Monday, February 27, 2006

New Website

It's finished!

I've got my new website up and running, I think.....

I've been working on it all weekend, but I think it's finally done.

Come by and have a look.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dog Attacks Continue

This was written by a friend of mine in a local paper here.

Do I feel safer?

As my heart aches for the innocent puppies being used as research specimens or put to death based solely on their appearance under this new Ontario dog laws, no I don t feel safer.

Lets see here:

Nov. 7, 2005, London, police officer bitten by dog in the canine unit during a pursuit.
Nov. 10, 2005, Carlsbad Springs (east of Ottawa), dog bites child, nose requires reconstructive surgery, dog belonged to family friend. This is the dog’s fifth serious bite in several years.
Jan. 7, 2006, Kingston, dog attacks and kills a neighbour’s dog.
Feb. 11, 2006, Ottawa, dog attacks two-year-old child in park, child receives nine stitches to his face.

None of the dogs involved in these incidents where the Liberal’s dreaded pit bull-type dog and they are all still at large. Some owners received fines, that should be enough to ensure our safety right? Or perhaps we should ban these five other breeds? Maybe that would work?

Or maybe, just maybe, as proven in several other Ontario municipalities, several other provinces and several other countries, breed specific legislation doesn’t work and, in fact, poses more of a threat to public safety. Yes, as long as those short coated muscular 30 lb. pitbulls are muzzled surely there is no chance of the big fluffy 100 lb. untrained, off-leash dog causing harm to a small child in the park.

Thanks Michael Bryant, you puppy-killer you.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I'll always love you Zeus

Zeus will be at peace now. He has been sick for a while now and I decided that he should no longer suffer. He has gone to Rainbow Bridge to play with all of his friends.

In two weeks, Zeus had gone to the vet 5 times. He had x-rays, blood work, and too many pokes and prods for me to make him go through this anymore. He lost 6 pounds in not even two weeks. He went from 40 pounds to 34 pounds very fast. He had no energy to get up to say hello, wouldn't eat, or do much of anything anymore.

I'll miss you lots Squishy Man. I'll see you later in life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Ban the Import of Dog and Cat Fur in Canada


To: Prime Minister Stephen Harper

In Canada, cats and dogs are our beloved friends and life-long companions. We develop an incredible bond with these animals, receiving from them perhaps more than we give! Loving them as we do, one would think that they would never be killed for something as unnecessary as fur - like for a cat's toy 'mouse', or for needless trim on the hood of a jacket.

However, unbeknownst to most of us, products made from dog or cat fur are out there and are being welcomed through our borders, into Canada. LEGALLY. And fur sold in Canada is NOT even legally required to be labelled!

Please, I urge you to abolish this law and follow what the United States Government has done by following their example. In addition to the US ban -Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia have also banned this disgusting trade.

"The trade of dog and cat fur products is ethically and aesthetically abhorrent to United States citizens. Consumers have a right to know if products offered for sale contain dog or cat fur and to ensure that they are not willing participants in this gruesome trade."

Please, be humane about this and follow what other countries have done.

Visit for further information.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Now this is just plain gross - Insist on labelling all fur products

Insist on labelling all fur products

Can't stop import of cat and dog fur
Letter, Feb. 10. - The Toronto Star

Not only must we ban the import and sale of dog and cat fur in Canada, we must also insist on the proper labelling of all fur. As it stands right now, no fur requires a label indicating the animal of origin, or country of origin. Not only is it legal to sell cat and dog fur in Canada, it is legal to sell it unlabelled.

Consumers have a right to know whether it is faux fur they're purchasing or whether the trim on that parka is actually dog or cat fur.

For more information please visit

Dogs and cats, like those many of us love so dearly, are being brutally slaughtered and killed for their fur. Reports estimate about two million per year internationally. These beautiful, trusting animals are being skinned, just to provide fur and bits of fur trim, for clothing and accessories.
Video footage taken as part of an undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States in China, Thailand, and the Philippines, reveals dogs and cats in unspeakable, horrific conditions. They were found imprisoned in dirty, cold, damp cages, sometimes beaten, stabbed, strangled, or worse before being butchered horribly in plain view of the other animals. Some were strays. Some still had collars on.

This dog was killed for his fur.

This jacket has trim made of dog fur.

Any situation in which an animal is made to suffer at the hands of a human fills the heart with sorrow. Though it's hard to believe, dogs and cats are now suffering, along with so many other animals, to make frivolous fur products and fur trim.

Legal in Canada
It is Legal to bring Dog and Cat Fur into Canada - and sell it at a store near YOU!

In Canada, cats and dogs are our beloved friends and life-long companions. We develop an incredible bond with these animals, receiving from them perhaps more than we give! Loving them as we do, one would think that they would never be killed for something as unnecessary as fur - like for a cat's toy 'mouse', or for needless trim on the hood of a jacket.

However, unbeknownst to most of us, products made from dog or cat fur are out there and are being welcomed through our borders, into Canada. LEGALLY.

It is legal to import dog and cat fur into Canada.
And it is legal to sell dog and cat fur in Canada.
And fur sold in Canada is NOT even legally required to be labelled!

Fur, fur-trimmed items, knick-knacks and accessories made with cat, dog or other fur, can be sold at a store near you, without any label stating that it is real fur, let alone what kind of fur it is or where that fur came from.

Puppies. Canada is supporting this terrible cruelty.

Asia-Pacific Trade - Dog and Cat Fur's Doorway to Canada

China is already Canada's second largest trading partner. We are also poised to double trade with China by 2010 as part of the new 'Pacific Gateway Strategy'.

Yet the Canadian Government says it has "no intention" of banning dog or cat fur.

The USA banned it. Canada can too!

American citizens slammed their door on this market five years ago. In 2000, after a public outcry to the government, the United States BANNED the trade in dog and cat fur products.

