Smoke and Mirrors- Getting Past Merritt Clifton’s Number Game

Anyone searching the internet about dog bite statistics will eventually stumble upon Merritt Clifton. Editor and creator of the non-peer reviewed Animal 24-7, a supposed “go-to” collection of statistics for BSL advocates has released their “findings” of unsubstantiated pit bull attacks against animals.


Academic Fraud?

It’s no secret among the animal community how disgraced Merritt Clifton has become. In 2014, The Huffington Post published a blog post written by Douglas Cooper, blasting Clifton and labeling him justly as an academic fraud. Cooper successfully exposes Clifton’s fraudulent claim of having more than “hundred peer-reviewed publications” with experts from Cambridge University, University of Alberta and University of Wyoming shredding the little credibility that Clifton possibly could have had left.


Huffington Post isn’t the only article out there calling Clifton’s credibility into question, articles and blog posts can be found from 2010, pointing out the inconsistencies in Clifton’s alleged data and Clifton’s alleged mishandlings of donations.


Dog Bite Statistics

Dog bite statistics are not really statistics, and they do not give an accurate picture of dogs that bite (Wright, 1991, p. 299-314), yet somehow Clifton attempted to create his own statistics by guessing. Clifton himself admits that he has created his own “formula” on how he comes up with his numbers. According to Clifton, he assumes that with each dog attack, there is at least a few others that are not reported (Clifton, 2016) and because of this, he can safely multiply the actual numbers dog attacks by 3, 10 or 147 depending on the size of the community/city.

“ANIMALS 24-7 multiplies reported dog attacks on other animals in communities of under 10,000 people by a compensation factor of three; multiplies reported dog attacks on other animals in communities of 10,000 to 100,000 people by a compensation factor of 10; and multiplies reported dog attacks on other animals in communities of more than 100,000 by a compensation factor of 147 (Clifton, 2016)”.

According to Clifton’s own numbers, dog pit bull attacks against other animals have actually gone down for 2015, even though that is not what he states, but his numbers say something different. In 2013, he states that 424 dogs, 396 of them pit bulls are responsible for attacks. The pit bulls allegedly killed 92 dogs, injuring 167, allegedly killed 17 cats, injuring 5 and allegedly killed 289 hooved animals, injuring 22. In 2014, 409 dogs, 337 of them were “pit bulls”. Pit bulls allegedly killed 86 dogs, injuring 139, allegedly killed 26 cats, injuring 4, and allegedly killed 77 hooved animals and injuring 24. In 2015, Clifton alleges that there were 338 dogs, 296 of them pit bulls. He also alleges that pit bulls killed 101 dogs, injuring 86, killed 37 cats, injured 3 and killed 45 hooved animals, injuring 23 (Clifton, 2016).

merrit clitfon

According to Clifton, “The approximately 3.5 million pit bulls in the U.S. appear to have killed more than 24,000 other dogs in 2015, up from about 15,500 each in 2013 and 2014; nearly 13,000 cats; perhaps 9,000 hooved animals; and between 30,000 and 45,000 small mammals and poultry (Clifton, 2016).” Considering Clifton has never allowed anyone to review his statistics, people can only guess how he takes the ALLEGED MEDIA REPORTED numbers and breaks them down to multiply them by 10 or 147.


Pretty much, he pulls the alleged reported numbers, multiplies by whatever number he pulls out of his hat and calculates away.


Clearing the Smoke

Projected, approximately and mirrored are used throughout his newest blog post on Animal 24-7, even acknowledging that “a great deal must be projected from relatively little” which really means : making up numbers as Clifton see’s fit. The definition of reliable is consistently good in quality or performance; able to be trusted and attempting to use  alleged unreported dog attacks in an attempt to pad the numbers shows just how unreliable the fabricated data that Clifton manufactures actually is. There really is no question just how Clifton has become the reigning laughing stock of statisticians and it looks like it’s a title he won’t be losing anytime soon.




Find out More About Merritt Clifton….

Wright JC. Canine aggression toward people: bite scenarios and prevention. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 1991;21:299–314

Huffington Post

Where Did my Donations Go?

Can Merritt Clifton and Animal People Magazine Be Trusted?

Merritt Clifton — when the numbers just don’t add up


5 thoughts on “Smoke and Mirrors- Getting Past Merritt Clifton’s Number Game

  1. They do themselves NO favor by publicizing faulty data. I’ve come across so many intelligent debates that ended abruptly because someone posted a link back to “dogbite” or “animal24” as their source of fact. Credibility is immediately lost and the dialogue is abandoned.

    When it comes to analysing data the general rule of thumb is “garbage in garbage out”. You can manipulate the numbers, create databases, line graphs, pie charts or bar graphs until your heart’s content. The reality is it’s still GARBAGE.

    Liked by 3 people

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