Decline in hospitalisations due to dog bite injuries in Catalonia, 1997-2008. An effect of government regulation?
“To analyse population-based data on hospitalisation caused by dog bite injuries after changes in legal regulations on dog ownership, including breed-specific regulations. Descriptive study. Hospitals in Catalonia (Spain), 1997-2008. Persons hospitalised with injuries caused by dog bites. There has been a significant decline in hospitalisation caused by injuries from dog bites from 1.80/100,000 in 1997-9 to 1.11/100,000 in 2006-8, after the enactment of stricter regulations on dog ownership in 1999 and 2002. The magnitude of this change is significant (-38%), and has been greatest in less urban settings. Government regulations were associated with a sizable decrease in injuries caused by dog bites in Catalonia. More evaluative studies in this field may provide criteria to focus future regulations and other preventive interventions.”
Characteristics of 1616 Consecutive Dog Bite Injuries at a Single Institution
Ickes: Q-C plastic surgeon: Too many pit bull bites
Updated May 2, 2016
During his 27-year career, Dr. Benjamin Van Raalte detected a trend.
“It wasn’t until the pit bulls (became popular) that I started seeing the really vicious attacks,” the Bettendorf plastic surgeon said Monday. “The worst pit bull mauling I ever saw was an incident in which a dog bit off the entire cheek of a 5-year-old boy.”
Of the severe bites he has treated, Van Raalte estimates, more than half have been the result of a pit bull attack. The high number of serious injuries, along with the appalling and increasingly popular “sport” of dog fighting have convinced him the time has come for an all-out ban on pit bull breeding.
“I’m just saying it’s time to stop breeding them,” he said. “Yes, there are lots of lovable pit bulls. I’m not advocating putting down pit bulls.
“They’re primarily bred for fighting. In 2016, we need to say we’re done breeding pit bulls. It’s primary purpose is to be a weapon. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do.”
Despite insistence by many pit bull owners that their dogs never would bite, the breed often surprises them. Too often.
Just last week, a newborn baby was killed by a pit bull in California. The dog owners obviously loved and trusted the dog, because they had it in their bed with them and their 3-day-old son. When the dog was startled by a noise, it came into contact with and killed the baby, police said.
Although he wasn’t commenting on the most recent death, Van Raalte said pit bulls sometimes simply do not know their own strength.
“When dogs are annoyed, they nip,” he said. “Mom dogs nip at puppies. But puppy skin is loose, and they have fur.
“It’s a leave-me-alone warning. When kids don’t take note of the warning, their face is at dog level.”
Other times, pit bulls are simply abiding by the hard-wired tendency of certain demonstrably aggressive terrier breeds. While many breeds of dog can be intolerant of other dogs, those bred to fight can do more damage than others.
Van Raalte has had experience with pit bulls outside the operating room. When his Shetland sheepdog was mauled by an off-leash dog at a Bettendorf park, his dog had to be stapled back together.
“And they (the dog owners) didn’t offer to pay,” he said. “They just high-tailed it out of there. When a pit bull clamps down on a person, it tears away the tissue.”
Dog experts say that pit bulls do not have any special biting powers. The damage they do is attributable to their personalities. When they’re onto something, they’re committed.
“Even labs, as big as they are, don’t do that kind of damage,” Van Raalte said of his dog-bite experience. “The only time I had a bad lab bite, the dog turned out to be sick.”
He is not the only one keeping statistics, of course. Regardless where you look, dogs identified as a type of pit bull are far and away the worst offenders when it comes to serious bites. They often are responsible for more serious injuries than all other breeds combined.
It is for the dogs’ sake and ours that Van Raalte wants to see an all-out ban on future breeding.
“If you have 100 drugs that treat high blood pressure, and one of those drugs caused half the deaths, it would be taken off the market,” he said.
Given the disproportionate number of deaths and injuries caused by pit bulls and the fact so many are bred to be fight-to-the-death gladiators, Van Raalte says it’s time to move on.
“It’s so disheartening,” he said. “Victims and their families think, since a plastic surgeon is called, there will be no scar. I have to tell them there will be a scar.
“The dog fighting is cruel and unusual to the animals. There are a lot of other dogs out there — a lot of good choices.
“If we as dog owners don’t figure out how to get rid of the bad actors … it could get to the point you can’t afford to have a dog because the insurance will be too high. Who wants that?”
Boyle column: Pit bull attack shreds arm, changes minds
Kim Brophey, a dog behaviorist who owns the The Dog Door Behavior Center in Asheville, has extensive experience with all dogs, including pit bulls. She’s also the author of an upcoming book on dogs and dog behavior.
She maintains that pit bulls, if raised with good training and socialization around people and other dogs, can be great, loving pets. But she acknowledged their bull baiting and fighting past and says owners have to be vigilant in training, and in keeping their dogs from become highly aroused.
