Stray, feral, and community dogs in Mexico and Puerto Rico are lovingly photographed in STREET DOGS.
Street dogs in general are a fascinating subject.Stray, feral, and community dogs in Mexico and Puerto Rico are lovingly photographed in STREET DOGS.
Street dogs in general are a fascinating subject. Through their behavior we can observe the ancient partnership of canine and human, when the first primitive wolves crept along the borders of human encampments. Indeed, when left to randomly breed on their own, domestic dogs start evolving away from many human-selected traits, and instead begin to resemble the Australian dingo, which is probably what the first dogs looked like.
The dogs in this book are still close enough to human ownership and intentional breeding that most do not look like the "natural" or "pariah" dogs of India and Southeast Asia. Many are recognizable breeds or close mixes. Many are not feral, and will seek human contact. Organizations such as Save a Sato in Puerto Rico have begun importing ex-street dogs into the US to be adopted.
Among the recognizable breeds appearing in this book, you will see that the street dogs now include fighting and gripping breeds. Bred to execute the killing bite in an explosive, tenacious attack, the prevalence of these dogs should be worrying to those working to increase adoptions and sympathy for street dogs. Fighting breeds are more likely to cause fatal or disfiguring attacks, and also attack other pets. These sorts of behaviors aren't likely to encourage positive feelings about street dogs in any community where they occur. I also couldn't help but read between the lines regarding the importation of small-breed foreign dogs into US shelters--these dogs are snapped up quickly because in many parts of the US, shelters are overrun with higher risk dogs.
Street dogs were once a common sight in the Western world, before sanitation, spay/neuter, and evolving attitudes toward animals made them disappear. In many parts of the developing world, these dogs still perform the sanitation job they did in the earliest human societies, feeding on refuse, abandoned livestock carcasses, and the rats these materials attract. It is a difficult life of constant breeding, disease and parasites. Let's hope our attitudes toward man's best friend evolve to where a home with human caretakers is the preferred way to see dogs, but at the same time stop molding their bodies and behaviors so far away from the natural canine that they lose what made us love dogs in the first place. ...more
CAN'T GET NO is definitely one of the stranger graphic novels I have read. A man loses his job when the manufacturer of "ultra-permanent" markers is sCAN'T GET NO is definitely one of the stranger graphic novels I have read. A man loses his job when the manufacturer of "ultra-permanent" markers is sued, and begins a surrealistic journey in which he himself becomes victim to the permanence of said markers, faces the fallout of 9/11, and struggles to make sense of the American Dream. Or something like that.
The problem with this graphic novel is its text. CAN'T GET NO works as a wordless graphic novel, so the author's "narration" of stream-of-consciousness phrases tries to be deep but comes off as distracting gobbledygook. ...more
What if I told you that, on average, over 30 Americans per year are killed, and another 300 are seriously maimed in an especially horrifying and painfWhat if I told you that, on average, over 30 Americans per year are killed, and another 300 are seriously maimed in an especially horrifying and painful way? What if I added that each year, 82,000 domestic animals—a large percentage of them beloved pet dogs—are subjected to this same violent treatment, with about half of these animals losing their lives?
Now what if I told you that both this violence and the major cause of it are rarely discussed, and if you do speak about it openly, you can expect to be harassed, bullied, and even threatened?
MISUNDERSTOOD NANNY DOGS? is the first in-print book, to the best of my knowledge, to focus entirely upon the negative effects of the proliferation of pit bull terriers—a dog breed that was created for, and continues to be used in, bloody combat in the fighting pit but is simultaneously the subject of a stunningly far-reaching rebranding and promotion effort.
