The media is reporting that a toddler was killed by three dogs in Concord, CA today. While a grieving family is obviously in the middle of shock, the reporters – who flock to tragedy especially when it involves a dog – are hot to push headlines out there faster than their evening competition. That leaves little to no time for gathering facts.
As you can imagine, our phones are lighting up. A breathy reporter just left a message on my voice mail; she needs a quote from “the pit bull people” FAST because she’s on a deadline. Some reporters expect us to defend the dogs, or apologize for them when a dog that looks like our pets hurts a child. We tend to disappoint reporters a lot.
It’s not reasonable or wise to comment on dog-related cases while investigators are still trying to decipher who/what/why. Some things we do know: The media is not a reliable source of information on dog breeds or the circumstances surrounding dog attacks. And since stories change constantly, what seems apparent today will have shifted ten times by next week.
We do know that any large dog that acts scary is considered a pit bull by many, especially those in the media. We do know the media has a bevy of snarly toothed graphics in their image files (that may or may not be pit bulls) that they attach to their stories, as if to confirm our worst predator phobias. The media will try very hard to sharpen our fear with this story. We do know that those of us who own dogs that look like pit bulls will be pressed to explain this situation to people who do not support you for owning a pit bull.
My advice: Don’t.
The dogs in this situation may or may not be pit bulls or pit bull type dogs. But in the end – the breed type is irrelevant. A little boy is dead today because something went terribly wrong in his home, probably, a number of things went wrong all at once. We may never know all the details, but we do know that tens of thousands of families in the SF bay area love and enjoy dogs, including pit bulls, as cherished family members without incident … Which is why it’s especially shocking when we hear about a tragedy.
We challenge the SF bay area reporters and others to think, to question what can be learned from this incident rather than who or what we can blame.
No doubt this will play out for days or weeks as pertinent info and analysis come streaming in. Take a breath. Say a prayer.
The National Canine Research Council has been teaching all of us how to ask better questions when dog related incidents come into view.
Thank you NCRC. We have a lot to learn from your good presence of mind.
Read the original here: Concord tragedy – The phones are ringing