Dog trains man

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Welcome to the "Wall of Shame": Jørgen Hindse

Jørgen Hindse
The Danish Kennel Club, lead by chairman Jørgen Hindse, is not speaking out against the breed ban in Denmark, but on the contrary plays an important role in keeping the breed ban alive and argue in favor of enforcement of the law. In this month's edition of "The Dog" - the monthly magazine of the Danish Kennel Club - Jørgen Hindse voices some of his disturbing opinions.

As always, he starts by explaining not to support the breed ban, as the Danish Kennel Club would much rather have "all dogs that resemble "fighting" dogs, to be kept on leash and muzzled at all times". How is that for an introducing stigmatizing statement? What does "resemble fighting dogs" actually mean? But lets have a look what Jørgen Hindse more has to say about what he calls not supporting the breed ban.

In his evaluation of the breed ban's first year Jørgen Hindse concludes: "based on the cases we have seen in the media it is likely we have fewer dog bite incidents than last year, and something must have happened in this respect". The chairman of the Danish Kennel Club is apparently not informed about the research of Fair Dog, indicating dog bite incidents actually have increased with 26%. Jørgen Hindse seems to suffer of something we see all too often, a general need to voice opinions, solely based on media coverage.

The chairman of the Danish Kennel Club is even going further, as he highlights one of last year's fatal dog bite incidents as an example and concludes, "this would not have happened when the owner had muzzled his 'forbidden' dog". Even today it is actually not clear what breed(s) the individual dog belonged to. Other fatal incidents where breeds were involved that were not included of the ban are overlooked by Jørgen Hindse, and he conveniently uses this single fatal incident with a suspicion of a banned breed's involvement to state: "all owners with dogs that look like one of the banned breeds and were born before the law was implemented must prove what (mix of) breed their dog belongs to." As the law was intended, underlines Jørgen Hindse.
 
The main problem, according to Jørgen Hindse, is that the law is not properly enforced and calls for politicians "to make public officials follow up and implement the law as intended. This will ensure we will get an effective law, achieve what it is set out to do, and can form a basis for the evaluation of the law in 2013". The evaluation Jørgen Hindse is referring to is the actual decision if the breed ban should include 12 additional breeds, NOT a re-evaluation of the actual breed specific legislation.

Does this sound like a person and an organization that is not supporting the breed ban to you? Their official standpoint in this regard is a hollow phrase. A national Kennel Club should be at the center of the fight for the rights of dogs of all breeds. Lead by people that passionately want to improve the way we breed with dogs, care for them, and live together.

My suggestion to Jørgen Hindse is to take a look just across the border to the north, and see what the Norwegian Kennel Club is doing in their country to stop the breed ban. Their chairman, Espen Engh, is at the center of the protest. Together with other organizations the Norwegian Kennel Club has moved politicians to re-evaluate the breed ban. Espen Engh is of the opinion the Norwegian breed ban stigmatizes completely well-functioning dogs and owners. And even more important, Espen Engh thinks society must invest in the dog owner's competence to deal with their dogs, its socialization and upbringing - and sees it as an important responsibility of the Norwegian Kennel Club to achieve this.

Welcome to the Breed ban "Wall of Shame", Jørgen Hindse and the Danish Kennel Club.


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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kenzo & Viva got doggiestylished!

The breed ban series we are running on our blog touched a lot of hearts. So many people voted - today we have more than 1100 votes, woohoo! And votes keep on pouring in. Many also blogged about and shared the petition. Some show their appreciation with other gestures, like Karen Friesecke from DoggieStylish.com. Look what we got in the mail today:

Kenzo (aka Bronco Billie) & Viva (aka Calamity Jane)

How cool is that!? Awesome new leather collars, with matching leashes for the finishing touch. Ooh-la-la! Kenzo is going to be a show off on the upcoming dog show in September. It can be me, but I already notice his ego boost starting to erupt in the picture.

