Animal People is the "brainchild" of Merritt Clifton. In it are various articles on animal related issues, from farming to hunting to vivisection. Clifton is a vegan and purports to be an animal rights activist. But he has something against Pit Bulls and what he calls "close mixes". He is well known for his unscientific "dog bite study" based on media reports and his made-up dog bite severity scale. You can google it yourself.
Animal People is available online and in the September 2010 issue, you can find a book review of The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant.
I cannot say I'm surprised with the review - Clifton will find any argument to bolster his anti-pit bull zealotry.
Gorant's book discusses the 51 Pit Bulls and "close mixes" confiscated from Michael Vick. The case, no matter how you cut it, made it possible for dogs from other fight busts to be viewed as individual dogs and treated accordingly.
In his review, Clifton immediately asserts the following, "But, contrary to hype, this does not mean anyone has achieved magical advances in handling authentic fighting Pit Bulls."
Authentic fighting pit bulls. Granted, many of the dogs confiscated from Vick's property didn't fight or were puppies. But that could be said of those so-called "authentic fighting pit bull" fight-busts. Perhaps Clifton could take a gander at these photos and let us all know which are the authentic fighting pit bulls. He seems to consider himself an expert:
Five hundred dogs were confiscated, nearly 70% were people friendly, and about half were able to find placement with shelters and rescues. One dog pictured is from an Oklahoma cruelty confiscation - the dogs were not being fought. One picture is from another dog fight bust and a few pictures are from the Vick bust. If Clifton can tell me who the "authentic fighting pit bulls" are, awesome. I mean, that's totally creepy and ridiculous but awesome.
I can't help but think Clifton is just trying to conjure up some reason to deride the successful strides made by many of the former Vick dogs, and he's picked the good 'ol "they weren't authentic enough" argument.
So what else does Clifton got? Oh, the settlement. Because apparently troubled dogs don't deserve a chance at life unless it comes with a full money clip? No shelter in the world asks for donations to raise funds for amputations, surgeries, or other expensive medical treatments? These dogs with treatable medical problems should just be killed? Dogs with treatable behavioral problems should be killed? That's the message Clifton is sending - that these dogs, because of human errors and mistreatment deserve to die. Pretty harsh, don't you think? I wonder if Clifton would sing a different tune if the dogs weren't much-dreaded Pit Bulls. Probably not - Clifton is not a no-kill advocate.
But the best part is yet to come. Clifton makes up some numbers about Pit Bulls. I mean, literally he makes them up. He thinks he knows how many Pit Bulls exist and thus the rate at which Pit Bulls bite (he thinks he knows the Pit Bull population based on, wait for it, classified ads). This goes beyond ridiculous and into la-la land. There is no accurate count of American Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers (those are Pit Bulls, people) in this country. None. Nada. Zilch. Truth! And if you don't have numbers, you don't get to claim that 1 in 100,000 Pit Bulls kills people or 1 in 30,000 ADOPTED Pit Bulls turn and maim people. For reals? Can you imagine if the world worked with Clifton Logic as its driving force? I could just say there are five million red SUVs and that 1 in 250,000 kill people each year and 1 in 35,000 pre-owned red SUVs maim people or that there are 2 million pieces of rye grass and that 1 in 100,000 of them give me allergies and we should probably just slash and burn them now, thanks.
There isn't much of a book review involved in Clifton's book review.
We've finally made strides in the world of dog rescue. We've progressed from uniformly killing medically treatable dogs, killing all neonatal puppies and kittens, killing all dogs with resource guarding or treatable behavioral problems. We aren't perfect, but we are making strides in how we treat dogs and cats who we have domesticated and bred to be our companions and friends. They are owed a lot from us, and it's time we start paying up, including with how we treat and work with dogs rescued from the cruelties of dog fighting. Anyone who claims to like nonhuman animals, including dogs, can't ever support the killing of healthy animals when reasonable alternatives exist.