Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reaction to Phil Luciano Article

My attention was brought this article by Phil Luciano. So I posted the article below and then took chunks ad wrote my reactions of what was being said. I wasn't happy.

Phil Luciano: Not the Breed, But the Need for Safety

"A recent - and ridiculous - hullabaloo over a Tazewell County pit bull shows why a lot of us get so put off by advocates for the breed.


Already, at just that first paragraph, pit bull apologists are plinking madly at their keyboards to bombard me and this newspaper with e-mails. Save it. I know the arguments.


Look, I realize that some pit bulls make for fine pets. And I realize that not all pit bull owners are dirtbags. I get it, I get it, I get it.


But what I don't get is why some pit bull freaks get so over the top.


They refuse to see that some pit bulls - just like some dogs of any breed - deserve to die. And such zealotry alienates clear-thinking people. Instead of making people sympathetic to decent pits and their owners, we get further spooked about the whole thing.


And that's what's going on in Tazewell County. The situation is simple - or, rather, it should be.


Tazewell County Animal Control recently captured a loose pit bull. It's about 7 months old, yet all muscle and as large as a fully grown boxer.


The owner has not come forward.


The problem: The county veterinarian says the animal has been aggressive to other animals at Animal Control. He is worried that the pit could tear someone up. So, he is refusing to let it be adopted. If the owner doesn't come forward soon, the dog will be euthanized.


Is that sad? If you think so, answer this: What, exactly, are we supposed to do with dangerous dogs? Put them down. No other choice.


But that's not how Catherine Hedges thinks. She runs Don't Bully My Dog Breed, a Chicago-area rescue shelter and advocacy group for breeds (including pits) she thinks are unfairly maligned.


If you talk to her, as I did, she eagerly will run through the typical checklist regarding pit bulls: The breed is no more dangerous than others; they get mean only if the breeder or owner is bad; blah, blah, blah. That's all fine and good. But that's not the point here. The only issue in Tazewell County is one dog that the county vet feels is a potential menace.


But she thinks otherwise: "This pit bull is being discriminated against."


She thinks that if this were any other breed of dog in question at Animal Control, it would be adopted. Thus, she is miffed that Animal Control won't let her adopt the dog.


But Tazewell County would be crazy to do so. Think of the liability.


Furthermore, think of the county's moral conundrum. What if Hedges gets the dog and it chews off a 2-year-old's face? Does Tazewell County want to deal with the fallout?
Hedges also derides the expertise of the county vet, Arthur Herm. She says that because veterinarians don't take courses in animal behavior, he doesn't know what he is talking about.


"I am more qualified to evaluate this pit bull," she says.


Herm declined to discuss the matter with me. But he has practiced as a vet for 36 years. He has been at the Morton Animal Hospital for 32 years. He has worked with Animal Control for 22 years. Not a bad resume.


It would seem he knows what he's talking about.


Still, as a self-professed dog lover, he feels bad about this situation. As he said in an earlier story, "I feel like 'The Grinch Who Stole Christmas' for these people. But unfortunately, I can't help them this time. It's black and white. There's no gray area."


This is the only part where I'll argue with Herm. He is not the Grinch: His heart is not three sizes too small. Rather, he is doing the right thing. The good citizens of Whoville - if not a Chicago busybody such as Catherine Hedges - would understand.


Let me be clear. Neither I nor anyone else here is calling for the breed to be eradicated. 


Rather, we're talking about just one dog - an aggressive, potentially dangerous dog. 


That's it.


Some pit bull owners like to whine at me that I never write about other nasty breeds. 


Certainly, I realize any breed of dog can be a menace. And I promise, the first time a poodle or dachshund shreds apart a local pet or person, I'll write something.


Further, some pit bull owners want me to write about their dog because it behaves well. They seemed shocked that I'm not interested. No prejudice there. It's the same reason I don't write about airplanes that don't fall out of the sky or houses that don't burst into flames. No news there. That's what is supposed to happen.


I really don't care that your pit bull hasn't eaten any children lately.


You don't get a medal for mowing your lawn or keeping your stereo low at night - and you don't get an award for properly maintaining your dog.


That's your responsibility.


If things go wrong, well, that's when reporters and police take notice.


Tough. That's how it goes.


And it's worse when people such as Catherine Hedges just don't know when to draw the line at advocacy. You want to talk about the merits of pit bulls? OK. But when one goes bad, don't make excuses. Otherwise, we start to think you and your dogs are nothing but trouble."




