L.A. County DACC being sued by Pamela Devitt’s husband

Posted January 12th, 2015 in Prejudice, Shelters by Josh

Last week the husband of a woman fatally mauled by dogs in 2013 sued the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control (DACC), alleging officials at the county agency “knew of problems with the animals and failed to do enough to mitigate the danger.”

Benjamin Devitt filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging wrongful death, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent misrepresentation and public nuisance.

The article announcing the lawsuit prompted many infamous anti-Pit Bull web aliases to flood the comment section in an attempt to narratively blame millions of uninvolved dogs for Mrs. Devitt’s tragic death. I chose to comment and pointed out that even Devitt’s grieving husband, the one who is actually bringing this lawsuit, doesn’t blame “Pit Bulls” as a whole. Hell, he doesn’t even blame the specific individual dogs who killed his wife! He blames the irresponsible person who allowed this situation to manifest itself, who repeatedly allowed these dogs to roam freely. That person’s name is Alex Jackson. Further, he is now suing the animal control department for repeatedly ignoring these situations when they went reported, among other things that he is now learning about said animal control department.

For example:
-Alex Jackson’s dogs were involved in “at least 7 other altercations in the 18 months leading up to the attack on Devitt.”
-9 witnesses, including several horse riders and a postal worker, testified about these 7 previous encounters.
-One of the horse riders “offered to provide free fencing and help Jackson put it up to keep the dogs on his property,” which Jackson refused.
-Jackson purposefully let his dogs roam in order to “ward off people from his property that was also a marijuana grow house.”
-DACC employees “did not adequately follow up on complaints by area residents about the dogs by citing Jackson, requiring enclosure of his animals and warning the public of the danger.
-The complaint alleges that “DACC employees entered updates in internal records to make it appear that they did not know” about Jackson’s dogs before Devitt was killed, and that they “followed up on complaints after they were made by the public.”
-Some DACC employees who worked out of the Lancaster office “were often under the influence of alcohol and ingesting illegal substances while on the job.”
-DACC Director Marcia Mayeda “knew that some employees were under the influence at work and while driving county vehicles, but failed to fire them.”
-The plaintiff claims that Mayeda “was not truthful” when she told the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in May of 2013 that no dogs were ever found on Jackson’s property when her workers responded to complaints.
-Records show that the DACC began receiving complaints about Jackson’s dogs as far back as 2005.

^Is this not enough red flagage? I mean, holy crap. We have dogs that are consistently left to run loose. We have dogs that are used to protect a drug operation, meaning they likely weren’t very socialized, and probably purposefully not. We have numerous reported prior attacks on other animals. We have numerous reported prior instances about the dogs always being left to run loose. We have a very obvious reckless dog owner. We have an animal control department that failed to genuinely follow up on any of the numerous reported incidents of the past. We have an animal control department that is committing fraud by post-altering internal records to reflect untruths. We have an animal control department that is failing to reprimand its employees when they are blatantly violating codes of conduct while on the job. We have an animal control department that is looking the other way to certain employees driving drunk in their county vehicles. And on, and on, and on.

So as I point these things out in my comment, DogsBite.org fanboy Dennis Baker (contributor to many anti-Pit Bull Facebook pages and California resident) gets on and calls me the “biggest troll here.” But wow, I was just stating what the Los Angeles Daily News put into their own article, if Baker even bothered to read it. I mean, how dare I point to a few things that are further fleshed out in the above 10 bullet points? According to Baker and other known exploitation artists, none of that matters and it’s simply the fault of every Pit Bull-type dog and its owner, every single one of each in existence. Yeah, that’s rational. Yeah, that’s not being a hyper-troll.

What is an internet troll? As one of my friends recently said, “trolling is the act of making obnoxious and transparently provocative comments on the internet for the express purpose of inciting conflict.”

So yes, me, simply stating obvious facts about the case (all reported in this very article), as well as about Pamela Devitt’s husband’s own video recorded comments regarding him NOT BLAMING PIT BULLS = Troll. Riiiiight. Dennis Baker and select others, ignoring all reckless elements of this case (and the actual victim’s take on the matter) in an effort to solely scapegoat millions of Pit Bulls and Pit Bull owners for the actions of a few dogs and 1 person = Not a troll. Riiiiight. Way to be objective, guys!

