The recent opinion piece submitted by Susan Robinson on Friday was both offensive and confusing. It was offensive because she was taking a massive group of dogs, millions of them, and condemning them as a whole. It was confusing because she claimed to be big on “facts” and “evidence,” when she clearly isn’t big on either.
From what I can tell, Susan seems to only pay attention to the sliver of her reality that reconfirms what she already believes, rendering her first 3 paragraphs pretty much irrelevant.
First off, let’s attempt to deal in actual facts. Pit Bulls are dogs. They are domesticated dogs. They are not wild animals. They are dogs, just like any other breed or type of dog. They are not “different,” as the title claims, they are simply dogs. “Pit Bull” (as used by most Americans) isn’t even a breed of dog, it is a slang term used to represent groups of dogs that look a certain way. So Susan Robinson’s definition of what a Pit Bull is likely wouldn’t fit mine, yours, or the random person pulled off of the street.
Also, Susan Robinson, unless she left it out of her description of herself, is not a geneticist. So when she references genes and what they are “bred to do,” she’s simply feeding you a soundbyte. Actual geneticists refute her made claims, but that doesn’t make it into her diatribe because it doesn’t align with her message of painting every Pit Bull as a fighting dog.
Robinson then references her sheltie and her son-in-law’s Pit Bull Odin as if they were inanimate objects that are reflections of every other thing coming from the groupings that she’s placed them in. Again, facts go against her painted narrative, because dogs are actually individuals and not mirrors or carbon copies of each other. Meaning that Odin is Odin, Odin is not my dog or your dog. She also interestingly claimed that Odin was a “Pit Bull mix” but doesn’t ever reference what he was mixed with, if she even knew. Robinson’s happy to saddle the Pit Bull portion of that Odin equation with all of the negative stuff and let whatever other fraction off scot-free. How convenient.
Her desire to hitch Odin’s behavior to the back of my dog is nothing but fearmongering. That is not scientific. That is not factual or rooted in actual evidence, whether broader evidence or individualized evidence concerning the life that my dog (or any other dog) has lived. What Susan Robinson presents is simply emotion driving fear, plain and simple. She’s had a bad experience with Odin, wants to rehash his misgivings, and then blame millions of other dogs for it.
Further, she wants to scapegoat all Pit Bulls because 4 dogs, alleged Pit Bulls, killed Modesto resident Juan Fernandez last month. 4 loose dogs, mind you. Where was the owner of the dogs? Nowhere to be found. Why were they out and running loose? No answer is apparently worth focusing on. Were the dogs living inside of a home or simply yard dogs, unsocialized and normally living on a tether or chain? These are all circumstances that matter but none are sexy enough to ever become a media focus. Actual dog behaviorists and animal welfare professionals will tell you that these things are precisely what you should focus on if you genuinely care about improving public safety, not breed.
Robinson goes on to say that she doesn’t support “solving any animal problem with killing.” But then in the very next paragraph suggests breed-specific legislation, which results in the wholesale killing and condemnation of Pit Bulls and mixes, as the answer. Apparently they don’t count.
To close, she kept saying that docile Pit Bulls don’t exist. I’ve got news for Susan Robinson, millions of them do exist, and she certainly knows it. She will point to the 30 or so dogs that kill human beings every year, and then highlight how many of those 30 or so the media have tagged as being Pit Bulls. Okay, subjectively fantastic. What she is ignoring though is the 5 million Pit Bulls in the United States right now that have never done anything to anyone! And that number could easily be double that depending on how one opts to identify the dog. With that context, how are her hysterics even remotely factual? She talks “evidence,” but by whatever mathematical equation she can put forth, it will still show that 99.9% of the grouped dogs do not fit her murderous characterization.
Her piece was empty on evidence. It was full of fear. I agree that people acting recklessly should be held accountable. But shouldn’t the recklessness be the focus? Robinson speaks of accountability without ever taking into account all of the innocent dogs that she’s scapegoating with her words. You can’t selectively apply your definition of “accountable.” It’s either account for all aspects of the topic or fail to address the topic. I don’t ignore that up to 4 dogs ended up killing Juan Fernandez. She shouldn’t ignore that my dogs, or millions of other dogs, had absolutely nothing to do with it.