Showing posts with label clickbait. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clickbait. Show all posts

Friday 5 July 2024

Animal advocate angry at clickbait articles about dogs killing people

Nathan Winograd is a very high-profile American animal advocate specialising in animal shelters and saving lives. He's written a letter, officially from his No Kill Advocacy Center. In it he criticises an article on USA Today, the title to which is click bait: "Dogs are mauling and killing more people. What to do pits neighbor against neighbor". Note: see the bottom of the page about police officers killing dogs! That's probably the real story.

It's not even written that well to be honest. Anyway that's not relevant.


The gist of Nathan Winograd's letter is that there are no statistics which support the view that dog bites are increasing in the USA and certainly there is no evidence that the rate of dog bites are increasing in the USA.

Clearly, there are more dogs in the USA than there were in the past because there are more American citizens adopting dogs and cats. But the proportion between the number of dogs biting people or killing people compared to the number of citizens in America has probably dropped. This is the rate of dog bites and dog killings.

As an extract from his letter:
Moreover, the salient question is whether dog bite rates have increased. And in cases where numbers are available, the trend appears to be in the opposite direction. For example, the author writes that “Emergency room visits due to dog bites decreased from almost 363,000 in 2012 to 317,000 in 2021,” according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), despite millions more dogs in the U.S.
Nathan Winograd says that "While it appears the number of fatal dog attacks has increased, they remain under 100." I asked Google Gemini (Google's artificial intelligence computer) for information on the number of people killed by dogs annually in the US. This is its answer:
The number of people in the US killed by dogs annually falls within a range of  30 to 50 according to the National Library of Medicine [US dog bite fatalities statistics]. 
There are no figures on cats killing people because its just so rare. And anyway cats can't kill people directly. It has to be indirectly such as through a rabies bite which are infinitesimally rare despite more click bait on this topic. The news media likes to exaggerate in order to attract attention.

Nathan Winograd interestingly makes a comparison between people killed by forklift trucks and those killed by dogs. It's a similar amount. Perhaps more are killed by forklift trucks because Google Gemini tells us that "Estimates suggest that around 75 to 100 workers in the United States are killed by forklift accidents annually with an average closer to 87 deaths per year".

This is more than people killed by dogs which puts things into perspective because 99% of the American population do not interact with forklifts! Most Americans come into contact regularly with dogs.

Winograd finishes with this quote:
While fatal dog attacks are tragic, the CDC notes that they remain “rare,” involving roughly 0.0001% of the dog population. Moreover, “Experts say the number of annual fatalities from a dog bite is small enough that measuring year-to-year trends becomes difficult.”
The point that he makes is that if news media use click bait to attract readers about dogs killing people they inadvertently threaten the lives of dogs. It can colour the opinion of people against dogs. They can make people fearful of dogs. This can lead to people using force against dogs unnecessarily which can lead to the death of some dogs.

On that last topic by the way I've seen too many stories about American policeman shooting dogs for no good reason. Many of them seem to be fearful of dogs and they are just too keen to shoot them. On one occasion, a Labrador raced up to a policeman for a cuddle and the police officer shot the dog. Can you believe that? Complete idiocy.


How many dogs are shot by police officers in the US annually?

Unfortunately, there isn't a definitive answer to the exact number of dogs shot by police officers in the US annually. Here's what we know:

  • Estimates suggest it's around 10,000 dogs per year, based on a Department of Justice official's report [trace.tennessee.edu].
  • This number might be even higher, with some suggesting it could reach six figures [scholars.unh.edu].

There are a couple of reasons why there's no precise data:

  • Lack of mandatory reporting: There's no federal legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to record or report animal deaths during interventions.
  • Inconsistent record-keeping: Even if departments track these incidents, there might not be a standardized method, making it difficult to compile national data.

If you're interested in learning more about this issue, you can search for terms like "police shootings of dogs" or "canine fatalities by police."


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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Monday 26 February 2024

Mail Online continues to scaremonger about pet cats being a "major harborer of deadly diseases"

NEWS AND OPINION: I'm irritated. The Mail Online has published yet another article also by their deputy health editor in America, Alexa Lardieri, in which she exaggerates either deliberately or carelessly the potential for the domestic cat to carry zoonotic diseases which can be transferred to people. 



In her headline she says that the pet cat is a "major harbourer of deadly diseases". The phrase "major harbourer" is highly misleading. It is irresponsible. It is likely to lead to many cat owners questioning whether they should continue to own a cat. 

The domestic cat is not a major harborer of zoonotic diseases. It does carry some zoonotic diseases but we know they are rarely transferred or are rarely serious otherwise there wouldn't be hundreds of millions of domestic cats around the globe. And relative to humans spreading disease to other humans, the domestic cat is in a minor league. There is no comparison. That's because nearly all diseases affecting cats cannot be transmitted to people.

What she has written in the Mail Online might lead to cats being surrendered to animal shelters where they might be euthanised despite being healthy.

Two more examples of Mail Online's misleading, clickbait articles that harm the cat:
This woman is dangerous for the domestic cat. She is referring to the recent Oregon bubonic plague case - an incredibly rare case - in which it was assessed that a resident was hospitalised with the disease having got it from a cat.

