Monday, October 12, 2009

How does Denver identify a "pitbull"?

Have you wondered how Denver identifies a dog as a “pitbull”? I always find it a curious process how it is that one identifies something that is a slang term or label as opposed to a concrete provable subject.
As I have said over and over, the term “pitbull” is a slang term for a type or “look” of dog. It is not a purebred and it is certainly not a breed. There are well over 25 purebred breeds that resemble what is sometimes referred to as a “pitbull”. Basically it depends on who is doing the judging.
In the case of Dexter, in my previous post, Denver Animal Control (AC) has a “team” of so called “experts”. In this case two were AC officers and the third was a vet tech.
The same shenanigans go on up here in Ontario too. The city of Mississauga was caught red handed using the janitor at the pound as one of the “breed experts” and having slips of paper (with breed written on it) dropped in buckets in front of cages as a vote by pound staff to identify mutts in custody.
We happen to have a copy of the form Denver AC uses to decide whether a dog is a “pitbull”. I have attached a copy to this post.
The process is laughable but the outcome is far from. The outcome has resulted in the deaths of thousands of good family pets that happen to not fit the description of what Denver considers a family pet dog to look like. (see my second last post) Yes that’s right, in jurisdictions that have breed discriminatory legislation; your pet’s right to live or stay in your home depends on what it looks like, not how it behaves. It is not dependent on how responsible the owner is; it is strictly dependent on how your dog looks. The labeling or categorization may vary drastically from what you as an owner, AC employees or someone off the street thinks it should look like. It is dependent on amateurs with no qualification to judge the breed makeup of a cross bred dog. One step further, there is no person qualified to determine the makeup or lineage of a cross bred dog because it cannot be definitively determined. Professional dog show judges (with reputable kennel clubs) are at least experts in judging purebred dogs and know what to look for.

When you view the document in the attachment, what you are seeing is one form, used for the identification process, copied three times by three different “experts” at Denver AC. There are 27 steps to fill out , not including the dog’s name, color or gender.

The three forms in a row you are viewing have been performed on the same dog! As you can see the only criteria all three “experts” agree on are the coat color, nose color and sex of the dog. They could not even agree on the weight of the dog, in fact one called the dog obese at 60 lbs while another recorded the dog at 65 lbs with no indication the dog was overweight.

So here is how things basically go down.

Your dog is picked up or seized as a “pitbull” by any law enforcement. The dog is taken to the Animal Control facility where three of their “expert” “pitbull” evaluators fill out the form (the one attached). On the back of the form (not shown in the attachment), they write “pitbull” or whatever breed or mix of breed they think it is. If at least two of the “experts” say it is a “pitbull” then the dog has just received its date with Dr. Death. If at least two of the evaluators say it’s not a “pitbull” then you can pick up your dog and the dog is legal to live in Denver.
The law essentially reads that if Denver says your dog is a “pitbull” then it is a “pitbull”. Sound familiar?

Why on earth do you think (in Ontario) reverse onus was written into the law? (The onus in on the owner to prove the dog is not a “pitbull” as opposed to the crown proving the dog is a “pitbull”)

The stand alone answer to that is IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO PROVE YOUR DOG IS NOT A “PITBULL” BECAUSE THEY DO NOT EXIST! Robert Charney (counsel for the Attorney General’s office in our case said himself in court “there is no such thing as a “pitbull”!) You cannot prove definitely that a cross bred dog has or does not have particular breeds in its genetic back ground or lineage. There is no proof and too many variables.

That being said, Kevin O’Connell just won his case in Denver (see previous post) proving Dexter was not a “pitbull”. In my opinion, O’Connell’s “experts” trumped AC’s “experts”. It sure sets a nice precedence for what a dog that isn’t a “pitbull” looks like!

Getting back to the attachment
***The three “experts” who filled out the forms attached, appeared at a hearing. When each were asked which of the criteria on the form were of the “pitbull” they did not know. One of the “experts” actually shrugged his shoulders. These “experts didn’t know whether a “pitbull” was supposed to have a curved or straight tail or course or soft coat. The form is “just something they fill out” but the “experts” cannot tell you what it all means.
The dog that was being identified in all three forms attached was identified as a “pitbull”.
**The dog being identified in the attached form is not Dexter. This is an unrelated previous case in Denver.
*This clearly demonstrates how the identification process is gravely flawed, sending thousands of innocent dogs to their death!

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