Reviewed by Barbara Kay
[Barbara Kay is a columnist for The National Post, of Toronto, Ontario. See also her reviews “Good Dog Carl” books should be sold like cigarettes, with warnings and Rotten, by Michael Northrop.)
Up until now, the charm offensive by intellectuals in the pit bull advocacy movement (PBAM) has been confined to publications targeting people capable of reading them.
Now Canadian novelist, Huffington Post blogger , and pit bull enthusiast Douglas Anthony Cooper has taken pit bull rescue activism to a brand new level of advocacy hutzpah. Cooper’s latest book, Galunker, now in print three years behind schedule, actually peddles pit bulls to preschoolers.
Publication of Galunker was funded with a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign. (A tweet dated July 1, 2014 announcing “We did it!!” informed Cooper’s supporters that $62,000 had been raised in record time, more than double the original goal of $27,500.)
Cooper has taken no pains to disguise the project as anything but child-focused propaganda. Promotional material characterizes Galunker as “a children’s book to change our perception of pit bulls.” It describes Galunker as “a rhyming, illustrated children’s book, with a nod to Dr. Seuss, about a pit bull rescued from a fighting ring. This dog experiences all manner of prejudice, simply because he looks mean. Of course, Galunker has a big ridiculous heart, and is about as dangerous as a marshmallow.”
In an accompanying essay directed at parents, Cooper promotes his two core convictions: that “dangerous behavior in a dog is not inherent – it depends entirely on how it is raised,” and that “simply by spaying or neutering [your] dog, [you] are making your home a much safer place.”
Both statements are demonstrably false.
94% of shelter pits who kill had been neutered
Since 2010, at least 38 pit bulls and seven ‘mastiffs’ (most of which have pit bull blood in them) from U.S. shelters have killed humans. Of these 45 “bully breed” molosser type dogs, all but three were neutered.
As for the claim that the risk of a dog attack is linked only to environment rather than genetics, hardly a day goes by that an American child is not mauled by a well-socialized, well-trained family pit bull that, in the common parlance of post-attack media reports, “had never showed any sign of aggression before.”
Yet many other breeds of dog––among whose ranks there are surely numerous badly socialized, badly trained and even abused pets––have never once been implicated in a child’s death or mauling.
(For a particularly well-documented case of a child’s horrific savaging to death by optimally raised pit bulls, with no possible other explanation than the impulsive aggression, high, unstoppable arousal plus killing bite pattern for which the pit bull type dog was specifically developed, consider the death of 14-month old Daxton Borchardt in Wisconsin, recently documented at length by The Fifth Estate: Pit bull advocacy exposed by the CBC Fifth Estate with host Mark Kelley.)
Galunker is not “well-socialized, well-trained”
Galunker is in any case not a well-socialized, well-trained pit bull. He has been rescued from a dog fighting operation. No pit bull could be a higher risk for unpredictable violence than one already experienced in blood sport. So to imply that a real-life Galunker would be “about as dangerous as a marshmallow” is a stunningly––one might reasonably say a dangerously ––misleading statement.
Thus I have grave concerns about the possible consequences to children that may result from this book’s probable success. For it grieves me to concede that with its clever and convincing packaging, Galunker will doubtless be acquired for thousands of children by naïve and ignorant parents who might never before have considered a pit bull as a household pet, but whose children, it is safe to say, will soon be begging for a Galunker of their very own.
“Happy-clappy pit bull evangelism”
The slickly-designed Galunker promotional website is a triumph of marketing professionalism, dominated by happy-clappy PBAM evangelism. Here we meet the raffishly adorable Galunker, his proud creator Cooper, and radiant PBAM “convert,” graphic artist Dula Yavne. Yavne, dazzled by Cooper’s passion for pit bulls, quit all her other commitments to work on the project. She enthuses, “Galunker aims to make children fall in love with these dogs.”
To anyone who knows the truth about pit bulls––they have killed 58 children and horrifically mauled hundreds in just the past 46 months––these words send chills down the spine.
