12 Aug 2009

SPCA Outrage in Philadelphia 10: Answering Pat Burns

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Burns is the dumb-looking one in the middle

When NYM published the first blog coverage last week on the Murder Hollow Basset raid by the PSPCA, fellow field sports blogger Pat Burns of Terrierman’s Daily Dose, went into investigative mode, took Amy Worden’s essentially PSPCA-dictated damage control press release in the Inquirer as gospel, and proceeded to dismiss me as a paranoid rightwing blogger and Murder Hollow’s Master Wendy Willard as a “nutter” and a dog abuser. Burns’s publicly-performed Snoopy dance of triumph on this one was sufficient to make readers think he had the Pulitzer Prize in the bag.

He certainly made points with the PETA crowd, who happily began quoting Burns as the party line on the story.

I was personally disappointed because I actually read Burns’s blog regularly, but I merely noted in my response that Burns was relying on a single, obviously partisan source, repeating the PSPCA version of circumstances and events. I also identified some reasons why I think PSPCA’s word is not to be trusted.

Naturally, since I had received so much attention in Burn’s blog, I tried forwarding a link to my own posting in response. I had to go through a major log-in procedure to try posting a comment, and in the end my comment was merely forwarded to Burns for approval.

Several days later, it had not gotten into TDD’s comments, and I was rather displeased at what seemed to be a policy of censoring rejoinders at TDD, so I sent Burns a short email commenting negatively.

He responded, claiming to be “away from keyboard,” answering via cellphone, and he and I wound up arguing about all this by email much of the day on Sunday.

I didn’t publish our email correspondence myself, but Burns took a really stupid point of argument which no rational response could persuade him to relinquish as the occasion for another blog article.

I have challenged Mr Zincavage and the 11 “staff members” of the Murder Hollow Bassets to pay for three or four years worth of private (and legal) kenneling for those seized Philadelphia dogs.

There are many commercial kennels in Pennsylvania, and I am sure the the SPCA will have no objection to the dogs being placed in a good private kennel provided that three or four years worth of kennel fees are paid up in full and in advance, plus any veterinary bills accrued.

No, not a month. No, not four months. Three or four years.

After all, these dogs deserve continuity of care, and with 12 people to shoulder the cost of kenneling, it shouldn’t be too big a deal for everyone to pony up the price.

Talk is cheap.

But, of course, so too are most people — a point missed by many conservatives.

They will tell you they are against taxation, preferring instead that everything be done by some mysterious thing called “a Thousand Points of Light.”

Fine. Here’s a chance for Mr. Zincavage and the Murder Hollow “staff” to be a Point of Light. Pay for the veterinary costs plus three or four years of private kenneling for Wendy Willard’s basset hounds. She will still own them — the donors will simply be making a charitable gift to make sure things are done right by the dogs.

As I explained in our emails, nobody wants to lock up 11 hunting bassets away from their home, their owner, their pack, and the out-of-doors in a commercial kennel operated by strangers for three or four years. (How long does Burns think hounds live, do you suppose?) No rational reason or necessity proposes such a course.

Ms. Willard, her ten staff members, and the dozens of residents of the greater Philadelphia area who hunt with Murder Hollow Bassets are perfectly able to provide for those hounds, and if some imaginary tragic circumstance arrived to eliminate from the world every person affiliated with Murder Hollow, that hound pack is part of a national organization of affiliated packs. There are plenty of packs and individual basset hunters out there who could and would give all of Murder Hollow’s hounds new homes.

There is no need to do what Mr. Burns insists on proposing as his own subjective test of bona fides. No one wants such an arrangement. The PSPCA wouldn’t agree to it. And it would not, in the least, be in the interest of the hounds.

One really wonders, reading this kind of idiocy, what kind of understanding of hunting dogs, or dogs in general, the Terrierman possesses. Burns seems to look upon dogs purely as a cost center, a kind of tool requiring fixed costs that anyone can cheerfully stuff away in a warehouse setting for 3-4 years in order to prove a point.

