October 29, 2007

Where is the media?

Thank you to the Toronto Star for being the ONLY paper to print this story.

I was not able to find the story in any other newspaper. This incident did not happen in a small, obscure town with only one daily or weekly paper. This happened in Toronto, with at least six daily newspapers and many online news organizations, as well as television and radio.

Yet, only one newspaper deemed this story fit to print.

Note that there is no mention of breed in the headline. In fact, the breed of the dog is mentioned once, in the sixth paragraph.

I have included the entire story below so that you can play a game. It's a very easy game.

Simply replace the phrase "Irish Wolfhound / Shepherd mix" with the phrase "pit bull".

No change in circumstance. No change in injuries.

Imagine what the media response would be to that story. Imagine how many news organizations, not only in Toronto, but across the province and the country, would grab that story and run with it.

Imagine the headlines.

"Pit bull mauls eight-year-old girl"
"Pit bull used as attack dog"
"Pit bull used as weapon of revenge"
"Pit bull chases and attacks four children"
"Girl lucky to be alive after being mauled by pit bull"

Instead, we get "Girl suffers leg injuries in dog attack". Is "Irish Wolfhound / Shepherd mix" too long to put in the headline?

Imagine the questions and comments.

Where were the parents?
What was an 11 year old child doing with a "loaded weapon"?
Why was the dog "trained" to attack (based on the ability for a child to "sic" it on other children)?
Why has the dog not been destroyed?
Why was the dog not destroyed and/or the owners charged in the previous biting instances?

I'm not necessarily suggesting that the dog should have been destroyed earlier or even that it should be now, just that these would probably be the questions if the breed were different.

There could not be a better example of the double standard in the media when it comes to certain types of dogs.

Here's the full text of the story.

Girl suffers leg injuries in dog attack

October 28, 2007
Rachel De Lazzer
Staff Reporter

Children throwing berries at each other allegedly prompted an 11-year-old boy to sick his dog on a girl on Saturday.

Injuries to the girl, 8, were not as serious as initially thought, police said yesterday. She underwent surgery on the day of the attack but suffered no muscle or tissue damage and was kept in hospital for a 48-hour period as a precaution so hospital staff could watch for signs of infection.

"Her leg was surgically repaired and will be scarred," said Det. Martin Woodhouse, referencing the incident report.

The attack occurred on Kingston Rd. near Manse Rd. when four neighbourhood children in a townhouse complex began arguing after the children began throwing berries at other children.

One boy became upset and fetched his dog PJ from his house and allegedly sicked him on the offending children, who were frightened and fled. Police said the dog pursued them and bit the victim in her left leg thigh area.

The dog is a seven-year-old Irish Wolfhound-Sheppard mix that has a history of biting, said Woodhouse.

The boy is too young to be charged, but Woodhouse said typically police will talk to the parents about discipline in such a case.

"We'll interview the boy and we'll interview the parents and tell them what's right and wrong" he said.

The dog was turned over to Animal Control for quarantine and it's not clear whether the dog will be destroyed. Woodhouse said police would typically suggest it be put down especially in a case where a dog has a history of biting.

With files from Jackson Hayes

© Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2007

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Cartman said...

Excellent point Steve! now if this were a PB with a "history of biting" it would of been shot on the spot no doubt!
thank you for bringing this up!

Lori in NB

Caveat said...

I'm amazed at the lack of national coverage of the fatality in OK this week by a pack of 'dogs'...oh, wait....

At least in this story, they explained how the bite happened. Believe it or not, that's progress.

Social Mange said...

Good post, and good points. The police are going to talk to the parents?

Exactly what does one say when there is a dog with a history of biting, a child who feels free to use an animate weapon against another child, and parents who apparently don't notice that their child has disappeared with their biting dog...does this spell responsible dog ownership and responsible parenting to you?

Geez, make the dog into a "pit bull" and there would be such a bloody uproar, you'd be deafened.

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