We also get a sense of the missionary excitement the project is causing.
Pledge offers to The BFFFL (“Bestest Fursome Friend for Life” – nauseating infantilisms like this are pandemic in the PBAM community) include – for a $1,200 donation – signatures of the author and artist on a bookplate, a “gorgeous fitted T-shirt or tank top (your choice) and a gorgeous tote bag, both illustrated with the glorious Galunker.” Plus “A FULL-COLOR DRAWING OF YOUR PET!”
For a pledge of $2500, “DULA WILL INCLUDE ONE SPECIAL APPEARANCE OF YOUR PET, AS AN ILLUSTRATION SOMEWHERE IN THE BOOK! We’re talking about eternal fame here!:)” These donors get the T-shirt and tote bag, of course, and “ON TOP OF THIS you’ll get TWO gorgeous, colorful GALUNKER THROW PILLOWS.”
One rhapsodic acolyte writes on the Kickstart page, “The more we can do to promote our fur babies as being the big softies they are the better. Have you thought about adding a plush Galunker toy to your rewards? Coca [my English Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who wouldn’t hurt a fly] and I would happily increase our pledge to get one of these.”
As I say, this is a slick operation aimed not at evoking interest from the general public, but at cementing commitment to activism on the project in PBAM foot soldiers. It’s clearly working.
Appropriating Dr. Seuss for the narrative format was a stroke of brilliance. Unethical brilliance to be sure, but isn’t this teaser charming?
“But hated he was, and he always had been
For Galunker, though never his fault, Looked real mean.
His name was tattooed on the back of his ear
Which helped him look fierce (didn’t help him to hear).
It was never his fault that the people he met
Upon meeting Galunker became so upset,
That they flinched or they frowned or they scrammed or they screamed —
He was not even slightly the way that he seemed.
And today poor Galunker was really a mess
So it’s time that we started this story, I guess….”
Dr. Seuss would have been mortified
It’s just as well he’s dead, since Dr. Seuss would doubtless have been mortified to see his creative genius exploited in this way. Dr. Seuss’s fabulous animal characters and stories were conceived as an entertaining means to teach children good values and encourage solid character, not to beguile them into complicity with controversial personal obsessions.
Once aware of this project, I initiated an on-the-record email dialogue with Cooper––partly to assess his grasp of the issues, but also in the admittedly faint hope that I might encourage second thoughts about the project.
It became clear to me over the course of our exchange that Cooper was not actually familiar with––or willfully ignores––basic statistics around pit bull depredations. As well, he seems to have but a passing acquaintance––if that––with the testimonials of people on the ground, so to speak, people dealing not with theories, but with huge numbers of the actual dogs.
“A dog is about 90% genetic”
Cooper seems not to have consulted the opinions of medical professionals on the front lines of pit bull savagery, or dog geneticists, dog behaviorists, dog trainers, dog fighters (their candor can be a thing of beauty as an antidote to the political correctness amongst PBAM cultural elites), and animal control officers. Had Cooper consulted pit bull expert, breeder and former animal control officer Diane Jessup, an often-cited authority on pit bulls who trains police in surviving dog attacks, for example, she would have told him that “I truly believe that a dog is about 90% genetic.”
And, of course, there are the victims and the families of victims, none of whom Cooper seems ever to have interviewed (a gut-wrenching experience, but de rigeur as part of any serious researcher’s education on the issue).
So I have concluded that Cooper is not nearly so well-versed in pit bullery as one would assume someone putting out a book as problematic as Galunker should be. In fact, I suspect a good many of his assumptions are lifted from unannotated PBAM blogs.
For example, he writes (condescendingly, I might add, here and elsewhere, from which I infer he is accustomed to pontificating to reverent members of the PBAM choir, who never challenge his authority): “If you studied [dog epidemiology], you would be afraid to take any of the following into a home with a small child – these are, apparently, killers: the Dachshund, the Chow Chow, the Jack Russell, the Dalmatian, the Cocker Spaniel, the Bull Terrier, the Shar Pei, the Pekingese, the Beagle, and the Chihuahua.”
