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I have a question of the author. On the first page you write: "In 2012, four people died by dog in California. The scariest thing: three of those four were killed here in San Diego County."

Three of the four who died were in San Diego. Okay. I don't quite understand why that's "scary." It seems more likely to be a statistical anomaly. Data covering many years would need to be analyzed to determine if there is a reason to be scared about living in San Diego.

More important, you never indicate the breed or type of dogs responsible for those deaths. Given the tenor of your article, had those deaths been due to Pit Bull type dogs, one can be fairly certain you would have made that point loud and clear. That you didn't while including that statistic is disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst. For the casual reader who hasn't taken a side in this debate, the inclusion of that information in such an article gives the impression that Pit Bull type dogs /were/ involved.

Based on this hyperbolic and misleading sentence alone, I predicted that your article would rely on anecdotal evidence rather than scientifically gathered and analyzed statistics. And sure enough, that's what the majority of your article is - people on both sides telling their stories. You were honest enough to include people who own Pit Bull and Pit Bull type dogs. Of course, people who've been traumatized have much more dramatic and memorable stories to tell than those who haven't had any issues with their dogs.

But you miss an important understanding of human nature: Trauma teaches us caution, but also causes over-generalizations. A woman who is raped by a man within her own ethnic group tends to become fearful of being alone. A woman who is raped by a man outside of her own ethnic group tends to become fearful of all men in that group. The reason is that the first woman will have many, many positive associations with men in her own group: fathers, brothers, uncles, etc. The second woman will usually have far fewer positive associations and so over generalizes. Analogously, the same happens to assault victims, dog-bite victims, etc.

I don't deny the trauma these people experienced. I don't deny that dogs bite. But even a little research would have shown that the idea that a Pit Bull's jaw locks on is a myth. You were writing from within the trauma of having watched your beloved cat killed by a dog who wasn't properly controlled by his owner. So you want to ban all large dogs. That's overreach and an imposition of your fear on law-abiding fellow citizens.

April 23, 2015

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