Houston Chronicle Pit Bull Hatred UPDATE

Many of you will remember the post Why Does the Houston Chronicle Want Me to Hate Pit Bulls? from a few months back.  It definitely got a lot of people talking.  Every single one of my family, friends, and faithful blog readers (strongly!) agreed – it was a ridiculous article and should have never found its way to the front page of a major news publication.

Houston Chronicle

Me

Despite my disagreement with the Houston Chronicle’s views on pit bulls, I still subscribe to the paper.  (Reading the paper first thing in the morning over a cup of coffee is one of my absolute favorite things to do.)  And this past Tuesday, on Page 3 of the City & State section, on the very bottom of the page in the “Around the State” section a heading caught my eye: “Dad accused of negligence in mauling death.”

Turns out, the 4 year old boy who was mauled to death (the one that I mentioned in my earlier post) was missing for SEVERAL HOURS before his dad decided to contact authorities.  It was not until the NEXT DAY that the little boy’s body was discovered in the neighbor’s yard.  (The boy’s father, Michael Cole Johnson, was detailing his truck when the boy wandered off.)

While this story – when it was the grizzly tale of pit bull brutality –  was considered the #1 story on the day the paper gets the most reads; it was an 8 sentence blip in the City & State section on a Tuesday – when it was simply the story of just another idiot father.  The last sentence being: “The dog was euthanized.”

I was livid when I read this story. How could the Houston Chronicle print a story with the title “Man’s Best Friend?  Beware” on the front page…and then not find the time or the space to recant their bias reporting?  Obviously, I understand everything is a business…and if “sex sells” in advertising, “fear sells” the news…but we aren’t talking about a hurricane or terrorism.  Pit Bulls are something that we as a society encounter in our day-to-day lives.  Instilling meaningless fear in the subconsciousness of the masses will only perpetuate the problem!  

But should I be so upset?  At least the paper printed something!  While the small article doesn’t even mention that the poor, euthanized Pit Bull was originally blamed for the boy’s death, it does say that Michael Cole Johnson was indicted on charges of negligent homicide, injury to a child and child abandonment in the “mauling death.”

So, what do you think?  “Ridiculously too little” or “At least they tried“?

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Wags & Whiskers Wednesday (#14)

Happy 109th day of 2012!

This week, I was reminded of why I love blogs and blogging.  I can so easily lose track of time reading through people’s posts…learning about these strangers’ lives – what they ate for lunch, what they are reading, (or more often) what is going on with their canine companions.  It feels oddly like another guilty pleasure of mine – eves dropping on people’s conversations.  (I’m always shushing my husband so that I can hear what is being said the next table over!)  Little interesting snippets of someone’s life…often taken out of context…I love it!

Recently, though, my joy has come from writing and not reading.  My post Why does the Houston Chronicle want me to hate Pit Bulls apparently got many of you as fired up as the original article in the Houston Chronicle got me.  Never before have I received so many emails, Tweets, comments, and Facebook messages about a single post.  I love the fact that we (dog lovers spread the world over) can use the internet to share advice, stories, and opinions.  I think the more we talk (or write) about our own positive experiences with these so-called aggressive…the more power we give ourselves to shape the way these breeds are portrayed in main stream media.

If the pup pics below can’t change someone’s mind….I don’t know what could!

Betty was kind enough to share this adorable picture of XENA! This beautiful pit bull adores Logan (her human brother) and loves giving Pit Bull kisses. Look at that sweet face!

This pic of three good lookin' Pit Bulls/Rotties was sent to us by one of our Twitter friends, Mike. After her read our post about the Houston Chronicle, he wanted to show us just how cute well-mannered (and cute!) these "aggressive" breeds can be.

Here is SUKI! This pic was sent to us by our friends over at The Animal News (@TheAnimalNews for you Tweeters.) I think it's clear to see that Suki isn't a fan of her raincoat!

Why does the Houston Chronicle want me to hate Pit Bulls?

I’m old enough to know by now not to believe everything I read.  I also know that all media is slightly bias in some way or another, but what I read in the Houston Chronicle a few weeks ago was simply ridiculous.  (I expect more from a newspaper!)  On the front page of the Sunday paper was an article:

Man’s best friend?  Beware

Another picture of the same "vicious" pit bull featured on the front page of the paper.

Below that was a picture of a pit bull (of course!) with his front paws resting on the bars of his crate.  I think he was suppose to look mean, but he actually just looked like there was an unfamiliar man in front of his cage (which there was!) holding a foreign object in his face (a camera!)

The first sentence of the article (in big print) read: 70% of 12,000 bites by animals here were unprovoked, with kids most often targeted.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  So right there, I knew that this article was going to throw a bunch of random statistics at me that no one can back up.  I would like to know who decides which bites are “unprovoked.”  As we dog lovers know, 99% of the human population doesn’t know the first thing about what messages our body language is saying to members of the canine persuasion.

Yang Wang, what the heck were you thinking when you wrote this?!?  I’m thinking that she must have been traumatized by a dog when he was a child, because the article feels like it’s trying to create fear with little facts to back it up.  For instance: the 12,000 bites the article is referring to happened over the span of 5 years and all the statics cited are based not on any animal affiliated organization, but on “a Houston Chronicle analysis of data.”  And those bites include cats….and skunks….and beetles?  Wow, even monkeys.  Then why are there pictures of pit bulls throughout the article??  After explaining about the “dangerous dog” list that Houston has (and you BETTER be careful, because there are lots of pit bulls on that list!)…there are only 5 dogs in the entire Houston area that have been declared “dangerous”.

Oh, but wait….it gets better.

“Just Monday, a missing 4 year old boy was found dead….the prelimiary autopsy report indicated the cause of death was canine mauling.”  OH MY GOSH!  I’m thinking.  That is horrible!  Reading further into the paragraph, the child had been “left unsupervised” and “wandered away from his home” into a “FENCED-IN yard filled with pit bulls.”  Then the real hard-hitting reporting starts.  An animal control supervisor gives us some valuable information – “Kids should never be left alone with dogs.”  I thought kids were never supposed to be left alone, period.

If you cannot tell, this article really rubbed me the wrong way.  I feel like the media is trying to get everyone all worked up over something that is a non-issue.  I’m sorry, but if you go up and get up in any dogs face (be it cocker spaniel, a chihuahua, or a pit bull) you are asking to get bit.  I would also like to know how the Houston Chronicle can be so confident in the fact that the bites were “unprovoked” when apparently a majority of them happened to children who were left unattended.  Shame on the Chronicle and shame on Yang Wang.

There is a little humor in all of this, though.  The article was printed with some “Dog saftey tips.”  Would you like to hear some?  They will make you chuckle:

**DO NOT chase dogs
**DO NOT leave a child alone with a dog
**DO NOT challenge a stray dog
**DO NOT break up a fight with your hands

You can email Yang Wang at yang.wang@chron.com to let her know what you think about her bias story.