Hmm, let’s see. Over the course of 35 years, Jack Russells have killed two people: one victim died as a result of an infection incurred from a garden-variety bite; Dalmatians: zero killings; Cocker Spaniels, ditto; English Bull Terriers, ditto; Sharpeis, ditto; Beagles: one (a strangulation accident, the dog having tugged on a leash wrapped around a child’s neck); Chihuahua: one disfiguring injury (a bitten lip aggravated by a bicycle’s momentum). Altogether: three deaths. In the same period, pit bull type dogs have killed 701 humans. Q.E.D.
Researchers in 39 nations found parallel data
I didn’t adduce these statistics to Cooper in our exchange, but I anticipate he would have impugned my source––ANIMALS 24-7 editor Merritt Clifton––since he had already exhibited contempt for Clifton’s ongoing reports (which he gave no indication of having read).
Like many other pit bull aficionados, Cooper is vexed that Clifton amasses data from media reports of dog attacks, as though media reports were not a traditionally well respected, bona fide source for epidemiologists and historians of every subject on earth.
He offered no answer to my query as to why, if Clifton and my other sources were inadmissible, other researchers in 39 countries had uncovered the same data Clifton et al have, and arrived at similar conclusions about pit bulls.
(But Cooper in one of his blogs subsequently maligned Clifton at length; I responded here: “Pit Bull Hysteria” Is Based on Fact.)
Cooper actually believes in the myths his book promotes. His polemical guru is Dr. Jeffrey Sacks, an epidemiologist long opposed to breed bans, and a strong supporter of education and owner responsibility as preventatives of dog attacks.
For Cooper, Sacks is the last word on the subject. But Sacks is not himself immune from evidence-based criticism.
For example, Cooper shares Sacks’ widely contested opinion that breed is irrelevant to risk, and that nurture and training are the paramount factors in all dog behavior that is dangerous to humans.
And yet, puzzlingly, as the lead author in a Special Report written for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, to which Cooper made multiple glowing references, Sacks quietly appends this caveat in his recommendations: “Understanding breed profiles may assist owners in selecting the appropriate dog for their lifestyle and training abilities.”
Huh? If love and training are all you need, and if aggression isn’t a heritable trait, why the need for pickiness amongst breeds?
“Ass-covering coded warning”
I read this, quite frankly, as – sorry, no other word will do – an ass-covering coded warning. Unpacking it: “breed profile” = “breeds do have heritable traits, some negative”; “appropriate” = “some breeds are not suited to certain environments”; “lifestyle” = “certain breeds put children at higher risk than others”; and “training abilities” = “If you aren’t a highly experienced dog handler, you may not be the optimal human companion for a pit bull.”
Moreover, Dr. Sacks holds to a more rigorous––i.e. double––standard when it comes to non-dog related public safety matters. In 1988, considering the relevance of concrete playgrounds to injuries amongst children, for example, Sacks takes a properly conservative approach to safeguards: ”If you can crack your skull from a fall from one foot off the ground, why put concrete on the playground? We’re not asking a child to change his behavior. We’re just saying, Make the environment more forgiving.”
In other words, don’t expect that educating children to be careful will prevent injury; you must remove the source of the risk for injury. That’s excellent advice, and I wish Dr. Sacks had later applied it to high-risk dogs, which have caused far more damage to children than concrete playgrounds ever have.
“Strict regulation of pit bulls may reduce mortality”
Sacks’ report on dogs was written more than two decades ago. In 2011, medical researchers Bini, Cohn et al arrived at more realistic conclusions in their report for the Annals of Surgery, Mortality, mauling, and maiming by vicious dogs,where they state: “Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites.”
Other recent reports written by surgeons who have hands-on experience dealing with the injuries specifically pit bull type dogs inflict support this conclusion. Cooper seems not to be aware of these reports, or if aware, unwilling to acknowledge their significance.
