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« PETA now seeks to kill animals not in their care | Main | Weekly Roundup - Week ending 3/28/10 »

March 27, 2010


Fred Barnard

You say "The dogs that maul are the outliers. The family pets are truer indicator of behavior."

These stats. say otherwise, though some had an aggressive history, a number of fatalities were caused by family pets with no history of aggressive behavior.

Just a few examples from 2014:

Was playing in her yard when her family's dog suddenly attacked. Her mother tried to stop it, but the dog attacked her as well. The family said the dog had never been aggressive.

The child had gone with his pregnant mother to visit one of the mother's friends and was playing in front of the home with the dogs, whom he had reportedly played with in the past. At some point the mother looked outside to see the three pitbulls attacking the child and rushed to help him, at which point the pitbulls attacked her.

Babysitting aunt let the child and the two dogs outside her house and sat to watch TV. No one saw the attack. She looked outside and saw the body in the driveway. The authorities arrived and determined that the dogs had killed the boy. The aunt said she had never had any problems with the dogs before the attack, and police said the boy and the dogs had been together on a regular basis.

Fred Barnard

In one study sponsored by the US Governement Centers For Disease Control it was reported that 32% of all dog related killings of human beings in the United States are caused by Pit Bulls attacks, yet Pit Bulls constitute only 2% of all dogs. 70% of those mauling deaths were of children.

According this large federal government study conducted over a 20 year period the Centers for Disease Control concluded that Attacks by pit bulls accounted for one third of the fatal dog attacks in the United States. This study also cited the disproportionate threat these dogs pose to children. Children, according to the study, are the most vulnerable victims in dog attacks, with those under the age of 14 accounting for 42 percent of all dog bite injuries. Most of the mauled victims are between the ages of five and nine.

Fred Barnard

So again, I suppose we'll just have to agree to disagree.


Fred, again, you are very focused on a tiny minority of dogs.

While no one really knows the exact number, most estimates indicate that there are roughly 8 million dogs classified as pit bulls in this country.

Each year, 25 or so are responsible for fatal attacks. That is .0003% of the pit bull population being involved in a fatal dog attack each year. That's what I mean by those incidents being statistical outliers while family pets, pit bulls that don't kill people are 99.9997% of the pit bull population.

If pit bulls had a genetic predisposition to attack and kill people these numbers would not be possible. If it was truly a genetic function, we'd have to anticipate 10s of thousands or 100s of thousands of fatalities each year. But it's not. Not even close.

That's why when you get into studying the individual incidents you generally find that host of other environmental factors that made these dogs act differently than the other 8 million out there. That should be the focus. Not the 8 million dogs that behave well.

Please go read the blog post -- including the links to the actual academic studies referenced.

It gives a lot of information about what SCIENCE tells us about breed differences in canine behavior -- hint, pit bulls are not an outlier here either and fall in line with the behaviors of all other breeds of dogs.

You are welcome to agree or disagree with me -- the science overwhelmingly supports my position on this.


BTW, I also want to note that you should read the entire CDC Report and not just someone else's biased interpretation. Here is the conclusion from their study:

"Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull type dogs and Rottweillers), other breeds may be and cause fatalities at higher rates. Because of difficulties inherent on determining a dog's breed with certainty, enforcement of breed specific ordinances raises constitutional and practical issues....."

Fred Barnard

What about no- fatal attacks as well. Fatalities are a small portion of attacks.

But do pit bulls deserve their reputation as vicious "attack" dogs? An overwhelming amount of evidence suggests they do.

A five-year review of dog-bite injuries from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, published in 2009 in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, found that almost 51 percent of the attacks were from pit bulls, almost 9 percent were from Rottweilers and 6 percent were from mixes of those two breeds.

In other words, a whopping two-thirds of the hospital's dog-attack injuries involved just two breeds, pit bulls and Rottweilers.