Baker goes on to call me a “little man.” Okay, cute. But this little man has been trying to engage anyone with an anti-dog agenda on a platform that is out in the open and recorded, for almost a year now. Not a single DogsBite.org fanboy or fangirl has been willing to discuss any element of these numerous issues with me (or anyone else that doesn’t wholly agree with them). Instead, they conversate in an echo chamber and publicly act as though they are so righteously above the fray to anyone with a differing view. These individuals refuse to (or can’t) even communicate with the common man or woman about anything related to dogs or their blame-heavy positions. But again, I am here to facilitate just this very thing. So if Dennis Baker ever wants to have a human conversation with the “little man” on these many issues, I am ready to do that and would be happy to take part in it.

Dennis (or anyone else who wants to criminalize, regulate, ban or kill millions of dogs simply for the way that they look), you can call me at 657-206-7929 or email me at swayloveorg@gmail.com and I’d be happy to set such a communication up. If you are too scared to have a human to human conversation then you can feel free to leave a message on my voicemail and I’d happily attempt to engage your point that way. What isn’t going to continue to happen is having you guys filling comment sections with tired hatred for dogs that you’ve net met, and not have someone reach out to you and then document your failures to engage in an open platform. That is happening now. That will continue to happen.

Part 2: Warning: Mayeda will attempt to spin the Devitt lawsuit

Pit Bulls and dog owners have nothing to do with “Black Swan” events

Posted January 1st, 2015 in BSL News, Prejudice by Josh

So there’s this new piece of writing coming from a South African citizen that the pro-BSL crowd is super into right about now. I swear, they find “logic” in the weirdest of ways. Anyways, it was published a few days ago by someone named Hauke Liefferink and is now being spread around by Pit Bull hatemongers as a retort to anyone who says that dogs are individuals or that 99.9% of whatever the breakdown of dog breed/type is actually innocent. These are both facts, by the way, and they are reality-based facts that will continue to be impossible to retort. Sure, they can be ignored by someone with a crackpot agenda, but they can’t be repudiated at any level.

Liefferink begins by referencing Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, The Black Swan, as a way to align this theory written about in the book to Pit Bulls and Pit Bull owners.

So first, to explain what a “Black Swan” event is… The book’s author uses the example of turkeys, and how from their vantage point they live rather happy and content lives for 364 days out of the year. Each day goes by, they know their routine, they have come to trust the person that feeds them, and they have no reason to think that this will ever change. Then comes a day prior to the Thanksgiving holiday where they are all basically slaughtered in mass, turning their world upside down. To the turkey, they never saw this coming nor expected it. To the butcher, he knew that this was always going to be the case eventually. This is an example of what’s been coined by Taleb as a “Black Swan” event. Okay, that makes sense.

Now Hauke Liefferink comes along, grabs this concept, and starts to blatantly bastardize it. Right out of the gate he claims:

It is in this little fraction of time (0.001%), that Pit Bull owners and turkeys get it very, very wrong, with death being the penalty paid.

Okay, first of all, that sentence alone makes no rational sense. In the example of the turkeys being raised for food, they all die. They all die each and every year. Every single one of them. How in God’s name does this in any way apply to Pit Bulls? It doesn’t. Unless this man can show that every single Pit Bull eventually kills someone, his point falls flat on its face. Reality is almost 100% opposite of what he is implying. He obviously cannot show any of this because 99.9999999999% of all dogs at any level deemed to be a “Pit Bull” (or otherwise) have not killed or seriously mauled someone. This is indisputable.

Liefferink goes on to reference the Colombian child-murderer, torture-killer, and rapist known as “La Bestia,” who has apparently confessed to killing at least 140 children and is suspected of murdering over 400 victims. Liefferink says that he is the most successful serial killer of all time. What does this have to do with anything, you say? Hauke Liefferink goes on to say that “in La Bestia’s 42 years of life prior to apprehension, he killed 0.001% of the time (if he spent 1 hour killing each of his 400 victims).” He then compares “most Pit Bull owner’s reactions” to any attack that may happen in the universe with those same Pit Bull owners “being surprised when a man like Luis ‘The Beast’ Garavito kills another victim.” After all, he’s “already proved his tremendous ability and affinity to do so.” Liefferink ends his paragraph by stating that Garavito may have been a nice guy 99.999% of the time.

