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September 14, 2014

Join us for the Doggy Fun Run & Walk! Please READ about Pitbulls! and What Happens When a Dog Breed is in a MOVIE?

Eloquent Ernestine

Calling all runners!! September 21 at NOON come out with (or without) your pup to run or walk a 5K at Mystic River Reservation in Medford. All money raised will be used to build a new dog park in Medford! The Crate Escape runners will be there! For details, check out the event on Crate Escape’s facebook page!

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I am sharing an article on pitbulls. Throughout our 10 years at Crate Escape, we have become truly knowledgeable. It certainly is not about looks (altho a 100 lb. male who is all muscle, would have to be an angel to come to daycare.)  We have closely followed the breed discrimination issues, and we would never not consider a dog for Crate Escape because of his breed. But! pitbulls are strong – so they have to be about mellow and fun with no aggression. Without a doubt, some of our favorite pups are pitties.

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When you see a particular dog breed in a movie, think it has any lasting consequences? Check out article below! I think we should start a petition to only cast rescue dogs!

ernie-am-walk2

Later, Ernestine

 

Why Pitbulls Aren’t What You Think They Are

by Ben Guarino

Ask 10 people what makes a pit bull a pit bull, and you’re apt to get as many different answers. (Or, simply, “I know pit when I see pit.”) Take a peek under the pit bull umbrella, and you can find English bulldogs frolicking with bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Bullmastiff- hound mixes.

There’s plenty of regional variation, too, regarding what characteristics make a pit bull. Even canine experts have different definitions, as Cristy Hoff,   a professor at Canisus University,  in Buffalo, N.Y., found firsthand. Hoffman was flipping through pictures of shelter dogs on her phone — “Here’s a pit bull, here’s a pit bull” — when her colleague, Carri Westgartha scientist at the University of Liverpool.remarked that in the U.K., none of those pups would be considered pits.

Their scientific interest piqued, Hoffman, Westgarth and fellow researchers set out to determine the way animal shelter workers label certain dogs. The scientists found a with so-called Breed Specific Legislation, or BSL, playing a role. The U.K., as well as parts of the U.S., have laws that prohibit — or at least make it much harder to own — certain types of dogs. There is a significant regional difference between the US and the UK> Under the U.K.’s 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, for example, dogs with a set number of ‘pitbull type’ charastics are outlawed.

The scientists asked 416 U.S. and 54 U.K. animal shelter employees and volunteers to identify 20 dogs by photo; of the dogs, 11 were bull breeds or mixes, with two each that were “highly probable pit bull examplesfrom the U.K. and U.S, respectively, the authors write. The responses were varied — out of the 20 dogs, more than half of the U.S. participants reported that seven were pit bulls or a mix. In the U.K., on the other hand, a majority of the shelter workers called only one dog a pit bull.

Nine of the dogs shelter workers were asked to identify.

 

Although U.K. workers seemed to underreport pit bulls more frequently, in the U.S., the reluctance to classify a dog as a pit bull may be intentional. For shelters in areas where breed-specific laws apply, 40 percent of workers said they would purposefully identify a dog as something other than a pit bull or other banned breed. Even in places without BSL, where renters and homeowners might run into problems with landlords and insurance, Hoffman says, shelter workers may have an incentive to keep “pit bull” off of a dog’s tag.

The intent isn’t to trick would-be adopters — it’s to get these dogs to more homes. Not only are pitbulls euthanized in disproportionate numbers, but pet owners are less likely to pick a pit bull up from a shelter. One U.S. rescue worker wrote: “I would put Lab mix because they get adopted easier – he looks like he could be Staffie (Staffordshire bull terrier).”

“It’s kind of scary that decisions are being made on individual dogs based on BSL,” Hoffman says to The Dodo, “when we don’t have a clear definition of what a pit bull is.”