The preamble in the USA's Dog and Cat Protection Act states:

"The trade of dog and cat fur products is ethically and aesthetically abhorrent to United States citizens. Consumers have a right to know if products offered for sale contain dog or cat fur and to ensure that they are not willing participants in this gruesome trade."

Dog Fur Coat and Cat Fur Coat found for sale in the USA before the USA ban. (Photo: HSUS)

Global Markets Shutting Down

In addition to the US ban - Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia have also banned this disgusting trade.

The entire European Union (25 countries) could be next. Celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills McCartney are campaigning right now for an EU-wide ban.

As foreign markets close their doors to dog and cat fur, Canada will become an even more appealing market for individuals looking to profit from this cruelty.

It is imperative that Canada ban this gruesome trade, and now!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Westminster's winner is deemed dangerous in some areas

Dogs like Rufus are destroyed in some parts of the country

Dogs like Westminster's Best in Show winner Rufus are banned in some parts of the country.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Rufus cuddled up beside the couch, ready for a good nap. Belly full from his favorite steak dinner and tuckered out from a romp around the house, he put down the head that has become the signature of dogdom in America.

"He's a wonderful pet," owner Barbara Bishop cooed. "My grandson used to sleep with him in the crate."

But in some parts of the country, dogs that look like this Best in Show winner are seized, muzzled and in some cases, destroyed.

Cities in about 20 states have either enacted or are trying to pass "BSL," short for breed specific legislation designed to control certain types of dogs that are deemed dangerous.

Pit bulls and pit bull mixes are the main target of such laws and ordinances, along with American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers -- part of the so-called "bully" breeds, with stout bodies and distinctive heads. Owners can be fined and even jailed.

Rufus is a colored bull terrier, the same breed that spawned Spuds McKenzie and the Target store mascot. Nearly 6, he took the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club show this week, thanks to a perfect, egg-shaped noggin the size of a football.

Tan and white, Rufus also is a marked dog because some of the BSL includes references to dogs that have similar physical traits as the outlawed breeds.

"There are places we won't go because of the BSL," Bishop said Thursday from her home in Holmdel, New Jersey. "You just don't know what might happen."

Rufus, in fact, is now retired as a show dog and has no plans for any kind of nationwide tour. BSL, however, continues to gain strength all over.

"It's our No. 1 concern," said Dale Schuur, president of the Bull Terrier Club of America.

"It has shown no signs of letting up," he said. "Are we going to be able to have these dogs in the future?"

Denver banned pit bulls in 1989 after a local minister was mauled. It is illegal to own one in the city -- if spotted, they could be seized and euthanized. Last year, more than 500 of them were killed.

"It's not a fun job," said Juan Zalasar, the city's animal control manager.

Zalasar, still mourning the loss of his beloved German shepherd, said Rufus would be fine in Denver.

"We do get calls on bull terriers, people asking us to come out and check. We try to do a good job of educating our staff on breed identification," he said. "As far as we're concerned, we don't have a problem with that dog."

Many cities modeled their BSL after Denver's law. Bull terriers are banned by name in Alburnett, Iowa, for example; in Grandview, Missouri, dogs that look like pit bulls are prohibited, but bull terriers are allowed.

"You err on the side of the public," said Tom Weber of Grandview's neighborhood services.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a bill that let cities and counties pass ordinances for specific breeds.

Bull terriers are split into two breeds -- white and colored -- that can be born in the same litter.

They were the 62nd most popular breed in the country last year, according to the American Kennel Club.

There were 1,744 registered, putting them ahead of Dalmatians and Irish setters.

Kathy Kirk, who handles Rufus, admitted he could be a bit "bullheaded." Owner Bishop acknowledged that "not everyone in the world should own a bull terrier," saying correct breeding and care were essential to ensure they were properly socialized and not overly aggressive.

"They were originally meant to be a family pet," Bishop said. "Rufus loves when my grandchildren come to visit. They jump over couches and run around and play together.

"He's under my feet right now," she said. "He's really more like a cat."

We Did It!

Brutus - CGN

Yes, that's correct. Brutus' name is now Brutus - CGN. :-) I'm so proud of him.

He passed the course without a flaw. I was so worried for nothing. I think all the dogs knew that something weird was going on because they all seemed pretty nervous.

I can't wait until I get the certificate from the CKC and then I can mail it to my ward councellors, Michael Bryant, Dalton Maguinty, and right back to the CKC to show them that not all pit bulls are evil monsters.

Now I have to start on the letter that I will send with this. Hopefully I get positive replies, and hopefully I get replies. But knowing the government, I probably will get a "general" letter from them. Let's hope this does something good for us and the rest of the bully breeds that are hurt by this stupid ban.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dear Dog

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food.

Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, try to turn the knob, or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit throughthe same door I entered. I have been using the bathroom for years--canine attendance is not mandatory!

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog's butt. I cannot stress this enough!

To pacify you my dear dog, I have posted the following message on our front door:

Rules for Non-Pet Owners Who Visit and like to Complain About Our Pets:
1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. (That's why they call it "fur"niture.)
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours, and does not speak clearly.

Remember: Dogs and cats are better than kids because they: eat less, don't ask for money all the time, are easier to train, usually come when called, never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't smoke or drink, don't worry about having to buy the latest fashions, don't wear your clothes, and you don't need a gazillion dollars for college.

Facts: It has been proven that pet owners are happier, more well adjusted, more tolerant, and live longer than non-pet owners...Amen!

Dog Danger

It was the kind of horrific scene the province’s controversial pit bull ban was supposed to eradicate, but there it was in the light of day for all to see -- a trail of blood and two discarded puppy boots -- the sad remnants of a pit bull attack that claimed the life of a Shih Tzu on Tuesday night.