“Pit bulls were bred more for a “high-arousal” ability than viciousness, she said. In other words, they needed to be able to burst into that “high-arousal” mode quickly, conserving energy the rest of the time.
It is a breed that can quickly move from a quiet zone to one of intense, adrenaline-pumping arousal. It’s crucial that owners control the events the dogs are involved in and prevent the “high-arousal” mode from kicking in.
For me, this is not a chance I want to take. My bassets get highly aroused and go nuts running around the house and play biting each other or us, but I don’t worry about them killing people.”
DR. BILLMIRE is professor and director of the Division of Craniofacial and Pediatric Plastic Surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“As one who, for the last 30 years, has been on the receiving end of the dog-bite injuries that pass through the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room, as well as on the staff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children where we see the late effects of these injuries from across the nation, I can categorically tell you that the problems associated with dog bites are indeed breed-specific.
When I started my career, the most common dog-bite injuries were from German shepherds and occasionally retrievers. These injuries were almost always provoked, such as food-related or stepping on the dog, and in almost every instance, the dog reacted with a single snap and release – essentially a warning shot. There were no pack attacks.
Starting about 25 years ago, my colleagues and I started to see disturbingly different types of injuries. Instead of a warning bite, we saw wounds where the flesh was torn from the victim. There were multiple bite wounds covering many different anatomical sites. The attacks were generally unprovoked, persistent and often involved more than one dog. In every instance the dog involved was a pit bull or a pit bull mix.
Now, I am a dog lover and virtually every one of my family members has a dog. But it is a fact that different dogs have always been bred for specific qualities. My sheltie herded, my daughter’s setter flushes birds and my pug sits on my lap – this is what they are bred for. Pit bulls were bred to fight and kill and, unfortunately, many current breeders favor these aggressive traits. There is no need for any dog with the characteristics.
I recently gave a talk summarizing my 30 years of practice in pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery, and one segment was titled “Why I Hate Pit Bulls.” I watched a child bleed to death one night in our operating room because a pit bull had torn his throat out. I have had to rebuild the skull of a child who had his ears and entire scalp torn off. I am currently reconstructing the face of a child, half of whose face has been torn off down to the bone. I have had to rebuild noses, lips, eyelids, jaws and cheeks of numerous children. On older children, I have had to reconstruct legs and hands. The unfortunate young victim whose recent attack has initiated this discussion will bear the scars of this attack for the rest of her life.
Based on my extensive experience, I believe that the risk posed by pit bulls is equivalent to placing a loaded gun with the safety off on the coffee table. In my opinion, these dogs should be banned. I know this is an unpopular stand in some circles, but how many mauled children do we have to see before we realize the folly of allowing these dogs to exist?
The arguments made by advocates of these dogs are the same arguments made by people who feel that assault weapons are an essential part of daily living. There are plenty of breeds available that peacefully coexist with human society. There is no need for pit bulls.”
Expert not surprised
“It’s quite common for a pit bull to show no signs of aggression,” Hart said Wednesday. “People will call it a nice dog, a sweet dog, even the neighbors – and then all of a sudden something triggers the dog, and it attacks a human in a characteristic way of biting and hanging on until a lot of damage is done.”
Pit bulls weren’t bred to be household pets
“After having worked in two veterinary clinics and an emergency animal hospital, and seeing the statistics on pit bull attacks on both animals and humans, and after having now had two close friends’ dogs viciously ravaged by pit bulls, I feel compelled to address this issue very frankly.
I have heard both sides of the argument dozens of times, and when I put all the facts, opinions, stats and justifications together into a final perspective, this is what I conclude: Many pit bull supporters don’t seem to realize they are populating this country’s towns and cities with a lethal attack dog that needs to be rigorously controlled.
All the characteristics that make this breed notorious were selected centuries ago. They were used in the sports of bull and bear baiting. They were bred to attack without provocation or warning (hence their “unpredictability”); clamp on to a vulnerable area of the victim’s body with a hold-and-shake grip to inflict major physical damage; and sustain tremendous pain in order to continue damaging the victim. They were not intended to be household pets. They do these things for the same reason pointers “point” – it’s bred into them. It has nothing to do with “irresponsible ownership.”
It’s long past time to bring some common sense (and compassion for victims) back to this debate. Many countries and U.S. municipalities have taken measures to regulate or even outright ban these dogs, and it’s not due to some arbitrary “breed bias.” If you happen to dislike breeds that drool a lot, that’s a bias. Controlling the ownership of a breed that has proven to be a vicious killer is not; it’s sensible and humane policy.”
