Expert opinions

Douglas Skinner
Douglas Skinner, D.V.M., is a 1972 graduate of Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. He has been a small animal clinic practice owner for 38 of his 44-plus years as a veterinarian. In addition to his formal education, he practiced at one of the largest practices in the state of Indiana, has owned four veterinary practices, taken thousands of hours of continuing education, did a short sabbatical two times at the prestigious Sloan-Kettering Animal Medical Center in New York City.

Doug says: “Given the argument that it’s how you raise them, then why can’t my bird dog fight in the pit successfully? Why can’t we make the pit bulls find and retrieve birds? Why can an eight-week-old collie herd? Because of years of breeding. And you can’t love instinct out of them, you can’t train it out of them.”

“Many of these attacks and deaths are not inner-city dogs, they are family pets raised from puppies. I will also mention that I DO NOT agree with the American Veterinary Medical Association’s stance on pit bulls.”

Liz Marsden
A native of Washington, DC, Liz Marsden worked in animal sheltering and rescue for nearly 30 years. She was a full time Certified Professional Dog Trainer from 2007 – 2013 and coached dog adopters in their homes and in group training classes since 2001. Her specialties included reactive and dog-aggressive dogs, herding and other high-energy dogs, using enrichment to solve behavior issues, and helping people understand the special needs of puppy mill dogs. She co-produced workshops, a DVD and booklet series to improve the lives of shelter dogs through training and enrichment. Liz has worked as a guest expert for Petfinder online training forums and as a presenter at Petfinder’s Adoption Option seminars. During her tenure at the Washington Animal Rescue League, Liz was one of the trainers overseeing the care and handling of some of the pit bulls seized in the Michael Vick case.

Liz was voted one of the top ten trainers in Washingtonian Magazine in 2006. She gave up dog training as a full time career in 2010.

“With the rise of the ‘no-kill’ movement in animal sheltering, we’ve seen a spike in the number of aggressive dogs placed into communities, with disastrous results,” Ms. Marsden says. “In particular, we’ve seen an average of 25 human fatalities each year due to pit bull maulings (64.4 % of all dog-related fatalities since 2005), which should be appalling to everyone. A catch-all group known as ‘bully breeds’, mastiffs and Rottweilers round out the vast majority of killings. But instead of placing regulations on dangerous breeds, we have lobbyists and legislators passing laws to protect dangerous dogs, not their victims.”

Liz hopes that the tipping point will come soon and that common sense priorities will return. She speaks out against the “pit bull propaganda machine” at every opportunity.

Brandi McNeely
Brandi McNeely is the daughter of an avid animal lover, forest ranger, and wildlife rehabilitator. She volunteered with her mother at the North American Bear Research Center in Ely, Minnesota where she learned to track bears for the center’s research. She then worked for a veterinary hospital before and after enrolling in the Oklahoma State Veterinary Technician program for a year.

After completion of a Bachelor’s degree, Brandi was employed as a veterinary technician for seven years before taking a position at an Animal Control facility where she worked as an Animal Caretaker. Her responsibilities included the behavioral assessment of animals. She administered temperament testing and conducted the Meet Your Match Program, performed animal euthanasia, and evaluated animals identified in bite cases. In the position of Rescue and Volunteer Coordinator, she identified area shelters and rescue organizations for animals that could not be placed out of the animal control facility. Often these cases involved extreme medical or behavior issues.

Brandi managed the volunteer program for the facility and trained and supervised volunteers. Under her direction, the entire volunteer program was revamped to include training programs and seminars to empower volunteers with better animal behavior knowledge before they began the hands-on portion of volunteering. While at Animal Control, Brandi wrote several breed information packets for potential adopters that outlined the pros and cons of certain dog breeds. She also was a regular contributor to the Animal Control newsletter.

Since 2014, she has spent the majority of her time supporting public safety measures for canines. Brandi McNeely writes all canine information for the Daxton’s Friends for Canine Education and Awareness website and is a regulator contributor to their Facebook page. Interview with Brandi McNeely, CBC Fifth Estate, September 22, 2017