Despite the ferocity of the attack, charges won’t be laid against the female dog owner because apparently the animal in question was indeed wearing a muzzle, but somehow tore through the device in a frenzy of aggression.

The incident took place at around 10pm near Danforth Rd. and Midland Ave. in Scarborough. The pit reportedly lunged at the Shih Tzu and also bit its owner, a man in his 40’s, before finishing off the fatal attack on the much smaller dog.

The creature was seized by authorities and taken to animal services, but the female owner of the dog wasn’t held responsible.

A day later, neighbours suggested that she should have been accountable for the attack.

When asked if the dog (like the one pictured, top left) was indeed muzzled, witness Sherry Hegland responded without hesitation. “No,” she said. “I'm positive (it wasn’t muzzled). It doesn't make sense (that she’s not being charged).”

Others contend the same dog has been problematic in the past.

“It almost went after my dog on the 16th floor, and I actually told her that she should have it muzzled and she said, ‘it doesn't bite,’" said Cindy Titus.

Animal Services is continuing its investigation

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dog peeves about Humans

1. Passing gas and blaming it on me... not funny... not funny at all !!!

2. Yelling at me for barking... I'M A DOG, YOU NUMBSKULL!

3. Taking me for a walk, then not letting me check stuff out. Exactlywhose walk is this anyway?

4. Any trick that involves balancing food on my nose... stop it!

5. Any haircut that involves bows or ribbons. Now you know why we chewyour stuff up when you're not home.

6. The sleight of hand, fake fetch throw. You fooled a dog! Woooo-Hooooooo! Oh, what a proud moment for the top of the food chain.

7. Taking me to the vet for "the big snip", then acting surprised when I freak out every time we go back!

8. Getting upset when I sniff the crotches of your guests. Sorry, but I haven't quite mastered that handshake thing yet.

9. Dog sweaters. Hello??? Haven't you noticed the fur?

10. How you act disgusted when I lick myself. Look, we both know thetruth, you're just jealous. Now lay off me on some of these things, We both know who's boss here (you don't see me picking up your poop, do you?).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Well written article and a bad rebuttal

What pit bulls can teach us about profiling.

Issue of 2006-02-06
Posted 2006-01-30

One afternoon last February, Guy Clairoux picked up his two-and-a half-year-old son, Jayden, from day care and walked him back to their house in the west end of Ottawa, Ontario. They were almost home. Jayden was straggling behind, and, as his father’s back was turned, a pit bull jumped over a back-yard fence and lunged at Jayden. “The dog had his head in its mouth and started to do this shake,” Clairoux’s wife, JoAnn Hartley, said later. As she watched in horror, two more pit bulls jumped over the fence, joining in the assault. She and Clairoux came running, and he punched the first of the dogs in the head, until it dropped Jayden, and then he threw the boy toward his mother. Hartley fell on her son, protecting him with her body. “JoAnn!” Clairoux cried out, as all three dogs descended on his wife. “Cover your neck, cover your neck.” A neighbor, sitting by her window, screamed for help. Her partner and a friend, Mario Gauthier, ran outside. A neighborhood boy grabbed his hockey stick and threw it to Gauthier. He began hitting one of the dogs over the head, until the stick broke. “They wouldn’t stop,” Gauthier said. “As soon as you’d stop, they’d attack again. I’ve never seen a dog go so crazy. They were like Tasmanian devils.” The police came. The dogs were pulled away, and the Clairouxes and one of the rescuers were taken to the hospital. Five days later, the Ontario legislature banned the ownership of pit bulls. “Just as we wouldn’t let a great white shark in a swimming pool,” the province’s attorney general, Michael Bryant, had said, “maybe we shouldn’t have these animals on the civilized streets.”

Pit bulls, descendants of the bulldogs used in the nineteenth century for bull baiting and dogfighting, have been bred for “gameness,” and thus a lowered inhibition to aggression. Most dogs fight as a last resort, when staring and growling fail. A pit bull is willing to fight with little or no provocation. Pit bulls seem to have a high tolerance for pain, making it possible for them to fight to the point of exhaustion. Whereas guard dogs like German shepherds usually attempt to restrain those they perceive to be threats by biting and holding, pit bulls try to inflict the maximum amount of damage on an opponent. They bite, hold, shake, and tear. They don’t growl or assume an aggressive facial expression as warning. They just attack. “They are often insensitive to behaviors that usually stop aggression,” one scientific review of the breed states. “For example, dogs not bred for fighting usually display defeat in combat by rolling over and exposing a light underside. On several occasions, pit bulls have been reported to disembowel dogs offering this signal of submission.” In epidemiological studies of dog bites, the pit bull is overrepresented among dogs known to have seriously injured or killed human beings, and, as a result, pit bulls have been banned or restricted in several Western European countries, China, and numerous cities and municipalities across North America. Pit bulls are dangerous.
Of course, not all pit bulls are dangerous. Most don’t bite anyone. Meanwhile, Dobermans and Great Danes and German shepherds and Rottweilers are frequent biters as well, and the dog that recently mauled a Frenchwoman so badly that she was given the world’s first face transplant was, of all things, a Labrador retriever. When we say that pit bulls are dangerous, we are making a generalization, just as insurance companies use generalizations when they charge young men more for car insurance than the rest of us (even though many young men are perfectly good drivers), and doctors use generalizations when they tell overweight middle-aged men to get their cholesterol checked (even though many overweight middle-aged men won’t experience heart trouble). Because we don’t know which dog will bite someone or who will have a heart attack or which drivers will get in an accident, we can make predictions only by generalizing. As the legal scholar Frederick Schauer has observed, “painting with a broad brush” is “an often inevitable and frequently desirable dimension of our decision-making lives.”
Another word for generalization, though, is “stereotype,” and stereotypes are usually not considered desirable dimensions of our decision-making lives. The process of moving from the specific to the general is both necessary and perilous. A doctor could, with some statistical support, generalize about men of a certain age and weight. But what if generalizing from other traits—such as high blood pressure, family history, and smoking—saved more lives? Behind each generalization is a choice of what factors to leave in and what factors to leave out, and those choices can prove surprisingly complicated. After the attack on Jayden Clairoux, the Ontario government chose to make a generalization about pit bulls. But it could also have chosen to generalize about powerful dogs, or about the kinds of people who own powerful dogs, or about small children, or about back-yard fences—or, indeed, about any number of other things to do with dogs and people and places. How do we know when we’ve made the right generalization?
In July of last year, following the transit bombings in London, the New York City Police Department announced that it would send officers into the subways to conduct random searches of passengers’ bags. On the face of it, doing random searches in the hunt for terrorists—as opposed to being guided by generalizations—seems like a silly idea. As a columnist in New York wrote at the time, “Not just ‘most’ but nearly every jihadi who has attacked a Western European or American target is a young Arab or Pakistani man. In other words, you can predict with a fair degree of certainty what an Al Qaeda terrorist looks like. Just as we have always known what Mafiosi look like—even as we understand that only an infinitesimal fraction of Italian-Americans are members of the mob.”