Holy wowza, what an incredibly ignorant stretch. The fact that anti-dog folks online are holding this guy’s ludicrous perspective up as a proper response to scientific obviousness just shows you what kind of irrational, non-objective individuals we are dealing with.

The Colombian serial killer is 1 man. He is 1 man that has repetitively committed heinous acts of violence and murder, a total criminal, an obvious piece of filth. I don’t care if 99.999% of the time he wasn’t out physically killing people. He still murdered over 400 people. How in the hell that is relatable to 1 dog, let alone millions, is absolutely beyond me. I mean, it’s so absurd. If any dog, no matter the breed, goes out and kills a human being, whether provoked or not, that dog is usually euthanized almost immediately! Again, if a dog kills 1 person then the dog dies. That’s how that story goes. Yet this Liefferink guy, now being cheered on by anonymous dog-haters across the internet, is trying to compare a psychopathic man’s repetitive criminal intent with any dog’s alleged intent after a singular incident. But I thought that dogs don’t have any comparison to human beings, folks? This is what any Pit Bull-hater that I’ve ever come across will say when they need to dodge any direct or philosophical points that are being made, that at any level involve any kind of a human reference. You can’t have it both ways. Now dogs have criminal intent? Lol. Worse, he’s scapegoating every dog (millions) as being like an individual serial killer with 400 notched kills!

This guy continues…

Thus when Pit Bull owners are telling us that their dogs are so loving, timid and haven’t eaten any kids yet, what they are actually saying is that they haven’t experienced their day 1,000 yet.

We haven’t experienced our “day 1,000” yet? Liefferink says that as if millions of people will inevitably face this day 1,000; never acknowledging that almost all people with Pit Bulls (or any dog) never face such a day. Take me, for example. I’ve lived every day since early 2001 with at least 1 dog that we can go ahead and categorize as being a “Pit Bull-type” dog. It’s now 2015. Since 2010, I’ve been living with 3. I lived nearly 3,285 days with Sway. She did nothing negative to anyone, ever. I’ve since lived over 1,825 days and counting with my 3 current dogs. They’ve did nothing negative to anyone, ever. My mom, my girlfriend, a few cousins, my old roommate, numerous close friends of mine and about 200 acquaintances that I could name-drop in about 20 minutes, from just Los Angeles County alone, would have the same kind of testimony to give about their own dogs. Testimony based on actual history. Testimony based on actual reality. Testimony based on fact. Yet we don’t count to anyone with the agenda of exterminating all dogs that look like Pit Bulls. It’s funny how that works.

He then accuses “Pit Bull owners” of denying science. Denying science? Every peer-reviewed publication that I’ve ever seen in my life not only clearly explains that breed is not the issue, but it then breaks down why it isn’t. Further, quite literally every single dog or human safety expert organization in North America as well as all professional animal welfare groups have come out publicly stating that breed-specific legislation is not only ineffective but unjust.

Liefferink sources numerous Wikipedia links referring to dog fighting and bull-baiting, both totally illegal, mind you. He wants you to believe that every single dog mixed at any level with a Pit Bull is a “fighting dog” that comes from an actual dog fighting background and environment. In reality, so few dogs, Pit Bulls or otherwise, even fit that history. Actual dogs coming from a fighting environment are incredibly rare, and those that do, most of them are bait dogs or dogs that don’t show the ability to be the kind of fighters that scumbag dog fighters even desire. This notion that every Pit Bull is a dog fighting dog is completely untrue. It’s fear-mongering. It’s a lie. He then sources a study from 1990 which involved 168 Philadelphia children. Only 12 of those 168 children were hospitalized following their incident with whatever dog they encountered. German Shepherds were identified in this study as being the most common “perpetrator,” yet they go unmentioned in Liefferink’s rant. The study explains in no way how they went about identifying any of the dogs, and the unreliability of Pit Bull identification has been made quite clear by, wait for it, scientific studies. It states that 46% of the dogs were “provoked” prior to biting. It states that over half of the dogs were freely roaming at the time of incident. None of these things are even highlighted by Hauke Liefferink.

Are we noticing the trend of outright ignoring any and everything that overwhelmingly contradicts the Pit Bull-hating narrative?

