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The Pit Bull Placebo: The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression Paperback – June 11, 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Delise's exhaustively researched, often riveting account of how America's most respected dog became its most reviled takes us beyond the pitiable plight of the Pit bull. It goes to the heart of the storied bond between dogs and humans and the ways the latter often corrupts it for their own craven purposes. By dispelling common misperceptions about certain dog breeds, Delise successfully shifts the onus for problem dog behaviors back to where it should be: squarely on us." --Charles Siebert, author of Wickerby: An Urban Pastoral and Angus: A Novel

"Delise provides common-sense solutions for public safety and sheds light on current media bias involved in the reporting of dog attacks. A compelling and thorough analysis of reckless owners and dangerous dogs in America. A must-read for any public official concerned with increasing public safety." --Ledy VanKavage, Senior director of Legislation and Legal Training, ASPCA
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Anubis Publishing (June 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972191410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972191418
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 7.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #765,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Everybody should read this book as it would help reduce the level of ignorance out there. And not just about pit bulls, but about dog aggression in general and how it is reported by the media. All too frequently we hear about how the "family dog just snapped and mauled a child." The reality is that often times key information is not included in the article such as the reporductive status of the dog (a big factor in dog attacks), that a female just had puppies (another factor for female dogs) or that the dog was chained, emaciated, suffering from being in extreme heat, or taunted by a group of kids.

Further, the media seems to be completely unaware of the unwitting role they play in fostering fads amongst certain dogs percieved to be the new demon dog and the correlation between breed popularity and the number of fatal attacks. Like Homer Simpson the media blithely marches on almost gleefully publishing account after account of the current demon dog mauling someone and reaping the rewards for such yellow journalism. Delise even highlights one incident where a major magazine published such and article and provided a detailed description of how to turn a pit bull into a monster.

The level of detail of the information in this book is simply amazing. I'd highly recommend it for everyone.
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"In the present day climate of fear and misinformation about Pit Bulls and dog attacks, eradication of the Pit Bull is the placebo administered solely to appease the public's mental anxiety."

And so it goes. The Pit Bull: locking jaws, biting and holding while grinding, the dog that attacks like a shark. These are all media myths designed to demonize one particular dog breed.

The Pit Bull Placebo traces the media's coverage and the reality of dog bite attacks from the end of the 19th century through to today. Drawing on real cases and quoting from the newspapers' accounts of these cases, Karen Delise makes an incredibly simple case: There have always been dog attacks, some severe, some fatal. But it is the media's focus that has twisted the public's perception of the Pit Bull.

The Bloodhound was the original bad guy. Hyped up through plays based on Uncle Tom's Cabom in which the dogs chase down an escaped slave and her newborn child, these dogs were vilified and people were supposed to be frightened of them. But media reports, which did feature the dog's breed, generally focused more on the cause and effect aspect of the dog attack. They gave their readers a true picture of what caused the attack. It did not begin and end with the words "Vicious Bloodhound."

Then it was the German Shepherd Dog, which had two major saving graces: police work and Rin Tin Tin. While many substandard owners obtained German Shepherd Dogs for guard work and left them chained outside with little human interaction, many people recognized them as great, noble creatures.

The Doberman, which is still sometimes viewed in a negative light, followed on the heels of the German Shepherd Dog. The Doberman acquired its super-predator status through both reality and myth.
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This book is very informative. During my years of fighting breed specific legislation, I thought I had heard it all but this book offered new and interesting facts and insights.
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Format: Paperback
This is a must read for anyone interested in learning the truth behind the various stories hyped up by media. Delise identifies a pattern over the years of our human need for drama through particular targeted breeds. It is time to step back and look at the human element and intentions of choice of dog.
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Format: Paperback
Interesting reading for anyone concerned about dogs, breed specific legislation and the images the media create. I am not a pit bull owner and I do not live in the USA but by the end of the book I had more sympathy for this and other breeds of dog labelled "dangerous". The facts behind specific attacks and the historical news clips are quite compelling. Well written level headed exploration of an issue that puts the responsibility for dog attacks firmly back on the owners supposedly entrusted to care for them and explores issues that if implemented would do more to reduce attack rates than breed specific legislation.
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The author assesses the myths that have grown in our society about 'pit bull' dogs. She also explains and reiterates stories from the past century about how 'bloodhounds' were also similarly stigmatized. She rightly, in my opinion, explains how the owners of the dogs involved in attacks bear a large responsibility for the dogs behaviours. The book is not a rant. It details meticulously the cases involved. It is an excellent book - I highly recommend it. I have never owned a 'pit bull' or Staffordshire terrier. I have owned mutts that were mostly "Collie or Labrador" mixes over my 67 years. I have no personal experience to affirm or refute her research. I do agree that the source of most dog problems lay largely with the dog owner.
I bought this book because: I was interested in the subject and because I felt guilty. The author is my niece. I have not communicated with her in over thirty years. Her book has been out since 2007 and I had never read it. I, being a dog owner and a relative, believe I owe it to her to read it.
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