True, most content in this book will already be familiar to supporters of increased regulation of these higher-risk dogs, for both the safety of the dogs themselves as well as of people and other pets. (The book’s title comes from one of the most tenacious arguments made by pit bull ownership and breeding advocates—that pits were once widely known as “nanny dogs” and were created not for combat, but to babysit children. This myth has been thoroughly discredited , and even the pit bull advocacy group BAD RAP has admitted its falsehood, but you can find it repeated as gospel in nearly every article, book, blog, TV program, or social network page that promotes and defends fighting breeds.) For others, who have only been exposed to the echo chamber of pit bull advocacy—a strange amalgamation of animal shelters, animal rights activists, dog breeders, property rights groups, and dogfighters—many entries in this book will come as a revelation.
I myself once made many of the arguments refuted in this book, as I believed what the big animal welfare groups had to say about pit bulls. But then I began, as pit bull fans are always exhorting us, “doing my research,” and I came away with some very disquieting facts and images that forced me to change my entire outlook. I now firmly support breed specific regulations in the form of mandatory spay/neuter of all pit bulls and their close mixes.
This isn’t about hating pit bulls. That’s one of the first things pit bull fans will tell you—“you just hate pit bulls” or even “you hate dogs.” It may confuse the anti-BSL crowd to hear this, but I’ve pet, walked, and played with pit bulls. I simply don’t deny what they are, why they were created, and the disproportionate amount of harm they both cause and endure. In general, they are not appropriate for all or even most everyday dog owners, and there are far too many than will ever be properly equipped homes for them. I don’t believe pit bulls are helped in the least by telling lies about them just to push them into homes. As the author puts it:
Not every pit bull is going to manifest aggression in a physical attack. But more pit bulls will manifest aggression in an explosively violent attack than any other dog breed—indeed, more than all other dog breeds combined. … [pit bull advocates] fail to put forward any convincing counter-argument to explain this rather large discrepancy.
Although pit bull promoters identify themselves as “dog lovers,” one really has to wonder about that designation when they (rather offensively) compare dog breeds to human races and argue that there is no real difference between different breeds of dogs. When this argument is applied to every other type of dog, its absurdity shines through. Why not use a Basset hound to herd sheep? How about entering your Labrador in a race against greyhounds at the dog track? Why do dogfighters use pit bulls, and not, say, Irish setters? After all, there’s no difference in different breeds and their abilities, right? Isn’t it “all in how you raise ‘em?” The book quotes Dr. Nicholas Dodman of the Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine:
Everybody accepts [genetic behaviors] until you throw in the word “aggression,” and things like “a full, crushing bite,” which some breeds were specifically bred for in the past.
Indeed, the pit bull ownership and breeding lobby relies heavily on ordinary Americans’ lack of experience with fighting breeds to make their point. Dog bites not involving death are recorded medically as just “dog bites,” whether they involve a small puncture or a scalping. Pit bull fans love to blame other breeds for biting more often (Chihuahuas are a favorite target for flogging), but there’s a damn big difference between a bruise and a mauling. When people hear “dog bite,” they may think of the quick snap-and-release non-fighting breeds most often dish out, and that’s why you’ll see even owners of the small breeds pit bulls frequently kill defending pits on social media. However, things are changing as fighting breeds become more popular and more of us glimpse the darker side of their heritage.
Do the media hate pit bulls? The news media’s supposed “bias” against these dogs is a topic of near-universal obsession with the fighting breed lobby. Look in the comments section of any reported story of a death or mauling caused by a pit bull, and beyond the bumper-sticker slogans and anger and blame directed toward the victim (even if the victim is a small child—I’m not joking about this), you’ll find vitriol directed toward the media outlet for reporting it.
A great many media outlets are indeed biased, that is, in favor of pit bull ownership. The author mentions an ABC affiliate which repeated the “nanny dog” myth, as well as the argument’s appearance on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” The Huffington Post has an entire section devoted to promoting pit bulls (a special designation given to no other breed), and once inadvertently posted a photo of a child hugging the dog who later killed him in a “celebration” of children and their pit bulls. This is just a tiny sampling of mainstream materials promoting pit bulls. There are countless books, a couple of documentary films, multiple TV programs, an endless number of websites, and at least two songs—one by a major rock band—whose primary message is one of promoting pit bulls and dismissing any concern that they may be more prone to dangerous behavior. The other side—that of the victims and their families—is only very rarely heard. I think we know where the bias lies.