Upon viewing this trash heap of an article being shared around Facebook by the DogsBite.org klan, I couldn’t help but take note of some of the comments rolling in from their echo chamber. One commenter posted a YouTube video link showing Andrew Millard, an investment advisor out of North Carolina, taking a few minutes to explain what a “Black Swan” event is to his subscribers. At around 1:58 in the video he says this… “On the other hand, we should never let fear dictate our actions.” Well said. Apparently they didn’t even watch it.

For BSL-advocates, dog-banners, dog-hating exterminators, collective blame ideologues and prejudicial control freaks, fear is the only thing that dictates their every move.

My take on Laura Schlessinger’s comments about Pit Bulls

Posted December 30th, 2014 in Media, Prejudice by Josh

My take on Laura Schlessinger saying what she said about Pit Bulls is that no matter how much you may not like it, she has a right to say it. We all have a right to say whatever we want to say. I personally found her comments to be spectacularly ignorant, but we all have a right to be ignorant. It’s obviously unfortunate that she chose to flippantly behave in that way on the platform that she’s privileged to have. It’s also unfortunate that she doesn’t seem to grasp or understand the real-life consequences that her words will have, perpetuating unjust cycles, and equally unfortunate that she provided literally zero context to her statements.

Take this one for example, speaking about a shelter she visited…

Well, it was about 95% Pit Bulls, or Pit Bull-mixes. Now, I know this is going to get somebody angry but I think that they should all be put down. First of all, they were taking up space and nobody was going to adopt them. That’s why they were all there. People were getting rid of them.

There is a stunning amount of context missing from such a pompous statement. Pit Bulls, which ultimately is a slang term, are by far and away the most discriminated against dog on the planet. This leads to breed-specific legislation, routine profiling, perpetuated myths, collective blame, generalized fear, housing restrictions, among other things related to existential hardship. So no, that’s not “why they were all there.” Schlessinger clearly has no idea what she is talking about. Just in referencing her own local shelters, she is casting the net and speaking on behalf of people she has never and will never meet. Secondly, people do adopt them, a lot. That’s why they are one of the most popular types of dog in the United States of America. There are millions of them across the country. This is reality.

So as Schlessinger is clearly an idiot on this topic, I support her right to be an idiot. When this becomes a freedom of speech thing, I will stand with those not looking to ban or blacklist speech, no matter what kind of speech it is or who happens to say it. I also support those speaking their minds to her sponsors, and that is a legitimately powerful form of protest. So in closing, she has a right to say whatever she wants, just as we each have a right to criticize her for it, and we also have a right to simply turn her off. Don’t try to disappear someone, rather objectively inject common sense and give a differing public perspective to their nonsense.

Human population still rising, 99.9% of dogs still not mauling people

Posted December 30th, 2014 in Community by Josh

So as noted yesterday on Reuters, the United States human population (via the census) has risen nearly 1% to 320.09 million people. This has been the continuing trend and it is referenced backwards and specifically noted in the article since 2010. There’s been over 11 million people added to the United States population since 2010. This statistic is important for anyone attempting to discuss dog bite-related human fatalities, as no matter how many dogs you can show that have killed a person (30 or so a year, with 2014 being a higher year than normal), the fact remains that millions and millions and millions of dogs did not. Thus the human population, and subsequently the dog population, continuing to rise is important because it shows the overwhelming deference that dogs have for human beings. 99.9 infinity percent of them, and no matter the breed. This is an indisputable bit of information that routinely goes ignored by folks who are out attempting to demonize certain breeds or types of dog. But it is still a fact, no matter how much it is ignored.

Carson maintains half-empty shelter, keeps killing regardless

Posted December 19th, 2014 in Shelters by Josh

There were at least 50 and as many as 56 empty kennels at the Carson shelter on Monday 12/15. They are continuing to kill. Stop killing! Stop killing for “space” with tons of space available. Makes no sense. None. That’s out of a possible 108 public kennels that are housed throughout 3 buildings. So at minimum 46% of the shelter and quite possibly 52% of the shelter was empty, and they are continuing to kill. They are continuing to kill dogs almost daily. Less dogs means less kennels to clean and less potential work or having to stay less engaged. Many there seem to have this mentality. I was there for about 90 minutes and only saw 1 kennel worker and 1 volunteer. And I know that these specific people both work hard and are nice people. But none of this makes any damned sense. Firing volunteers and being “understaffed” makes no damned sense. Killing any dog with so much empty space makes no damned sense.

