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« Kansas City Area Elections tomorrow (& three types of politicians) | Main | Very good sentences »

March 22, 2011



Excellent investigative work, Brent, as always! Thanks for asking the right question--and for doing the work necessary to get the answer.


I appreciate all the work in my area to show how off these numbers are but there is one more question I see as obvious that does not seem to be asked often or maybe I have just overlooked it. Is it possible a decrease in bites by a breed targeted could be partially due to less of that breed being owned since along with the muzzle laws and such, they also require insane amounts of insurance that the average person in this economy would just say is not worth it for a family pet that has posed no threat? In my area of SW Iowa, there is no law against my rottweiler but I have been denied homeowners insurance or be forced to pay for extra even though he has never growled at anyone and has been through extensive obedience training.



What you're asking is a very legitimate question...but not one that is easy to answer. Most cities have such horrible licensing rates that they couldn't even begin to give you real population estimates by breed. But yes, it is not uncommon for high licensing/muzzle laws/insurance requirements to price people out of owning certain types of dogs...or, for cities to spend a couple of years systematically killing the targeted breeds when they catch people in violation. These folks of course go out and get different types of dogs, which is why bites by other breeds go up to replace the targeted breeds that go down because they never addressed the real ownership issues. This is why tracking "well, pit bull bites went down, so the law is working" is such flawed thinking because it takes way too narrow of a view toward the (supposed) goal of improving public safety.


I question any breed identified by ACOs as "Lab" about as much as I do "Pitbull". It seems like there are a few main "breeds" used to identify dogs who are largely mixes: Lab, Pitbull, Shepherd, Terrier, Hound...


Well yes, of course YB. I had one city a few years back that had 5 different categories for dogs:

Labs/mixes -- so anything big that comes in black or yellow

Shepherd mixes - anything tan with a long coat.

Pit bulls - short and shocky with a short coat

Chow mixes - large and very furry

All other.


If you start mixing dogs together they end up looking like one of few types of dogs...and they all get classified as that. Yes, it's all bunk and yes, I'm sure there are a ton of "others" that got grouped into those categories.

Even if you gave them the benefit of the doubt on breed ID, their numbers are still bad. If you throw that into the mix, it makes their law even more ridiculous.

Matt Covey

Labs typically lead in bites all over the country simply because there are more of them. Of course most of these bites aren't as severe as bites from some breeds, but they are still bites.


"Of course most of these bites aren't as severe as bites from some breeds,..."

How do you reach that conclusion Matt?


Confirmation bias in action.

Matt Covey

I say that lab bites are not typically as severe as bites from some other breeds since Pitbulls and Rottweilers are responsible for many more human deaths than labs. Please don't assume that I am anti-pitbull, I own an American Bulldog (close relation) and frequently speak out in defense of all breeds. The fact of the matter is however that when more powerful breeds are bred and raised improperly their bites can do much more damage than labs and this is reflected in facts all across the country. Once again I do want to be clear that I do not support breed restrictions, muzzle laws, or any of the nonsense that doesn't take individual animals into account.


Fair enough Matt. Except, how do you reconcile both Langan's statement that they have a lot of severe attacks by Labs and the real numbers that for each of the 5 years I have data for, Labs were among the top 3 breeds (varying by year but always in the top 3) in SEVERE bite incidents.

Although, no question that larger breed dogs are going to cause more harm than very small ones -- which was part of your point, I'm not sure I'd put Labs into the 'don't bite as hard" category...statistically, that really doesn't ring true, regardless of perceptions.


I don`t think the # of Fatalities proves anything about the severity of the bite.
Fatalities are usually due to blood loss so the determining factor whether you die or not would be where you`re bitten not the type of dog that bit you.
There must not be very many severe bites based on the # of Fatalities but we know that`s not true.Most severe bites don`t result in Fatalities.


VERY important point JM makes. And just to add: most fatalities are children... it's not the "how hard" the bite so much as the "where" and "how many".

ANY dog bite can kill, given tragic circumstances.

Dogbite fatalities are trivial, statistically speaking.
Dogbite injuries are worth talking about.
There's no proven correlation between "breed" and bite "severity".
The factors would have to include both size of the jaw and INTENSITY of the bite and INTENT of the biter (intensity and intent being "psychological" rather than an physical factors). A person could be severely injured by bites from an intense/intent Chihuaha, and not injured at all by bites from a mild "pit bull".


I am returning to you to ask for permission to use this article. I have discovered today that our own city council is considering a dangerous dog ordinance that I intend to fight. After your mention of licensing, I looked at my rott's tag and it is sad that I forgot to renew it until the first week of March and his tag number is 5. 5!! I had more than 5 dogs in my yard annoying me that do not belong to me in the last week alone.


Amanda -use whatever you desire from this blog. It is my hope in writing this that in writing this blog that people can find parts of it useful in their own communities...


Just a comment for the guy who said lab bites were not all that bad..Being the daughter of a vet, and then a vet tech and dog trainer myself, I have seen some very serious consequences of lab bites. Including one from a co-worker who had a lab "turn on her with no warning" (which really was not the case) but she ended up needing plastic surgery on the left side of her face. A bite is a bite is a bite...until the general public and dog owners especially take the time to learn how our dogs communicate, and educate themselves on how to actually raise a dog instead of treating it like a human child there will always be bites that while tragic, are completly preventable.


Agreed Amy -- and well said.


Thank you so much for your work this is such a breath of fresh air amidst all of the hatred directed to such specific breeds and their owners!! Awesome job Brent!!

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