Settlement may Unleash Aggressive Dog Breeding Book
There are several factors that can contribute to aggression in a dog. Environment, socialization and genes are the big three. The more factors that affect a dog, the more aggressive he's likely to be.
Last Tuesday, California state prison officials announced a settlement with a maximum-security inmate who has written a book that celebrates these factors. A law journal describes the tome by Dale Bretches as "a how-to book on breeding aggressive dogs."
In 1979, Bretches was convicted of second-degree murder. He is housed at Pelican Bay State Prison in Del Norte County, Calif., where he and cellmate Paul "Cornfed" Schneider ran an illegal dog-breeding business with the assistance of freedom-loving civilians on the outside. Both men are members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the settlement allows Bretches "to publish a book about how he bred and trained aggressive dogs, including the Presa Canarios that killed a San Francisco woman in her apartment corridor."
For those who don't remember, San Francisco attorneys Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel owned two Bretches-bred Presa Canarios, one of which fatally mauled 33-year-old Diane Whipple in 2001. Knoller was convicted of second-degree murder for failing to muzzle a dog she knew to be dangerous. Noel was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for allowing Knoller, his wife, to handle the dogs knowing they could overpower her. Both dogs were destroyed.
Self-published in 2005, distribution of Bretches' "Dog O' War" was initially barred by Pelican Bay. According to the Chronicle, "prison officials cited their rule against inmate-run businesses and also said some of the content could threaten prison security, including descriptions of dog fighting and Bretches' own fighting skills, the identification of another inmate as an informer, and numerous antigay passages."
In addition to lifting the ban, the settlement includes a $40,000 payment by the state for Bretches' attorneys fees. Because of the inmate-run business prohibition, the settlement will take effect only after the parties agree on a charity to receive any profits — and find one willing to do so.
As someone who has experienced dog aggression in all forms and originating from all factors, this story turns my stomach. I've seen otherwise fine dogs turned fear-aggressive due to a lack of proper socialization. We've all witnessed the sad and frightening aftermath of adverse environmental factors such as abuse, neglect and dog fighting. Remember Michael Vick?
Currently, I'm working with a 3-month-old puppy who snarls, growls and bites. He went straight from the breeder to an extremely loving home, where the heads of the household rightly recognized that something was very wrong.
You don't have to beat a dog or bait a dog or fight a dog to make him aggressive — although those things will certainly do the trick. Just as genetics play a role in physicality, they also play a role in personality and temperament. As my current client proves, aggression can come from nothing more than bad breeding.
In a society in which convicted felons forfeit the right to vote, is it too much to ask that they also lose the right to inject more violence into the world? With so many outlets for breeding aggression readily available, does the world really need a cookbook to create it?
Dog trainer Matthew "Uncle Matty" Margolis is the co-author of 18 books about dogs, and the host of the PBS series "Woof! It's a Dog's Life!" Visit him at unclematty.com, and send your questions to dear uncle.gazette@unclematty .com or by mail to Uncle Matty at P.O. Box 3300, Diamond Springs, CA 95619.