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The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression
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The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression

4.57  ·  Rating details ·  122 ratings  ·  21 reviews
First it was the Bloodhound, sensationalized in the dramatizations of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Then it was the Doberman, symbol of the Nazi menace. Today, it is the Pit bull that is vilified for the depravity of his masters. Today, police chase down fleeing Pit bulls in the street, firing dozens of wild shots in response to media-fed rumors of supernatural Pit bull abilities. Po ...more
Paperback, 209 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Anubis Pub (first published June 11th 2007)
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Absolutely essential reading for anyone wanting to arm themselves with facts and evidence-based counter-arguments to overturn BSL. This book is available online as a PDF here, but I'm happy to have bought it and to know that my $24.95 will go to fund ongoing work by Karen Delise and the National Canine Research Council.

What follows is not a book review, but a political rant.

I'm embarrassed to have been an Ontario resident when then-Attorney General Michael Bryant forced through BSL in 2004/5, an
Caitlin Tyo
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Carley Hromowyk
Every once in a while I read non-fiction and I'm so glad I do. I learned so much from this book. It did start dry, but it's because the HISTORY of how we got where we are today is so important and this author has done her research. Parts enlightened me, like about the primary function of a dog and how the guard dog function is so ridiculous, as a dog is supposed to know that your cousin coming over isn't a threat. Anyways, I will quote some passages that gave me a better understanding and also m ...more
The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths, and Politics of Canine Aggression by Karen Delise

Like the pharmacologically inactive sugar pill dispensed to placate a patient who supposes it to be medicine, eradication of the Pit Bull is heralded as the cure for severe dog attacks. However, a placebo is administered to appease a person's mental duress. In the present day climate of fear and misinformation about Pit Bulls and dog attacks, eradication of the Pit Bull is the placebo administered solely to appe/>Like
Ronnie Van Zant
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for ANY advocate, regardless of breed of dog you prefer. This speaks on the stigma and growing problem the media presents to the public in our fight against the stereotypes of our beloved breeds. It gives insight into the mind behind the machine that is media and anti-pit people. I learned a lot about how to continue my advocacy work in the future and the different ways to approach the fight against stigma. You would do yourself good to read this book if you are a dog advocat ...more
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
all people could benefit from this book. discusses the true reasons behind dog aggression and how the media has created "demon dogs" for over a century w/their slanted and illinformed reporting - from airdale terrirers, to blood hounds, dobies, rotts, GSD, chows, to recently the 30+ pit bull breeds.

there would be less fear and less attacks if people knew how to react to dogs and how to read them, and most importantly what are they doing to make a dog fearful and aggressive. no dogs bites just f
Ashley Lanigan
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well written and accompanied by a lot of factual findings; I find this is too historical though instead of talking about the problems of today.
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pit-bulls
Every dog owner needs to read this. Well done, Karen.
Marília Domingos
Feb 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Public statements that Pit bulls are “land sharks” or “ticking time bombs” will not increase the breed’s popularity with responsible owners, but only serve to increase the breed’s popularity with owners who are purposely seeking out a “dangerous” dog. The claims of these politicians have only perpetuated the problem by demonizing breeds of dogs and then making them even more desirable and more sought after by people who will mismanage and abuse these animals in such a way as to put the communit ...more
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic
I truly appreciated this book and its creation. Very redundant at times, but I understand Delise was only trying to make her point clear- to understand and properly report dog bites, one must understand the circumstances surrounding the bite (victim, dog, environment, behavior, etc.). Something of which our media currently neglects to a gross level. i enjoyed learning about the history of dog bites and which breeds were ostracised in the past (bloodhounds for chasing rogue slaves, Newfoundlands ...more
Misty Melsheimer
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dogs, non-fiction
When people would have pit bull prejudice, it never sat well with me. The claims they would make, such as "ticking time bomb," or "locking jaw," or "born to fight," well, they just didn't seem right. How could one breed of dog (most of which are mixes anyway), be so vastly different from all other breeds? To me it seemed no different than labeling a group of people as being naturally bad- whether for appearance or race or for any other reason. I never had a sound argument on my side though... un ...more
Jun 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dogs
Social attitudes towards domestic dogs and animal behavior have undergone a dramatic shift over the last fifty years, leaving the dog holding all the responsibility for the owners' bad or negligent behavior. The scrutiny given to "pit bulls" over the last few decades reflects a growing abdication of owner responsibility as well as a decline in understanding about canine behavior and dog breed characteristics in general. The media and politicians have seized on the ignorance of the public and cre ...more
Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting and eye opening! I think the information in this book is valuable for dog lovers, as well as those who may not like them. Understanding why dog attacks happen is important for us all considering how many millions of dogs live among us. It is mind boggling to think that some people actually want to ban breeds to "cure" the problem of aggression and dog bites. Banning guns does not keep criminals from owning them, and banning a breed will only add value to those who want dogs for ...more
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read, and a good reminder that statistics are only as good as the raw data. The big eye-opener for me was that the CDC disavowed any breed-based conclusions drawn from their study of fatalities in dog-human interactions, in the very report itself, and yet those stats are used over and over by people with a anti-breed based agenda.

Also provides many instances of the specifics that led to fatal or severe attacks by dogs, which is great guidance for those looking to be more
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Comprehensive history of press reporting of dog related injuries in 19th century U.S. The author shows how the current moral panic over so-called 'Pit Bulls' has precedent. Newfoundlands and Bloodhounds are among the many dogs subject to scapegoating historically, but dog injuries and fatalities remain rare.
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-read
This book is not well written (my apologies to the author), but the information it contains is excellent. I wish proponents of breed-discriminatory legislation would take a closer look at the "facts" they use to "prove" their point and realize that they should spend more time on humans and less on the dogs that reflect their values.
The writing is a bit dry, which makes for a good study but not an exciting read. While I knew or had heard a lot of what was said in this book already, I still learned a lot about the history of dog aggression in the US. Definitely a good book for anyone who has questions about breed specific legislation or dangerous dog bans.
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read!! I work with a bully breed rescue organization and constantly hear about how horrible pit bulls are (people who comment on news articles are the worst). The media sensationalizes so much! Loved this book and I rarely read anything non-fiction.
May 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It's a great book, easy to follow and highly insightful. Full of the real statistics, fact vs. myths, and history, that surround the pit bull breed.
Alan Hughes
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
It seems that some breed has to carry the "dangerous dog" mantle and that there is less reason to this choice than we may think. The pit bull is the current unfortunate dog
Desiree Depinet
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is something that should be read those who have the ability to impose BSL.
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A must read for all pit bull owners. Buy a copy to donate to your local library!!
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