"If experts cannot ID dog breeds, how can cities"

Pits in the news and info on Breed Specific Legislation.

Postby StalkerBlueDog » December 16th, 2009, 11:57 pm

Johnson: If experts cannot ID dog breeds, how can cities
By Bill Johnson
Denver Post Columnist

Posted: 12/16/ 2009 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 12/16/ 2009 02:22:00 AM MST

So you think you know about dogs?
Sorry, you do not.

I break this news to you only because I got put to such a test Tuesday, along with about two dozen animal-shelter directors, volunteers, dog trainers and others who make a dog-related living.

The task was simple: View 20 dogs on a videotape and identify each one. Is it purebred or mixed? If believed a mix, what is the mixture of each?

How hard could it be?

All I know about dogs, I quickly learned, is that one lives with me. Of the 20 dogs shown, I got the breed correct one time, but only because it looked like Lupe, my mutt.

I did only slightly worse than the professionals.

"I was completely wrong. I probably got three to four out of the 20," claimed Laurie Buffington, a Berthoud dog trainer, as we left a classroom at the Longmont Humane Society.

"Think you can tell just by looking?" was the teaser for the breed identification study we participated in. It was run by Victoria L. Voith, a professor of animal behavior in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Western University in Pomona, Calif.

What I and the others ultimately learned is you cannot simply look at a dog and know what it is.

Shelter workers, she explained, are generally 75 percent wrong when they list or tell you the breed of a dog. The only sure-fire way of knowing, she said, is DNA testing.

"I started this study," Voith said, "because I am a lover of German shepherds and was appalled that every short-haired breed with brown hair was called a German shepherd. It simply isn't so."

Outside of the Lupe-looking Chihuahua-mix, I thought every dog looked like a pit bull or a shepherd-mix.

"So what in the hell is Lupe?" I jotted in frustration in my notebook about halfway through the session. I was not getting even remotely close.

My favorite of all was the 20th dog, a three-legged cutie that had been thrown from a car. She was not the English sheepdog I suspected, but a shih-tzu. Everyone else misidentified her too.

Through her work, Voith hopes to put to the lie two things: studies on which dogs bite the most, and the wisdom of municipal breed-specific bans, such as Denver's, where hundreds of suspected pit bulls have been put to death.

"Visual identification simply is not in high agreement with DNA analysis," she said when I protested that a dog I had falsely, dead-to-rights identified as a pit bull turned out through DNA testing to be mostly Dalmatian. "Dogs in Denver may be dying needlessly," she said.

She hopes that her work, which she expects to be published in a year, will better inform cities and statistics gatherers on breeds most likely to bite.

"We really don't know yet. I don't think we have ever really known," she said.

The professionals all walked out scratching their heads, each mumbling something akin to "that was very informative! "

"I always thought I was really good at identifying breeds," a chastened Shantel Southwick, another Berthoud trainer, moaned. "And cities are killing dogs based on uninformed visual identification? That's pretty scary. It's heartbreaking, really."

Bill Johnson writes Mondays, Wednes- days and Fridays. Reach him at 303- 954-2763 or wjohnson@denverpost .com.

Read more: http://www.denverpo st.com/news/ ci_14005785# ixzz0ZqP9mhIm


http://www.denverpo st.com/news/ ci_14005785
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Postby pitsnok » December 17th, 2009, 3:17 am

Yes!!
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


"It is true that Pit Bulls grab and hold on. But what they most often grab and refuse to let go of is your heart, not your arm."
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » December 17th, 2009, 7:49 am

Good article - if only legislators and dog wardens would admit that...
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

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Postby maberi » December 17th, 2009, 9:59 am

Nice article

Thanks for sharing Jill
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Postby reign99 » December 17th, 2009, 1:33 pm

I really, really wish this meant something. I am certainly hopeful that people will come around, but it's not easy. Local and national media portrays "pit bull" attacks like the trailer to a horror movie. It's hard to overcome that type of mental assault without increasing peoples exposure to the truth.

Prime example:

I was up at Lake Champlaigne this past summer staying at an uncle's cabin. The beat up one lane dirt road that winds its way down to the lake holds five other cabins. Two of those other cabin's are also owned by family (we're not rich, these are for real cabins bought many years ago). The other three are owned by people my family has known since they were purchased.

I have brought Loralie up multiple times over the years, but this was the first year Petey was included. Word apparently spread quickly that there was a Pit Bull staying at one of the cabins, and I am not exaggerating when I say one woman would not come out of her cabin. No joke.

What I ended up doing after a day of this was walking with my aunt over there (she's her friend) and having her go inside and invite her out. The process was actually somewhat hilarious, because she just sat at the window for a time looking out at him while conversing with my aunt. She was quite visibly anxious. Petey on the other hand, was sitting quietly by my side, a bit perplexed why we weren't heading over to the lake he could see thirty yards away and going for a swim.

