Sunday, July 17, 2016

Judging a Book by it's Cover: A look at Bronwen Dickey's PIT BULL

I have a confession to make.I broke down, and yes, I purchased that book Pit Bull by Bronwen Dickey. 

What will follow on this blog will be some thoughts, my own review, and I invite a discussion on this book, what was included, what was left out.   I smell a regurgitation of the
"Proof of Assertion"  tactics employed by the well organized and funded pit bull apologia.  If we create a thousand memes and say the same myths and all out lies a thousand times, it must be true.  People so want it to be true, hose off the bloody sidewalks,  say it again and again, and make it true. 

The author claims,  it took seven years of research, interviews of 350 people including pet owners, dog breeders, dog trainers, animal control officers, dog bite victims (the rumor is, one) , as well as other experts in veterinary medicine, animal behavior, canine genetics, constitutional and criminal law, public policy, risk analysis, and health epidemiology. Like a good researcher, she looked at archival materials that spanned more than 250 years.  And yes, it looks to be well organized, she has a table contents of 13 chapters I have yet to read, and I took a look at the bibliography, flipped through it and it has all of the trappings of a scholarly, scientific book.  What little writing I have read, she has admirable skill.   However, I'm not reading ahead, so I'm not going to pick her research apart just yet.  My plan is to REALLY take it slow with this, and I'm going to grab on and chew over any of her concepts, each and every little word chosen, kind of like a pit bull.

The choice of color for her cover was really well chosen.  It's the the exact shade of red I call "Life Force"  that stained my pants and my walls that night my dog was attacked by my neighbor's beast.    It brings up that little movie again.

As for the dog on the cover, it looks like a Stafforshire.  This will surely upset the crowd who think that only purebred American Pit Bull Terriers are pit bulls.  Had chosen this image, there would be comments a mile long about how that isn't a real pit bull.  It's ugly, and it gives me the heeby-jeebies.

So let's talk about the title, and what it suggests.  Pit bull, the Battle over an American Icon. 

I wasn't aware of pit bulls, never thought about them once, remembered anyone mentioning them or seeing them portrayed as symbols that represented the United States of America. This, until my dog was attacked by one at a dog park.  He wasn't killed that time, but was killed about a year later by a different pit bull type thing that lived down the block.  
  I'm pretty old too.  I've been around and I've noticed things, especially thing of an iconic American nature.  I'm pretty much red white and blue, patriotic as can be.  I used to march in parades, and as a young thing, could wield that iconic piccolo solo in "Stars and Stripes forever" and put people on their feet.   What icons do I think of when I think of America?   Eagles, the Liberty Bell, Uncle Sam, The Statue of Liberty, an American Bison, perhaps Mickey Mouse.  I googled away, and found a good ten lists, and looked at the images conjured by my query, "American Icons".  There wasn't even one dog among them, no less a pit bull. I'm not convinced it was ever an American Icon.  Who called it "America's Dog" in the first place, and when did this happen?  Does the pit bull as "America's Dog" have an official trademark@?    Maybe Ms. Dickey will explain the origins of this moniker.  I am suspect they came from the very source who named them "Nanny Dogs".  As it is, weren't they created in Merry Olde England for the purpose of Blood Sport?  If you were to look for British icons, perhaps we may find an image of a grumpy faced Bulldog with a stiff upper lip. 

On the back, goody goody, the daughter of a well respected writer,  managed to get some praise from some really big wigs.  I suspect she had some help from some insiders in the publishing industry, I suspect she may have been cherry picked for this writing and that it would make lots of money, CACHING! 

If this is the thesis statement of her book, what should follow is her explanation of how this dog is an American Icon, of which, I'm not convinced, and how there is some "battle" over it.   I'm opening the to the inside jacket, perhaps there is more explanation. 

"The "pit bull" is a legend, a fear, an exaggeration, a 
bête noire.   Bronwen Dickey does this misunderstood animal a great service of looking beyond the myth.  What she finds are dogs who deserve better than we've been giving them."  Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside a Dog.   (She's a scholar and also the author of a No. New York Time's Best Seller.  Great marketing, give this cute little lady some credibility.)   

The hugely illuminated story of how a popular breed of dog becomes the most demonized and supposedly most dangerous of dogs, and what role humans have played in the transformation.  BD

How can we prove that the pit bull was ever a popular breed of dog? 

According to the very well respected Christian Science Monitor, it was the Boston Terrier that is America's Dog and the darling of the turn of the century.  

The American Kennel Club has been tracking the popularity of purebred dogs for 128 years as the number of recognized breeds grew from nine to 177. Here's of the country's most popular dog breeds by the decade, according to data released by the AKC.  The Labrador Retriever has been no. 1 for over twenty years.  Pit bulls are not even on the top ten.

I know there are other bloggers and researchers who have covered this same material, the claim that the pit bull has been an American Favorite at one time.  Until they became the politically correct statement du jour,   pit bulls have only been popular as fighting dogs.   It's currently estimated that pit bull types represent 6 % of the population, but represent over 60 % of serious and fatal dog attacks.    If dog attacks, especially serious and fatal attacks were represented by popularity, then the majority of these attacks would be by dogs that are equals to pit bulls in size: Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers.  This is not the case. 