Back in the 1300s in England it was a deadly disease killing many thousands but today it can be cured with antibiotics which weren't available back in the day. It is no longer a deadly disease but Alexa likes to use click bait tactics to get more hits to her newspaper in scaremongering and giving the impression that the domestic cat is wandering around the place spreading deadly diseases to residents.

This is entirely incorrect and as I mentioned, irresponsible. She is also referred to recent 'Alaskapox' death. This is another extremely rare infection which occurs as you can guess in Alaska. It is a viral disease and in this case an elderly man died after contracting it.

The experts say that it appears to be zoonotic and it appears to be circulating across Alaska's mammals with occasional transmission to humans. Notice that it is carried by "mammals" meaning other animals as well as possibly and perhaps rarely the domestic cat.

It's mainly found in small mammals including voles and shrews but sometimes cats as well and over the past nine years seven people in Alaska have been infected by it. It appears that, rarely, a domestic cat contracts the disease when bumping into or preying upon a small mammal that has the disease.

Nearly all of the people who contracted it had mild illnesses which resolved on their own after a few weeks without treatment. The symptoms include bumps or pustules on the skin and joint or muscle pain and swollen lymph nodes.

Let's be sensible, please. It is pretty clear to me that Alexa Lardieri doesn't like cats. She wants cats to be kept indoors all the time and it appears that she has an agenda to promote. Her writing is not neutral or unbiased. To me, she is not a good reporter.

I hope people think about what she's saying, do their own research and find out as I have that she is exaggerating and scaremongering.

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Sunday 18 June 2023

16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle

I'll say it strongly: the title is pure mumbo-jumbo and it comes direct from Pets Radar, a cynical website in my opinion where they regularly employ clickbait with a complete disregard for factual truth. They are cynically misleading the general public and those who want to adopt a cat for the first time. In fact, they are taking the piss out of people. That's what they are doing. They are playing with the internet. Don't listen to their advice. I'll tell you the truth.

The truth is far less prosaic. It is far less interesting. I know that people who want to adopt a cat from a cat breeder like clarity in terms of the cat's character. They want to know what they are buying. They want certainties. That's why Pets Radar provides it. But it is false.

16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle
16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle. A random bred cat being affectionate. The nose-to-nose cat greeting occurs frequently. It is a friendly greeting and pleasant for both parties. I think the human likes it more and feels blessed to be treated as a genuine friend by their cat. Image in the public domain.

All the individual cats of each cat breed are going to be bred to be friendly and affectionate. Above all else, domestic cats who are part of a cat breed are just like any other domestic cat.

In fact, you might find some individual cats described as moggies i.e. non-purebred cats who are friendlier than any individual cat from any cat breed. It often boils down to the nature of the individual cat.

It is disingenuous to presume that all the individual cat of one particular cat breed all have the same character in terms of their level of affection. It isn't logical. It isn't common sense.

Breeders focus on the appearance of the cat primarily. The character comes from the foundation cats and obviously they want their cats to have good, friendly and affectionate characters. They want their cats to be confident and outgoing. They do work on this but it is not a science. And of course, there is nature/nurture. The cat's experiences later on in life and in the early years of development affect their personality.

So, you can't provide a clear answer as Pets Radar think you can do. Well, they don't actually think that. As mentioned, they are cynical. They just feed information that they think people want to hear. Their objective is to get as many readers as they can and they don't care whether the information that they provide is correct or not.

I'm being harsh but rightly so in my view. It isn't just Pets Radar who do this. The newspaper The Scotsman has done it frequently as well. It's all click bait. It's all very wrong and I don't want to see people adopting cats to be so misled.

If you want to adopt - as everybody does - an affectionate purebred cat which you will have to buy at over £1000 normally, you really should visit the breeder that you have selected, talk to him or her and meet the cats. Ask some pertinent questions. Challenge the breeder. Discuss the matter in depth and then adopt the kitten that comes to you if that happens.

But you're not going to know for sure whether the cat you adopt is going to be super-affectionate or more affectionate than any other domestic cat. Just presume that your selected cat will be affectionate provided that you are affectionate towards him or her.

And that's the last point I want to make. The level of affection that a cat delivers to their caregiver is largely dependent upon the level of affection that their caregiver delivers to them. It is reciprocated. Affection is an emotion. And the emotions of a cat and how anxious or calm they feel is dependent upon the environment in which they are placed and that environment is dependent upon the work and efforts of the caregiver.

16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle
16 most affectionate cat breeds who love a good cuddle. All domestic cats enjoy a cuddle at some time or other. It just needs to be done on their terms. Image: public domain.

In the interactions between caregiver and cat are so important. They should be gentle, calm and friendly. Owners should never yell at their cat. They should never be aggressive towards their cat. They should not be irritated by their cat if their cat behaves in a way that displeases them. And this comes down to expectation management as well.

People need to remember that the domestic cat is a domesticated wildcat. They have inherited the wild cat behaviours but of course they've adapted to the human environment. They are domesticated. But expect a domestic cat to have wildcat traits which occasionally emerge.

Be realistic, please. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet because a lot of it is tailored to please the readers rather than, like this article, tailored to be entirely factual true. The raw truth counts in my view. And in that way, we can expect better animal welfare as well because people's expectations are accurate.

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