But wait: do we really know what mafiosi look like? In “The Godfather,” where most of us get our knowledge of the Mafia, the male members of the Corleone family were played by Marlon Brando, who was of Irish and French ancestry, James Caan, who is Jewish, and two Italian-Americans, Al Pacino and John Cazale. To go by “The Godfather,” mafiosi look like white men of European descent, which, as generalizations go, isn’t terribly helpful. Figuring out what an Islamic terrorist looks like isn’t any easier. Muslims are not like the Amish: they don’t come dressed in identifiable costumes. And they don’t look like basketball players; they don’t come in predictable shapes and sizes. Islam is a religion that spans the globe.

“We have a policy against racial profiling,” Raymond Kelly, New York City’s police commissioner, told me. “I put it in here in March of the first year I was here. It’s the wrong thing to do, and it’s also ineffective. If you look at the London bombings, you have three British citizens of Pakistani descent. You have Germaine Lindsay, who is Jamaican. You have the next crew, on July 21st, who are East African. You have a Chechen woman in Moscow in early 2004 who blows herself up in the subway station. So whom do you profile? Look at New York City. Forty per cent of New Yorkers are born outside the country. Look at the diversity here. Who am I supposed to profile?”

Kelly was pointing out what might be called profiling’s “category problem.” Generalizations involve matching a category of people to a behavior or trait—overweight middle-aged men to heart-attack risk, young men to bad driving. But, for that process to work, you have to be able both to define and to identify the category you are generalizing about. “You think that terrorists aren’t aware of how easy it is to be characterized by ethnicity?” Kelly went on. “Look at the 9/11 hijackers. They came here. They shaved. They went to topless bars. They wanted to blend in. They wanted to look like they were part of the American dream. These are not dumb people. Could a terrorist dress up as a Hasidic Jew and walk into the subway, and not be profiled? Yes. I think profiling is just nuts.”

Pit-bull bans involve a category problem, too, because pit bulls, as it happens, aren’t a single breed. The name refers to dogs belonging to a number of related breeds, such as the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American pit bull terrier—all of which share a square and muscular body, a short snout, and a sleek, short-haired coat. Thus the Ontario ban prohibits not only these three breeds but any “dog that has an appearance and physical characteristics that are substantially similar” to theirs; the term of art is “pit bull-type” dogs. But what does that mean? Is a cross between an American pit bull terrier and a golden retriever a pit bull-type dog or a golden retriever-type dog? If thinking about muscular terriers as pit bulls is a generalization, then thinking about dangerous dogs as anything substantially similar to a pit bull is a generalization about a generalization. “The way a lot of these laws are written, pit bulls are whatever they say they are,” Lora Brashears, a kennel manager in Pennsylvania, says. “And for most people it just means big, nasty, scary dog that bites.”
The goal of pit-bull bans, obviously, isn’t to prohibit dogs that look like pit bulls. The pit-bull appearance is a proxy for the pit-bull temperament—for some trait that these dogs share. But “pit bullness” turns out to be elusive as well. The supposedly troublesome characteristics of the pit-bull type—its gameness, its determination, its insensitivity to pain—are chiefly directed toward other dogs. Pit bulls were not bred to fight humans. On the contrary: a dog that went after spectators, or its handler, or the trainer, or any of the other people involved in making a dogfighting dog a good dogfighter was usually put down. (The rule in the pit-bull world was “Man-eaters die.”)

A Georgia-based group called the American Temperament Test Society has put twenty-five thousand dogs through a ten-part standardized drill designed to assess a dog’s stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness in the company of people. A handler takes a dog on a six-foot lead and judges its reaction to stimuli such as gunshots, an umbrella opening, and a weirdly dressed stranger approaching in a threatening way. Eighty-four per cent of the pit bulls that have been given the test have passed, which ranks pit bulls ahead of beagles, Airedales, bearded collies, and all but one variety of dachshund. “We have tested somewhere around a thousand pit-bull-type dogs,” Carl Herkstroeter, the president of the A.T.T.S., says. “I’ve tested half of them. And of the number I’ve tested I have disqualified one pit bull because of aggressive tendencies. They have done extremely well. They have a good temperament. They are very good with children.” It can even be argued that the same traits that make the pit bull so aggressive toward other dogs are what make it so nice to humans. “There are a lot of pit bulls these days who are licensed therapy dogs,” the writer Vicki Hearne points out. “Their stability and resoluteness make them excellent for work with people who might not like a more bouncy, flibbertigibbet sort of dog. When pit bulls set out to provide comfort, they are as resolute as they are when they fight, but what they are resolute about is being gentle. And, because they are fearless, they can be gentle with anybody.”