I'm now stuck on this phrase:  "The dog has become the most demonized and supposedly the most dangerous of dogs". 

Supposedly.  Ask your insurance agent.  They have a number for the "supposedly most dangerous of dogs" figure.  Ask the surgeons who sew up survivors.   I inquire too, if being supposedly dangerous is something that can demonize it.  Horses are dangerous,  are they demonized?  Wild animals, Bears, Sharks, and Tigers, all dangerous, but also not demonized.  We expect wild animals to be dangerous, we don't invite them to live with us as pets.  Pit bulls kill more people in the U.S. than Sharks do, they kill their owners, without warning.  Dogs that were bred to take down the inherently dangerous bull, supposedly dangerous.  Dogs bred for blood sport, to kill their own kind, supposedly dangerous.   They maul and maim countless others, humans and other animals alike.   Consumer products are pulled for less injury and death, is it due to supposed danger?  

Since the release of Ms. Dickey's book,  in May 2016, the following people have been killed by the supposedly most dangerous breed of dog.   Supposing all of these people, now in repose, what would they say about supposedly dangerous pit bulls?
Adonis Reddick - 45yrs old - St Louis, MO. - Pit Bulls - [5.9.16]

Antoinette Brown - 52yrs old - Dallas, Texas - Attacked by approximately 4 to 5 dogs including 2 pit bulls - [5.9.16]
Hunter Bragg - 7yrs old - Corinna, Maine - Pit Bull - [6.6.16]
Earl Wayne Stephens Jr. - 43yrs old - Stockton, Calif. - Pit Bull - [6.6.16]

Jocelyn Winfrey - 53yrs old - New Haven, CT. - Pit Bull Mixes - [6.27.16]
Susie Kirby - 3days old - Fresno, Calif. - Pit Bull/Shar Pei Mixes - [6.27.16]
Elizabeth Rivera. 71 years , killed by family pit bull(s) Detroit, MI.  (7. 16.16) 

During this same time, there were many serious attacks on people.  There were also many serious and fatal attacks on other animals.   Supposedly, they should count too.


  1. I am also reading this. I checked it out of the library. I have to admit that I've skipped around and now I have the long slog to carefully read it through. I also thought the red color is a slap in the face to victims. It is not the bright red of the American flag, it is a deep, rich, blood red. Can't wait to read more of your thoughts on this.

  2. Agreed on the horrific choice of color for the outside of the book. I won't bother to read the propaganda, but I thank you Meals on Wheels for taking the time to do it and write what you find.

  3. Great review and I'm glad you're discrediting this book page by page. It never should have seen the light of day. It's insulting to every person who has had their lives adversely affected by a pit bull.

  4. Great review and I'm glad you're discrediting this book page by page. It never should have seen the light of day. It's insulting to every person who has had their lives adversely affected by a pit bull.

  5. What a great start on your book review; the warped notion that a Pit Bull ever was or is now an "American Icon" is false and hugely disgraceful to this country's image. This dog breed has only ever been an icon of blood sport enthusiasts and now, the abhorrent pit apologists and their followers who flock to their "rescue."

  6. I agree that pits deserve better. Number ONE breed shot by police, abandoned by their owners, and overbred. They deserve to be spayed and neutered into extinction. There is no need for pit bulls and we are keeping this crap breed alive against its OWN best interests.

  7. I have not bought the book. But was wondering if you might look at the bibliography for me to see if it lists the case report "Pitbull Mauling Deaths in Detroit" Cheryl L. Loewe, MD, et al, Jan 22, 20119. The question really comes down to, did Ms. Dickey peruse this reference to grasp the potential savagery of pit bulls?

  8. Oh FUCK every single one of you pricks. Meals on Wheels as a blogger genuinely upsets me. Because Meals along with the rest of you pricks supporting banning or even the death of pitbulls. Looking at you, Ka D. The pitbull has been an american icon but this has changed. The reason this has changed is undoubtedly racism and likely classism. Yes I understand your dog was attacked by a pitbull, Meals. I truly would feel sorry for you if you didn't have such an obnoxious closed mind. Maybe you should look into WHY dogs are aggressive instead of blaming it on genetics and such. You know who else uses genetics instead of actual facts to back up their bigotry? Racists. And to be honest it seems like anti-pitbull activists and racists are one in the same. If pitbulls were a dog considered a luxurious rare breed then I am certain you would not feel hatred towards them and would turn your hatred towards other breeds that people who happen not to be white and middle class own. Yes people have pitbulls because they look tough and are quite tough. Yes they are used as guard dogs. But guess what? I've met a guard dog pitbull. She is the loveliest fat little thing I've ever met. She cuddles up, walks around with massive BRANCHES in her mouth and is just a bit of a show-off. And you know what? She's lovely. Actually. The same person who owns her used to own another pitbull. This pitbull was SO docile and nice they actually got burgled when they had her guarding the house because she would be too friendly with the home invaders. I'd be happy for you bigots to argue with me. I'm sure it'll be a blast chatting with racists oh I mean anti-pitbull activists :).

    1. Wow.. proves the point of this blog.. there is an acute zealousness amongst the pitbull apologists.. this Mich is obvious.. thanks to the last reply

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