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« Weekly Roundup -- Week Ending 10/7/12 | Main | Pit Bull Facts/Myths Info Graphic »

October 08, 2012



So many injuries and fatalities of infants and toddlers could be avoided if their parents and caretakers never left them alone with a dog (or with a dog who had access to them). I was raised with my parents' beloved Irish Setter, a lively pup they had acquired seven months before my birth. We did almost everything together, but my mother remembers that as much as she loved and trusted her dog, she never left us alone together until I was much older.

And people rarely put the numbers of dog bite fatalities into context with the size of the canine population of this country. As tragic as every one of those fatalities is; they hardly indicate an epidemic or a horrific tendency of dogs if the average is 30 per year committed by a population of some 72 MILLION! I would be interested in the source of your statistics, and also the statistics for non-fatal dog bite incidents. I wonder if anyone keep track of the different levels of severity of dog bites; since there is a huge difference between a nip that barely breaks the surface and a severe dog mauling requiring a large amount of stitches and/or surgery.


Pat -- agreed that parents/caretakers not leaving infants/toddlers alone is key.

The 30 is an estimated average over the past 5-6 years -- which has seen a low of about 23, and a high of about 36 -- but usually right around 30. The 72 million owned dogs is a number from the AVMA Animal Ownership Census which is conducted every two years.

As for other bite incidents, the CDC covers total numbers -- they estimate about 4.7 million bites each year -- but most are very minor. Of those about 386,000 require ER treatment (and of those, a lot are fairly minor). The Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project put the number of ER visits at about 316,000 ER visits and 9,500 requiring overnight stays.

There is no tracking this by breed -- and the only attempts that have been done at tracking by breed are based solely on media reports and contain such a small sample size (like 25 a year over 25 years) of the larger group that the data is pretty useless. There was an attempt to do this in Texas too awhile back, but only a small smattering of counties responded....


I take great pleasure in seeing you type quotes around the word "Pit Bull".

As I scan through this years dog bite stories there seems to be and a lot of stories which required Quotes around the word "Pit Bull".

If it walks like a duck, quack likes a duck and tastes like a duck, its proablaby a duck.

Or in this case Pit Bulls are a dangerous breed.

You people remind me of the same people that says the only reason we have terrorists is because the United States of America through its actions creates terrorists.

If we only did things differently we would not have any more terrorism.

Same excusses I hear with Pit Bull deaths.

i.e. the Dog was not socialized.
i.e. the Dog was tied up.
i.e. the Dog was not used to being around kids
i.e. the Dog "insert lame Pit Bull apploigist excuse here".

When are you people going to wake up to the fact that pit bulls are dangerous breeds. Not only because they are owned by a lot of idiots. But because they are a large powerful breed.



Wow. So now the pit bull haters are comparing pit bulls to terrorists? I thought it was pretty laughable before when you comparing them to bears, and lions and such, but terrorists? I'm sure my dog is assembling a small bomb as I type.

As for your "Facts" about pit bulls -- here is a link to one of several scientific studies our there that actually studies aggressiveness by breed. It doesn't support your "fact" at all.

But don't let science distort your viewpoint.

I also have to chuckle a bit about your notion of pit bulls being a "large powerful breed". They are a strong breed, but they are far from large. The average size is genearlly between 40-60 lbs -- and there are a large number of dogs that are significantly larger than this. Heck, Labs, Golden Retrievers are 80 lb dogs, and then we get into things like Mastiffs, St. Bernards, Great Danes etc that can be 150 lbs+.

But again, don't led the facts get in the way of a good argument.


There is this thing called the "internet" and on the internet there is a web site called google. You can ask it any question and it usually gives you a pretty good answer.

I typed "Large Pit Bulls"

I am sure you can get any study to say anything. But facts are facts.

There seems to be a lot of deaths by Pit Bulls this year.

I actually compared Pit Bull lovers, to the people who applogize for the actions of Terrorists.

In the below you tube video an 81 pound Pit Bull pulls 6,200 pounds. That seems pretty powerful and dangerous to me.

I did not have to get a scitenfic degree or conduct a years worth of research to back up my point that Pit Bulls are a large dangerous breed.

