Last updateFri, 04 Jul 2014 5pm

Denver BSL Expert Alan Beck Part III

Denver BSL Expert Alan Beck
BSL Justification?


Part III
Deposition of Alan Beck
There Are Some Studies Somewhere....... 

We’ve managed to publish Part I and Part II, so now it’s time for Part III. The excerpts below have been edited for brevity.

When last we left our intrepid expert, he had testified that the CDC limitations against using their statistics for BSL were politically motivated.

Q: (D)o you believe that the CDC would make a recommendation that it thought was inconsistent with public safety?
A: I think the CDC did make a recommendation…it appears to be a breed specific problem with fatalities.

Q: To what would you attribute this breed specific problem that you think exists?
A: The actual genetics of the dog. When I see a border collie herding kids, toys, sheep, I am not surprised. There’s a long history of how genetics influences behavior, especially in breeds being selected for specific behaviors. So when you have a dog that since the 1800s have been selective behaviors, fighting, tolerance of pain, intolerance to their own kind, it doesn’t surprise me…..that you have a higher frequency in that breed to bite and attack.

Q: You indicated that pit bulls have been selected for aggressive behavior; what’s your source of information for that?
A: (R)andy Lockwood’s original article, 1987, when he talks about how the Staffordshire terrier was sort of driven out the United States and underground into England as a fighting dog…..And if you look at the breed histories of the AKC or the UKC books, they talk about the gladiators, the climbers, the animals that are great fighters. So that’s – The history is actually the dog literature itself.
Q: Do you review this with genetics expertise?
A: I’ve taken genetics.
Q: Do you consider yourself to have expertise in genetics?
A: I’ve taught genetics in high school. I’m not sure what you mean by “expertise.” Do I know more genetics than the average person? Probably.
Q: Is your competency in genetics comparable to a faculty member who teaches genetics on this campus?
A: On this campus, no…. Can I read the genetic literature, especially this kind of general behavior genetic literature? Yes.
Q: Have you done any additional studies besides reading the literature that’s out there?
A: (I)’ve looked at pit bulls and other dogs in shelters….So I’ve had some slight personal experience…but otherwise, it’s literature review, like many scientists.

Q: Although they (pit bulls) were bred for aggression to other dogs, it’s possible when they were selected from pets, that the aggression may have been directed towards humans?
A: No. What I said was, Dr. Lockwood suggested in his writings…..that….selecting for dogs that are not aggressive to people may have been lost.
Q: And did he have any substantiation for that?
A: No, I think he wrote it as an opinion.
Q: Do you have any basis for believing that might also be the case?
A: No. I’m looking at empirical observation of many cities and countries that pit bulls seem to disproportionately ….. attack especially young people.
Q: (T)hat empirical observation comes exclusively from the CDC study?
A: No, other articles….
Q: Well, what are they?
A: I don’t have them in front of me. I mean, over the years.
Q: Can you give me even a couple of even vague references as to what these other reports are?
A: Martin Large did some stuff in England. I will have to look it up.

Q: This idea that people stopped selecting for breeding purposes, dogs that were not human aggressive, that’s speculation?
A: That’s Randy’s speculation. Perhaps you will have to ask him.
Q: And you’re speculating, likewise, at this point?
A: Uh-huh.

Q: (Y)ou have encountered non pit bull dogs that have been inclined to attack other dogs?
A: Isolated dogs, sure.
Q: How do you explain that?
A: Because you – There are individuals versus a population….If you look at a population of golden retrievers and a population of pit bulls, I suspect you will find differences in interactions.

Q: What is known (regarding breed population)?
A: In the case of….Fort Wayne, it’s registrations. These are all estimates.

Q: So besides Fort Wayne….are you aware of any reliable evidence about the number of dogs per breed in the United States?
A: One estimate that we used is a surrogate estimate, AKC data, which I know is often considered a good estimate…It does represent at least 30 to 40 percent of the dog population….

Q: So the AKC says that it encompasses…..
A: 30 to 40 percent of the dogs that are registered.
Q: How on earth would they know that?
A: There’s a lot of marketing data on how many dogs that are out there…..One of the major problems is that the dog population is not part of the U.S. census. It’s all marketing data, and that has to be accepted.

Q: And the AKC, do they register mix breed dogs?
A: No.
Q: And what percentage of the dog population is…(mixed breed)?
A: It’s about 50%.

Q: You say that (pit bulls are) ..probably a bad choice as a pet….What’s your basis for that assertion?
A: (I)t’s one of the more common dogs being relinquished to shelters today….not because they are being kicked out of homes by the law; they’ve turned out to be dangerous, unfriendly, unsafe pet.
Q: How do you know that?
A: Because people don’t turn in dogs they love very much….

And with that kernel of wisdom, we end today’s visit with Dr. Alan Beck.

Comments anyone? Love to hear from you guys in Fort Wayne!

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