This book is an important step toward getting the whole picture out there, but there are unfortunately some aspects of it that will limit its reach. MISUNDERSTOOD NANNY DOGS? is a small, self-published book that lacks the glossy presentation and big-muscle promo power that many of those written by pit bull enthusiasts have enjoyed in recent years. The book could have used a bit of editing. For example, the author randomly capitalizes some words and phrases in some parts of the text and not in others. Worst of all, the book doesn't have a title on its spine, which means it will be overlooked in the public libraries in which this perspective is so desperately needed.
The author at one point makes an admittedly common mistake regarding animal welfare groups:
Not only do pit bulls suffer massive casualties from their population explosion, they are also responsible for murdering more other dogs than any other creature on earth, second only to the ASPCA (there are estimated to be nearly a million pit bulls euthanized in shelters each year.)
It is indeed true that pit bulls enter shelters and are euthanized at a much higher rate than any other breed. However, the ASPCA is a single organization, not the name for all shelters nationwide, even if they have “SPCA” in their name. “SPCA” is a generic title that can be used by any group, and “ASPCA” is one such group. The ASPCA isn’t going to have any say whether a pit bull gets euthanized at your local shelter.
I’m going to end this review with a quote from the author, which I think both sums up the book and the argument made by supporters of increased regulation of fighting breed dogs:
The pit bull lobby almost always attempts to label pit bulls as “misunderstood.” But that is not true in the slightest. We actually understand pit bulls just as well as we understand any other dog breed. We know the history of the breed, the biology of the breed, and the damage caused by the breed. ...more
This is an interesting, albeit short, collection of acclaimed graphic novels the author recommends. There aren't just the same titles we already knowThis is an interesting, albeit short, collection of acclaimed graphic novels the author recommends. There aren't just the same titles we already know here, but also some hidden gems even devoted comics fans may have missed. ...more
I won this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.
Healthy Heart Healthy Planet keeps an upbeat, positive outlook as it guides its readers inI won this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.
Healthy Heart Healthy Planet keeps an upbeat, positive outlook as it guides its readers in choosing plant-based dishes for the good of the Earth and their own arteries! Most of the recipes are simple and don't use a lot of unfamiliar ingredients that may confuse those new to this way of eating.
I do have a bit of concern about the frequent use of agave nectar, which some health conscious people are avoiding because it contains even more fructose than HFCS. A different natural sweetener, such as maple syrup or stevia, could be used instead. In addition, I spotted another recipe calling for Worcestershire sauce, which traditionally contains anchovies. The recipe only notes that this is unsuitable for vegans, but in fact, it is neither vegetarian nor vegan. I didn't catch any more concerns of this nature.
I have already made one recipe; a toasted eggplant sandwich, and it was simple and easily as delicious as veggie sandwiches I've ordered in mid-level restaurants in my area. It's also much cheaper to make on my own!
The one thing that could have improved this book were color photos of the recipes. Who doesn't love looking at photos of delicious food? However, I realize this would have significantly added to the cost of production. ...more
Ask some people about an important, life-changing film, and they are likely to name something such as The Godfather. For me, that film is The Brave LiAsk some people about an important, life-changing film, and they are likely to name something such as The Godfather. For me, that film is The Brave Little Toaster.
I watched Toaster on the evening of its premiere in 1987 and have no doubt seen it hundreds of times since. It was, and remains, my all-time favorite movie. And while I no longer make construction-paper appliances as I did in elementary school, I continue to collect "Toaster" memorabilia. I'm clearly not the only kid who was thrilled by the adventures of Toaster, Kirby, and the rest--the Internet has a healthy community of now adult "Toaster" devotees.