Other studies confirm these statistics: A 15-year study published in 2009 in the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology revealed that pit bulls, Rottweilers and German shepherds were responsible for the majority of fatal dog attacks in the state of Kentucky. [See What Your Dog's Breed Says About You]

And a 2011 study from the Annals of Surgery revealed that "attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs."

Fred Barnard

i just don't see why you insist there is no breed - connection. Admit there is ad that these dogs need to be owned by specially trained owners, and not just adopted and put i a family setting. Many dogs need space to run and need special training to counteract their proclivities. Get a lab, or something smaller and less inclined to bite for a family dog. If you need protection, maybe get a dog that you can train to attack. But train it to stand down as well. These are high maintenance dogs, you must at least agree to that. Many people get all sorts of dogs without realizing just how much work they are. And then they end up neglecting them. These dogs require a lot of energy and training.

Fred Barnard

"Unofficial Watchdog on Animal Welfare Issues"

Well, it's "uofficial" which is sort of one of your issues, nevertheless it says:

"Results—Major co-occurrent factors for the 256 DBRFs included absence of an able-bodied person to intervene (n = 223 [87.1%]), incidental or no familiar relationship of victims with dogs (218 [85.2%]), owner failure to neuter dogs (216 [84.4%]), compromised ability of victims to interact appropriately with dogs (198 [77.4%]), dogs kept isolated from regular positive human interactions versus family dogs (195 [76.2%]), owners’ prior mismanagement of dogs (96 [37.5%]), and owners’ history of abuse or neglect of dogs (54 [21.1%]). Four or more of these factors co-occurred in 206 (80.5%) deaths. For 401 dogs described in various media accounts, reported breed differed for 124 (30.9%); for 346 dogs with both media and animal control breed reports, breed differed for 139 (40.2%). Valid breed determination was possible for only 45 (17.6%) DBRFs; 20 breeds, including 2 known mixes, were identified."

*** A statistically small number. however I do agree with the overall idea, that PEOPLE are the problem. Perhaps ALL dog owners, like car drivers, should be required to attend a 40 hour training class and GET A LICENCE to own a dog. This training would include: dog health and welfare, and social responsibility. (The need to spay and neuter / the need for exercise / responsibility to your neighbors well being - especially in terms of noise and waste / and the number of hours per week it takes to responsibly care for your dog / cost of keeping a dog over its lifetime)

What do you think?



Have you read any of the "research" papers you cited? Like, actually read them?

The Philadelphia Children's hospital and Anals of surgery study ONLY looked at breed and age of victim. If the only factor you look at in a "study" is breed, the only correlation you'll ever find is with breed.

The "Anals of Surgery Study" even admitted that it had major flaws - this is actually written int he study"

"We should state that our study is limited by its restrospective nature and the limited number of cases in which the breed of dog responsible for the attack could be determined. This lack of information may compromise the validity of our results..."

So, let's factor in major dog attacks and not just fatalities. We don't really know how many people get bitten by dogs each year, but most are minor, and most that require medical treatment are treat and release. However, the CDC estimates that about 6,000 people each year require hospitalization from dog bites. Even if we attributed half of those to pit bulls (we don't really know) you're looking at .03% of pit bulls being involved in serious bite incidents. That means 99.97% are not involved in serious bite incidents - so these are still dramatic outliers in behavior which is why we must focus on the other circumstances involved beyond breed.


As for the license/training idea, I guess you >could< compare it to car licenses, but on the flip side, we allow people to have children (who are far more work than dogs, and far more violent) without any mandatory training or licensing.

Licensing at the city level has never been terribly effective due to low compliance. And even if you could, logistically figure out how to train people, and get them licensed for pet ownership, is that a good use of resources? 33,000 people die each year in car accidents in this country, and another 2.3 million are injured. It will take dogs 1000 years to reach the number of fatalities as cars cause every single year.

Each year, 14,000 people are murdered in this country by other people. Again, it would take dogs 500 years to get to this number at the current rate.

