ANIMAL WATCH-If over eight million views and 100,000 shares on Facebook are a win, then Los Angeles Dog-bite Attorney Ken Phillips’ Super Bowl Commercial gamble paid off -- even though it didn’t hit the big screens on Sunday, February 4.
A 28-second video was posted on Facebook by Attorney Phillips, with the printed introduction, "SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL THAT SAYS: 'DO NOT ADOPT A PIT BULL’ Share this to help show that pit bulls are too dangerous to adopt!" His Facebook post on Jan. 19 stated, "Thousands of families will visit an animal shelter today to get a new dog and they need to see this first."
The video, with hashtags: #DoNotAdopt, #DangerousDogs and #BanTheBreed, quickly went viral, exploding over the Internet as it was shared by supporters and also by pit bull advocates who feared the ad would be aired during the Super Bowl.
It begins with a statistic: "29-0." First, the background is a lighted football field with a game in progress and cheering fans. It transforms to blazing lights and blaring sirens, then the face of a pit bull appears. Overlaid statements flash the messages:
▪ They killed the most kids.
▪ They killed the most family members.
▪ One breed killed 75 percent of the people who were mauled to death in 2017.
▪ Pit bulls killed 29 Americans in 2017.
▪ That’s nothing to cheer about.
▪ Do not adopt a pit bull.
VERIFY checked on behalf of "fuming" pit bull fans, and asked Ken Phillips, "Will an anti-pit-bull commercial play during the Super Bowl?"
He responded, "No, unfortunately there is no budget for this and, in any event, it is doubtful that any network would broadcast it because it offends pit bull lovers and the media fears them. Only by posting will this be seen."
Sports Illustrated reported that the cost of a 30-second spot during Super Bowl 2018 averaged more than $5 million.
PIT BULL ADVOCATES CONTEND
Advocates who opposed Phillips right to post the video launched a petition, "Suspend the license of Kenneth Morgan Phillips for his anti-pit bull propaganda."
They contend, " While there is no such breed as 'pit bull,' educated dog owners and lovers know that breeds associated with this label have been severely disadvantaged in reputation and rights, occasionally even unfairly legislated against."
The looming problem with the widespread claim that “many of the dogs that attack aren’t really Pit Bulls" is that these same advocates also assure parents and potential adopters, “Pit Bulls make great family pets.” How do they determine which is the real Pit Bull?
Ken Phillips advises, "In all court cases in which identification of the pit bull was challenged, the courts have ruled that pit bulls can be distinguished just as easily as any other type of dog by a person of ordinary intelligence." (Read more here.)
DOG-BITE LAW ATTORNEY SHARES HIS MOTIVATIONS/VISION
I asked Ken Phillips why he originally decided to specialize in dog-bite law and to share so much basic legal information online with the public and other attorneys.
He stated that after he had been an attorney for about 20 years, he was at a Christmas party when the host's dog bit a little girl on the face as she tried to hug it. “I realized then that someone needed to make the public aware that dogs can bite and that children need to be taught how to be safe around them. I decided to do this with a website which I called dogbitelaw.com.”
He further explained:
Before the site was launched in 1998, there was no such thing as "dog bite law." I then became the USA's only lawyer whose entire practice was devoted to representing the families of people killed by dogs, and victims who were disabled or disfigured in a dog attack.
To help dog owners, I wrote "When a Dog Is Injured or Killed" and "Defending Your Dog." To help lawyers for victims, I published the templates I developed for this new area of law. To protect the public, I wrote model dog laws which were enacted from the state level on down.
WHY CREATE/POST THE "DO NOT ADOPT A PIT BULL" VIDEO NOW?
For 20 years I advocated against banning the pit bull. I trusted that pit bull owners and breeders would do what Doberman lovers did, which was to breed the violence out of the dog so that it could live safely among us. But this has not happened.
A vocal minority of pit bull fanciers has maintained a campaign of misinformation about the dog, to make the public believe pit bulls are safe, are "nanny dogs," etc. In fact, pit bulls are too risky for our communities because they were bred for killing each other and therefore do far too much damage when they "go off."
Pit bulls are the Number 1 canine killers of people, pets and farm animals. Pit bulls are the Number 1 canine killers of children. Most of the people that pit bulls kill are their owners, their owners' children and their owners' parents. So I want moms and dads who want a dog to get a DOG, not an animal that would kill them or their kids.
Every year one-quarter to one-third of the entire pit bull population of the USA has to be euthanized because their owners can't sell them, can't give them away, and therefore bring them to our public animal shelters, which have been overwhelmed by pit bulls for years.
The public needs to learn the truth -- what I call "pit truth" rather than "pit bull$#%&." My video was one concerned citizen's attempt to teach and protect the public. The video was seen over 8 million times on social media and was even broadcast on TV news in some areas. If it helps to prevent just one death, one mutilation, it will have served its purpose.
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE IN TERMS OF DOG BITES/ATTACKS?
There are two possible futures. If the public will speak out, there will be support for animal control departments, obedience to animal control laws, and restrictions on pit bulls and other dangerous breeds.
If the public is silent, our lawmakers will continue to kowtow to those who push these violent breeds on us and force harm on the innocent.
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON LA REMOVING/INCREASING DOG LIMITS?
Los Angeles city government is misguided when it comes to dog laws. There has been one bad law or policy after the other -- allowing students to be judges in "dog court," permitting public shelters to conceal the fact that a dog is a pit bull, and now the lifting of limits on the number of dogs living in homes near us.
Our representatives need to understand that the public does not want feel-good laws but laws that will protect people and animals from dangers such as those posed by pit bulls.
QUICK LINKS TO DOG-BITE REALITIES/STATISTICS
In the 12-year period of 2005 through 2016, canines killed 392 Americans. Pit bulls contributed to 65% (254) of these deaths. Combined, pit bulls and rottweilers contributed to 76% of the total recorded deaths. (Read more here.)
2017 U.S. Dog Bite Fatality Citations. In 2017, over 900 dog bite-related fatality news reports were collected by DogsBite.org, from local, regional and national news sources, in addition to photographs, screen captures and social media content.
2010 U.S. Dog Bite Fatality Citations. In 2010, over 250 dog bite-related fatality news reports were collected from local, regional and national news sources, in addition to photographs, screen captures and social media content.
In 2016, family dogs inflicted 45% of all dog bite fatalities. Family pit bulls accounted for 86% of these deaths. Fatalities and other statistics (from final media/official reports).
Triggers (What prompts pit bulls to attack)
ATTACKS ON PETS AND OTHER ANIMALS
“Pit bull roulette” killed 38,000 other animals in 2017 by Merritt Clifton
Pit bulls killed 92% of dogs killed by dogs & 96% of cats killed by dogs - “Pit bull roulette” cost the lives of 38 humans, plus nearly 13,000 dogs, 5,000 cats, and more than 20,000 farmed animals in 2017 -- and, only two weeks into 2018, has already killed Happy Hound Hotel boarding kennel worker Laura Williams Ray. . . (Read more.)
Ken Phillips just posted a new video on YouTube: "The Number 1 Killer of Other People’s Pets.”
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.