Dangerous Dogs Public Image
This is a subject that for obvious reasons won't die or let me move on to other things. My mail box fills up each day each day with messages stating the same basic thing: "It's always the stupid owners fault, I am an idiot, numbers, numbers, numbers, numbers."
August 2001 | TheDogPress.com
Mike Murray, Another Viewpoint
I became discouraged and just wanted to drop the whole thing. No one seem to want to understand the point I was trying to make. In fact the majority of the emails I have received are a perpetuation of the same problem.
I have been trying to get readers not to see Mike Murrays' point of view, but the publics' point of view. The public has a fear of these dogs and wants to ban them. Dismissing or ignoring those fears will not make the problem go away. Breeders seem to be determined to ignore the reasons why the public fears these breeds, and just as determined to avoid any reasonable methods of combating that fear.
Fear is not a rational emotion. It can't be defeated by numbers. I am afraid of flying. I have read all of the statistics that say that flying is safer than driving, but I would still rather drive for ten hours than fly for two. Same with bans. Telling them that Pomeranians bite more often than Pit Bulls won't magically make the fear of Pit Bulls go away.
But here and there I get an email from someone who gets it. Someone who takes positive steps to work towards a solution instead of adopting a militant and defensive stance. I received this email today. This was a follow-up to an earlier message she had sent me.
Mike, you are 100 per cent correct that it is the public image that we have to change.
I show and train dogs (you have a previous e-mail from me so you know my breeds) and I get very angry with the dog fancy. They will talk about the problem to each other, but don't do anything or try to contribute any ideas on how to change things.
I do disagree with you on your saying we don't need to place a lot of blame on the news media - Sorry, but I place tons of blame on them - they are suppose to be reporting the news, all the news, correctly not what they think! I have tried to get the news media to cover various projects my friends and I have done with our dogs at parks, malls, and other public places but they never show up even after saying they will. The news media is a thorn in our sides.
As a responsible dog owner/breeder/trainer I work hard each and every day to show my dogs in a positive light.
Mike, don't give up, keep at it somewhere, sometime, someone will wake up - I hope it is soon.
By the way, you had asked me if you could use the e-mail I sent you previously on your follow up story and I said you could - I read your follow up and noticed you hadn't used it. I was wondering why?
Have a good evening and keep up the GOOD FIGHT!
Diane Pegram & the Staffy gang, http://geocities.com/dianepegram/ or Flag.mainpage.net
Now let me quickly explain why her email works so well for me when most of the others just made me want to quit.
Instead of deriding me for my ignorance and throwing a whole bunch of meaningless numbers at me she worked instead to show her breed in a positive light. Her final two paragraphs were perfect. She shows that she takes responsibility for her dogs, she loves them, she shows their value to her community (therapy dogs) and then she even gives me her email address and home phone number to help me to understand her breed better. Overall both emails were very positive, which tends to make me look at her breed a bit more positively.
I am no different than the rest of the general public. If want to do battle with me I will battle back. It's human nature. But work with me, don't belittle my fears, and show me the positive things about your breeds and you might be able to turn me around. (And please, please understand that I am saying that not as Mike Murray but as the collective public)
Someone else wrote to me and reminded me of Stubby, the most decorated dog in WW2. They also reminded me of Spuds the Bud dog and the dog in Black Sheep Squadron. Somehow people need to be reminded of these positive characters and others like them to offset the negative images the news gives us every day.
Talk about irony. As I am writing this there is a TV on the corner of my desk. Right now they are doing a follow-up on on the 6 o'clock news about the Seminar student that was attacked by Rottweilers two days ago. I don't know about where you live but here in Central Florida we get this at least a couple times a week. How do you fight that? I'm not sure, but I know that calling the station and spewing dog bite statistics won't work. Neither will sending in pictures of your Rottweiler with Fluffy the cat. Here's one suggestion that might work: If I was a Rottweiler breeder (or whatever the particular breed in that instance may be) the next time there is an attack I would call the station, present my credentials (and they better be good) and offer an experts opinion. Offer to let them come out and film your kennels and see your office with all the paperwork you have accumulated over your many years of breeding. More importantly, from the news station's point of view, offer to give your personal, objective, experts opinion on why these attacks keep happening. If they think you are pursuing an agenda they will ignore you. You have to find a way to make yourself valuable to the news station. It might not be easy but it can be done, I see it all the time with other issues. Unless you prefer to think that breeders are singled out to be picked on.
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