Here's my reaction:


Already, at just that first paragraph, pit bull apologists are plinking madly at their keyboards to bombard me and this newspaper with e-mails. Save it. I know the arguments.
-First of all don't call us "Pit Bull Apologists." We are not apologists, we are ADVOCATES for creatures that can't speak. And like you said, because there's "no news" in writing about anything but Pit Bull's gone wrong we HAVE to speak up. We're forced to speak up because all the media does is give Pit Bulls a bad name and someone has to do something to convince the world that not ALL Pit Bulls are bad. So yes, we are "plinking madly at our keyboards," and no, we aren't going to "save it."

And I realize that not all pit bull owners are dirtbags. I get it, I get it, I get it.
-Just by saying that you "realize that not all Pit Bull owners are dirtbags" classifies that fact that you associate "dirtbags" with owning a Pit Bull. Thanks for the stereotype. However, thanks for realizing that not ALL of us are dirtbags...

But what I don't get is why some pit bull freaks get so over the top.
Hi Phil, my name is Yvonne Dean. We've never met. I live in Chicago and attend Roosevelt University. I'm pursuing my masters degree in clarinet performance. In my spare time I advocate for Pit Bulls by writing a blog called "Don't Be a Pit Bully." Yes, I love Pit Bulls. But because we don't even KNOW each other I would appreciate if you didn't classify me or my Pit Bull loving friends as "pit bull freaks." People who advocate for disease aren't freaks and neither are we.

They refuse to see that some pit bulls - just like some dogs of any breed - deserve to die. And such zealotry alienates clear-thinking people. Instead of making people sympathetic to decent pits and their owners, we get further spooked about the whole thing.
-Yes, there are some people out there that may perhaps believe that no animal should die. But I would say that most of us as, Pit Bull lovers, understand that there are some dangerous dogs that may need to be euthanized. However, what we don't believe in is killing dogs because the have shown aggression towards "other animals at animal control." According to what you have said no aggression was shown towards any humans. Maybe all this dog needs is a home with out animals. Call us freaks or whatever you want. We just would like to save as many Pit Bulls as we can. We know how much joy they bring us and we just want other people to feel our joy. And, I don't say this just about Pit Bulls I say it for any dog. If this was a golden retriever I would say the exact same thing.

Tazewell County Animal Control recently captured a loose pit bull. It's about 7 months old, yet all muscle and as large as a fully grown boxer.
-I'm not sure why this statement is even here. So what that he is muscular and large. So is my Pit Bull, the sweetest, most kind, dog I've ever known.


He is worried that the pit could tear someone up. So, he is refusing to let it be adopted. If the owner doesn't come forward soon, the dog will be euthanized.

Is that sad? If you think so, answer this: What, exactly, are we supposed to do with dangerous dogs? Put them down. No other choice.
-As far as I've seen this dog has only showed aggression towards other animals, not people. My mom's cocker spaniel HATES other dogs. We simply just keep him away from other dogs. There are good owners out there that could cope with this situation. And not to mention some dogs can be rehabilitated. 

If you talk to her, as I did, she eagerly will run through the typical checklist regarding pit bulls: The breed is no more dangerous than others; they get mean only if the breeder or owner is bad; blah, blah, blah. That's all fine and good. But that's not the point here. The only issue in Tazewell County is one dog that the county vet feels is a potential menace.
-Blah, Blah, Blah is right because those ARE the facts. We understand the point that the vet feels it is a potential menace. Maybe it is. Or maybe it's not. Maybe it's acting aggressive towards other animals because of the environment it is in. Maybe it's scared. We don't know. What we do know, is that this dog could be a great dog and we just want the chance to see if it is. 

She thinks that if this were any other breed of dog in question at Animal Control, it would be adopted. 
-And I agree 100% with her. 

Furthermore, think of the county's moral conundrum. What if Hedges gets the dog and it chews off a 2-year-old's face? Does Tazewell County want to deal with the fallout?
-Catherine Hedges being the animal lover she is, probably isn't going to be letting a dog run around and she definitely will be taking good enough care of it that it won't be chewing any 2-year-old's faces off. I can guarantee it. I've never met her but I am sure she is not as worthless as you are making her seem by this awful statement.