This is the book that inspired the animated film. I still have the copy my mom and I special-ordered at a long-gone bookstore soon after I saw the film. Recently, I found my yellowing copy and decided to re-read it.
I still remember the confusion I felt upon seeing the cover illustration. I had come to know the characters as their animated incarnations, which look almost nothing like the book's interpretation.
The movie follows the book's same basic plot, although it ends quite differently. The movie's writers added quite a bit more peril to the book, such as the climactic terrifying scene at the dump. The book has a bit of an old-fashioned feel, as another reviewer has commented--at one point, the Radio even makes a Polish joke!
It probably sounds strange to say "The Brave Little Toaster" influenced the direction of your life, but I'm going to say it--I think this movie had more influence upon me than any other media I viewed as a child. I rate this book 5 stars because it gave us the movie, and the world of animation would be a dimmer place without it. ...more
It was Ok. Free the Animals was a much better entry in this genre, and it is based upon true events.
Love and Liberation is a short fiction story (theIt was Ok. Free the Animals was a much better entry in this genre, and it is based upon true events.
Love and Liberation is a short fiction story (the introductions are nearly as long as the story itself) of a couple's simplistic transformation from materialistic omnivores into underground activists willing to go to prison for their cause.
The author seemed to in actuality wish to write a nonfiction book about the ALF, but instead shoehorned the information into a novel. Characters awkwardly name-drop the titles and authors of books, in an obvious attempt to suggest further reading material to the reader. Perhaps most disarmingly, the characters often speak in paragraphs more resembling speeches or dissertations than actual human conversation. For example, check out this conversation between boyfriend and girlfriend:
Andre shared my concern. "Not only does it exploit those looking for a better life, recruiting thousands of marginalized people for labour and working them to injury and even death, corporate agribusiness has played a huge role in displacing those people to begin with through expropriation of their land." ... I had to agree. "An interdisciplinary approach to animal liberation is important; the cause of oppression towards many human beings is often shared with that of other animals."
(Come on!) Certainly there is a way to get these ideas into the text without having people speak like blog postings.
Another unbelievable part of the story (also shared with Free the Animals,) was the main character's life partner's complete acceptance of his partner's new life path and assimilation into it. Andre goes from shoveling meat into his mouth to leaving his medical schooling to liberate monkeys with nary a peep or a stumble. Obviously, this just doesn't happen in reality. ...more
A young man so depressed that he apparently sees himself as a primitive doodle meets a young woman who is vibrant and full of life and (stereotypicallA young man so depressed that he apparently sees himself as a primitive doodle meets a young woman who is vibrant and full of life and (stereotypically) cool. The beginning of this book is so happy you start to wonder about the title...but you get the feeling there's going to be a crushing blow at the end. And of course there is. The loser loses again...because, well, it's right there in his name. ...more
It's hard not to love a fun, quirky coffee table book that introduces you to species like the "Jesus Christ Lizard." Not many nature books manage to cIt's hard not to love a fun, quirky coffee table book that introduces you to species like the "Jesus Christ Lizard." Not many nature books manage to combine education, humor, environmental advocacy, and hipness--yet this one does. You'll share the author's love of the planet's most unusual species after closing this book, and perhaps relate to a few.
Let us pause to consider the mating habits of the humpback anglerfish, for example. When the male discovers a female he fancies, he latches on to her, and then his entire body fuses with and is eventually consumed by the female's. Eventually he is just a formless lump on the side of the fierce and all-powerful ladyfish. Sounds like a few marriages, no?
Jokes aside, three cheers for the author for recognizing that diet is a serious environmental issue, and one of the best things we can do for the environment is cut back on meat. The author not only recognizes it--he puts it in his book. ...more
Sue Coe knows the world is an ugly and vicious place, and her art reflects this.
