reGoodDrivers said...

Absolutely. The idea that the breed, or the animal, is at fault for incidents is just so stupid, it's hard to take.

BSL is a classic example of humans erring AGAIN. The ones that are supposed to be intelligent, should be the ones responsible.

In my opinion, BSL is also a classic example of the "not my fault syndrome" that has swept this country's problems under the rug and gotten us into the current mess we are in.

"There’s also the problem that the general glut of information and opinion makes it disconcertingly easy to kid yourself about how well you understand a particular topic."

Especially on recreational topics such as dog ownership and horseback riding!

I challenge people to NOT quit learning. I think it's okay to be proud of what you know, but keep the mind open and free to know more and be better.

I haven't been by here before, smart blog.

EmilyS said...

nice, but his stats are dreadfully expressed.

it is NOT true that "41 states" have declared pit bulls dangerous and banned them. I'm not aware of ANY state wide bans. Statewide BSL, yes, at least in one case: in California where MSN for pit bulls is allowed locally.

There is only ONE state law (Ohio) that does define pit bulls as dangerous but even there they are not actually banned statewide (locally, yes of course).

There may be anti-pit bull laws in 41 states (I'm skeptical), but in most cases, those are small jurisdictions (for example, there is one tiny town in Wyoming and I think 2 in Montana that have pit bull bans so you could include those states, but that's hardly at the level of Colorado, for example).

There are of course major CITIES that ban/restrict pit bulls and that's where the problem predominantly lies.

BSL is a dreadful problem, and his video has some great presentations. But it's no better for advocates to misuse facts than for our opponents.

Lin said...

Please speak out about the possible BSL law that attorney Cynthia Kent is trying to push through in Texas. If this goes through, every single dog of this breed and those who look like pitties will be murdered and owners who keep their dogs will be charged with third degree felony. This is barbaric and cruel. Please, please help this wonderful breed of dog. Thank you.