Lets say for the sake of argument that I agree with you that the average size of a pit bull is 35 - 65 pounds. There are also a large amount of dogs which are also Pit Bulls which are larger than the "Average Pit Bull" Size.


Jan, here's the core problem: what makes a Pit bull a Pit bull? If someone brings a 40 lb. dog to my shelter and calls it a Chihuahua, it's... just not. A 40 lb. dog might have some Chihuahua in it, but it's not a Chihuahua.

The tricky bit with Pit bulls is that people are making an argument that they are intrinsically-because-of-their-breed aggressive. If that's true, it has to be because the aggression is genetic--inherited by some gene combination in the Pit bull breed. But if we're going to make an argument based on genetics, it has to follow the rules of genetics. Like, if the umpire is going to call a batter out, you can't be playing football. Genes are real, tangible bits of DNA code with real effects and real rules they follow.

What we know about that is professional dog folks (vets, dog trainers, groomers, animal control officers) are terrible at accurately naming genetic content based on the looks of the dog. What gets called a "Pit bull" may have no Pit bull genetic content at all, and so if aggression is genetic--they may have the looks but they don't have the genes. The rules of genetics and inheritance are ferociously complicated, but for dogs--one rule is blazingly clear: looks just don't predict genes.

I do have a science background and I have spent years researching. I am also passionately committed to humane education, dog bite prevention and public safety. It's because I am passionate and committed (and like science) that I don't want folks thinking it's a breed thing. Some of the worst bite I've dealt with in my area have come from Golden Retrievers (seriously). Parents assumed that breed was safe and so didn't teach the dog to be safe... ouch.



Of course Emily is right, that you can't make the argument that 'pit bulls' are genetically hardwired to be dangerous and then at the same time use dogs that are so genetically altered that they barely resemble pit bulls as evidence of this.

But let's assume for a second that these are, indeed, 'pit bulls', they're still 1/2 the size of many of the large breeds of dogs out there.

And it is funny to see you dismiss science, and then point to a youtube video. I guess that is what makes pit bull 'advocates' a little more reliable than the pit bull haters because the 'advocates' rely on science and facts, and you rely on youtube videos to support your assumption that pit bulls are large, oversized dangerous dogs....when, in fact they're not.



You kind of help to prove my point.

And you and Brent continue to ignore the obvious.

I love the fact that you go to science and point the fingers at other breeds or try and cloud the argument with what a "Pit Bull" actually "IS".

From your own web site, year after year. You have more people killed by pit bulls than any other breed.

Other web sites go back even further and have found the same results.


You say I dismiss science but how does science explain the very large number of deaths by dog by pit bull over the last 20 years.

You say You Tube is not science? It has recent videos showing pit bulls which are large and over sized. But you say they are not. I am not saying that every Pit Bull is huge. But even small pit bulls are shown pulling 1000's of pounds of weight in weight pull competitions.

There are lots of web sites which are dedicated to breed large over sized pit bulls.

It is actually the Pro Pit Bull community which is hiding behind "Science" when there is 30+ years of facts staring them in the face which you choose to ignore.

Year after year Pit Bulls lead the way with killing humans.

Your only answer for this is to put quotes around the word "Pit Bull" and say they were not pure breeds.

In America if a Senate candidate can claim to be American Indian when they are 1/64th and look as white as can be.

I am sure we can call a Dog a Pit Bull, when reasonable people agree its a pit bull without getting a DNA test. Especially if the owners of the Dog Bought it or Got it because they wanted a Pit Bull.

Also i am not sure I ever stated that Pit Bulls are genetically hard wired to be dangerous.

I am stating that over the last 20-30 years. Pit Bulls have caused more deaths to humans than any other breed. This makes them dangerous.

I would also say that Pit Bulls have caused more deaths to Adult Humans than any other breed. I think this stat is even more important, because any Dog can Kill a small child.

I would also say that Pit Bulls have killed more adult Owners than any other breed. Which is even more telling. Because having a Dog Turn On and Kill its owner is a pretty interesting stat.

Anyone want to bet on the next story which needs to be run what kind of breed is said to do the killing?



Because you're relying on such limited information for your decision-making, your conclusions are eronious (and I think you intentionally only use a small number of facts in order to be able to maintain that conclusion).