I am frankly appalled by the fecklessness of the Galunker project. It’s what comes from privileging the “rights” of dogs over the lives of human beings, and from fixating on the goal of reducing euthanasia rates in pit bull-type dogs over the goal of public health and safety. For no “essay” in the world can trump the human propensity for the kind of carelessness and overconfidence that will inevitably invite a heightened risk for human damage to those little ones I now think of as “Galunker children.”
What Cooper seems not to understand is that the whole point of public safety measures is to protect people from themselves. No public health achievement in history was ever accomplished through “education.” It was accomplished through regulation of the looming risk factor.
As a case in point, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was recently outfitted with suicide-prevention nets. Since 1937, more than 1,400 people have ended their lives there. Analysis of the factors causing despair, and “education” about dealing with depression will not prevent people from jumping. The nets will.
Miami & Denver
Of course people bent on suicide will find other means, but some lives will be saved, and that is surely a good thing. Similarly, bans on pit bulls do save lives and limbs in those cities that impose and enforce them. We know that.
(Too bad Dr. Sacks did not think to interview officials in Miami and Denver where breed bans had resulted in zero deaths and virtually no maulings for many years prior to his report. Subsequent relaxation of enforcement of the Miami ban, however, even though it was overwhelmingly affirmed by voters in 2012, has led to three pit bull attack deaths in under four years. See Miami pit bull ban update, 2017 edition: “No pit bulls” still means “No pit bulls”.)
It is certainly “discrimination” to single out pit bulls as public safety hazards, but it is wrong to attach the usual moral opprobrium to the term in the case of animals. Humans are all “mutts,” unlike dogs bred to a specific function or look, and therefore cannot be stereotyped. In the case of line-breeding, a process expressly designed to produce a stereotype, especially popular among pit bull breeders, stereotyping is appropriate and morally neutral.
Parents’ positive duty
Thus discrimination in the selection of even living consumer products in the interest of lowered risk is not only admissible, it is parents’ positive duty where children’s safety is concerned. Just as concrete playgrounds can be replaced by more forgiving surfaces, when a working breed / type’s function has become a felony in all of North America, and when that type’s working traits are turning out to present such an undue risk to human safety (as is the case with the pit bull type dogs), it’s time to phase out that particular human-created dog.
As real-life Galunkers take up residence in the homes of Cooper’s sentimental readers, I predict the bad stories will eventually begin to roll in. Whether it’s a decapitated family cat or a typical “hold-and-shake” rending wound requiring 60 stitches to a child’s arm (or God forbid, worse), the blood of these Galunker pets and children will be on Cooper’s hands.
Unborn dogs don’t suffer
Cooper vehemently resists any such charge, telling me that if parents read his essay and follow the rules enumerated, Galunker will actually “save the lives of children.” (He quickly modified this statement to “I expect that Galunker will save a number of families from having to deal with serious dog bites.”)
Cooper holds degrees in philosophy, but his curious strain of logic here escapes me. Seems to me that if he really wanted to save lives, Galunker would have been a book warning children to stay away from pit bulls. Or more logical still, a book explaining why breeding out the pit bull line would end pit bull abuse and euthanasia altogether. Unborn dogs don’t suffer.
Well, there is one way to find out whose prediction comes true, and that is to track the data in a scientific way. Galunker is not the controlled experiment I would have wanted – obviously it would never pass any academic ethics board, and my preference, as expressed to Cooper, was that he should have quietly dropped the project altogether.
Survey the customers?
But since Cooper is determined to see it through, he would do both pit bull lovers and pit bull loathers a favor if he asked that every single person who “falls in love” with Galunker to the point of rescuing a pit bull inform him of their acquisition, so that he can inscribe them in a registry.
After three years, let Cooper contact the families to see how it’s working out for them. And then let us all know in how many Galunker families who have followed the rules set out in his precious essay:
i) All members have happily bonded with their pit bull, experiencing no problems whatsoever;
ii) The decision has been made for whatever reason to return the pit bull to the rescue they got it from;
iii) There have been difficulties in the socializing process to the point that the parents do not trust the dog around other animals, or they must crate the dog in order to feel comfortable with company in the home;
iv) There have been attacks on another family pet or a neighbor’s pet;
v) There have been incidents of unprovoked human-directed aggression;
vi) There have been incidents requiring medical attention to a family member.