Then which are the pit bulls that get into trouble? “The ones that the legislation is geared toward have aggressive tendencies that are either bred in by the breeder, trained in by the trainer, or reinforced in by the owner,” Herkstroeter says. A mean pit bull is a dog that has been turned mean, by selective breeding, by being cross-bred with a bigger, human-aggressive breed like German shepherds or Rottweilers, or by being conditioned in such a way that it begins to express hostility to human beings. A pit bull is dangerous to people, then, not to the extent that it expresses its essential pit bullness but to the extent that it deviates from it. A pit-bull ban is a generalization about a generalization about a trait that is not, in fact, general. That’s a category problem.

One of the puzzling things about New York City is that, after the enormous and well-publicized reductions in crime in the mid-nineteen-nineties, the crime rate has continued to fall. In the past two years, for instance, murder in New York has declined by almost ten per cent, rape by twelve per cent, and burglary by more than eighteen per cent. Just in the last year, auto theft went down 11.8 per cent. On a list of two hundred and forty cities in the United States with a population of a hundred thousand or more, New York City now ranks two hundred-and-twenty-second in crime, down near the bottom with Fontana, California, and Port St. Lucie, Florida. In the nineteen-nineties, the crime decrease was attributed to big obvious changes in city life and government—the decline of the drug trade, the gentrification of Brooklyn, the successful implementation of “broken windows” policing. But all those big changes happened a decade ago. Why is crime still falling?

The explanation may have to do with a shift in police tactics. The N.Y.P.D. has a computerized map showing, in real time, precisely where serious crimes are being reported, and at any moment the map typically shows a few dozen constantly shifting high-crime hot spots, some as small as two or three blocks square. What the N.Y.P.D. has done, under Commissioner Kelly, is to use the map to establish “impact zones,” and to direct newly graduated officers—who used to be distributed proportionally to precincts across the city—to these zones, in some cases doubling the number of officers in the immediate neighborhood. “We took two-thirds of our graduating class and linked them with experienced officers, and focussed on those areas,” Kelly said. “Well, what has happened is that over time we have averaged about a thirty-five-per-cent crime reduction in impact zones.”

For years, experts have maintained that the incidence of violent crime is “inelastic” relative to police presence—that people commit serious crimes because of poverty and psychopathology and cultural dysfunction, along with spontaneous motives and opportunities. The presence of a few extra officers down the block, it was thought, wouldn’t make much difference. But the N.Y.P.D. experience suggests otherwise. More police means that some crimes are prevented, others are more easily solved, and still others are displaced—pushed out of the troubled neighborhood—which Kelly says is a good thing, because it disrupts the patterns and practices and social networks that serve as the basis for lawbreaking. In other words, the relation between New York City (a category) and criminality (a trait) is unstable, and this kind of instability is another way in which our generalizations can be derailed.

Why, for instance, is it a useful rule of thumb that Kenyans are good distance runners? It’s not just that it’s statistically supportable today. It’s that it has been true for almost half a century, and that in Kenya the tradition of distance running is sufficiently rooted that something cataclysmic would have to happen to dislodge it. By contrast, the generalization that New York City is a crime-ridden place was once true and now, manifestly, isn’t. People who moved to sunny retirement communities like Port St. Lucie because they thought they were much safer than New York are suddenly in the position of having made the wrong bet.

The instability issue is a problem for profiling in law enforcement as well. The law professor David Cole once tallied up some of the traits that Drug Enforcement Administration agents have used over the years in making generalizations about suspected smugglers. Here is a sample:
Arrived late at night; arrived early in the morning; arrived in afternoon; one of the first to deplane; one of the last to deplane; deplaned in the middle; purchased ticket at the airport; made reservation on short notice; bought coach ticket; bought first-class ticket; used one-way ticket; used round-trip ticket; paid for ticket with cash; paid for ticket with small denomination currency; paid for ticket with large denomination currency; made local telephone calls after deplaning; made long distance telephone call after deplaning; pretended to make telephone call; traveled from New York to Los Angeles; traveled to Houston; carried no luggage; carried brand-new luggage; carried a small bag; carried a medium-sized bag; carried two bulky garment bags; carried two heavy suitcases; carried four pieces of luggage; overly protective of luggage; disassociated self from luggage; traveled alone; traveled with a companion; acted too nervous; acted too calm; made eye contact with officer; avoided making eye contact with officer; wore expensive clothing and jewelry; dressed casually; went to restroom after deplaning; walked rapidly through airport; walked slowly through airport; walked aimlessly through airport; left airport by taxi; left airport by limousine; left airport by private car; left airport by hotel courtesy van.

Some of these reasons for suspicion are plainly absurd, suggesting that there’s no particular rationale to the generalizations used by D.E.A. agents in stopping suspected drug smugglers. A way of making sense of the list, though, is to think of it as a catalogue of unstable traits. Smugglers may once have tended to buy one-way tickets in cash and carry two bulky suitcases. But they don’t have to. They can easily switch to round-trip tickets bought with a credit card, or a single carry-on bag, without losing their capacity to smuggle. There’s a second kind of instability here as well. Maybe the reason some of them switched from one-way tickets and two bulky suitcases was that law enforcement got wise to those habits, so the smugglers did the equivalent of what the jihadis seemed to have done in London, when they switched to East Africans because the scrutiny of young Arab and Pakistani men grew too intense. It doesn’t work to generalize about a relationship between a category and a trait when that relationship isn’t stable—or when the act of generalizing may itself change the basis of the generalization.
Before Kelly became the New York police commissioner, he served as the head of the U.S. Customs Service, and while he was there he overhauled the criteria that border-control officers use to identify and search suspected smugglers. There had been a list of forty-three suspicious traits. He replaced it with a list of six broad criteria. Is there something suspicious about their physical appearance? Are they nervous? Is there specific intelligence targeting this person? Does the drug-sniffing dog raise an alarm? Is there something amiss in their paperwork or explanations? Has contraband been found that implicates this person?