Thank you Karen! You are so generous and kind. We dedicate the collars to the Danish fight against BSL, and will donate the value to the association Fair Dog in your name.
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Facts" is not a store you can shop in

This week I turn my blog over to Charlotte Andersson, chair(wo)man of the Danish association “Fair Dog”. This organization was erected in the start of this year and leads the Danish fight to stop BSL in Denmark. It was also “Fair Dog” that published the report you could read here last week that dog bites have increased since BSL was implemented. Charlotte and her team are doing a fabulous effort in educating people, speaking out for the dogs, and launch a lot of initiatives to stop BSL. Like for example the initiation of an “Al Capone” law suit against the Danish state that BSL is not in accordance with international treaties and conventions. You can get to know them better soon, as they are translating their website into English as well.

But before I turn my blog over, I would like to thank fellow bloggers Kim Thomas from Cindy Lu's Muse, Jana Rade from Dawgbusiness and Julie Nutter from Dogs and Tails, for featuring the Danish BSL story on your blogs, spreading the word, and your support for the petition to "Tell Denmark to stop banning dogs". Your support is heart-warming and proves once more the love for our dogs in the pet blogging community doesn't stop at the border. Last but not least, the petition is doing well and we gathered the first 900+ votes in the first week, thanks to all of you out there for your vote!

And now, as promised, Charlotte Andersson, voicing her opinions about the disturbing events we have witnessed the last couple of weeks:

Ambitions were high, headlines many, and the results disastrous

Many good and responsible dog owners became stigmatized and criminalized by politicians and the media. Their dogs are called for "fighting dogs", ignoring the fact that a "fighting dog" is not a breed but a term used for dogs trained and abused to fight with other animals. Fighting dogs are illegal to own in Denmark, as is clearly stated in the written notice of the law on dogs - Consolidated Act no. 259 of 04/12/2005. Therefore it only makes things worse when we find the same politicians pointing fingers and calling some dog owners for animal abusers and criminals, as politicians are expected to know Danish law best.

It is undeniable that dogs of certain breeds throughout the ages have been abused for fighting with animals, but why should dogs be punished for humanity’s sick actions. It has been proven time and again that there are no dog breeds that are more dangerous than others, there is tons of evidence.

The Dutch government has made a major study. Why wouldn’t they look into that? The Swedish government has made a study which also was not necessary to look into. The Spanish government has made a study; neither did they look at that. The Scottish Parliament has made a study before and after their breed ban, which showed a huge increase of 160% in dog bites AFTER the ban. Neither did they look at that.

Where is the logic in making laws where the dog must pay the ultimate price – a death sentence? Why take away owners' responsibilities, as everybody knows that exactly irresponsible owners are a part of the problem. You don’t solve the problem with irresponsible dog owners by putting 13 dog breeds on a list, brush the dust off your pants, swallow your last coffee and return home after closing time.

You cannot cut down on dog bite incidents by putting 13 breeds on a list, when these breeds never have been responsible for the majority of the bite episodes, and certainly not when a portion of these breeds even do not exist in Denmark, and most of them have never bitten in anything else than their bones, or have been chasing anything else than their own tail.

So far the legislation has been a disaster, not only for all those dog owners who now must walk with their heads bowed and look down into the ground when they are walking their best friend, but also for all the dogs that paid with their lives. Not because they have bitten or caused injuries, but because they had the wrong look.

Everybody has suddenly become an expert in judging looks, thinking they can see the differences between breeds, and identify the culprit. Denmark has suddenly become blessed with a whole army of dog experts, behavioral therapists, veterinarians and dog judges. Education has become unnecessary, as we all think to know best, and certainly know enough that can justify we convict puppies and dogs to death by lethal injection.

The police have received a remarkable increase in people who call in and think they've seen an "illegal" and "dangerous" dog, and often the police are dispatched in vain. Many of the charges that were filed turn out to be simple neighbor disputes where neighbors now have another tool to harass each other, and what would be better than to hurt your neighbor by having Fido confiscated, or have the police knocking on their door asking for papers on that boxer that lies completely unaware of the situation on his dog bed. Many of the owners of dogs that are not on the infamous list also feel the consequence of it, since they also may face accusations and are forced to prove without a doubt their best friend does not belong to one of the banned breeds, or a mix thereof.

What is it that makes a politician believe it is alright to rush a flawed law through parliament, remove legal certainty in the process, stigmatize and criminalize a large portion of their voters and go in the opposite direction of what was laid down by all professionals, ignoring warning signals and other countries’ experiences? Why will they not learn and base decisions on knowledge and factual, documented information. What is it that makes politicians believe it is okay to ridicule their voters, which is exactly what they do when they claim to know better despite all the evidence on the contrary?

