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From the Hur Herald:

A major dogfighting operation in Calhoun County is coming to light, following the death of 87-year-old Edward Barrera.

The Humane Society of the United States says it has been working closely with the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation and arrest of an alleged dog-fighter.

Calhoun Chief Deputy Carl Ballengee says 30-year-old Dwayne Smith, a neighbor of Barerra’s, was arrested and charged Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the dogfighting operation.

Smith said, according to a criminal complaint, that hundreds of dogs are buried on the hill behind Barrera’s house, or “numbers he cannot even begin to count.”

In a taped interview, Smith says he buried 27 dogs in one day.

This is the first dogfighting arrest in West Virginia since the state statute was changed in 2003 to list dogfighting as a felony offense.

“It was very clear that the now deceased owner of these dogs had longtime ties to organized dogfighting and Smith was his partner in the dogfighting operation,” said Chris Schindler, manager of animal fighting law enforcement for the Humane Society of the United States.

“The dogs we found were suffering in the bitter cold and bore the scars indicating they were the abused victims of dogfighting. We commend the Calhoun County Sheriff’s department for taking swift action in this case,” said the society.

The HSUS, along with Jo Staats from West Virginia Pit Bull Haven, found many of the dogs had scarring consistent with fighting.

Other evidence of dogfighting such as conditioning equipment, a trailer converted into a dogfighting pit, blood spatter on the walls and blood on the carpet were also found on the property.

Barrera’s computer was also seized following the discovery of his body.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, backed by 11 million Americans. It has been in operation for a half-century.

Both the Humane Society and Pit Bull Haven officials have been in Calhoun this week participating in the investigation.

Deputy Ballengee said the investigation is ongoing.

This area is quite rural, so it would be possible for all sorts of activity to go on without the authorities knowing about it. This is  kind of like “Copperhead Road” country.

The man who died was one of the oldest people in West Virginia to be arrested with possession with intent to deliver.  Drugs and dogfighting tend to go hand and hand.

I wonder what the investigation will reveal, besides the hundreds of buried dogs on the property.

 

 

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This dog must belong to a drug dealer. How do I know? It's a pit bull. Thank you, Mr. Gelzinis, for your insights!

Pit Bull owners, you may tell us that you are upstanding members of community. You may even lack a criminal record. You may or may not be on crack or meth or lighter fluid. You may or may not have a desire to pop a cap in someone’s ass.

But you aren’t fooling Peter Gelzinis. I think it is no exaggeration that he  will be in the running for the Pulitzer after publishing this hard-hitting exposé on who you really are.

You may have fooled me into believing that you are intelligent, compassionate people who actually don’t believe in judging people or animals by the media hype.

You see, according to Gelzinis, you guy are thugs who “intimidation” to get your way. To you, the pit bull is like a machine gun or a pistol armed with “cop-killer” bullets.

Any attempt to regulate you miscreants is met with “intimidation.” You guys just can’t be civil.  I bet you guys just run into meeting and shout everyone down. I bet your brandish weapons and make death threats.

You really are a bunch of thugs, aren’t you?

You see, while we know from reputable sources like Fox News (the only news that tells the truth!) and the Boston Herald that pit bulls are the only dogs that attack people.

And when pit bulls attack. It is bloody. They rip arms off. They can shred beer cans with their teeth. And they can rip off the arms of rival drug dealers.

See, he has you pegged right there.

I didn’t know you guys were involved in the drugs so much.

Who would’ve known?

We can all thank Mr. Gelzinis for his enlightening piece, and we look forward to his future work.

He really did a lot of research on that piece.

I think he may have used the Google a few times.

And talked that that crank city councilor.

Really, really good investigative journalism.

If he’s nominated for a Pulitzer, he’s a shoe-in.

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At For the Pit Bulls.

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I know this film is sensationalistic, and the officer is actually quite sympathetic towards the dogs.

But it is a good example of something I had only read about. Pit bulls generally don’t redirect their attack while they grip, so one can separate them without getting bitten.

Source.

Try doing that with a “normal” dog. You will get bitten.

I had only read about that one could do this when two pit bull terriers were fighting.

I had to see to believe it.

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Source.

This film was based upon a book of the same name by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick. (I’ll warn you that this book is not politically correct, as could be expected from the time period. This lack of sensitivity particularly makes sense when one considers that Rudyard Kipling talked Fitzpatrick into writing, and we all know that Kipling was a bit of a racialist defender of imperialism.)

Although the video says that Jock was a Staffie. I’m not so sure. Staffordshire bull terriers were not recognized as distinct breed in the UK until 1935.

In the book, Jock is always referred to as a bull terrier, although his color is very different from the Hinks-strain of bull terrier that existed at the time. That breed came in only white in the 1880’s when Jock was alive.

I’m going to call Jock a bull and terrier. Staffies and pit bulls are derived from  bull and terrier types that were of the wrong color and head shape to be considered Hinks’s strain of bull terrier, which the South African call a Varkhond (pig dog) in Afrikaans.

From looks of his most common depiction, he looks like a meld of bulldog and terrier features, which is exactly what you’d expect to find in dogs that were hybrids of both bulldog and terrier.

The dog in the film doesn’t look like a pure staffie either. I think there is a touch of Boerboel in that particular animal. It is every bit as much a mixture of Boerboel features and staffie features as the depiction of Jock is a mixture of bulldog and terrier features.

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Source.

Breed specific legislation seems to be everywhere these days. Counties and towns throughout North America have banned all sorts of dogs, while others very strictly regulate certain breeds. To make matters worse, the entire province of Ontario has banned bull and terrier breeds. (This policy, needless to say, has been nearly impossible to enforce, and it’s not been very successful.)