You’ll find nothing here about race or gender or ethnicity, and nothing here about expensive jewelry or deplaning at the middle or the end, or walking briskly or walking aimlessly. Kelly removed all the unstable generalizations, forcing customs officers to make generalizations about things that don’t change from one day or one month to the next. Some percentage of smugglers will always be nervous, will always get their story wrong, and will always be caught by the dogs. That’s why those kinds of inferences are more reliable than the ones based on whether smugglers are white or black, or carry one bag or two. After Kelly’s reforms, the number of searches conducted by the Customs Service dropped by about seventy-five per cent, but the number of successful seizures improved by twenty-five per cent. The officers went from making fairly lousy decisions about smugglers to making pretty good ones. “We made them more efficient and more effective at what they were doing,” Kelly said.

Does the notion of a pit-bull menace rest on a stable or an unstable generalization? The best data we have on breed dangerousness are fatal dog bites, which serve as a useful indicator of just how much havoc certain kinds of dogs are causing. Between the late nineteen-seventies and the late nineteen-nineties, more than twenty-five breeds were involved in fatal attacks in the United States. Pit-bull breeds led the pack, but the variability from year to year is considerable. For instance, in the period from 1981 to 1982 fatalities were caused by five pit bulls, three mixed breeds, two St. Bernards, two German-shepherd mixes, a pure-bred German shepherd, a husky type, a Doberman, a Chow Chow, a Great Dane, a wolf-dog hybrid, a husky mix, and a pit-bull mix—but no Rottweilers. In 1995 and 1996, the list included ten Rottweilers, four pit bulls, two German shepherds, two huskies, two Chow Chows, two wolf-dog hybrids, two shepherd mixes, a Rottweiler mix, a mixed breed, a Chow Chow mix, and a Great Dane. The kinds of dogs that kill people change over time, because the popularity of certain breeds changes over time. The one thing that doesn’t change is the total number of the people killed by dogs. When we have more problems with pit bulls, it’s not necessarily a sign that pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs. It could just be a sign that pit bulls have become more numerous.
“I’ve seen virtually every breed involved in fatalities, including Pomeranians and everything else, except a beagle or a basset hound,” Randall Lockwood, a senior vice-president of the A.S.P.C.A. and one of the country’s leading dogbite experts, told me. “And there’s always one or two deaths attributable to malamutes or huskies, although you never hear people clamoring for a ban on those breeds. When I first started looking at fatal dog attacks, they largely involved dogs like German shepherds and shepherd mixes and St. Bernards—which is probably why Stephen King chose to make Cujo a St. Bernard, not a pit bull. I haven’t seen a fatality involving a Doberman for decades, whereas in the nineteen-seventies they were quite common. If you wanted a mean dog, back then, you got a Doberman. I don’t think I even saw my first pit-bull case until the middle to late nineteen-eighties, and I didn’t start seeing Rottweilers until I’d already looked at a few hundred fatal dog attacks. Now those dogs make up the preponderance of fatalities. The point is that it changes over time. It’s a reflection of what the dog of choice is among people who want to own an aggressive dog.”

There is no shortage of more stable generalizations about dangerous dogs, though. A 1991 study in Denver, for example, compared a hundred and seventy-eight dogs with a history of biting people with a random sample of a hundred and seventy-eight dogs with no history of biting. The breeds were scattered: German shepherds, Akitas, and Chow Chows were among those most heavily represented. (There were no pit bulls among the biting dogs in the study, because Denver banned pit bulls in 1989.) But a number of other, more stable factors stand out. The biters were 6.2 times as likely to be male than female, and 2.6 times as likely to be intact than neutered. The Denver study also found that biters were 2.8 times as likely to be chained as unchained. “About twenty per cent of the dogs involved in fatalities were chained at the time, and had a history of long-term chaining,” Lockwood said. “Now, are they chained because they are aggressive or aggressive because they are chained? It’s a bit of both. These are animals that have not had an opportunity to become socialized to people. They don’t necessarily even know that children are small human beings. They tend to see them as prey.”

In many cases, vicious dogs are hungry or in need of medical attention. Often, the dogs had a history of aggressive incidents, and, overwhelmingly, dog-bite victims were children (particularly small boys) who were physically vulnerable to attack and may also have unwittingly done things to provoke the dog, like teasing it, or bothering it while it was eating. The strongest connection of all, though, is between the trait of dog viciousness and certain kinds of dog owners. In about a quarter of fatal dog-bite cases, the dog owners were previously involved in illegal fighting. The dogs that bite people are, in many cases, socially isolated because their owners are socially isolated, and they are vicious because they have owners who want a vicious dog. The junk-yard German shepherd—which looks as if it would rip your throat out—and the German-shepherd guide dog are the same breed. But they are not the same dog, because they have owners with different intentions.

“A fatal dog attack is not just a dog bite by a big or aggressive dog,” Lockwood went on. “It is usually a perfect storm of bad human-canine interactions—the wrong dog, the wrong background, the wrong history in the hands of the wrong person in the wrong environmental situation. I’ve been involved in many legal cases involving fatal dog attacks, and, certainly, it’s my impression that these are generally cases where everyone is to blame. You’ve got the unsupervised three-year-old child wandering in the neighborhood killed by a starved, abused dog owned by the dogfighting boyfriend of some woman who doesn’t know where her child is. It’s not old Shep sleeping by the fire who suddenly goes bonkers. Usually there are all kinds of other warning signs.”