If we want to focus a lot of resources on public safety, we have a lot of places to focus before dogs become a major factor.

Fred Barnard

A typical non-sequitur argument. Saying "something else" is a problem also, is not addressing the problem. I get this a lot.

Fred Barnard

To answer the question "if you could, logistically figure out how to train people, and get them licensed for pet ownership, is that a good use of resources?" I say yes. It would lower the rate of animals in shelters, bites, over-breeding, and animal abuse. The money could also support animal shelters, however, the licence would ideally lessen the need for them.


It is ridiculous to not take into consideration that resources (or lack there-of) are a real issue for communities across the country. Heck, 1/2 of the current problem could probably solved if most animal control departments weren't under-resourced and under-funded.

And frankly, I think your mistaken about the final outcome -- because historically the more barriers communities have put on pet ownership the more likely animals are to find their way to the shelter and the less likely they are to adopt them.

Fred Barnard

Guess you missed the bit about stopping over-breeding, and that more money would go to shelters. I say Make people responsible, and make them pay for it. Your main argument, after all, is that it's not the breed but People, and the way they raise dogs Is the problem.


I didn't miss that part. Just noting that your recommended approach has almost universally had the opposite effect that you think it will have when tried. This is one area where using carrots has been far more effective than using sticks.

Fred Barnard

And what is Your incentive-carrot for people to behave right in regards to over-breeding, pollution, noise? I want to know when requiring a licence and training to own a dog has EVER been required in the main, standard dog owning populace. If fact your only solution seems to be preach the word "don't blame the breed". What is your solution?


Fred -- many communities "require" licensing -- although most have failed miserably at compliance. The few communities that have done well with it have done so by making animal control a service to those licensing pets vs a punishment-based method. But generally speaking, the more difficult the requirements for pet ownership in a municipality, the higher the intake in shelter animals (fewer people able to comply with the rules) and the fewer people who are able/willing to come adopt those animals. Higher intake/euthanasia has almost universally been the outcome of harsher ownership requirements.

Meanwhile, low cost, service based voluntary spay/neuter & outreach programs have helped reduce shelter intake, and thus shelter euthanasia from 20 million in the 1980s to 3.5 million now -- so they have proven to work. So yes, I favor outreach into helping pet owners who lack the knowledge of how to best care/train their pet vs punishing them for not being able to do so and seizing their pet, breaking the ability to build a relationship with them, only for them to go get another pet and repeat the process...

Joaquin Guzman

Further proof that Colleen Lynn is a lying C-U-Next-Tuesday.

Nigus Tyler created by Colleen Lynn in 2007 was truly for the purpose of helping others on what they must to do when they bitten by the dogs. She has a personal knowledge because she is the victim itself.


Nigus -- being a victim does not make someone an expert. We would not assume that someone who had suffered a heart attack was automatically an expert in open heart surgery.

No, in order to be an expert, one must understand canine behavior, the science behind genetics, and behind canine/human interactions. In this case, these people ALL unanimously disagree with Ms. Lynn's opinions, which are based solely on trying to vindicate being bitten.


All dog does is cite news web sites, they literally don't make up a single story.

I can't for the life of me understand the new liberal obsession with demanding that attack pit bulls be treated with the same respect as a normal dog.


"All does is cite news web sites, they literally don't make up a single story"

That's sort of half true Jay. Let's take the example that is on the lead story on their site TODAY (so it's not like I had to look hard for this). It's the story of a young girl that was tragically killed by a dog. However, DBO is disputing the breed ID provided by the authorities to call the dog a pit bull when authorities say it is not - -and then adding that to their "statistics" in an erroneous way.

Then, at the end of the year, they will use those "statistics" to try to justify how the actions of literally 20-25 dogs should be used to punish thousands of dogs that are similar in shape and size around the country even though science, and experts unanimously disagree with that as an effective solutions. In fact, the city where this incident occurs actually bans pit bulls -- which is one thing that DBO recommends.

