An open letter to Greater Vancouver media

Dear editors, reporters, producers, and the countless others that are responsible for our news,

We invite you to join us for an important event on Sunday, October 28, in an effort to move “beyond the myth” when it comes to reporting on dangerous dogs, specifically where pit bulls are concerned.

Last month, headlines about “vicious breeds” and “calls for a breed ban” were everywhere following tragic dog attacks on young children. While these incidences are shocking and rightly draw attention to the matter of dangerous dogs in our community, the discourse has a way of spiraling downwards. News coverage becomes sensationalized: pit bull attacks become the news item of the week, hyperbolic language takes over headlines, and attack photos become the core of the story.

Amongst all this coverage, important elements are missing from almost every news report. We almost never see statistics from animal control, showing that bites happen every day in BC and not only by pit bulls – not by a long shot. It’s also rare to see testimonials from animal control experts, veterinarians, behaviourists, researchers, or others who can give insight into what lies behind these acts.

In response, people enter into a discussion about breed. The same discussion that has been circling for over 20 years. Arguments volley, with pit bull advocates citing the many examples of loving family dogs that make up this breed. Others compare them to blood-thirsty predators and ticking time bombs.

The conversation is old and it is tired. Breed restrictions have been attempted and shown universally to be failed experiments – so why aren’t we asking new questions?

  • Is there in fact a dog aggression epidemic?
  • If yes, what do we know about it?
  • What do the numbers say?
  • What should we be doing differently?

In an attempt to spark this conversation, HugABull and Paws for Hope are hosting two screenings of the acclaimed documentary Beyond the Myth. It explores the effects of breed specific legislation in US communities and the many factors – including the role of the media – behind the demonization of a breed.

To bring a local perspective to the discussion, our screenings will be followed by panel discussions featuring local experts in animal welfare, animal control, and animal law.

While both shows are sold out, we are holding tickets for representatives from local media. Showings are on Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 28, 2:00pm at the Vancity Theatre in downtown Vancouver. Complete information, including our list of panellists, is at www.hugabull.com/btm. Media passes can be reserved by contacting info@hugabull.com.

Please join us for this afternoon of discussion, and more importantly in our commitment to spark a productive, informed conversation about breeds, bites, and bans.

April Fahr
on behalf of the Board of Directors
HugABull Advocacy & Rescue Society

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One Response to An open letter to Greater Vancouver media

  1. MacKenzie Serpe says:

    I think it’s a wonderful idea. This is a topic that needs to be addressed. Perhaps if people had more information than there would be less fear. I don’t believe that Pit Bulls could be any more dangerous than the next dog. Over hyped and over sensationalized pictures, articles, the media, BSL laws and people can play a HUGE part in how these animals are viewed. By taking the stigma away and opening up a frank discussion will help tremendously.

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