A challenge Cooper should leap to accept
This is a challenge that Cooper should leap to accept, since I am the one, according to his passionately held convictions, who would be publicly humiliated by the results. For my part, knowing the real, rather than the politically correct, facts about pit bulls, that’s a chance I am more than willing to take.
To add even more human interest to the challenge, I suggest that Cooper himself rescue an abused pit bull (he has several other dogs, but strangely, in one so devoted to the breed, no pit bulls) and inform us of his own adventures in Pit Bull Land (a theme park situated at the crossroads of Denial Lane and Wishful Thinking Boulevard).
In keeping with my own passionately held convictions, I of course will continue to avoid pit bulls like the plague and implore others to do the same.
Deal, Mr. Cooper?
"dawn james" says
this book will make a nice companion to vick dog plush toy.
Jamaka Petzak says
“…Cooper holds degrees in philosophy, but his curious strain of logic here escapes me. Seems to me that if he really wanted to save lives, Galunker would have been a book warning children to stay away from pit bulls. Or more logical still, a book explaining why breeding out the pit bull line would end pit bull abuse and euthanizings altogether. Unborn dogs don’t suffer.”
Don’t you know? Logic and common sense are not this society’s strong suits, and they are about a 180 from being politically correct in dealing with this subject. It would be far too easy, not to mention effective, to do as you’ve suggested.
I join you, though, in hoping for that followup from author Cooper. Should be interesting.
Parents should never let their children be exposed to pit bulls anywhere. Ryan Maxwell went to spend the night and a skating birthday party with friends. The birthday child’s pit bull killed Ryan at the party. The first policeman said in his report when he went to the back porch looking for the attack, he kept hearing lapping, licking sounds. When he went onto the latticed porch, Ryan was lying with his throat ripped open and the pit bull was lapping up his blood as it gushed out. Galunker will lead to so many more Ryan Maxwells.
Judy Bradberry says
I am saddened that Animals 24/7 continues to publish such bias about a situation that requires a more thoughtful approach in order to resolve some very complex issues.
Merritt Clifton says
There is no authentically complex issue involving the uniquely high risk posed by bully breed dogs to humans and other animals––but there is an entire pit bull advocacy complex dedicated to obscuring the realities. These realities include that of the 4,885 dogs involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks on humans occurring in the U.S. & Canada since September 1982, when I began logging the data, 3,352 (68%) were pit bulls; 551 were Rottweilers; 4,180 (85%) were of related molosser breeds, including pit bulls, Rottweilers, mastiffs, bull mastiffs, boxers, and their mixes. Of the 560 human fatalities, 296 were killed by pit bulls; 87 were killed by Rottweilers; 424 (75%) were killed by molosser breeds. Of the 2,963 people who were disfigured, 2,051 (68%) were disfigured by pit bulls; 322 were disfigured by Rottweilers; 2,526 (84%) were disfigured by molosser breeds.
The threat that pit bulls in particular pose to other animals is many times greater. About 31,400 dogs attacked about 61,500 other animals in the U.S. in 2013, killing 43,500 and seriously injuring 18,100. Pit bulls inflicted more than 95% of the total fatal attacks on other animals (43,000); 96% of the fatal attacks on other dogs (11,520); 95% of the fatal attacks on livestock (5,700); 95% of the fatal attacks on small mammals and poultry (16,150); and 94% of the fatal attacks on cats (11,280). About 30,000 pit bulls were involved in attacks on other animals. There are about 3.2 million pit bulls in the U.S. at any given time. Thus in 2013 about one pit bull in 107 killed or seriously injured another animal, compared with about one dog in 50,000 of other breeds.
Surveys of dogs offered for sale or adoption indicate that pit bulls and pit mixes are together less than 7% of the U.S. dog population; molosser breeds, all combined, are 9%.