The problem with BSL is that it’s based upon assumptions that people have about dog behavior. Now, I won’t deny that certain breeds have certain characteristics, but these characteristics are hardly absolutes. Different strains of the same breed often have different characteristics, as I often mention about working strain goldens and show strain goldens. And just because a dog comes from a certain breed or strain doesn’t mean it’s going to be a man-eater.

Now, these problems would be bad enough for BSL, but we have another problem with BSL. BSL is often based upon popular views of dog breeds, and sometimes, well, these popular views do not correspond with reality.

First of all, the most common breed that is regulated or banned under BSL is the pit bull. Now, that word “pit bull” is a nebulous definition. Lots of mixed breeds look like pit bulls, and there are several breeds that are closely related to the pit bull. I’ve never seen one of these laws enacted without lots of interesting non-pit bulls being picked up. Of course, they aren’t doing anything about the real problem, but it makes politicians look good.

A lot of attention is paid to the statistic that pit bulls and rottweilers were the most common breeds implicated in attacks that resulted in death. However, these statistics need to be put into context. Fatal dog attacks are quite uncommon. They represent 0.00001% of all dog bites.

It turns out that dog bites themselves are on the rise in the country. All sorts of dogs are biting. My beloved golden retriever is a major biting breed now, and everyone knows that German shepherds are a major cause of dog bites in this country. We do know that dog bites are a growing problem in this country and internationally.

However, drafted a statute that bans certain breeds, because they are perceived to be more aggressive, really isn’t a solution. There’s a very simple reason for this.

Dog that show aggression have aggressive behavior (wonderful tautology, I know). Behavior is variable in the domestic dog, and as I’ve said before, it varies among individuals and strains of the same breed. The rational response to the growing epidemic of canine aggression is to ban the behavior. If a dog shows aggression towards people, it is banned. It can be a pit bull, a Fila, a rottweiler, or a golden retriever. If it shows aggression, it gets the attention of the law.

Of course, these sorts of laws can also be abused. It seems that any dog with predatory behavior is deemed “aggressive” under some of these proposed statutes. That’s why I think any aggressive dog law has to be based upon aggression towards people. Most dogs that consider cats prey are not aggressive towards people. A cat killing dog might make his owners liable for the cost of replacing the cats and their vet bills, but he’s generally not a threat to people.

The second thing you do to reduce dog bites is to encourage municipalities to have off-leash dog parks. Why? Well, I don’t know if anyone has seen the dog bite statistics from France, but the French don’t have the dog bite numbers in proportion to their population that we do. The reason why they don’t have the dog bites is really quite simple. Dogs are socialized there more,  simply because dogs are allowed more places than they are here. Further, they also have extensive off-leash exercise areas where the dogs can meet different people and other dogs. They can learn the rules of society, and they have an outlet for their energy and need for mental stimulation. (They do have BSL in France for bull and terrier types, but the French have their own “bad” breeds, which aren’t banned at all.)

The final thing that has to be done is to encourage breeders of all breeds to choose dogs that have docile or at least tractable dispositions. For some breeders, like some of those who breed Filas and Caucasian Ovtcharkas, what I’ve just suggested is an anathema.

But I’m not just talking about those breeds.

If people would stop breeding golden retrievers that have possessive aggression (even though some idiots think it’s cute!), then you’d see that breed lose some of its reputation for aggression.

If we really took dog aggression seriously, we could reduce the number of dog bites significantly. And we could do it without hauling in all the innocent dogs of a particular breed.

I do think we need to take the growth of canine aggression very seriously. If dog bites really become a severe problem, it will become very hard to keep dogs of any breed. And it’s up to all informed and concerned dog people to ensure that the most intelligent policies are implemented to make sure that dog bites really are prevented.

BSL makes politicians look good. It creates a scapegoat, but it’s very unlikely to work.  We don’t need the veneer of good intentions. We need policies that actually address the problems.

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pit-bull

The petition is here.

Why do I oppose breed specific legislation?

Pit bulls are the breed most often targeted. Pit bulls are not a breed. They are a type. Various dogs look like pit bulls, so al sorts of dogs can be deemed dangerous, even if they are nice Lab mixes. The Pit bull classification is a nebulous term.

Some lines of Pit Bull are very aggressive, game bred animals.  Most lines aren’t of this type. However, it’s very possible to buy a nice “American stafforshire terrier,” and maybe get a dog that bites someone. That does not mean that we need breed specific legislation.

Even if pit bulls are banned, there are dozens of other breeds that are bigger and even more likely to be aggressive than pit bulls or any of the other breeds usually mentioned in these laws. There are all sorts of fighting dogs from the developing world that could be imported as replacements for pit bulls.

Further, there are too many nice pit bulls around and too many nasty golden retreivers. Our idea about which dog is super-aggressive is really a matter of culture. Goldens might be a top biting breed now, but I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to ban them.

Finaly, if pit bulls or any other breed is banned, the owners will simply go underground. The dogs won’t get the vet care they need. In Ontario, where there is a total ban on bull and terrier breeds, the dogs still live there, but the law is haphazardly enforced. This means that there are lots of dogs living in the shadows. Do we really want dogs living in the shadows?

We do need laws to stop super-aggressive dogs. However, I’ve seen super aggression in Labs, and that breed is deemed the all-American family pet (even though it’s a Canadian-British breed.) We need laws that regulate bad dog behavior and irresponsible ownership.

Breed specific legislaton is a good thing for politicians to run on. Every pit bull attack is sensationalized, almost as badly as every missing white girl. But as a sound policy, it must be opposed. We have to think about the real unintended consequences of such a policy.

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