I do wish the art would have been larger. On many pages, the artworkSue Coe knows the world is an ugly and vicious place, and her art reflects this.
I do wish the art would have been larger. On many pages, the artwork is shrunk down and centered on the page, making it difficult to see detail. The essays accompanying the artwork were largely very good, especially when Coe spoke from personal experience, but occasionally they got a little too broad-minded and went off-track.
I truly enjoy Sue Coe's artwork, because it reflects the way I see our society and the world around us. I think it takes a certain type of mindset to fully appreciate. ...more
Well-written and concise, this book examines the lives and deaths of primates in America's research labs, drawing primarily from the labs' own recordsWell-written and concise, this book examines the lives and deaths of primates in America's research labs, drawing primarily from the labs' own records of these animals. This is the book to show to someone who argues that lab animal use is "highly regulated," without really understanding what that means. ...more
Illuminating short autobiography on the respected animal rights philosopher and author, Tom Regan. Regan talks about his experiences growing up in worIlluminating short autobiography on the respected animal rights philosopher and author, Tom Regan. Regan talks about his experiences growing up in working-class Pittsburgh, his interactions with animals, and his "Road to Damascus" moment that happened in the wake of the sudden death of his beloved family dog. After that turning point, Regan traces his new life as an animal rights advocate.
My favorite section dealt with Regan's experiences speaking at some major universities, where he encountered friction from some animal researchers on faculty. Regan makes clear that he doesn't have a problem with someone debating his ideas, but these faculty members took the path of personal attacks and spreading lies. Regan was accused of supporting and engaging in violence to further his cause (which, if you've ever read his work, is so not true), inciting student riots, and even being the prime suspect in a (non-existent) murder case in which a researcher was shot down in his driveway! All of the claims are false, but it goes to show just how far some are willing to go to shut up inconvenient or dissenting speech. That's food for thought the next time you hear some industry apologist accusing all animal advocates of lies and hubris. ...more
This is a collection of short comics, all with the theme of "play," produced by various artists. As with any collection by multiple artists, the resulThis is a collection of short comics, all with the theme of "play," produced by various artists. As with any collection by multiple artists, the results vary. Some of the comics are stellar, while others could have been scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin. Play also includes a small booklet of games. ...more
The Prophet was a decent read, even if it sometimes got a bit too ethereal for me. I did not appreciate the mumbo jumbo about the "spirituality" of slThe Prophet was a decent read, even if it sometimes got a bit too ethereal for me. I did not appreciate the mumbo jumbo about the "spirituality" of slaughtering animals, however. ...more
My mom was going through my old stuff and found this book. I LOVED "Clip Clop" as a child. I asked to have it read to me all of the time. I was especiMy mom was going through my old stuff and found this book. I LOVED "Clip Clop" as a child. I asked to have it read to me all of the time. I was especially fascinated by the two-page spread of dozens of unusual shoes. In fact, I liked it so much I took it upon myself to illustrate the title page:
And from the back page, here's my rendition of the little-known "second" ending, in which Clip Clop magically grows wings and flies through the air:
My mom was going through my old stuff and found this book, which I had purchased from a school book fair in the late 80s. Although I no doubt enjoyedMy mom was going through my old stuff and found this book, which I had purchased from a school book fair in the late 80s. Although I no doubt enjoyed it as a horse-obsessed grade school girl, it's not something that holds up beyond the My Little Pony crowd.
The story really isn't that good at all, and characters are simply introduced so the author can describe how cute or beautiful they are. There are much better kiddie horse and unicorn stories out there.
The Little Lost Unicorn by Michael J. Pellowski, Tammy Starner-Altop...more
Most of the major issues affecting man’s best friend are addressed in Stefan Bechtel‘s Dogtown, through the stories of individual canines residing atMost of the major issues affecting man’s best friend are addressed in Stefan Bechtel‘s Dogtown, through the stories of individual canines residing at the world famous animal sanctuary Best Friends.