There is no question that pit bulls have been responsible for more deaths over the past decade than any other type of dog. Even though we can, in many of these instances, dispute the breed identification (the poitn of this post) of those statistics, it doesn't matter. Even if all of them really were pit bulls, it still does not support your conclusion: that pit bulls are dangerous.

Depending on how broad or narrow your definition of pit bulls, there are an estimated 3-8 million of them in the US right now. If pit bulls were really "dangerous", then certainly there would be 100s of thousands, or even millions of fatalities. But there aren't. It's usually 10-15 by pit bulls every year. The actions of such a percentage of the total number of dogs of a certain type makes them the EXCEPTIONS, not the breed standard.

Meanwhile it is also not arguable that pit bull type dogs are extremely popular dogs -- easily among the two most popular breeds in the United States. And yet, there are other, very uncommon breeds, also involved in fatal attacks, that even if they commit 1 every two years, a larger perentage of the dogs of those breeds are involved in attacks than those of pit bulls. So breed popularity plays a significant role.

For example, in Canada, the breed of dog that has been responsible for by far the largest number of casualties are Husky-type dogs. This is not because they are vicious dogs (people never clamour about their aggressiveness in the US or Canada) but because they a) are the most popular type of dog there and b) they are often kept outside tethered because they are used as working dogs.

So popularity, and function, matter greatly.

This is where SCIENCE comes in. This is why it's important. Because without it you end up making ridiculous assumptions based on extremely limited data because that's what little data is available to support your currently held point of view -- when the science says something entirely different.


Canada? Please lets not bring Canada into the mix. Unless of course you are lumping this in with the US deaths.

But lets stick America's problem with American examples

But just for giggles I found this on the Internet 28 deaths in Canada in 17 years.

All the science in the world does not cant continue to explain why Pit Bulls lead the league in deaths every single year.

And lets say you are right on everything.

Pit Bulls still lead the league in deaths. This must mean people are too stupid to handle the dogs and as such need to be regulated and controlled.

So either way your argument fails. If you win you fail if you lose you fail. Might as well get on board and draft your own regulation before someone else does.



I just saw something which you wrote which is in direct contradiction to everything which you say.

Every time you put Quotes around "Pit Bull" you make it sound like it could not possibly have been a pit bull....because they are as rare and hard to identify like a chupracabra.

However using your own numbers 6.1% of every household has a Pit Bull. And accounts for 15.7% of Dogs in people's homes with Dogs.

So lets just go ahead and stop with the quotes.

Another thing. Why does Pit Bulls need their own Month. Unless of course if something is wrong.


Jan, let me help you with the math a little. 5 million pit bulls would equal about 7% of all owned dogs being pit bulls (based on the US pet census numbers of 72 million owned dogs). This would be pretty consistent with most estimates from different organizations (unless they are defining 'pit bulls' as just purebred pit bulls, then it is much lower).

I put "pit bull" in quotes because that is what the dog is called by the authority. As can be evidenced in any number of places, the word can be defined very broadly (like in Toledo, where they used to call 11 breeds and their mixes 'pit bulls') or very narrowly (like some people who insist that the words can only apply to the American Pit Bull Terrier) -- depending on who the person is making the declaration. But WOW, you got me.


The reason I brought up Canada is because it does help explain why pit bulls lead in bites in the US -- because they're among the most popular breeds of dogs in the country. This is same reason Huskies lead in fatalities in Canada - because they're the most popular breed of dog there. It does not mean that either breed is more aggressive than other breeds, or that Canadian Huskies are more dangerous than US Huskies. It's just numbers. Again, you can't just ignore the data (and science) that doesn't agree with your point of view (which is most of it).

Meanwhile, it would never, ever make sense to regulate (and attempt to enforce laws on) the owners of 5 million pit bull type dogs to try to control the actions of 15 of them. You can't make laws to try to deal with .003% of a group of people. It's cost prohibitive and not productive.

Especially when there are laws that have proven to be effective that target the very small number of people who are "too stupid to handle" their dogs -- who are much more easily identified than mixed breeds of dogs. The laws also get all of the other dogs owners who are bad dog owners -- regardless of the breed of dog they choose to own -- which protects people from bad dog owners, regardless of their breed of choice - and targeted enough to be effectively enforced. A win for everyone.

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