Step out of your comfort zone

Posted December 12th, 2014 in BSL News, Prejudice by Josh

So recently Jeff Borchardt published a post on his website where he attempts to demonize everyone who opposes his anti-dog tactics, and in the same group-type response in which he demonizes all Pit Bulls. What’s clear is that if you’ve ever attempted to engage Jeff and said anything that he didn’t want to hear, well, you’re basically then accused of “attacking a victim.” That’s his narrative, anyways.

That’s not to ignore or seek to justify some very reprehensible comments that he has received from others. It’s within his post that he shows you some of the cataloged screenshots. But again, people are individuals and some folks are just senseless assholes. An unavoidable fact of the matter is that there’s senseless assholes from every group of people, from every race or type of people, from every city, state and country of people. There’s no perfect fix for that, and that’s what makes people human. People are individuals, and there’s some shitty people out there from all walks of life.

But anyways, Mr. Borchardt routinely lumps valid criticism of his tactics and ideology in with ludicrous criticism and heartless commentary. This is quite obviously done so that he can avoid ever having to take accountability or have an intellectual back and forth with anyone about the actual issues, and instead just ignore all criticism across the board or use 1 person’s crappy comment to paint everyone else as insensitive or discredited. It’s a tactic, it’s obvious, and it’s lame as hell. It’s sort of like how 99% of a protest is peaceful and then you have the less than 1% that go around busting out store windows and setting fires. Then in the media the hundreds or sometimes thousands of protesters get condemned as an entire group for being “rioters” and “looters.” It’s no surprise coming from a character like Borchardt, but just pointing it out as being his mode of operation.

For instance, it was pointed out to me that he was ranting about me in the comment section of this post. I went over to both read his post and then read the comments.

It’s within Jeff’s main post where he attaches screenshots of disgraceful comments coming from (as mentioned above) senseless assholes. One person suggests that he get to “play kickball with Jeff’s son’s head.” That comment is clearly embarrassing, mental, crude and heartless. Another person tells him to “put a gun to your head and join your ugly son.” Embarrassing, mental, crude and heartless. Another person posts a photo of Jeff’s son with the caption “my dartboard.” Embarrassing, mental, crude and heartless.

Jeff uses these screenshots to typecast ALL PIT BULL-TYPE DOG OWNERS. That’s millions of people, folks. Apparently everyone is to blame for some fucking asshole making a psychopathic comment about his son! Actually, the only person to blame for whatever piece of shitty commentary that was made is the person that said it. That’s it.

Do you see a pattern with Borchardt’s world-view? He just scapegoats everyone for the actions of an individual. You disagree with him on anything regarding Pit Bulls? Well, then you’re an insensitive “nutter” who apparently rejoices in the death of his son… Complete bullshit and utter lunacy, but that is the narrative that Borchardt pushes.

Borchardt actually included a screenshot of something that I sent him on Twitter, and places it alongside some of the statements referenced above. Lovely. What did I say?

That’s not my video. No clue who ‘foamertalk’ is. Address them, not me. Also, you call that an ass-handing? That’s interesting. Clifton has ducked just as you’ve ducked for 2 months. Your online bravado does nothing for you outside of the hate group. Fire up your webcam and stop being a coward.

Mind you, this was in response to him attempting to mock me on Twitter, not the other way around. He referenced me daring to go up and engage Merritt Clifton at a conference, which I did, with my camera rolling. That video has obviously pissed a lot of people off. He said that I got my ass handed to me. Okay. Right. I then pointed out that Clifton has actually ducked getting back to me on the proposed debate that was referenced numerous times in the video. I also point out that Jeff has done the same kind of avoiding, as I proposed publicly talking to him about the issues on webcam about 6 months ago. This was suggested because Jeff most definitely has a working webcam, as he does media interviews using Skype while pushing breed-specific legislation. I then call him a coward because he constantly avoids discussing public safety issues with anyone that doesn’t either 1) give him a softball television segment or 2) totally agree with him.