Now, one year after the introduction of the law, when all the warning signs turn about to be valid, and everybody can see the law does not work and leads to suffering, they believe that the solution is to further tighten and close the loopholes in the law. The only hole that needs to be closed is the big hole they run around with between their nose and chin.

One is tempted to believe that some politicians shake off all sensibility, and the grey cells which should be put to work when they are elected by the people, go out the window as soon as they enter the parliament building.

It is not enough to believe you know. Especially when you are involved in making laws – “Facts” is not a store you can shop in.



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Sunday, June 5, 2011

The face of a breed ban: make your voice heard

PLAY VIDEO (courtesy of tv2.dk)
Do you remember the Danish vet, forced to kill 19 puppies, because they belonged to a banned breed?

Denmark has one of the most strict dog breed bans in the world. 12 breeds are already banned and 13 more are lined up, making a total of 25 breeds to be banned in the near future. This will make Denmark the country with most breeds banned in the world. There is no indication 25 breeds is even enough.

Together with the people of Be The Change for Animals (BTC), we started a petition to tell Denmark to stop banning breeds. There is a Danish petition with over 11,000 signatures already. Finally, one in English for the rest of the world to speak up. Please sign the petition, and pass it on to your friends:


For each signature, the following e-mail is send to Marlene Harpsøe and Kim Andersen, the politicians that are responsible for upholding the Danish BSL laws:

Dear Marlene Harpsøe and Kim Andersen
I read the reports by Cecilie Thorslund Danish breed ban rests on historically thin basis and the recent research of the Danish association  'Fair Dog' documenting that dog bite incidents still increase even one year after BSL was implemented.

I am writing to you to ask you to re-evaluate the Danish BSL. That BSL doesn't work is the experience from other countries too, like Holland and Scotland, which are a lot like yours. Although BSL does not make people feel more safe and decrease the number of dog bites, it does lead to endless suffering of individual dogs and dog owners, who have done nothing wrong. A new legislation where the deed is punished and not the breed, is needed.

[Your name]

Both targeted politicians are members of the Danish Parliament. Here is who they are:

Marlene Harpsøe

Member of parliament for the "Danish People's Party" (Dansk Folkeparti). The party that is the engine behind BSL in Denmark. Although they are not in the government, the government can only exist due to their supporting votes. Marlene Harpsøe holds the spokesmen position for animal welfare.

Kim Andersen

Member of parliament for the party "Left" (Venstre). The main party of the government of Denmark, delivering the prime-minister. Kim Andersen is a member of the parliament's Law Committee and thereby directly involved in upholding BSL. He has a background in agriculture.


Other things you can do besides vote, is to email, tweet, and share the petition with your friends. If you have a blog, please consider putting up a petition widget on your blog (see the middle option "get widget" in the petition window). You can copy/paste this as HTML in your blog.

Make your voice heard! A lot of Danes will appreciate the foreign support to stop this madness in their country. My country.


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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dog bite incidents increase: BSL has no effect

courtesy of fairdog.dk
The number of dog bite incidents have increased, one year after the implementation of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in Denmark. A new report - published a few days ago by the Danish association "Fair Dog" - reveals BSL has no effect and Denmark is well on it's way of becoming another example of failed BSL.

According to the report the number of dog bite incidents measured before and after the BSL was implemented, increased by 26%. The number of bite incidents where one of the 13 banned breeds are involved, have decreased. Before BSL was in effect the banned breeds accounted for just 6,5% of all dog bites, and this decreased to 4,7%.

Do breeds bite?

The report is based on research of official records from the police and veterinarian's, and additional resources like the Internet and reports from individual owners. The association "Fair Dog" emphasizes that this is NOT a statistic. But a compilation of the facts at hand.

There are still no reliable statistics available in Denmark about what breeds are involved in bite incidents. Neither was that the case before BSL was implemented. How politicians plan to measure the effect of their law, remains therefore a mystery.

The conclusion we can take from the report, is the lack of a causal relationship between dog breeds and dog bites. As many countries already researched and concluded before Denmark. Denmark now has it's own first indication, laid out in a well-prepared report, it merely has been repeating the mistakes of others.

