Montreal breed ban; Bay Area Pet Fair; Rocket Dog Rescue, Oakland shelter on new Cesar Millan series

Rocket Dog Rescue founder Pali Boucher and Cesar Millan filming the new National Geographic series Dog Nation. photo: Rocketdogrescue.orgpali-cesar-2

Baby Girl Killed by Family Dog

A 6-week-old girl died Saturday night after she was mauled by the family’s dog, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department …

As you read the first paragraph of this Los Angeles Times (Oct. 9, 2000) article, you likely might be thinking, “a pit bull did it,” but you would be wrong:

An uncle babysitting the newborn left the child on a bed unattended while he went to the kitchen to prepare a bottle for her … When he returned, he found the family’s Pomeranian dog on the bed attacking the baby.

That’s right — a Pomeranian.

The main reasons for dog attacks are lack of supervision and bad dog owners. That doesn’t stop cities from reacting hysterically and enacting breed bans. The most recent is Montreal, where a “pit bull” ban has stirred controversy and anger.

Christiane Vadnais was killed this June by a dog registered as a boxer. As Bronwen Dickey, author of Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon, states in her Oct. 22, 2016 Los Angeles Times op-ed, just a few days before, a child was killed by a “husky mix” in rural Canada, but no one shouted for a ban. Dickey also notes that of the roughly 60 dog-bite deaths reported in Canada since 1964, “pit bulls” have been involved in only two, with “sled dogs” and “huskies” responsible for more than 25.

Montreal’s law prohibits ownership of all pit bull breeds and any mixed-breed dog that has physical characteristics of those breeds. This is a dangerous, slippery slope. What are these physical characteristics? Muscular frames? Count Rottweilers, mastiffs, English and French bulldogs, and Boston terriers among breeds with that characteristic. In other places with breed bans, dogs resembling “pit bulls” were dragged from their owners’ arms and destroyed, and, in frightening displays of breedism, neighbors turn in neighbors when disagreements arise not even related to dogs. It happened in Denver, Colo. after the city enacted a pit bull ban in 1989. In one case, a woman visiting a friend came home to find her dog had escaped the yard. It was later discovered the dog had been taken to a shelter and killed.

As I’ve written many times, breed bans don’t work. After Denver’s ban, the rate of dog-bite-related hospitalizations went up, with another large breed, Labrador retrievers, the most common culprit. The rate of dog-bite injuries is now significantly higher in Denver than in surrounding areas without bans. Similarly, the United Kingdom banned pit bulls in 1991 and Ontario in 2005, and dog-bite injuries have risen in both places.

According to Dickey, Multnomah County, Ore., which includes Portland, established a program aimed at reducing dog bites without targeting specific breeds. “By imposing strict regulations on nuisance dogs before serious injuries occurred, the county decreased recidivism by 60 percent,” she says. Calgary has also had success with a similar program geared toward responsible pet ownership. Dickey cites a 2013 survey of 36 Canadian municipalities that found “increased enforcement of breed-neutral regulations (such as leash and containment laws) led to the most noticeable drop in dog-bite injuries.” As a result, a Quebec Superior Court judge has put Montreal’s ban on hold, but only temporarily.

As a responsible pit bull guardian, it angers me to see fellow media create “pit bull hype” to bring eyeballs to their (perhaps failing) newspapers, radio stations, and television outlets. The fact remains that human death by dogs is exceedingly rare. As I wrote in a 2011 Editor’s Note for Northside San Francisco, with nearly 80 million dogs in the United States, there are fewer than 30 fatalities on average annually. By comparison, the human population, just four times higher than the dog population, averages 17,000 murders annually — more than 500 times the number of dog-related deaths. While humans by a wide margin rank as the number one animal that kills, number two is the bee, with more than 50 stinging deaths annually. …

Despite a huge storm, the Pet Food Express Bay Area Pet Fair was a huge success, with 700-plus pets adopted, which will increase once applications are finalized. Kudos to all the rescue groups who braved the rain to find homes for dogs, cats, pigeons, rabbits, rats, and more. …

Rocket Dog Rescue and Oakland Animal Services will be featured on Cesar Millan’s new television series, Dog Nation. Two dogs were saved from Oakland’s shelter during filming, and Rocket Dog has saved nearly 8,000 dogs — but 4 to 5 million dogs die every year in America.

“We have a platform. Let me put a spotlight on [organizations like Rocket Dog Rescue], so more people can know about them, so they can inspire people, not only to rescue dogs, but to change their lives,” said Millan. “It’s paying it forward. It happened to me. That’s the only way you can make a difference. You have to help others.”

You can meet some Rocket Dogs Nov. 6 at the Pawtrero Hill BathHouse & Feed Co. 10th anniversary.


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