Susan Tellem says
Read your pit bull post and totally agree. I thought you might consider letting truth be told about live turtles and Ninja Turtle movie. Letter to Parents Regarding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie From American Tortoise Rescue Dear Parents: We’re asking you to save a turtle’s life and perhaps even your child’s. In August, your children will be enjoying another edition of the extremely popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie release. This will include a whole new generation of kids who missed the 2007 animated film. It’s fun and great entertainment. But, we are writing this to ask for your help. Since the first movie was released in 1990, hundreds of thousands of live turtles, mostly water turtles called red eared sliders, were purchased for between $10 and $25 after each ninja movie was released. The result? Many, if not most, were dumped and even deliberately killed or flushed down the toilet. Remember people buying thousands of dogs that ended up in shelters after 101 Dalmatians came out? Same problem. Unfortunately, children do not realize that real turtles do not fly, perform stunts or do any of the exciting moves fictional movie turtles do. Parents, trying to please their children, purchased live turtles which ended up languishing in tanks. Or, when the kids realized after a few weeks that these were not ninja turtles, the turtles were dumped illegally into rivers and lakes as well as dumpsters, flushed down toilets or relinquished to shelters and overcrowded rescues. It’s estimated that 90 percent died. As an aside, zoos do not take turtles. Turtles have been around for 200 million years and outlived the dinosaur. Is this the way we want to treat our precious wildlife? Most of these turtles are taken out of the wild and sold to pet stores, breeders and mercados for profit. Here’s the bigger problem. Turtles carry salmonella which can make a child very, very sick and can even kill them. That’s why turtles less than four inches were banned from sale in the U.S. in 1974 and still are…tiny turtles easily fit into a child’s mouth. Children also tend to touch the water and don’t wash their hands. It’s an ugly problem. A nine month old baby in Los Angeles got salmonella meningitis from a turtle after its parents touched it and then held the baby. We do not recommend live turtles or tortoises for children under 13 because of salmonella exposure and because the kids lose interest almost immediately. What can you do to help? Buy Ninja action figures and toys instead of live turtles and save a turtle’s life, and perhaps even your child’s. Thank you. (Please pass this along to others.) Susan Tellem and Marshall Thompson, Co-founders American Tortoise Rescue
I have no stake in this, the book or the dogs. I keep reading how the first it was the Dobermans, than the German Shepherds and so on … but I have never heard of a classification of dog other than the “pit bull” type (spare me the argument over identification issue, to paraphrase the late Justice Potter Stewart I know it when I see it) that needs to have “breed ambassadors”, children’s books, or even a website devoted to the legal news of a type of dog that many claim cannot be identified. One is left to consider whether it is a worldwide conspiracy of the media and other entities or whether to to look at the issue philosophically via the method known as Occam’s Razor. The former hypothesis seems hard to believe, given that there are potential Snowden’s everywhere and that the more people that are aware of a conspiracy/issue the more potential leaks there are, . the latter seems more plausible, that there is an issue with the breed.. I live in a building where there are no large dogs allowed; the rest of the building in my neighborhood have the same restrictions, so neither I nor my neighbors have ever contemplated a Galunker. I am perplexed about the “It is all how you raise them” talk; if that were the case why would anyone adopt an adult dog? If breed does not matter to behaviour and skills, why do police forces favor Shepherds, Agriculture enforcement use Beagles, and so on?
Willis Lamm says
I’m not fundamentally anti pit bull. I had one as a guardian – companion for my young daughter and Foster children. My daughter (a veterinarian) had one as a guardian – companion for her young children. When I was asked to run county Animal Services for a while in a county where there seems to be an obsession among the prevailing demographic for mindlessly breeding and keeping pit bulls, I was far more concerned about being bitten by, say, an anxious Irish Setter or psycho St. Bernard than any of the pits. Our serious attacks involved Siberian Huskies and similar mixes.