Nearly 20 years before the ASPCA existed, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hamiliton Smith weighed in on the topic in The Natural History of Dogs, published in 1839-1840 by W.H. Lizars of Edinburgh, Scotland. This was the book that established the basis of most of the breed standards still used by fanciers today. Hamilton Smith spoke well of every dog mentioned, except one. Of pit bulls, he wrote,
“The bull-dog differs from all others, even from the mastiff, in giving no warning of his attack by his barking. He grapples his opponents without in the least estimating their comparative weight and powers. The bull-dog is possessed of less sagacity and less attachment than any of the hound tribe; he is therefore less favored, and more rarely bred with care, excepting by professed amateurs of sports and feelings little commendable to humanity. He never leaves his hold, when once he has got it, while life lasts.”
Douglas Skinner, DVM
“I have been in veterinary practice for 43 years and never have seen anything like the infusion of this breed. Having worked with more than 100,000 dogs of all breeds, I defy any apologist to offer up such experience.
Sure, there are sweet pits, but telling one from the bad ones, the Jekyll and Hyde ones that can be incited to violence by some catalyst, is near impossible. While most apologists fancy themselves good trainers, 95 percent of owners are clueless.
Many breeds have a history of use based on genetics; the border collie’s is herding, German short hair pointers find birds, and pits have a history of violence. With that information, it still makes sense from the “it’s how you raise your dog” crowd that any dog could be made to herd or point; I mean, it’s how you raise them, right?
A border collie herds instinctively, pointers find game birds, and a pit bull? Well, it wants to chase two girls across a field with three of its buddies and maul them.
Neuter all pit bulls, require high, double fencing, and give severe fines/incarceration of owners for such attacks. I’ve had it with pit bulls and their mixes trying to bite me during exams or scaring other pet owners. Six weeks old, three months old, you can’t trust them; you can only make excuses for them.”
ANDREW FENTON, M.D.
“As a practicing emergency physician, I have witnessed countless dog bites. Invariably, the most vicious and brutal attacks I have seen have been from the pit bull breed. Many of the victims have been children. In a recent study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, pit bull attacks accounted for more ER visits than all other breeds combined. In young children, the most common part of the body injured was the face. Numerous studies have proven that the number-one cause of dog bite fatalities is the pit bull breed. I am certain that many attacks are due to owner negligence, but the fact remains that many were unpredictable and were perpetrated by formerly “loving and loyal” pets. Dr. Chagnon has every right to leave our town as she claims she will if pit bulls are banned, just like every one of her patients has the right not to attend her clinic where she brings her pit bulls. I applaud Mayor Pro Tem Joanne Sanders for bringing this issue to the forefront. In the interest of public safety, I recommend we enforce a spay/neuter requirement on pit bulls while reviewing and revamping all of our policies relating to animal bites.”
DR. AMY WANDEL, plastic surgeon
“I see just as many dog bites from dogs that are not pit bulls as bites from pit bulls. The big difference is pit bulls are known to grab onto something and keep holding so their damage they create is worse than other breeds.”
Elements of Temperament – Drives, Thresholds and Nerves – By Joy Tiz MS, JD
“Most dog owners absolutely refuse to believe this. If I only had a dollar for every time someone has told me “It’s all in how they’re raised!” … No, it’s not. It’s all in how their DNA came together. A dog with foul temperament will always be a dog with foul temperament, no matter how wonderful the environment. A dog with sound, stable temperament will always be a sound stable dog, even in a lousy environment.”
“There is no perfect test, some are more horrendous than others. Experienced trainers of working dogs eventually come up with their own system for evaluating pups and young adult prospects. The best predictor of temperament is history. What are the pup’s parents like? Their parents? Grandparents? Keeping in mind that temperament is inherited, look to the ancestors as your best source of information.”
MIKE JOYNER –
“As a judge in Environmental Court who has had to deal with numerous cases of dog on dog and dog on human attacks, I can without any bias say that pit bulls are a dangerous breed. The facts speak for themselves. You cannot argue against the data.
My wife owns a doggie daycare and I have dealt with every possible breed. In the six years she has been opened there have been over 1600 dogs that have been through the doors with the exception of the pit bull. Her liability insurance company will not insure her if she takes pit bulls, and as much as I love ALL dogs I do not trust pit bulls around children or other dogs.
I have been on the bench for several cases where a pit bull attacked a child and literally pulled the scalp off of a 12 year old girl’s head. It was a neighbor’s dog and she had pet it a week before the incident, which occurred in her own backyard with the pit bull jumped the fence and attacked her without any provocation or warning. I have had numerous cases where a pit bull attacked another dog and held it down or shook it until it was dead…even in the presence of the owner of the pit bull who could do nothing to separate the dogs.