Borchardt’s post then gets even more passively aggressive. In the comment section someone named Brian Adamson offers a pretty level-headed paragraph towards Jeff, which then pulls in numerous anonymous (surprise!) commenters in response, and then Jeff himself. Someone with the alias “Who Else” states that the Adamson guy is a “shill for Pit Bull breeders” who “helps dog fighters get kids and pets killed.” Um, wow. In his next comment he states that Brian Adamson is “hooked up” with me. What the heck? I am described as “that creepy guy who has Lisa Camuso telling him what to do.” Lol. I’ve never met or talked with Brian Adamson, I have no clue who he is. I’ve also never met or talked with Lisa Camuso, although I’ve seen her comment below my Merritt Clifton video. I have literally zero link with either person. I most definitely don’t have anyone telling me what to do, Lisa or otherwise. Jeff then comes on and starts shouting at me in the comments, as if I’m actually on the comment section, which I’m not. He then accuses me of posting on a Facebook page called “Truth Be Told,” which I don’t. Borchardt goes on to state that this page is where myself, Lisa Camuso and Brian Adamson go to “associate.” Jesus Christ. He then refers to us as the “Pit Bull lobby.” This is his term for anyone that has a Pit Bull-type dog or disagrees with BSL or breed bans. Again, in reality this is millions of people, folks! I’m a dog owner. I have dogs that are Pit Bull-type dogs. That’s it.

This was partially the Brian Adamson guy’s reponse to Borchardt’s claims, found further down within the comment section:

I have never had a single conversation with Josh Liddy. I mentioned him in one comment, one time and all of a sudden we are brothers in arms. That is a glaring example of how flawed your thought process is. You draw wild conclusions based on a fractional amout of evidence and research. You then present these conclusions as though they are proven, undeniable facts.

That’s actually pretty spot on.

Jeff Borchardt has no ability to actually stick to specific facts and instances. He seeks to blame everything on everyone, and link everything with everyone, and paint everything with the same brush. He fundamentally rejects the fact that people are individuals and dogs are individuals. This is a fact, he can ignore it all that he wants. When I criticize people they are being specifically criticized. I do not post for any Facebook page other than SwayLove.org. This is also my website. I write here. I do not have any aliases. I try to engage everyone. I’m 1 person who stands up for not only my dogs but tries to stand up for everyone’s dogs. My dogs have done nothing to anyone. Nothing that Jeff Borchardt has to say has anything to do with my dogs or millions of other dogs. Nothing. I am not funded by any other organization. I do not take marching orders from anyone. I’m sorry to disappoint you, Jeff. I also have a working webcam. I’ve invited you to have a public conversation, talk, debate (whatever you want to call it), as human beings. I will talk to you about anything that you want to talk about, and at any time. If you’d “school me,” as you like to say, then what exactly is the problem? Wouldn’t it be of benefit to you to publicly school me on these many issues? I am not scared of you or your information. I can stand on my own feet. You can spin things however you want to spin them, but deep down you know that’s being done to make yourself feel better and reaffirm what you already believe. Step outside of your comfort zone. Have the conversation.

Honestly, the people that scare me the most are the one’s that don’t even want to hear anyone else’s opinion unless it’s something that they already agree with. I don’t live in an echo chamber. People can say a lot of things about me, but they can’t say that. I engage, I respond, I communicate. I try to do as much of that as I can, both here and on my Facebook page. Those concepts are healthy for lifting discussions, or they should be. Bottom line.

DuckDuckDuckDuckDuckDuckDuckDuck … Goose?

Who oversees who in this arrangement?

Posted December 11th, 2014 in Shelters by Josh

At the latest Los Angeles Animal Services Board of Commissioners meeting, numerous volunteers continued bravely bringing their thoughts to the microphone. It’s brave because workplace retaliation is a real thing. Those that would say it isn’t, you are either gullible or you actively work for the department that’s doing the retaliating. Once the latest audio is available I’m going to put together a compilation of some of the statements and add it to this piece so that people can hear them.

I don’t even go to most of the meetings, but when I do they routinely feature lots of public comments coming from current or former volunteers. They are mostly comments that are detailing problems or concerns. At what point does someone have to take some of them seriously? Or are these meetings just a dog and pony show? If the department, and more specifically the Board of Commissioners, actually care about their volunteers then they need to start seriously listening to their grievances.

I mentioned on Tuesday night that the role of the board was to oversee the department. Not the other way around. They are an oversight commission! I ended that statement by turning it into a question. I was genuinely asking. We know what the board is supposed to do but then we also see what it actually does.

