The problem With DogsBite.org’s StatisticsSign PetitionSign Petition
One fact all those negative news stories usually fail to mention is that, as opposed to DogsBite.org, most major U.S. animal welfare organizations are against BSL because it has proven to be unfair and ineffective in increasing public safety. The RSPCA recently published a report in which it called the Dangerous Dogs Act, which bans pit bulls in the U.K., “flawed,” and urged the government to remove the act’s breed-specific legislation.
Accurately calculating a bite rate for a certain breed is difficult because there is no consistent data on breed populations and bites, according to a 2000 study by animal experts. The study’s purpose was to summarize the breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks during a 20-year period and to assess policy implications.
“Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers), other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates,” the study concluded. “Fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog bite injuries to humans and, therefore, should not be the primary factor driving public policy concerning dangerous dogs.”
So, considering those difficulties cited by animal experts, how does DogsBite.org still manage to provide the media with dog bite statistics? If reporters would just do a little digging, they’d discover that the data comes from Animals 24-7.org, a website run by Merritt Clifton. He happens to be another anti-pit bull, pro-BSL, non-dog-expert who “fudges numbers to promote his own personal agendas,” according to Toellner.
More Reliable Sources Are Available
So why does the news media continue to use such a biased source? Perhaps it’s because when reporters working on tight deadlines Google “pit bull bite statistics,” DogsBite.org pops up first in the search results. Or maybe they just can’t find any other “dog expert” to interview who is in favor of breed-specific legislation.
There are, however, sources without any not-so-hidden agendas available that can provide the media with accurate information about dog bites—and, importantly, tips for how to avoid them. For instance, Karen Delise, founder of the National Canine Research Council, has studied dog attacks for over two decades.
“Time and time again I have seen the media report an incident … as ‘breed x’ attacks child, with no mention of the circumstances of the bite, but, rather, with links to other attacks by ‘breed x’ and a discussion on the history and genetics of ‘breed x’ none of which provided a single ounce of useful information on how this very preventable bite could have been avoided,” Delise told StubbyDog.org.
It’s time for the news media to stop using DogsBite.org as a credible source. Please sign and share this petition asking the U.S. Press Association to boycott this website.
Photo credit: Paul Sableman