Media

The report also mentions a couple of news reports that were brought by the media during last year, as examples of their flawed reporting on dog bite incidents. The media seems to take any dog bite incident up as a claim that dogs belonging to the banned breeds still bite. Here are some headlines:

"Banned dog behind bars" 
Reading further will reveal it actually is about a German Shepherd that was spurred to attack by its owner.

"Hunting dog killed by banned dog"
Autopsy later revealed the dog was run over by a car, not bitten

"Two attacks by banned dogs running loose"
Which turned out to be Great Danes.

The media have not reported on the research of "Fair Dog", although the report was send to relevant politicians and the media by the association. The media is still focused towards sensational stories, despite them claiming the opposite in their answer to the open letter I wrote. They play a doubtful role in the Danish BSL story at the least.

Rottweilers

I am worried for the Rottweiler. The Rottweiler is listed in the report in the top 10 of dog bite incidents - next to breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, German Shepherd, etc. I am afraid pro-BSL politicians misuse that element from the report - while ignoring the obvious conclusion that breeds don't bite - and continue with banning them too. They already put the Rottweiler on the observation list. How convenient.

There are 16.000 registered Rottweilers in Denmark. I suggest to their owners to make their voices heard. While they still can.

Fair Dog

The association "Fair Dog" was erected at the start of this year as a response to the BSL in Denmark. Their goal is to create fair conditions for all dogs in Denmark, based on a sound and scientific basis. Fair Dog acts as a network for experts and interestgroups, that all work together to abolish BSL in Denmark by 2013, the official date politicians have planned to re-evaluate the BSL laws.

You can find the complete report here: http://www.fairdog.dk/pdf/undersoegelse-juni-2011.pdf, copyright Fair Dog. It is in Danish unfortunately, although the breeds and numbers will need little translation.


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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Open letter about BSL was answered ... was it?

You might remember the Open Letter to Merete Eldrup, which I send to the TV station's director after their series on BSL that sparked politicians to act once more.

I did received a response on the open letter after a while, and here is what they wrote:
"TV2 has not, as you claim, run a campaign in favor or against BSL. TV2 has in a series of reports attempted to depict the truth, after one year of the BSL laws being in effect.
In those reports we could document:
  • There still is a lively and open trade with banned dogs
  • Vets chip illegal banned dogs as not-banned breeds that are legal
  • The police is not using resources to enforce the law
  • The law did not have a solid and objective basis
  • Politicians in the government and the opposition now want to change the law
We have not, as you write, "accused" the police, vets or politicians about anything. We have reported facts. On the contrary of TV2’s coverage your mail clearly reveals an agenda. And that is of course your full right to do so.
I can otherwise inform you that, TV2 has not received any money funded by taxes since 2004, when our public license was revoked."
Today I answered to them:
"I appreciate your answer and for showing the courtesy to respond.
It will probably not come as a surprise to you that I do not agree with your presentation of events. Although I have to give you that the TV station is not funded by taxes anymore, my wrong. 
I feel that trying to discuss with you will not bring us any further. I would just like to add that it was very disappointing to read you closed your argument with the fact that politicians now want to change the law. From what I and many others heard them say, they are talking about sharpening the law. Maybe even adding more breeds to the list. That is change alright, but not the change we need, as it will lead to more suffering.
Ironically we do agree somehow, because your accomplishment that politicians look at the law once more is exactly my point. Once more our politicians legislate based on media coverage and people's fear alone. But did they really got all the facts this time?
Some new research came out yesterday from the Danish association "Fair Dog". Their research shows the number of dog bites in Denmark has actually increased since the breed ban. I have not seen it in the media yet, maybe it is something you could investigate for it's facts and deem newsworthy?"
The new Danish research that came out yesterday from the Danish association "Fair Dog" is one more bomb placed under the whole law. I am trying to get more details from them. But again the story is copyrighted. I asked them for permission to publish, we will have to wait and see. Just on a side note, it drives my crazy a lot of good info on BSL is copyrighted or protected somehow. Maybe that is part of the problem? Updated June 4: Ahum, I had to correct this, so far people have been very helpful obtaining permission to repint, so I should not complain about that.


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