One of the dogs profiled is Parker, a mistreated dachshund who was rescued from a massive puppy mill in my backyard of Parkersburg, WV. Like many puppy mills, the Internet was a godsend for “Whispering Oaks Kennels.” The owners could present the mill as a quaint country farm, and ship puppies across the country to online buyers who would never see anything untoward about the condition of their kennel. Only one easily-missed hint that all wasn’t well appeared on the website:
The site mentioned, in passing, that although visitors were welcome, they were not allowed into the kennel where adult breeding dogs were kept.
(Puppy buyers, take heed: A real, professional breeder is proud of his/her operation and will not hesitate to allow you to meet your pup’s parents.) And why were visitors barred from viewing the kennels at Whispering Oaks?
Nearly a thousand dogs were confined in an assortment of small cages. In some cases, four or five dogs lived in one two-by-three-square-foot cage.
When this disaster area was discovered by police:
The owner was not charged with animal cruelty or neglect; she agreed to downsize the operation and voluntarily surrendered more than 900 dogs.
Ah, West Virginia law.
One of these dogs was Parker, a former breeding dog whose teeth and jaw were infected and deformed from the neglect he had endured.
The paperwork on his cage explained that he had been found living in a tiny rabbit hutch with three other dogs, a place he had probably rarely left since puppyhood.
Best Friends has accepted numerous former puppy mill animals over the years, and they’ve come to see a pattern in the kinds of problems they face:
Bad teeth are a problem typical of many breeding dogs in puppy mills. Dental work is generally considered an unnecessary frill and a potential threat to the bottom line. Problems of neglect, like bad teeth, matted fur, overgrown nails, and eye and ear infections, are allowed to fester, causing pain and greater suffering for the dogs.
This isn’t to mention the genetic problems caused by bad breeding practices or the psychological damage caused to a dog who has lived for years in a cage barely larger than her own body. By the way, the book also mentions that
Puppy mills produce an estimated four million dogs for sale each year in the United States.
…which is almost exactly the same number of dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters yearly.
Puppy mills have been a part of humane community consciousness for at least the past sixty years. Another longtime animal welfare concern is the leghold trap, which is mentioned briefly in the story of an injured golden retriever:
Ava came to Dogtown after being found in the desert with her paw caught in a coyote trap. … [I]t was obvious that her injuries were serious.
Although Bechtel takes no position on the use of leghold traps, his description of Ava’s suffering and recovery should impress upon some readers what animals—including dogs and their physiologically identical wild cousins—endure when caught at in these devices.
Dogtown is a generally good, if breezy, read that offers mostly solid information to readers—that is, until Bechtel turns to the issue of pit bulls. Best Friends is perhaps most famous for taking in numerous fighting dogs rescued from the raid on Michael Vick’s illegal enterprise. While this gives them a front-row seat to the unique challenges involved with dogs from this background, the book unfortunately just repeats the astonishingly consistent “talking points” proffered by pit bull advocates everywhere. They’re nice little blurbs, but sadly, many just don’t hold up to scrutiny and are demonstrably false.
These dogs are very strong, very intelligent, and very loyal; this loyalty and their desire to please their masters has made them the current favorite of illegal dogfighting operations.
Pit bulls, Staffordshire bull terriers, and their close relations have always been the favorite of dogfighters in the Western world. The “bull” in their name hints at their original work attacking and gripping bulls, first in assistance of butchers, later in the popular “sport” of bull-baiting. When bull-baiting was outlawed and fell out of favor, that’s when the fights began pitting the dogs against each other. The fighters have bred the dogs over hundreds of generations to refine them for the “sport.”
In three different sections, Bechtel also repeats the common argument that pit bulls were once popular family pets.
