Ingrid Newkirk & PETA: Hypocrites

How can an organization that is devoted to the ethical treatment of animals endorse a policy that would kill millions of family pets? Only through some pretty amazing mental gymnastics that rely on a mainstay of the liberal agenda, gun control. You see, banning “pit bulls” is the same as banning guns mixed with ignorance.

The pit bull’s ancestor, the Staffordshire terrier, is a human concoction, bred in my native England, I’m ashamed to say, as a weapon. These dogs were designed specifically to fight other animals and kill them, for sport. Hence the barrel chest, the thick hammer-like head, the strong jaws, the perseverance and the stamina. Pits can take down a bull weighing in at over a thousand pounds, so a human being a tenth of that weight can easily be seriously hurt or killed.

There is so much wrong here. First, any and all pure breed dogs are “human concoctions”. Humans come up with a number of desirable traits and then breed the dogs to get those traits. This is true of chihuahuas, German shepherds, bichon frise, and miniature pinschers. To single out the Staffordshire terrier, the American Staffordshire Terrier and their like as something special for being “human concoctions” indicates to me that Ingrid Newkirk is either ignorant or mendacious. And to call them weapons is just stupid. These dogs were created for sporting purposes, but as I’ve noted before they were also breed to be ultra-friendly to humans. So her conclusion that humans are at greater risk of death or injury by “pit bulls” is just speculation. Very few statistics are kept on dog bites even when there is a fatality so the data is at best sketchy to non-existent.

Pit bulls are perhaps the most abused dogs on the planet. These days, they are kept for protection by almost every drug dealer and pimp in every major city and beyond. You can drive into any depressed area and see them being used as cheap burglar alarms, wearing heavy logging chains around their necks (they easily break regular collars and harnesses), attached to a stake or metal drum or rundown doghouse without a floor and with holes in the roof. Bored juveniles sic them on cats, neighbors’ small dogs and even children.

This is true, but is it the dogs fault that the owner is such a complete idiot? And these kinds of things can take place with any breed. German shepherds are great dogs, they are also quite intelligent as dogs go and training one to be a vicious guard dog or to attack other small animals or children for amusement wouldn’t be all that hard. Same goes with dobermans, rottweilers, and Belgian shepherds. Remember the stories about how dogs were used at Abu Ghraib to intimidate even bite inmates? Well, those dogs weren’t “pit bulls”, in fact one was a Belgian shepherd. “Pit bull” breeds such as the American Staffordshire terrier and the American Pit Bull Terrier do have a pretty strong prey drive and unless the owner strongly discourages this behavior they can go after small animals. But herding dogs such as the German Shepherd and Belgian Shepherd often nip to herd animals, and they have been known to try and “herd” groups of kids. So which is the worse dog? Neither, the problem are irresponsible even criminal owners.

In the PETA office, we have a file drawer chock-full of accounts of attacks in which these ill-treated dogs with names like “Murder” and “Homicide” have torn the faces and fingers off infants and even police officers trying to serve warrants.

Given Newkirk’s mendacious claims above, I also find this highly dubious. “Pit bull” is not a breed and as a these posts of mine showed, people can have a hard time determining the actual breed of a dog. So while the actual accounts of bites may be true, the breed of the dog is highly dubious, hence this is just an appeal to ignorance, IMO.

Before I co-founded PETA, I served as the chief of animal-disease control and director of the animal shelter in the District of Columbia for many years. Over and over again, I waded into ugly situations and pulled pit bulls from people who beat and starved them, or chained them to metal drums as “guard” dogs, or trained them to attack people and other animals.

This kind of thing is true of any medium to large breed dog, even mixed breed dogs. Note the irresponsible behavior of the owners who beat and starved their dogs. Then they didn’t socialize them. Imagine what would happen to any social animal that is deprived of contact with others of its own kind and humans. My American Pit Bull Terrier simply loves to be near people, whether it is laying on the couch while I pet her, or simply sleeping on the floor at my feet. If she had a choice it is to be near people. And any dog can be trained to attack. Granted an attack toy poodle isn’t a big threat, but a bullmastif trained to attack sure could be dangerous.

Those who argue against a breeding ban and the shelter euthanasia policy for pit bulls are naive, as shown by the horrifying death of Nicholas Faibish, the San Francisco 12-year-old who was mauled by his family’s pit bulls.