Jayden Clairoux was attacked by Jada, a pit-bull terrier, and her two pit-bull–bullmastiff puppies, Agua and Akasha. The dogs were owned by a twenty-one-year-old man named Shridev Café, who worked in construction and did odd jobs. Five weeks before the Clairoux attack, Café’s three dogs got loose and attacked a sixteen-year-old boy and his four-year-old half brother while they were ice skating. The boys beat back the animals with a snow shovel and escaped into a neighbor’s house. Café was fined, and he moved the dogs to his seventeen-year-old girlfriend’s house. This was not the first time that he ran into trouble last year; a few months later, he was charged with domestic assault, and, in another incident, involving a street brawl, with aggravated assault. “Shridev has personal issues,” Cheryl Smith, a canine-behavior specialist who consulted on the case, says. “He’s certainly not a very mature person.” Agua and Akasha were now about seven months old. The court order in the wake of the first attack required that they be muzzled when they were outside the home and kept in an enclosed yard. But Café did not muzzle them, because, he said later, he couldn’t afford muzzles, and apparently no one from the city ever came by to force him to comply. A few times, he talked about taking his dogs to obedience classes, but never did. The subject of neutering them also came up—particularly Agua, the male—but neutering cost a hundred dollars, which he evidently thought was too much money, and when the city temporarily confiscated his animals after the first attack it did not neuter them, either, because Ottawa does not have a policy of preëmptively neutering dogs that bite people.

On the day of the second attack, according to some accounts, a visitor came by the house of Café’s girlfriend, and the dogs got wound up. They were put outside, where the snowbanks were high enough so that the back-yard fence could be readily jumped. Jayden Clairoux stopped and stared at the dogs, saying, “Puppies, puppies.” His mother called out to his father. His father came running, which is the kind of thing that will rile up an aggressive dog. The dogs jumped the fence, and Agua took Jayden’s head in his mouth and started to shake. It was a textbook dog-biting case: unneutered, ill-trained, charged-up dogs, with a history of aggression and an irresponsible owner, somehow get loose, and set upon a small child. The dogs had already passed through the animal bureaucracy of Ottawa, and the city could easily have prevented the second attack with the right kind of generalization—a generalization based not on breed but on the known and meaningful connection between dangerous dogs and negligent owners. But that would have required someone to track down Shridev Café, and check to see whether he had bought muzzles, and someone to send the dogs to be neutered after the first attack, and an animal-control law that insured that those whose dogs attack small children forfeit their right to have a dog. It would have required, that is, a more exacting set of generalizations to be more exactingly applied. It’s always easier just to ban the breed.

Editorial: Doggone wrong
Feb. 13, 2006

Ontario's pit bull ban is attracting fire from a celebrated source: Malcolm Gladwell. The expatriate Canadian has written the best-sellers Blink and The Tipping Point, and is named by Time magazine as one of its 100 most influential people.

In a recent edition of The New Yorker magazine, Gladwell takes aim at the pit bull ban approved by Queen's Park a year ago. But, this time, the author, who is hailed as "an all-out international phenomenon," shoots wide of his target.

Gladwell claims that banning pit bulls constitutes a form of unfair and ineffective "profiling" — essentially a canine variant of racial profiling. But it is a misguided argument.

Gladwell says a "pit bull" is hard to define since it isn't a single breed but a combination of aggressive strains. Thus any law banning these animals is bound to be vague and generalized.
Statistics show that many breeds are more aggressive to humans than animals commonly deemed pit bulls. Beagles, Airedales, most varieties of dachshund, and other dogs are more inclined to bite and hurt people.

Finally, the presence of a vicious pit bull in a neighbourhood says more about the dog's owner than about these dogs as a group. It is maintained that bad owners are the real problem — people who are bullies, negligent and who deliberately seek to possess fear-inducing dogs.
All of these concerns are correct.

It is, indeed, hard to define all possible pit bull mixes, and new and savage variants could arise. But as problem animals surface, their names can be added to the list of those banned.
Difficulty in defining a problem is no reason not to address it.

Dachshunds and other breeds are, indeed, more likely to bite. But a rampaging wiener dog is unlikely to rip a child's throat out, or disembowel another canine. Pit bulls have, all too often, done both. Bred to fight and kill, when a pit bull goes wild the consequences are so severe that these animals warrant unusual restriction, even though they may be less likely to bite overall.
Finally, bad owners are, indeed, largely to blame when pit bulls go bad. Rather than banning this class of dog, Gladwell's solution is to subject bad owners to extra rules and attention. People who are irresponsible should have their dangerous dogs neutered, or subject to mandatory muzzling, he says. And bylaw control officers should "track down" and monitor these owners to ensure they are obeying the rules.

In short, Gladwell wants to "profile" bad owners with violence-prone dogs. The problem here is that it's hard to establish the combination of aggressive dog and irresponsible owner until tragedy strikes. And it's hard to keep long-term track of bad owners and their pets.
Ontario's pit bull ban is a far more effective way to proceed. All animals deemed pit bulls are required to be neutered, and muzzled in public. Bad owners are held responsible for the abuses done by their dogs. And owners who deliberately seek bellicose dogs are hampered by the ban on breeding or importing pit bulls.

It isn't a perfect law. It won't eliminate dog attacks. But it does offer some protection where very little existed before.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Tom Price and his dog Rocky of Kitchener Ontario urgently need your help! A victim of that city's archaic and oppressive pit bull ban, Rocky is in imminent danger of being seized and killed. (news story pasted below).

Please sign the petition to save Rocky here:

The petition link, along with Rocky's photo, is also located on Tom's website:

Please everyone, the petition at the moment contains only 2 signatures and one of them is mine. We'd like THOUSANDS of names added to the list so please sign and crosspost to as many people (individuals, your mailing lists, relevant discussion lists, Yahoo groups etc. etc.) as you can! We cannot allow Rocky to be killed. He's a harmless sweet old boy and is so trusting. He loves everyone that he meets.