Pit bulls…are so sweet and affectionate with humans that at the turn of the century they were widely considered to be ideal dogs for families, including those with small children. … Pit bulls’ reputation as the bad boys of the dog world is largely a modern occurrence. … In the first half of the 20th century, pit bulls—like Pete the Pup from the Our Gang movie series—were considered ideal family pets. … The reputation of pit bulls in the past 20 years has taken a hit.
In reality, pit bulls were never extremely popular as family pets in the first part of the 20th century, as searches of archived newspaper advertisements for dogs and puppies for sale confirm. The dogs were in fact relatively rare until the 1970s, when members of the breed began leaking out of the clandestine would of dogfighters and “gamedog” breeders into the general pet and shelter populations.
“Petey” was indeed a pit bull, and he was just a step away from the ugly world that created his breed. Less acknowledged is the fact that Petey’s father, Tudor’s Black Jack, was a champion fighting dog owned by an infamous dogfighter. A Google image search turns up several photos of this dog in action, some of which are disturbing.
As for the supposed nickname for pit bulls as “nanny dog,” the evidence simply isn’t there. The earliest known reference of a pit bull as a “nursemaid dog” comes from the 1970s, from a pit bull advocate who was trying to promote a more positive image of the breed.
Once adored and trusted companion animals, pit bulls are now believed by many to be terrifying “superpredators” bred for ferocity and aggression and unfit for human society.
Now, whether pit bulls are “superpredators” and “unfit for human society” are obviously emotionally-charged opinions up for debate. However, the fact that pit bulls and their close relations have been bred for hundreds of years to do a specific task—fight other animals—mustn’t be ignored. There is a reason that retrievers love carrying things in their mouths and scent hounds follow their noses, even though the vast majority of these animals are now suburban pets, not hunting companions. Responsible pit bull ownership groups are frank about the fact that many pit bulls have a high prey drive and most will eventually develop some degree of dog aggression. These dogs aren’t for everyone, and potential owners must be adequately prepared and informed about breed traits and history—and breed traits aren’t something that can be loved out of an animal.
Ironically, the author himself unwittingly confirms this when discussing the crimes of Michael Vick and other dogfighters:
Nonperforming or unaggressive dogs had apparently been hanged, drowned, electrocuted, shot, or slammed into the ground until dead. … The “culling” of nonaggressive animals is a kind of sadistic Darwinism, meant to select only traits that lead to savage victory in the dog pit.
After all of that, Bechtel still wasn’t through.
[E]very age seems to have a “villain” dog—and at this particular moment in history, pit bulls are it. In the late 1880s, bloodhounds were said to be vicious and bloodthirsty…Later it was bulldogs, then German shepherds and Doberman pinschers—especially after World War II, when they became associated with Nazis.
The bloodhound story is misleading. The large, aggressive “bloodhound” once used to terrorize slaves and prisoners was an animal called the Cuban bloodhound, a hunting/fighting breed similar to the presa canario. No one would mistake the Cuban for the droopy-faced English bloodhound. “Bulldog” , as the author himself earlier notes, was the early term for pit bulls and their close relations. And while the “macho dog” and “guard dog” of choice has changed over the years, there’s no evidence that German shepherds and Dobermans were ever bred in large scale for dogfighting purposes, as the pit bull was and is.
One of the most prominent untruths is that pit bulls have a unique jaw structure that allows them to “lock” onto their victims.
While dogs aren’t machines and no dog has a truly “locking” jaw, it is true that “bully” breeds have a unique biting style honed in their early days battling large animals. Their bite style is to bite, grip, and shake. The tenacious manner in which they can hang on can make it very difficult for an untrained person, even an adult, to break a pit bull’s grip. Responsible pit bull ownership groups recommend that owners carry something called a “break stick,” which is used to pry open a pit bull’s jaws if he should happen to bite another dog.
[P]it bulls are involved in a fairly large number of attacks primarily because there are so many pit bulls—a kind of statistical fluke suggesting that they are more dangerous than they really are.
