September 11, 2006

Is this lady being quoted correctly?

Further to the story of the five-year-old boy bitten on the lip by a nine-month-old "pit bull / husky cross" (whatever that is).

In my earlier article, I failed to mention an important point. I had included it in a letter to the editor of the Sudbury Star, but forgot about it when writing the more detailed analysis of the news report.

Ms. McIntyre, the mother of the boy who was bitten, had been severely injured herself when she was eleven years old. Not by a "pit bull" nor by a "pit bull / husky" cross, but, according to her own testimony, by a German Shepherd. This incident resulted in FIFTY-FOUR stitches compared to the SEVEN received by her son.

Now, keep in mind that I am always suspicious of breed identification. Any dog that is brown and black with hair longer than a Rottweiler and with remotely pointy ears is called a German Shepherd, any dog with shorter hair and bigger muscles, but still brown and black, is called a Rottweiler, and anything with a big head, very short hair, and a muscular body that's any colour other than brown and black is called a "pit bull".

How they determined "pit bull / husky cross" with any degree of reliability is anybody's guess.

So, since nobody seems to be satisified with simply calling a mutt by its real name (MUTT), we should at least call that dog a German Shepherd TYPE of dog, until such time as someone, somewhere, can prove what it was.

Ms. McIntyre is quoted as follows:

  • She is in favour of the current "pit bull" legislation;
  • She is concerned about "pit bull" owners failing to muzzle their dogs in public (even though the incident to her son happened on private property);
  • She thinks that "pit bulls" should not be around kids;
  • She questions whether or not people should own "pit bulls" at all.
Yet she was badly hurt as a child by a dog that looked like a German Shepherd, one that would not have been targeted by the current legislation.

So the questions have to be asked:
  1. Is Ms. McIntyre being quoted correctly, especially when it appears that her quoted attitude is not logical considering her own experience?
  2. Is she being quoted fully? Does she perhaps want ALL large dogs specially legislated? Did the reporter, Jordan Ercit, ever ask her how she feels about dogs that look like German Shepherds?
  3. Is the reporter choosing, perhaps from many sentences, only the phrases about "pit bulls"?
  4. Despite the FIFTY-FOUR stitches Ms. McIntyre received as a child to repair the damage caused by the dog that looked like a German Shepherd, she appears to have gone out of her way in this interview to say that she still did not hate dogs. Is it logical to believe that she fails to hold a similar view regarding the nine-month-old puppy that gave her son only SEVEN stitches? Is it possible that the reporter asked leading questions, expertly guiding a traumatized and nervous interviewee, one who is unfamiliar with interviewing tricks and traps, down a garden path that ends in the phrase "I think pit bulls are dangerous and should be banned"?
As an example of a similar approach, I go back to the presentations to the committee hearings on the current Ontario legislation. David Zimmer was a member of that committee and is a Michael Bryant henchman that, in my opinion, is the type of person that gives lawyers their bad reputation. It was clear that, despite the Utopian ideal that a group of committee members could be brought together to hear expert witnesses and make informed decisions based on that testimony, David Zimmer's only objective was to trap people into saying things they didn't mean and to make them look stupid.

Mr. Zimmer managed to do this to two very well respected and educated individuals who have more knowledge about dogs and dog behaviour in their little fingers than he could hope to obtain in his entire lifetime. Instead of hearing their expertise, their experience, and their suggestions, all he wanted to do was embarrass them. To those of us watching who knew anything about dogs (or about politics, for that matter) and certainly for those of us who believe in honesty, integrity, and fairness, Mr. Zimmer was the embarrassment.

The point of that digression was that even very smart, educated, and experienced people who have been in the public eye many times, on television, on radio, in newspapers, and as witnesses in court cases, can be trapped into saying something they didn't intend if expertly led down that path by an unscrupulous guide.

I would like to delve deeper into this story because it is entirely possible that we're only getting a fraction of the truth through this reporter and even that fraction may have been distorted.

FOLLOWUP ARTICLE: Phantom "pit bulls" in Sudbury

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