The fact remains, someone up the chain has been able to get rid out countless past Commissioners when they begin to ask hard questions or seek certain degrees of accountability. And how are they let go? Much like the volunteers. No acknowledgement of what they’ve brought and/or continue to bring to the table, just that they are no longer needed.

So who is overseeing the department? The department? Does the department have the ability to oversee the commission set up to oversee the department? It sounds funny but these are real questions.

My criticism is leveled knowing that LAAS (city) is clearly ahead of the DACC (county). At least the city has a public meeting, genuine in nature or disingenuous. County has nothing. No way for people to voice their concerns, no way for people to publicly attempt to hold Marcia Mayeda accountable. So for that reason alone, Brenda Barnette has more courage than Marcia Mayeda. That goes recognized by me, for sure.

But for example, Tuesday they had a couple of “dangerous dog” hearings prior to the meeting getting underway. In the first one, it was alleged that a German Shepherd was constantly allowed to run free at a certain residence and had acted aggressively towards certain people. The owners of the dog pointed out that they’ve never even been cited for the dog being loose or biting anyone. What did animal control do? They showed up trying to confiscate the German Shepherd. The woman would not relinquish the dog. They then tried getting her to sign a stipulation contract stating rules that they had set forth. She wouldn’t sign it. She goes to the bathroom and then the officer starts fearmongering her father. They tell him that if he doesn’t sign their stipulation then they will confiscate BOTH of their dogs. WHAT THE FUCK? That is so illegal. One of the dogs wasn’t even involved in any of the complaints, fake or legitimate. So the father signed the stipulation under this threat of seizure. Down the line, the complaining neighbor complains again; animal control comes out and then confiscates BOTH dogs. The city has had them locked in quarantine as “evidence” for over 7 months now.

Just based on that testimony, how is there not a problem with that picture? You’d think that 1 of the Commissioners would say something, right? After all, I believe that 3 of the 5 are attorneys! No one said anything and they voted to uphold the department’s decision by a 5-0 vote. I mean, that is incredible. No due process at all. During my public comment, I tried to point out that if the seizure threat was illegally done then the stipulation that was signed by the father isn’t even valid. Ultimately, the dogs were confiscated because it was alleged that the German Shepherd was in breach of the stipulation. How does no Commissioner not ask of the department what I brought up to them during my public comment? Why do I even have to bring it up? Not to mention, 1 dog isn’t even involved. Further, no one even bothered to ask the father/daughter who was the legal owner of the dogs. Isn’t that relevant as well? It’s just all so crazy to me.

During the general manager’s report, Brenda Barnette mentioned that they’ve created a “Dangerous Dog Committee.” This came as news to me. Then she listed off the members and I was immediately further thrown off. Phyllis Daugherty is somehow a member of this committee. Daugherty is well-known for having an anti-Pit Bull ideology and being a supporter of breed-specific legislation. Barnette is also on the committee and I know that she doesn’t support BSL, but I just can’t understand how Daugherty ends up on a committee such as that one. Certainly, there are actual dangerous individual dogs, that’s a fact. But Daugherty eventually attempting to push breed-oriented ideas onto the committee is something that will also happen, that’s also a fact.

I really want to know how the committee was picked, what are the qualifications required for being on such a committee, and when and where they will meet. Barnette did tell me after the meeting that they’d next meet in January and that they weren’t against adding other members. She said that the ideas they will be pondering will have to do with individual dogs that have records of incident and will not be breed-oriented. She told me that I could attend if I wanted to.

The later agenda had something on it regarding the volunteer program and improving it. This is great. It actually ended up creating a window of opportunity to have pertinent discussion, spurned on by this erroneous report about the volunteer program that was attached to the agenda. In it, it’s claimed that the city currently has 4,137 volunteers in their database. The program’s growth is highlighted by mentioning the 2013 total of 3,264 volunteers and the 2012 total of 1,808 volunteers. It says that their volunteers complete an average of 4,300 hours per month (not including foster volunteer hours). The very next sentence claims that volunteers are asked to complete at least 6 hours per month to remain active in the program.

So hold on, stop right there. If there is 4,137 active volunteers in the system completing at least 6 hours per month then that means that, at minimum, the volunteers in their program should be completing 24,822 hours per month. This report says that they are completing an average of 4,300 hours per month. So in reality, they are (as a whole) completing only 17% of the very minimum amount of hours that the city is giving them credit for in this report. The total amount of volunteers in their system are barely averaging 1 hour per month. That’s what the numbers show. Whomever wrote up this report is either really bad at their job or thinks that the general public are just disengaged zombies.