Rachel Orritt, a graduate student at the University of Lincoln, studying dog aggression,  who was not involved in the research, calls the study “preliminary” but “very interesting from a cultural point of view.” She cautions that the small sample of workers in the U.K. may not have intentionally mislabeled dogs, however, but were simply unfamiliar with pit bulls. “It is likely that a large portion of the U.K. rescue centre workers and volunteers in this study have never seen a pit bull type dog ‘in the flesh,’ ” Orritt writes in an email to The Dodo.

Given the confusion about which dogs should be defined as pit bulls, this study underlines the fact that BSL is a flawed way to prevent dog bites. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House point out that owner behavior not breed, ultimately leads to more dangerous dogs.

The Dangerous Dogs Act, likewise, relies on 15 physical characteristics “to identify pit bull type dogs,” Orritt says. “A Labrador of the right size and shape could meet these criteria, and therein lies the flaw of breed specific legislation.”

 

Impact of movies on dog breed popularity

 

Collies. The 1943 hit Lassie Come Home is associated, in the following two years, with a 40 per cent increase of Collie registrations in the American Kennel Club.

The effect of movies featuring dogs on the popularity of dog breeds can last up to ten years and is correlated with the general success of the movies, according to new research from the University of Bristol, the City University of New York, and Western Carolina University.

The study, published today in PLOS ONE, also found that movies’ influence was strongest in the early twentieth century and has declined since.

The researchers used data from the American Kennel Club, which maintains the world’s largest dog registry totalling over 65 million dogs, and analyzed a total of 87 movies featuring dogs. They found that the release of movies is often associated to an increase in popularity of featured breeds over periods of one, two, five, and ten years.

Additionally, they found that these trend changes correlated significantly with the number of viewers during the movie’s opening weekend, considered as a proxy of the movie’s reach among the general public.

This suggests that viewing a movie may cause a long-lasting preference for a breed that can be expressed years later, when the time comes to buy a new dog.

The impact of movies has been large. The ten movies with the strongest ten years effect were associated, the authors found, with changes in registration trends such that over 800,000 more dogs were registered in the ten years after movie release than would have been expected from pre-release trend.

The 1943 hit Lassie Come Home is associated, in the following two years, with a 40 per cent increase of Collie registrations in the American Kennel Club. An even more dramatic example is the 100-fold increase in Old English Sheepdog registrations following the 1959 Disney movie The Shaggy Dog.

Professor Stefano Ghirlanda, lead author of the study said: “We focused on changes in trend popularity rather than on popularity itself to avoid attributing to movies trends that were already ongoing before movie release, as up-trending breeds may have been chosen more often for movies.”

The team also discovered a general decrease during the century of movies’ influence on the success of dog breeds. Earlier movies are associated with generally larger trend changes than later movies. This might be due to an increased competition with other media, such as television, and more recently, the internet, but also to an increased competition among movies. Movies featuring dogs were released at a rate of less than one per year until about 1940 but a rate of more than seven per year by 2005.

The authors had previously shown how dynamics in dog breed popularity are subject to the erratic fluctuations typical of fashion and fads. For example, they discovered that the more rapidly puppy registrations increased, the more rapidly their popularity declined, a phenomena also found for baby names popularity.

Additionally, they showed that popularity of breeds is unrelated to breed temperament and health. Hal Herzog, co-author of the paper said: “On the whole, breeds with more desirable behaviours, greater longevity, and fewer inherited genetic disorders did not become more popular than other breeds. In short, cultural shifts in types of pets largely reflect ephemeral changes in fashion rather than selection for functional traits.”

Cultural dynamics are often considered too whimsical to be subject of scientific enquiry but, the authors argue, studies like this demonstrate that influences on popular culture can be detected and quantified, given the right data.

But what are the consequences for the dogs? Dr Alberto Acerbi, a Newton Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol and co-author of the paper said: “If people buy en masse dogs because they appear in movies the consequences can be negative for the dogs themselves. Our previous study found that the most popular breeds had the greatest number of inherited disorders.

“It’s not surprising that we tend to follow social cues and fashions, as this is a quite effective strategy in many situations. However, in particular cases the outcomes can be negative. When choosing a new pet, we may want to act differently.”

 

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