Eventually the woman came out and slowly made her way over, Petey's tail starting to wag happily as he realizes it's time to meet and greet a new person. She got to him, reached down and rubbed his head, and he promptly licked her hand about ten times. After that we all took a walk together up the road, and out onto a dock to let Petey fetch his ball out of the lake (over and over). In the process of talking with her while he was off swimming happily she said "I don't get it, he's much more gentle than the other dogs that come here. I thought all Pit Bulls were vicious?".

And that's how it happens. I just don't see how it can happen enough to stem the tide against the Pit propaganda spewed by countless TV stations across the country.
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Postby StalkerBlueDog » December 17th, 2009, 5:59 pm

The article was more about shelter workers not being able to identify breeds which in several states and areas can mean death for the dog.. it also though brings to light that if experts can't identify dog breeds, then most of the lay people in american can't either.. which then translates into awful media dog attack stories with dogs being identified as the big 4 dangerous breeds (rotties, pits, dobes, and german shepherds) when in reality they're not those breeds (or mixes of them)

Recently a dog attack occurred where a dog was tied outside constantly.. there was a party at the house and the dog got off his leash, came inside, found a child eating a cookie and bit the child (whose head was at eye level for the dog) on the head and stole the cookie. The headline of article read "Rottweiler Mauls Small Child for Cookie". In the body of the article it said that the dog was a large protection dog resembling a lab/rottweiler. Shock factor was in stating it was a Rottie though.. no mention of the lab mix portion in the headline..
Jill Rakin CPDT-KA
"DAWN" U-CH Canami's Age of Aquarius CD RE AX OAJ NF CGC/TDI (1/3 AXJ, 1/5 U-GRCH, MACH pt'd)
"KAYLEE" U-CH Canami's Protector of Serenity (AKC major Pt'd)
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Postby LMM » December 18th, 2009, 8:56 am

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Good article - if only legislators and dog wardens would admit that...



Absolutely, that's a bigger part of the problem. The egos involved have way overtaken doing anything that's right. Denver is a perfect example of it.


Great article.
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Postby airwalk » December 18th, 2009, 11:16 am

Well..firstly I completely agree with the article. We spend a lot of time guessing at breeds of dogs in the shelter; however, I bristle a bit at the statement

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
Good article - if only legislators and dog wardens would admit that...


most of us do admit it and know it and advocate for it ... but in the end that is our job. We are told we will do such and such and we will figure out how to do it or they will simply hire someone else to do it. Now if not me, who...will they work as hard or care as much? If I can't answer yes to those questions, then I guess I better pull up my britches and figure it out.

I agree that dogs are dying in Denver...but I also believe that most are needless. Not because they aren't Pit Bull, but because the entire ban is a ridiculous idea that is politically motivated. The Dog Control folks didn't institute the ban..they are simply the agency handed the mandate to enforce it.

Liz, you get things that you have to enforce that make no sense...do you do them or do you tell your boss nope - you'll have to fire me cause that is impossible so I won't do it?
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » December 18th, 2009, 11:29 am

I suppose my statement was a bit broad - I was talking about the dog wardens like Skeldon and others who purposefully hunt out "pit bull type dogs" and don't care about anything else other than appearance.
"Remember - every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash *a fairy dies and it's all your fault.* Think of the fairies." http://www.positivepetzine.com"

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Postby maberi » December 18th, 2009, 11:54 am

airwalk wrote:Well..firstly I completely agree with the article. We spend a lot of time guessing at breeds of dogs in the shelter;


And that is all you really can do. Most of the ACs and shelter workers are not hired for their knowledge of animals (at least not in the cases I have seen).

Look at half of the pictures of mixed dogs that are posted on this board with the question "What breed of dog do you think this is?". God only knows what breed some of these dogs are, and I find it extremely unfortunate that the shelter workers and dog wardens out there trying to do their job, are put into a position of determining a dog's fate based on this silly question. It makes me physically ill to think of all the dogs out there losing their lives based on something that really shouldn't matter.
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Postby LMM » December 18th, 2009, 12:14 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:I suppose my statement was a bit broad - I was talking about the dog wardens like Skeldon and others who purposefully hunt out "pit bull type dogs" and don't care about anything else other than appearance.


My agreement with your statement was broad as well, as I was talking about dickhole politicians too high on their egos to admit they are wrong.

Just wanted to clarify.
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Postby LMM » December 18th, 2009, 12:15 pm

airwalk wrote:I agree that dogs are dying in Denver...but I also believe that most are needless. Not because they aren't Pit Bull, but because the entire ban is a ridiculous idea that is politically motivated. The Dog Control folks didn't institute the ban..they are simply the agency handed the mandate to enforce it.


Amen, this is where I am coming from on this.
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