The are spreading ignorance and have absolutely zero credible experience to be overriding the expertise of science and real experts.


They were talking about a 2 YEAR OLD being able to understand caution around a dog! Sorry but I will choose to own a dog where the dog understands caution around my 2 year old. Why is it so hard to understand that humans have bred dogs over the years to accentuate certain characteristics and some of those breeds just don't belong in a family setting? I can teach my child caution around a hot stove, but even if my teaching is flawed, the worst that will happen is a boo boo that will go away in a matter of days. Far too often these dogs that were bred to be out rounding up cattle are forced to become the family pet holed up in the house. Being a responsible dog owner means picking a breed that fits your individual circumstances. Why would someone with a 2 bedroom flat in the middle of the metropolis want to own a breed that really was bred to be out protecting the herd? Isn't that kind of unfair and cruel to the dog? And it's why these "sensationalized" attacks happen. Educate yourselves on what dog breeds make good apartment dogs with 5 kids and 27 cats....guaranteed the American bulldog is not going to be one of them. All the veterinarian expertise in the world can't buy this nugget of common sense.


So Jason, you expect the dog to know enough to exercise caution but not the 2 year old? Given that science believes that both are mentally about equal, that's not a very proper expectation (and for the record, both can learn to respect each other to a degree).

Meanwhile, the worst thing about your child not being cautious of a hot stove is NOT that the child gets a boo boo -- but instead, would somehow catch the entire house on fire (stoves are the #1 cause of house fires).

Finally, on breeding. The reality is that the vast majority of dogs in this country are no longer purpose-bred for working -- and haven't been for many generations (particularly canine generations). Many of these traits become watered down very quickly genetically. The easiest example for most people to understand is the standard poodle -- which was bred for hundreds of years to hunt waterfowl. Most standard poodles today bare very little resemblance to their hunting relatives of the past. Which is why basing an opinion of a type of dog based on what it was commonly used for hundreds of years ago is a false belief - -because very few dogs these days are bred with their original purpose in mind-- particularly pit bulls.



I want to start off by saying I appreciate the fact you are willing to open civil debate about this, and after reading your entire blog, even with people who disagree with your views you refrain from being militant crazy in regard to your position. I will further add that I do not necessarily support an outright ban on pit bulls. My main point is I think that those types of dogs have a place in society, and too often end up being misplaced.

To quote you: "because very few dogs these days are bred with their original purpose in mind" that is all well and good Brent but anyone can clearly see that it does not matter what the breeder has in his/her mind. If the gene is there the breeder can have the best intentions in the world but that won't take away from the scientific fact that time and time again pit bull type dogs can suddenly "snap" and turn on their owners and tragedy ensues. I will grant there are tens of thousands of pit bull type dog owners that have very successful, rewarding, and loving lives with their dogs. BUT do you really believe that there is a vast media conspiracy against pit bull type dogs when these tragedies happen? Where are all the lab and golden retriever maulings? The point is if you live holed up in a confined apartment/house with little or no room for the dog to run (and even if you do that apparently is no guarantee) why would anyone with small children or other animals run the risk given their history? To me it sounds irresponsible to even want to try. To what end? To prove that it can be done...."hey look at my pit bull everybody! I've had him 7 years and all he does is lick you to death." I have a much greater assurance if I go for the lab, don't I? My solution would be to restrict ownership of these dogs to farmland (no cities), must have minimum acreage AND if the dog does hurt, maime, or kill the law would be written so that it would be as if the owner did the hurting, maiming, or killing. I am an avid gun owner so trust me when I tell you that I do not like the government dictating what I can and cannot own. But my gun does not have a mind of its own and yet I am constantly bombarded with new laws and restrictions. My solution to the gun problem is much like that of the dogs with a higher history of being aggressive...hold people much more accountable. Again, I think it's unfair to the dog and an irresponsible choice for families given so many other options. Unfortunately, there are a vast number of people willing to cut off their nose to spite their face...literally.

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