This is also mendacious, IMO. Faibish’s mother was highly irresponsible. She left her 12 year old home alone (locked in the basement I might add) with two adult dogs. Both were “pit bull” types and both were intact and the female was in heat. This is a recipe for disaster. The major reason for Nicholas Faibish’s death was his mother’s irresponsible behavior. When a parent leaves an infant in the car during a hot day and the child dies, the authorities come down hard on the irresponsible parent. Since the dogs were intact and the female was in heat they should have been crated while Nicholas’ mother was out, and she should have taken Nicholas with her.

Tales like this [Nicholas Faibish] abound.

Even more mendacity from Newkirk. Here is the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In the United States as a whole, there have been 12 – 20 dog-related fatalities every year since records have been kept. The numbers have stayed pretty much the same, despite a growth in human and canine populations, and the increasing integration of dogs into family life. Of course, no death is acceptable, but the fact that fatal dog attacks represent only a very small proportion of accidental deaths each year when compared to other causes, is evidence that there is no “epidemic’ of dog-related deaths in this country; people are five times more likely to be killed by a lawnmower, fifty times more liked to be killed while riding a bicycle, and many, many times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident.

A letter recently sent by The Humane Society of the United States pointed out that pit bulls and Rottweilers, the two breeds currently being condemned, raised very few concerns two decades ago. At that time, the Doberman pinscher was being denounced. HSUS quoted a September 2000 study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association (VetMed Today: Special Report) which revealed that over a 19 year period in the United States (1979 – 1998) at least 25 different breeds or crossbreeds of dogs have been involved in fatally mauling a human being. HSUS also noted that attempts to outlaw certain breeds of dogs have led to unintended consequences, such as an increase in demand for them, or conversely, a rapid shift of focus to another breed, which then becomes the next “problem” dog.

So this idea that there are many stories of “pit bulls” attacking and killing humans simply is something that Newkirk made up to push her agenda.

And finally we have a stunning display of dishonesty from Newkirk,

People who genuinely care about dogs won’t be affected by a ban on pit- bull breeding. They can go to the shelter and save one of the countless other breeds and lovable mutts sitting on death row. [emphasis added]

“Lovable mutts” is another term for mixed breed dogs. Mixed breed dogs can and often do mean that one of the dogs in the “mix” is a “pit bull” type dog. There is more to a dog than just its appearance. A “mutt” with a “pit bull” type and German shepherd parents can look very much like a German shepherd, but have the same “gameness” that is the hallmark of “pit bull” type dogs. But it this one of the characteristics that Ingrid Newkirk finds so appalling. Given her history with animals and dogs in particular Ms. Newkirk must know this, but she pretends it doesn’t exist so she can push her agenda. The bottom line is that Ingrid Newkirk is a mendacious hypocrite.

Here is a flash video that shows some of the horrors that this great family dog often has to endure (WARNING: the images in this video are gruesome). Killing the entire breed is just simply barbaric.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. cirby says:

    The commment about “as a weapon” stuck out for me. Most dog breeds above the toy class were originally bred as weapons of one sort or another (if not versus people, then versus other animals).

    Even the more obvious “weapon” dogs don’t necessarily have to come out mean or even scary. If you get a Doberman and raise it just right, they become some of the soppiest, sweetest critters you can find (too much so – a moderately large dog which really wants some attention gets that attention when it wants to).

    …and my favorite canine of all time was a German Shepherd/Chow mix… sweet, completely unflappable, and very, very smart…

  2. Yawn. Sorry, I do appreciate the new information, but the fact that Ingrid and her PETA friends are first class jerks and hypocrites is nothing new.

  3. sarahk says:

    I think my ears are bleeding after reading this. I feel genuine rage when I read or hear about people who want to ban pit bulls because of the acts of humans. They can be so sweet. It’s the humans who raise them wrong who should be put down.

    But the blatant hypocrisy of PETA makes it that much worse.

    BTW, when we picked out our “lovable mutt”, the pound told us Rowdi was a German Shepherd mix. yes. German Shepherd, Lab, pit bull. and she’s the sweetest dog and loves everyone she meets.

  4. Perhaps someone should mention to him that most of the cattle raised for beef today are “Human contrivances”. Tasty too.

  5. Anderson says:

    Rather bizarre, even for PETA … People for the Eugenic Treatment of Animals?

  6. Marz says:

    Kudos for this story. Until the day i die i will do my best to educate people on apbts and how evil PETA is. Go to the Peta Kills Animals link and see that not only is PETA for BSL, a few of their employees were actually busted killing innocent animals for no reason.

    You will also see that a tiny number of animals they accept are ever adopted. They kill most animals before even attempting to adopt.

  7. Wickedpinto says:

    Penn and Teller’s “BullSh!t” pretty much points out the same hypocracy, in fact, they aren’t even hypocrites, they are just stupid loudmouths.