The complainant, April Fahr, is the Director of Education and Advocacy for the HugABull Advocacy & Rescue Society. She was concerned that a Fifth Estate episode on whether pit bulls should be banned was biased and cherry-picked data and information. The documentary featured the highly polarized views of both the dog and the evidence about the breed.

COMPLAINT

You are the Director of Education and Advocacy for the HugABull Advocacy & Rescue Society. Along with Chantelle Mackney, who is involved with Justice for Bullies Canine Society of Alberta, you complained about a Fifth Estate episode entitled “Pit Bulls unleashed: Should they be banned?” You felt the broadcast fell short in many ways, and violated CBC Journalistic policies of balance and fairness. You had four areas of concern.

  1. “Disregard of reputable studies”
    You thought the Fifth Estate team was selective in the academic literature it chose to highlight. You said there were many peer-reviewed academic studies which dealt with the issues of dog breeds and bites, risk factors for dog attacks and the question at the heart of this documentary – breed-specific legislation. You cited some you considered notable, including a literature review published in the American Veterinary Medical Association and a Canadian Veterinary Journal report.

You thought there was too much emphasis put on studies conducted by a plastic surgeon in Arkansas, Dr. Michael Golinko, who had conducted a study on dog bite injuries treated in a hospital in Atlanta and another based on analysis of data on dog bite injuries in the State of Arkansas. You questioned the reliance on someone approaching the issue from a public health perspective:

With his expertise, he maybe a good resource to speak to about the presentation of dog bite injuries and how to treat them in a clinical setting. We do not believe it is reasonable to consider him an expert in dog behaviour or breed identification.

Continue reading this on the CBC website, where it was first published.