Available data indicates that pit bulls represent less than 5% of the total U.S. pet dog population. However, they make up about 60% of the dogs involved in fatal bite incidents. While most pit bulls will never harm a human being, their gripping bite style means that when they do, they have the potential to cause great damage. When a shih tzu has a bad day, it might require an outpatient visit to the emergency room for stitches. When a large fighting breed has a bad day, it might involve a LifeFlight helicopter. (Of note in this book is that when two serious dog attacks on a Best Friends staffer are mentioned, the breed of the dog involved is not described.)
According to the American Temperament Society website, pit bulls consistently score above average on the American Temperament Test for all dog breeds tested.
The “Truth About Pitbulls” blog offers a highly detailed responseThe ATTS test was initially intended to test working dogs for jobs such as police work. The test favors bold dogs, dogs that need to face danger head on without hesitation and fear. Courage was desired and rewarded, timidity was not. The ATTS favors dogs like pit bulls over dogs like collies. It is important to note, the test does not evaluate dogs for "pet" suitability.
But back to the Vick dogs specifically. Paul Berry of Best Friends is quoted in the text:
“[W]e’re quite confident that by recovering their trust and teaching them life skills, many can be adoptable, given the right home environment.”
It is unfortunate news that this has not come to pass, with most of the dogs given to Best Friends remaining in the sanctuary. While long-term or life housing is something Best Friends is equipped for, most city and county shelters which receive fight bust dogs will not be able to consider this option. Recently, another unforeseen hurdle in the Vick dogs’ story occurred when Tug, a “Vicktory” pit bull, tore through at least two fences on Best Friends property to attack two other pit bulls, killing the first and injuring the second.
A sizeable portion of the chapter featuring Vicktory dog Merle is devoted to arguing against breed-specific legislation, or BSL. BSL puts restrictions on certain breeds of dogs and pit bulls are almost always a target of such legislation. However, BSL differs in extremity depending upon the region. It is understandable that a group such as Best Friends would oppose BSL that bars anyone from keeping a pit bull and demands that all pit bull-type dogs entering shelters be euthanized. However, there are also less-extreme versions that allow pit bulls as pets but requires their owners to maintain fenced pens or have their pets altered.
Despite the objections of Best Friends and pit bull advocates, the tide of BSL is showing no signs of stopping. It would seem that one of the ways Best Friends can fight BSL, and the tragedies that often drive it, is to be completely honest with potential owners of pit bulls and related breeds. Owners should be informed about the breed’s history and traits, as well as the history of the individual animal being adopted. If owners are adequately prepared, it might cut down on the number of dog bites as well as attacks on other animals. It appears, however, that at least in the book Dogtown, Best Friends is not doing this, instead choosing to repeat a bunch of moldy soundbites, some of which are misleading. ...more
Few graphic novels are as theoretical, wieldy, and avant-garde as Duncan the Wonder Dog. Expect to be amazed, but also expect to be challenged and somFew graphic novels are as theoretical, wieldy, and avant-garde as Duncan the Wonder Dog. Expect to be amazed, but also expect to be challenged and sometimes frustrated.
This graphic novel has been assembled in that hipster- collage style so often seen on Etsy. Sometimes the text is minute, other times it fills the page. Images are torn, glued-on, watermarked, traced, burned—who knows. The sketch-like illustrations are a joy, but at times they are so dark that one has to strain to see them, like a bad Xerox copy. My favorite by far was this one:
Monkey brandishing assault rifle? Awesome! More please!
Ok, and now on to the message behind the book—the reason I purchased it in the first place. Duncan imagines a world in which animals and humans can talk to each other, but the animals still remain objects of exploitation. I was intrigued by the animal rights implication of this, but in all honesty the message remains muddled. Expect a lot—a lot—of theoretical discussion. And expect passages that seem to hold great meaning but don’t actually go anywhere. And if you’re like me, expect to dearly wish that your cats could speak with you. ...more