Herm declined to discuss the matter with me. But he has practiced as a vet for 36 years. He has been at the Morton Animal Hospital for 32 years. He has worked with Animal Control for 22 years. Not a bad resume.
-Yes, "not a bad resume." However, I think there needs to be a second opinion. 

Further, some pit bull owners want me to write about their dog because it behaves well. They seemed shocked that I'm not interested. No prejudice there. It's the same reason I don't write about airplanes that don't fall out of the sky or houses that don't burst into flames. No news there. That's what is supposed to happen.
I really don't care that your pit bull hasn't eaten any children lately.
-Okay buddy. That last sentence is out of line. Like most of your statements before, this makes me feel as if your stereotyping Pit Bulls to be man-eating dogs like the rest of the media does. Thanks.

And it's worse when people such as Catherine Hedges just don't know when to draw the line at advocacy. You want to talk about the merits of pit bulls? OK. But when one goes bad, don't make excuses. Otherwise, we start to think you and your dogs are nothing but trouble.
-What excuses were made? I didn't see any. Stating facts is different than making excuses.  And just because we stick up for what we believe in doesn't make us "Pit Bull freaks" and it certainly doesn't make us or our dogs "trouble."


Phil Luciano

2 comments:

  1. I live in the area, and read this article by Mr. Luciano when it first appeared. My brother had his two pit bulls taken from him by the city of East Peoria (Tazewell county), whose mayor has been trying to do a breed ban on pits for years. He fought hard and eventually got them back after they were practically neglected at the shelter. They were rail thin and aggressive towards other dogs because they were used to a loving, caring home. These dogs are a couple of the nicest dogs I've ever known. Dr. Herm's resume shouldn't be in question, but his character might need some scrutiny as his nickname in the veterinary circles around the area is "Dr. Harm" for the way he is towards the animals in his care.

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  2. My mother was the one who found this pitbull in the East Peoria cemetery.

    He had no tags, and wearing a sweater. We figured he was wearing the sweater as it was the middle of winter (it was way way below freezing!) or he was wearing it because the original owners thought someone would be me apt to take him in. He was a PUPPY of no more than 5, maybe 6 months old.

    We personally could not take him in because our Labrador is extremely aggressive agaisnt malemale puppies, likely out of jealous and we also have a female dog. Even though both our dogs are fixed, our male still shows aggression towards young males.

    We knocked on countless doors near the cemetary yet no one knew or owned the dog. Finally, we found a man who was willing to take the dog in for the night. He had a dog himself. We introduced the dog to this man's do...the two got along swimmingly! Unfortunately the man was older and couldn't handle tbe energy of the puppy on a daily basis

    The next day, my mother's co-worker agreed to care for the dog until we could find somone to take on the puppy on a more permenent basis. The co-worker and her husband had two dogs as well as a cat. "Dingo", as their two young daughters named him (the girls had fallen in love with Dingo!) followed the cat around out of curiousity but never showed agression to not only the cat, the dogs, OR the children! Unfortunately, after a handful of days, he gave the puppy to Tazewell Animcal Control

    We had absolutely no idea that he had done this until after the fact. The wife (my mom's co worker) didn't stand up for the dog or let us even know of his plans. Turned out he preffered hunting dogs like Labradordors, etc.

    My mother and I weren't even aware of his plans until it was too late, and Tazewell already had control of Dingo.

    We pleaded, kindly and with courtesy, with the woman who runs Tazewell AC. We were met with eye-rolling and extreme aggressivenessness. They said the puppy was showing extreme aggressiveness.They also claimed they would liable if the Dingo, or any Pitbull caused harm to a child

    We contacted Peoria animal control to see if this was normal policy...they were shocked to hear of this so-called policy

    I then contacted ALL Pitbull rescue groups throughout Illiniois to see if they could adopt Dingo. The group, "Don't bully my breed" tried their abdsolute hardest to save Dingo from euthanasia. Needless to say, Tazewell would NOT give up Dingo to them...even though DBMY promised to make sure Dingo would not end up in a home with children or other pets. Not to mention they would rehabilititate him..even though, frankly, he didn't really need it. If you ask me, he was likely traumatized and/or abused by Tazewell County Animal Control. It wouldn't suprise me given the bad attitude of every worker there..from the girl behind the desk, the veterinarian and the manage.

    By the way, the Verinairian has his own practice! His name is Dr. Arthur Herm. He comes off as compassionate to his patients at his practce, Morton Animal Hospital...how I can assure you his anti Pitbull.

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