Web Site http://www.povn.com/rdows e-mail email@example.com e-mail list http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rdowsCherie Graves, chairwoman, WA (509) 447-2821 Hermine Stover, secretary, press liaison, CA firstname.lastname@example.orgArkansas Director, Roger Schnyer email@example.comCalifornia Director, Jan Dykema firstname.lastname@example.orgNevada Director, Ken Sondej email@example.comOklahoma Director, Jade Harris firstname.lastname@example.orgDirector at Large, Judy Schreiber-Dwornick email@example.comSandra Coy, chairwoman Responsible Dog Owners of the Eastern States firstname.lastname@example.org
POSITION STATEMENT ON BREED SPECIFIC TARGETING IN THE MEDIA ã
Responsible Dog Owners of the western States has noticed that with increasing regularity there is a titillating headline in print media, or a sound bite on radio, or television, or a reality Court show that portrays certain breeds of dogs in a manner that bears little or no resemblance to reality. A common, catch-all term “pit bull” may be written in several different forms such as “pittbull”, “pit bulldog” none of these terms are specific to any breed, but may apply to upward of twenty-five actual breeds is used to incite fear in their audience. Fear sells. This is bigotry. Not bigotry aimed at the animals, but it is bigotry focused through these dogs, and directed at their owners. Media targeting of dogs has a prismatic affect, its reflection reflects badly upon all owners of these targeted dog breeds. Strictly as an allegory, interchange the term “pit bull” for “people of color”. This is not to in any way anthropomorphize animals, but to bring to light that neither term is specific to breed, or to race, but is an all encompassing in application that has far reaching implications. The usage of the term “pit bull” sells newspapers, and airtime. It is convenient to attract the immediate attention, and to titillate, and evoke fear in the intended audience. One could reasonably state that the “pit bull” is a monster created, and promulgated by the media. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stopped using breed profiling in its bite statistics. The CDC formerly used media reports to compile their data. When the CDC was subpoenaed into Court to give testimony as to the accuracy of their bite statistic reports it came to light that the CDC could not offer tangible proof of the accuracy of their bite statistics as compiled from media reports. The CDC did not alter the bite statistics when there were corrections made in the media reports. Any bite statistic data that relies solely upon media reports is grossly inaccurate. Would any newspaper, radio, or television station go into Court and swear that their reports on any given dog bite incident portrayed the dog’s breed with 100% accuracy? Of course not. Yet this very same media uses tainted statistics to evoke fear in their readers, listeners, and viewers. Dogs are as individual within their respective breed, as we human beings are within our ethnicity. It is journalistic irresponsibility to portray an entire breed of dog, or dogs of a similar physical appearance as being of the exact same temperament, and of exactly the same behavioral psychology. Not only is it irresponsible, it is erroneous. No media outlet would apply this same treatment directly to an ethnicity of human beings, yet this is exactly what the media is doing through dogs to their owners. The media long ago stopped profiling people by ethnicity, yet it is blatantly miss-profiling dogs, which reflects badly, and undeservedly upon all of the owners of all of the breeds and mixed breeds that are lumped together as “pit bull”. Behind every dog is its owner. No dog has the capacity to function outside the parameters of its owner’s own exercise of responsibility. Yet the media would tar all owners of these breeds with the unearned onus of being not quite trustworthy. On the one hand these media reports would make dogs of the targeted breeds out to be so cunning, so blood-thirsty, so unstoppable, so relentless that they are cut from supernatural cloth of a type that no mere mortal could possibly train, control, or have a normal pet relationship with. On the other hand the media would have breeders so versed in genetics that they are POSITION STATEMENT ON BREED SPECIFIC TARGETING IN THE MEDIA ã Page 2capable of creating a perfect monster of mythical proportions each, and every time. Quite the dichotomy. Like all myths each of these scenarios is fable. Human error, carelessness, or negligence is the underlying factor behind every dog attack, followed closely by the failure of animal control to respond to repeated calls. In more than 80% of severe injuries/fatalities there were records of numerous reports from neighbors to animal control that went unheeded. Given the actual figures of severe dog attacks, or fatalities related to dog attacks per capita in the United States of America, dogs are not the threat to human life that the sensationalistic media, and urban myth would portray. It is unreasonable for the media to assume, and portray that every dog of a given breed, or physical appearance will behave in exactly the same manner. It is unreasonable for the media to assume, or portray that every owner of every dog of a given breed, or physical appearance is irresponsible, negligent, or careless with their animal(s). Responsible Dog Owners of the Western States calls for truth in the media to include the truth about dogs, to portray each incident as an individual situation, and to stop the blatant fear mongering that sells air time, and print space, and that lumps all dogs of a given breed, or physical appearance into the story. It is past time for all dog owners to call for accountability, and accuracy in the media.