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Channel TEN forums
Have just lodged the following letter of complaint with Channel 10:
I am writing because I was disturbed, while watching Bondi Vet last night, to see two particular incidents where inaccurate information was given on the programme. I believe this misinformation contravenes the television code of practice under the section concerned with accuracy, fairness and respect for privacy in news and current affairs.
The first instance was an eight month old terrier, called Scruffy, brought in by his owner Maria after being attacked by a dog, which the show stated was a pitbull terrier. The pup was badly injured and his owners were very upset.
What concerns me, however, is what followed on the show with regard to pitbull terriers. First of all, pitbull terriers are difficult to identify, and plenty of the public will mistake staffordshire terriers, terriers registered in Australia as american staffys (arguably not the same as american pitbull terriers), english bull terriers, and any cross breed that looks like a bull terrier, as a pitbull. There is, therefore, no proof that the attacking dog, uncontrolled and aggressive as it was, was actually an American Pitbull Terrier. Indeed, the morning after the attack, Scruffy's owner, Maria, stated she had referred the matter to the council and it was in the hands of the rangers, who had to try and find the man and his dog - so she doesn't know the man, or his dog, and therefore really cannot claim conclusively that the dog that attacked her pup was a pitbull terrier.
Of greater concern was the comment to camera by Dr Lisa Chimes, where she said:
‘The thing about pitbulls, what makes them so dangerous, is that their jaws basically lock, and you cannot open them, and that’s why they’re fighting dogs, and that’s why they’re so dangerous’.
This is simply untrue. Pitbull terriers, and other bull terriers, do not have a locking mechanism in their jaw. Scientific testing has proven that there is no physical design particular to the bull terrier breed which means their jaw closes and cannot be reopened because something clicks into place.
The concept of savage Pitbulls appears again in the same show, in a second incident; a woman brings in a puppy called Snowy that she has adopted from the pound. She wants Dr Chris Browne to run a DNA test on the puppy to make sure it does not have any pitbull terrier genes. DNA testing in dogs is inconclusive at best (unless you are testing and comparing the DNA of two specific dogs, against each other, to see if they are related - all DNA testing can do is identify genetic sequences common to certain breeds - it could prove the pup had common ancestry with a pitbull terrier, but would not conclusively state that the dog had a pitbull parent, for instance).
For starters, I believe it is unethical veterinary medicine for Dr Chris to carry out such an arbitrary test on a puppy. What would happen if the test had shown the pup had a pitbull parent? Would the pup have been put to sleep? Would Dr Chris have put it to sleep right there on his show, for us all to see?
Instead, he reassures the owner that the dog has no pitbull in it, but there follows a very disturbing exchange where he tells her she has nothing to worry about, and she says her son's friends from school can now come over and she won't need to worry about the dog attacking them.
(I cannot transcribe the verbatim exchange, as the link to that part of the show is not working on the channel 10 website).
This is misleading and inccurate information - Dr Chris cannot guarantee that woman that her dog will never hurt her children or their friends simply because it does not have pitbull terrier in it. If the dog is unsocialised, poorly treated or badly trained between now and its adult life, it is just as capable of injuring a child as any bull breed dog.
Dogs are individual. Different breeds have characteristics that it is vital that the public understand. Pitbull terriers are formidible dogs, with high bite pressure in terms of pounds per square inch. The shape and weight of the average adult dog, coupled with this bite pressure and the high tenacity that is bred into terriers of all kinds, means pitbulls should only ever be owned by an owner who respects and can control the tendancies of this breed.
However, the same goes for any large breed dog - German Shepherds, rottweilers, huskies, labradors - all of these dogs are bred to have certain characteristics. It is human beings who shape those characteristics - not all labradors are born guide dogs. Not all rottweilers are born guard dogs. And not all pitbull terriers are born fighting dogs. If they were, there would be no requirement for the savagery of dog fighting training - infliction of pain and cruelty, blooding the dogs, extended training on a treadmill, encouragement of dog-aggression.
In general, I believe the Bondi Vet show from last night was misleading, inaccurate in places, and did great damage to the 'deed, not breed' campaign that is so important to ALL dogs - because while it is vital that potential owners understand the responsibilities of owning a large breed dog, it is also absolutely vital that potential owners are not lulled into a false sense of security with other breeds and assume any dog is a naturally gentle companion, incapable of harm or disobedience, simply because it is a certain breed.
Our pounds and shelters are overflowing with dogs, some pure breed and some not, because owners did not fully appreciate the responsibility and the challenge of socialising, training and generally looking after a cute puppy as it grows into an adult dog. I would hope that shows like Bondi Vet, being a mainstream, prime time show on veterinary medicine, would strive to help educate the general public about dogs.
Shame on them, last night, for buying into the tabloid journalism that is villification of an entire breed.
I strongly hope Bondi Vet is asked to issue a retraction of the basic inaccuracies in its show, but also advised to broadcast an episode that more accurately addresses the concept of deed, not breed.
[My name - and no I didn't write SpotTheDog]
Oh! that was a GREAT letter! Would it be possible for me and others of like mind on here to add our names to it and send it to channel ten? I am fine with writing my own letter, but you have articualted the issues so well in yours, it may be easier/better to add a list of supporting contacts?
Thanks so much for following this up - I thought about it all night.
In the meantime, I'll dash off something brief to channel ten. Has Chris Brown got a website?
I think he has.
There was a complaint not long ago when he was on a channel 10 morning show promoting PP.
He bought a Husky pup on the show from PP store for one of the guests who has never owned a dog before.:mad
Well written SpotTheDog.
Feel free to use any bit of the letter you want! I just couldn't leave it alone this morning. I really want to see them issue a retraction and realised that no amount of bulletin board ranting would do it, I'd have to write in a complaint!
I just emailed Bondi Junction Vet Hospital directly, as I am waiting for channel ten to get back to me - I can't sign up into the forums due to a technical thing.
What makes people like Chris Brown behave so irresponsibly? Is it the money? Is he just not savvy enough to realise what the implications of his influence? And are you serious? He promoted PP and bought a husky from them for a first time dog owner? Sigh. I used to love Bondi Vet........
I also want to work at getting him to issue a retraction. Let's do it!
Well written Spot.
Hopefully the show can address these genuine concerns and gross misconceptions.
I don't watch the show, Chris Brown did a great job of putting me off before his first episode went to air. One of the ads he came across as rather egotistical and arrogant, he seemed to speak poorly to owners and nurses.
My opinion of him is now far lower. For a vet to support PP and to do something as irresponsible as give a husky puppy to a new dog owner is revolting. He of all people should understand the goings on of these organisations.
Chris Brown, you are pathetic in my book.
I too will send an email
Education not Legislation
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