Further down it claims that each shelter has 1 volunteer orientation per month and “more are added if needed.” This is just not true. Each shelter does not have 1 orientation per month. Not even close. Commissioner Roger Wolfson picks up on all of this fuzzy math and starts questioning the validity of the report. He also disputes the claim that monthly orientations are taking place and directly points to his own experience as a volunteer at the North Central shelter and how it took 4 months to get a class rolling after he applied.

What followed was a great discussion about what can be done to improve things for volunteers, the implementation of classes, the shifting around of responsibilities, etc. It was just talk, but that’s where it starts. Let’s see if anything happens. There’s obviously lots of caring and engaged volunteers who are ready and willing to take on more responsibilities. That’s not to say that there isn’t caring and engaged employees, there’s those, too. Here’s to hoping that something changes for the better.

Anonymous Yahoo writer tries to discredit the concept of “emotional support” dogs

Posted December 9th, 2014 in Community, Health by Josh

Today I read a piece on Yahoo entitled “Confession: emotional support dogs are B.S., I know because I have one,” and couldn’t help but shake my head at the unbelievable ignorance emanating off of the title alone.

Dear whomever anonymously penned this ridiculous article,
Your personal desire to scam the system with your own individual dog isn’t a reflection of every other person who has an “emotional support” animal. Further, the only “confession” that was found in this particular piece of anonymous writing was that your “official ESA certificate is fake,” and that you’re “a faker.” Your own words. Okay, great. But how is that a condemnation of anyone else who may have an “emotional support” dog? It’s not. It’s a reflection of you, and you only.

This writer goes on to say that airlines “nickel and dime” people, and that’s why they did it. Yes, they seem to. So that was the solution of this 1 person, to fake the certificate. That’s all that we’ve learned here. Noted. Still, they keep making the arrogant choice to speak on everyone’s behalf, as if they have any idea or insight into what they are talking about when it concerns any other person. Are there likely more people out there doing the same thing as this guy or gal? I’m sure. But that still doesn’t disqualify the concept of having an “emotional support” dog and/or render the actual “emotional support” dogs of the world (of all breeds and types) invalid.

Police brutality, towards people and animals, continues to mostly go unchecked

Posted December 7th, 2014 in Community, Parallels, Prejudice by Josh


Godspeed to Tata and her unborn puppies. This is so horrendous. These cops had no business in that yard. Some members of the “law enforcement” community just seem to think that they can violate every law in the book. It’s certainly a paradox. Chances are that this dog didn’t do much of anything to them, yet these officers get to claim whatever they want now, and no one can ever question a police officer’s word after the fact, right? It’s like a sacred cow. What a ridiculous notion to continue to allow. Police officers are just as fallible as any other person. They are people, after all. Even if Tata did go to protect the yard, it’s her yard! She was also very much pregnant, and possibly in labor at the time they entered the wrong property!

Honestly, the officers that killed this dog by shooting it 3 times in the head give police officers everywhere an unjustified bad name. Lapel cameras now! These would serve all sides. Not all cops are bad, nor are they hellbent on using quick-triggered force. Quite the opposite. But using this kind of force, especially in a situation where they are trespassing into a contained dog’s area, is an outrage.

So as we grieve Eric Garner, and Kaldrick Donald, and Aiyana Stanley, and Akai Gurley, and Ty Worthington, and Tamir Rice, among others–all unarmed and all recently lost to reprehensible acts of police brutality and overreaction–keep in mind that the same exact things happen to animals, too.

Obvious common threads are that some officers may observe certain types of people (and certain types of dogs) as a threat, either by how they appear in that moment and/or by convicting them with a stereotype or a belief system in that moment. Only fools can discard this parallel. Fools and useful idiots.

To support Tata’s owner and stay up-to-date on what is happening, please consider signing this petition and liking this Facebook page. Also, to those that will just blanketly move to condemn “Pit Bulls” or condemn Tata’s owner for having a pregnant dog or condemn all police officers for the actions of individual unnamed officers, y’all are jackasses.

Reply to Susan Robinson in the Modesto Bee

Posted November 17th, 2014 in BSL News, Prejudice by Josh

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 reaffirms 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.