But there is no point. The Murder Hollow Bassets have been an organized hunting pack chasing quarry in the field since 1986, and participating and competing in hound shows and pack trials since at least 1994. If they didn’t meet all the costs Mr. Burns’s fantasy is intended to project, they would hardly still be in operating existence, nor would they be accepted as a recognized basset pack by a knowledgeable community of hound lovers and keen sportsmen or be permitted to be part of the national organization.

21 Feedbacks on "SPCA Outrage in Philadelphia 10: Answering Pat Burns"


I like how his argument boils down to “if individuals want silly luxuries like due process, they should pay for it themselves”.

Mike Spies

Patrick has pretty fixed opinions regards all things dog. i engaged him on the subject of breeding and purebred dogs. Result; I am stupid because I have purebred English setters that hunt birds – as opposed to mutts that dig up small furbearers. Sort of an athlete versus hodcarrier argument, really, with no common ground for discourse. Seems to be a pattern here.


happens to pit bulls all the time.


Most or many pit bull owners, according to Burns, are dogfighters who only own the breed to intimidate him personally and therefore should be subject to special restrictive laws.


Philadelphia. A greater percentage of people work for government at all levels in Philadelphia than in any other Blue Urban Area. Are they looking for a counterpart to Michael Vick? (Who, by the way, represents a huge missed opportunity: instead of incarceration, he should’ve been made to appear regularly on Oprah, Jerry, and Montel, et al., as the poster child against cruelty to animals.)
A little perspective, please! In many cultures, dogs are food animals. Better than bush meat? I hope I never have any basis for comparison.


Mike Spies, I do not ever recall talking to you or emailing you, and I have never written about English setters once in my entire life, nor have I ever said one bad thing about field dogs that actually hunt, in my entire life. Go ahead and read through everything I have written, because for the life of me I cannot fathom what you are jabbering on about. Good news for you too — my web site and blog have search engines, so it should be easy for you to find my posts about English Setters. Feel free to post whatever correspondence we have exchanged as well. I do not have all my emails going back since the dawn of time, but I do not say in secret what I will not say in public. Post away!



People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is a noble caue, but since we have not mastered PETP (people for the ethical treatment of people) what is the role model we should use. Had there been a system in Phila where one received a copy of the dog law when one paid a license fee, had there been in the initial visit of the SPCA a copy of a complaint form rather than a business card, in short had there been a civil exchange, we not be in this contest around a fire hydrant. Ever since the Egyptians stored grain there has been distrust and conflict between rural and urban lifestyles. It is a shame the dogs are in the middle.

maggie b

PETA is an animal rights group that kills animals and sponsors animal rights terrorist activities.

Patrick Burns is beneath contempt. He reminds me of the truth of the words, “Better to be silent and be thought ignorant than to speak and remove all doubt” He continually removes all doubt.

It is happening all over the USA = Animal Control running roughshod over animal owners. Here is a video from another part of the country:

Here is a link to the transcript from a 20/20 expose on SPCA in TX and elsewhere stealing pure bred animals illegally under color of law and reselling them for profit. Isn’t there a law called “Hobbs Act” that directly addresses this behavior? http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=817494&page=1

I have many more examples.

Fellow Terrierman

Mr. Burns since you despise pit bull fighting then why do you have on your blog a tribute to a ex pit bull fighter, who served time in jail, turned terrier hunter, who hung himself in a jail cell after being arrested for abusing his power over two separate women as a substance abuse counselor for the state of NJ. Then I ask why you hunt with a still fighting pit bull fighter “Chris” from Maryland, owner of Metal Kennels, who goes by the Internet name of Behind the Eye? and you stand her and call Miss Willard a nut?

I smell something…..

Fellow Terrierman

PS. is GOOGLE your friend?

Mike Spies

Patrick – I never spoke or talked to you. We exchanged a series of comments on your blog – all of your comments were published, mine were ‘moderated’.

The discussion was about your demonizing of ‘purebred’ dogs (any dog, apparently, with a pedigree). Your claim was (is) that purebred dogs are a basket case of genetic frailty.