That said, I understand the concerns expressed by Mr. Clifton. He does his homework. Based on his prior recommendations, Animal Services now carefully evaluates dogs in the shelter prior to rehoming. While I don’t regard sensibly raised pit bulls as being profoundly vicious, all dogs are predators. If sufficiently stressed, stimulated or teased they can respond to their predator instincts, and pit bulls do have the tools to inflict some serious damage. Plus it seems that most dog owners don’t sufficiently train their animals (including appropriate crating) so everything goes along just fine until the house is full of people and the dog reaches an unnoticed stress threshold.
I don’t like seeing young people programmed to be afraid of animals. Especially with predator species, fear reactions can in some instances initiate a pursuit response. However children surely need to be taught to respect animals, particularly large, strong dogs, and those children too young to appreciate the abilities and trigger mechanisms that dogs possess should be closely supervised, regardless as to breed, or the dog should be contained so as to observe the goings on from an appropriate enclosure..
I haven’t read Galunker, only the discussion about it. What I fear may be missing are lessons in approaching and being around large dogs. I would hate to see an impressionable youngster equate a large dog to “My Little Pony,” rush up to a stressed pit or other large breed, then get seriously bitten. In a preventable physical encounter between a strong dog and a child, everyone (including the dog) loses.
Merritt Clifton says
Only one setter has ever inflicted an injury severe enough to be listed in the log of fatal & disfiguring dog attacks that I have kept since September 1982.
Toni P. says
I call B.S.! You re either a liar or someone who worked in a community with few pit bulls. I’ve been in this business long enough and have seen 1000’s of bite reports and cases. While huskies can be biters and a very difficult breed to deal with, they do not surpass pit bulls in number of bites or severity. I never recommend huskies for families with children, since they do not tolerate them well. They can be extremely dangerous to infants. At the end of the day, if I had to choose which breed I rather get bit/attacked by, I would take my chances with the husky. Clifton’s report closely mirrors exactly what I see in the field. If I judged the nation as a whole based off of my community’s bites/attacks, I would say Clifton’s numbers are actually on the low side. He has only discovered the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know how many reports we have had to change “lab” to “pit bull”, after viewing the deceased dog, because of strategic mislabeling. I have even seen so called labs with cropped ears! I have noticed that there are 2 types of pit bull advocates, the ones that limited contact with the dogs, but believe all the propaganda, and the ones that clearly know what they are and just don’t care if they kill people or animals. If you are a decent human being and you work with these animals long enough, reality will eventually bitch slap you in the face.
While this may be the most blatant pit bull marketing attempt to children yet, it is not the first. As another comment noted, there is a pit bull plush toy made by the Gund company, a children’s nonfiction book called “Saving Audie,” which also glamorizes the adoption of ex-fighting dogs, and a number of self-published books and e-books.
Several recent general-interest dog books for children also insert pit bull lobbyist arguments into the text. For example, “No Shelter Here” by animal advocate Rob Laidlaw shoehorns ridiculous pro-pit bull arguments into an otherwise decent book, including the discredited argument that pit bulls were once widely called “nanny dogs.”
The sad thing is, “Galunker” will be seen by a large swath of the animal advocacy movement as a humane education book, and we will no doubt see many glowing mentions of it on animal activist websites and blogs in the coming months. This isn’t due to maliciousness but rather simple ignorance.
The number of books encouraging people of all ages to buy or adopt pit bulls are too many to count. Yet I can only think of one that gives any voice at all to the victims’ side of the story. What we need is a “Death at SeaWorld”-style muckraker that will finally shine some light into the world of pit bull lobbying. Until then, it doesn’t matter how silly their arguments are as they are shouting down everyone else.
Linda Richter says
Mr. Cooper does not himself have a pit bull nor does he have children. What qualifications on even a one case example does he have for writing about a dog rescued from a fighting ring (a pit bull) which becomes a successful family dog for a family with children?
He has small dogs, an Italian Greyhound and small xoloitzcuintli. Ironically these are dogs which likely would need to be protected from overactive children playing with them. He is not writing from experience in any way. His motives for writing this book lie elsewhere perhaps?