Story in The Record (Kitchener newspaper)
Dog's life on the line

KITCHENER (Feb 9, 2006)

Tom Price is fighting for his dog's life.

On Tuesday night the K-W Humane Society visited Price at his Lancaster Street residence, and handed him a death sentence for his dog of eight-and-a-half years.

"He's a very friendly dog," Price said.

After taking several pictures of Price's dog Rocky during a couple of visits the Humane Society concluded the animal was an American Staffordshire terrier, and would have to be destroyed. Such dogs can be banned by the City of Kitchener.

"He's never done anything wrong," Price said.

The Humane Society was acting on an anonymous complaint, and Rocky did not bite anyone or their dog, Price said. The notice was hand delivered on Tuesday, and Price will take his case to the city's Dog Designation Appeal Committee. He is scheduled to appear on March 20.

"It's pretty much a closed case," Price said.

When the city banned pit bulls it ran into a problem right away. Pit bulls are not a single breed. The name commonly refers to several breeds, including the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and the American pit bull terrier.

All of these dogs have strong, square-shaped bodies, short noses and a short-haired coats. But not all of them are pit bulls.

Price doesn't think it's fair to lump his dog in with the crazed pit bull that lead police on a chase across the city almost a decade ago. That dog was eventually struck by a couple of cars on the Expressway and shot several times by police before it was killed. And that incident lead to the city ban on pit bulls that came into effect in 1997."

You have to do it on an individual basis, not a breed," Price said.

The Kitchener bylaw is far reaching.

Dogs can be designated for destruction if the animals are dangerous, potentially dangerous or prohibited under the bylaw, said Jennifer Sheryer of the city's legal department.

Dogs that are prohibited in this city include dangerous dogs that have violated a condition placed on them, as well as dogs that fit our definition of pit bull that weren't grandfathered-in when the bylaw was passed," Sheryer said.

Pit bull terriers, American pit bull terriers, pit bulls, Staffordshire bull terrier, and the American Staffordshire terrier are prohibited under the city's bylaw. But the Staffordshire bull terrier and American staffordshire terriers will be spared if the animals are registered pure breds, Sheryer said.

That doesn't help Price even though he believes his American Staffordshire terrier is a pure bred. That's because Rocky was castrated, and therefore ineligible for registration.

"If they can show they are part of these registered pure bred dogs there is not the same concern of them being pit bull terriers or American pit bull terriers," Sheryer said.

"But they look so similar as a breed that if they can't prove they are pure bred, then those two breeds fall under the pit bull's definition," Sheryer said.

The Humane Society of the United States disagrees with breed-specific bans. It says dangerous dogs should be banned, not entire breeds.

Coun. Berry Vrbanovic was instrumental in bringing the pit-bull ban to Kitchener, and he quickly points out that Queen's Park has followed this city's lead and introduced a province-wide ban. It is a public-safety issue, Vrbanovic said.

"It's not something that the city takes lightly," Vrbanovic said.

The city's Dog Designation Appeal Committee has overturned decisions made by the Humane Society in the past, and Price is hoping it will do so again for his case.

"I'm upset. He's been loyal to me for eight-and-a-half years," Price said of his dog.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thank you Yvette!

Finally, maybe some people might start to understand. This was written in the local paper, by Yvette Van Veen.

A two part series on you, your dog and the government

So much has changed over the past six months in terms of dog ownership. The recent changes have prompted dozens of questions. To answer some of the questions readers have, we will take a look at the impact of three months of the Dog Owner’s Liability Act. Next week we will take a look at animal related matters specific to London.

Officially, the Dog Owner’s Liability Act kicked off on Halloween. This means that on Oct. 31, we took our son out trick or treating as most people did. Sadly, during the evening, a dog lunged at my son’s face through a screen door. Welcome to DOLA.

If you base your opinion on what you read in the headlines, you may feel safer. In reality, you are quite possibly in more danger now than ever.

Dundas Street Dangers: Dundas is gaining a reputation as an area where muscle dogs wander at large. If the animals are seized, many of these owners do not care the animal will be put down. There are more readily available. No tags – no problem. It makes it just more difficult to ID the owner.

Exotic Muscle Breeds: Two years ago, it would be nearly impossible to find anyone who knew or wanted an exotic muscle dog. Usually weighing in at an excess of 100 lbs., these dogs make Staffies look like toy poodles. Some people want an aggressive dog. Those people have filled shelters with their ‘banned’ breed and have up-graded to larger dogs.

Court Challenges: In Kitchener, a recent court challenge has found in favour of the dog. There was no bite in the case, and no aggressive behavior. An officer identified the dog as a pit bull, and the owner contended the dog was not. Industry professionals have maintained from the outset that breed identification was ambiguous at best.

Millions of Your Dollars: London has estimated we should require $100,000 annually to address the situation. Hamilton places their estimate at $250,000. Provincially the totals run into the millions of dollars. And that is an estimate. Add the court costs that will no doubt arise and you get the picture. Lawyers cost money.

People at Risk: There are several cases currently before the courts where a pit bull-type dog has been attacked by an off-leash aggressive dog. The pit bull is ordered put down, and the aggressive off-leash animal owned by an irresponsible owner is still out there. Feel any safer yet?

What do responsible owners need to do? Follow the law. If you have any doubt how the law affects you, seek legal advice. There are specialists in dog law. If you need breed identification done, do not do so yourself. Find a veterinarian who will make a designation for you.

As for the average person who feels safer, think again. There is a reason large scale banning in England resulted in a 25 per cent increase in dog bites requiring hospitalization. Banning didn’t work during prohibition, and the gun registry does not inspire criminals to register their weapons. Why would DOLA be any different?