My point was that what is bred in can be bred out, and that you will never achieve consistently excellent and healthy dogs by out crossing or cross breeding. Of course, some of my comments got moderated, even though they were civil.

Use the search function on your blog and on Steve Bodio’s blog, and perhaps you will find them. Of course, you are welcome to post on my blog in response to anything I have to say there or elsewhere.

I maintain, though, that this is a discussion that I correctly characterized in my earlier comment here.


Mike: One of Burns’ dishonest techniques is to deny he has written something if you don’t quote exactly what he wrote, though it’s perfectly obvious what his meaning and intent is. It is perfectly obvious that he doesn’t believe in purebred dogs, or the entire notion of purebred dogs. So your sardonic characterization of your interchange is essentially correct.

Fellow Terrierman

Mr. Burns opinion in his mind is the only opinion that counts. He has made up his mind, & he has done his research to back up his opinion. So here some easy facts to follow: If a fox is a canine and a terrier is a canine and you allow your terrier to engage the fox is that not dog fighting? Something Mr. Burns opinion is that is next to child molestation. If you breed a non working animal, you are a follower of, if not the anti christ yourself. If you own a working breed of dog as a pet you are doing an injustice, because you are promoting that dog as an acceptable pet and the breeder who sold you that dog should be hung by the nearest tree branch, but alas Mr.Burns hunts but does not breed. So all of his rants are mute. Most of the dogs in Mr. Burn’s current dogs pedigrees are non hunters. Mr. Burns border terrier is from show stock, so almost guaranteed to have no working ability in it at all right? Yet somehow after generations of non working stock, Mr. Burns border terrier worked!? interesting. Mr. Burns border terrier is so big in the chest, surely it can’t fit down an earth, yet this dog took such severe damage while working, Mr. Burns decided to never hunt the dog again, yet again he claims that to not work a working terrier is a crime! hmmm, No worder Mr. Burns wears knee high muckers, I wonder do they come a$$ high?

maggie b

I only care about the lady and her bassets. I pray she gets her dogs back soon and in good condition. I also pray to a merciful God that those sobs at ASPCA PA get what is coming to them 100 fold. It is a long road that does not turn.


Remember the instructions from Deepthroat “Follow the money” The original complaint was about noise. The ensueing actions led to a warrant and the discovery of dogs in excess of the limit in Philadelphia (this would not look like Phila. if you saw the property). 7 vehicles including Phila. Police are now involved, and dogs have been removed. The Pspca is now holding a large bill for manpower, vehicles, etc. against a backdrop of a city in financial crisis. Are you surprised that more serious charges followed? It is another take on the “logic” of Investigator Burns. I also pray the dogs are safe and will be recovered, but this has become such a “peeing contest” ….

Ann S

I’m glad I found this update – I too had recently tried to “engage” w/ Mr. Burns. I didn’t know anything about him other than his web site and his blog.

He seemed like a knowledgable terrierman but I was concerned at tone of some of his sweeping generalizations about purebred dog owners, etc.

To my knowledge my posts were not moderated but I must admit I was saddened by how quickly – with NO knowledge of me he decided I was a “moron” placed me in the same category as Hitler and went on about how I know nothing and that I have not done my research.

He seems to have difficulty at times recognizing his own faulty logic and where he contradicts himself.

I find it sad that he can’t see the more he judges and stands on his soapbox the easier he is making it for PETA to influence and kennels to be raided and laws passed, etc. I also don’t know how he can really think he is safe – off the radar would be a better definition in my mind. If hunting terriers were more common I can guarantee that the animal rights groups would be lined up at Mr. Burns door much sooner than Wendy Willard’s.


