Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Pit Bull Placebo Book Review

The Pit Bull Placebo:  The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression, by Karen Delise
Published in 2007 by Anubis Publishing
ISBN 10: 0-9721914-1-0
ISBN 13: 978-0-9721914-1-8

This is a book I couldn’t put down.  Apparently the author researched for this book over 15 years, and I can believe it.  No statement is made without supporting references.  For me it was an eye-opener.  Delise has examined the way newspaper reporting in the US – and the public’s perception – of dog bite fatalities has changed in the last 150 years or so.  She shows how, with media hype, dog types given the greatest publicity for fatalities very soon become the most popular dogs for what she calls “substandard” owners, i.e. owners who want dogs who will increase their sense of power.  She shows how, in nearly all cases of dogs attacking humans, the treatment of these dogs (starved, chained, no social contact) is the underlying cause.  She outlines how the media currently ignores or gives minimum coverage to fatalities involving dog breeds not of “the pit bull type”.  She sites the amazing statistics for children who die at the hands of abusive fathers or father figures, against the comparatively small number who die from dog attacks.   This manipulated focus on breed of dog, rather than cause of behaviour, has two negative effects:  one, no one believes that other breeds can be dangerous, and every dog is capable of being dangerous;  two, the actual cause of the behaviour and thereafter proper preventative measures cannot be established.  Did you know that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that pit bulls’ jaws “lock”?  Delise dispels all the myths.  All politicians and all Council officials in charge of dog issues should read this book.  Frightening how easily we humans are led up the garden path.

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