He comes up with good Natural History items on his blog. It is a pity that he has some sort of ego problem that leads him to heap abuse on fellow sportsmen so frequently. There was a recent case of obnoxia when Burns reverted to grammar school, putting up some childish insults accusing me of theft for posting a photo of him to accompany one of my replies. I would have removed it, if he had insisted, but he just stopped corresponding with me.

george baumann

Ah, the obnoxious troglodyte…er, I mean terrierguy…whose latest blog entries are irrational rants about WHY pit bulls are being killed in droves in shelters. The nut case believes this is simply because, well, they exist. That’s right! All would be well if we just neutered neutered neutered them out of existence.
It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that shelters routinely kill anything bull terrier looking at the first opportunity? Or have policies against adopting them out? Or, like Denver, have laws against the ownership of pit bulls?
Yeah, it must be all the terrible breeders and owners fault. And his solution is anti-bully laws and breed-specific laws. After all these dogs are different from other dogs. They are vicious. And there wouldn’t be enought homes anyway, what with all that overpopulation of dogs we have and all.
Ironic, isn’t it, that this pugnacious fellow is opposed to dogfighting? I guess denigration of every human on the planet is a good thing though.

Terrierman Uncensored

Terrierman certainly does moderate and ridicule his commenters. I have had first hand experience with it myself. He has a convenient memory. The blog Terrierman Uncensored was created for a reason – see http://terriermanuncensored.blogspot.com/

paul barron

Patrick Burns is a bigot. He invites comments on his site terrierman but refuses to include them in his blogs if they are critical and not to his liking. Where is the intellectual credibility in that? He has an unhealthy negative fixation on B F Skinner, trivializing all aspects of his work, on knowledge acquired from popular psychology. His particular hang-up is the concept of discovery. He fails to appreciate that social scientist enlighten our knowledge of what is already present!

Here is my last communication that he refused to acknowledge:


Previous comments by me begin: Skinner or more precisely a colleague of his Nate Azrin studied punishment…

PBurns – Where in my comments did I deny the existence of an electric shock component to the Skinner box. Where did I deny its use. Once again the Skinnerian camp worked out the components and efficacy of punishment. Generally behaviorists and Applied Behavior Analysis are not keen to use it, though to see an effective use of punishment, prior to stricter ethics guidelines, see the work of I Lovaas!

Karen Pryor certainly would have personally experienced the true effects of punishment if she had used electric shock on her dolphins and whales!!!

Again to clarify Skinner uses the term reinforcement, which doesn’t deny other terms. Skinner never stated that animals were blank slates(tabula rasa), that behaviorist concept stopped with J B Watson.

You have an obsession with discovery. Little in your terms is discovered. What scientist do is enlighten our understanding of what is going on with the ultimate aim of prediction and control of the studied phenomenon. Where did I say Skinner didn’t discover much. I pointed out ONE of his major findings. Regarding gambling Skinner isolated the mechanism underlying gambling, not pleasure, not a desire to punish oneself but a variable ratio of reinforcement. Keller and Marian Breland were Skinner’s STUDENTS at the University of Minnesota in the mid 30s where they worked on ‘Project Pigeon’. Marian assisted Skinner in writing up the Behavior of organisms, a book that might give you an incite into shaping!!!

By the way no one discovered shaping that has been going on for centuries, we all do it. The techniques were formally set out by our friends above. You seem to have slipped up here, Skinner didn’t but Breland did discover! Do you have an agenda against Fred? Did Skinner discover the Skinner box?

Yes the Skinner box has an electric floor but have you considered purchasing one without one? They do exist!!

Any one with an in-depth knowledge of Fred Skinner, not fed with the misrepresentations of popular psychology, would truly hold him in high esteem. His association with animal training can only be a bonus to us all!!

Judging by comments elsewhere on the web Burns seems to get his kicks from verbally abusing people!

paul barron

My other message I sent to Mr Burns was also rejected due to it’s association with B F Skinner.


You need to update your site to represent the facts. Like it or not this is a significant landmark in animal training, indeed DOG TRAINING, using a secondary stimulus to shape behavior (the flash of the photographer’s strobe light itself as the conditioned reinforcer). This is the first publication on ‘Clicker’ training!


The original article is refernced as:

Skinner, B.F. (1951). How to teach animals. Scientific American, 185, 26-29. Also appears in his book Cumulative Record.

For all dog lovers visit the included URL for a fascinating insight into the origins of clicker training.


What a looser!!!! showing two death small animals….


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