I have nothing personal against the breed and I have never personally experienced anything negative from a pit bull. In fact from 1969 until 1972 our neighbor had a female pit named Sassy and she was as sweet a dog as I ever met, but knowing what I know I would be negligent if I promoted pit bulls as pets to any family with children or neighbors with pets.
Lindsay R. Mehrkam – Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
Clive D.L. Wynne – Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA
In both popular media and scientific literature, it is commonly stated that breeds of dogs differ behaviorally in substantial, consistent and predictable ways. Since the mid-twentieth century, scientists have asked whether meaningful behavioral differences exist between breeds of dogs. Today, there are over 1000 identified dog breeds in the world, but to date, fewer than one-quarter of these are represented in studies investigating breed-specific behavioral differences. We review here scientific findings of breed differences in behavior from a wide range of methodologies with respect to both temperament traits and cognitive abilities to determine whether meaningful differences in behavior between breeds have been established. Although there is convincing scientific evidence for reliable differences between breeds and breed groups with respect to some behaviors (e.g., aggression, reactivity), the majority of studies that have measured breed differences in behavior have reported meaningful within-breed differences has well. These trends appear to be related to two main factors: the traits being assessed and the methodology used to assess those traits. In addition, where evidence for breed differences in behavior has been found, there is mixed consistency between empirical findings and the recognized breed standard. We discuss both the strengths and limitations of behavioral research in illuminating differences between dog breeds, highlight directions for future research, and suggest the integration of input from other disciplines to further contribute to our understanding of breed differences in behavior.
DR. CHRISTOPHER DEMAS
“Bites from pit bulls inflict much more damage, multiple deep bites and ripping of flesh and are unlike any other domestic animal I’ve encountered. Their bites are devastating – close to what a wildcat or shark would do.”
DR. MICHAEL FEALY
“When a Pit Bull is involved the bites are worse. When they bite, they bite and lock and they don’t let go… they bite lock and they rip and they don’t let go.”
Dr. EDGAR JOGANIK (after trying to reattach scalp and ear to a pit bull victim)
“Pit bull attacks are typically the most severe, and in about one-third of all attacks, the animals are family pets or belong to close friends. That should be the message that these dogs should not be around children, adults are just as likely to be victims. Everyone should be extremely cautious.”
DR RICHARD SATTIN, chief of unintentional-injuries section of the Centers of Disease Control
“We’re trying to focus public attention on this greatly underestimated public hazard. In 1979, pit bulls accounted for 20 percent of fatal attacks by dogs. That figure had risen to 62 percent by 1988. Nobody knows the dog population of the United States or the exact breakdown by breed. We do not believe that pit bulls represent anywhere near 42% percent of dogs in the United States. Therefore, we believe that the pit bull excess in deaths is real and growing.”
HORSWELL BB, CHAHINE CJ, oral surgeons Dog bites of the facial region are increasing in children according to the Center for Disease Control.
“To evaluate the epidemiology of such injuries in our medical provider region, we undertook a retrospective review of those children treated for facial, head and neck dog bite wounds at a level 1 trauma center. Most dog bites occurred in or near the home by an animal known to the child/family. Most injuries were soft tissue related, however more severe bites and injuries were observed in attacks from the pit-bull and Rottweiler breeds. Younger (under five years) children sustained more of the injuries requiring medical treatment. Injury Severity Scales were determined as well as victim and payer mix demographics, type and characteristics of injury, and complications from the attack.”
GARY WILKES, animal behaviorist
“No other breed in America is currently bred for fighting, in such great numbers as the American Pit Bull Terrier. No other breed has instinctive behaviors that are so consistently catastrophic when they occur, regardless of how rarely they happen. The reality is that every English Pointer has the ability to point a bird. Every Cattle Dog has the ability to bite the heel of a cow and every Beagle has the ability to make an obnoxious bugling noise when it scents a rabbit or sees a cat walking on the back fence. Realistically, if your English Pointer suddenly and unpredictably points at a bird in the park, nobody cares. If my Heeler nips your ankle, I’m going to take care of your injuries and probably be fined for the incident. If your Beagle bugles too much, you’ll get a ticket for a noise violation. If your Pit Bull does what it’s bred to do…well, you fill in the blank.”
SHERYL BLAIR, Tufts Veterinary School symposium – Animal Aggression: Dog Bites and the Pit Bull Terrier
“The injuries these dogs inflict are more serious than other breeds because they go for the deep musculature and don’t release; they hold and shake. Colleen Hodges, Veterinary Public Health spokeswoman Some families think that they can raise a loving pet if they treat a pit bull like any other dog. They may not realize that the dog was bred to fight and that some of these dogs may have fighting in their genes. They are tough, strong, and tenacious. They are much more capable of inflicting serious damage, and some of them do. I would not recommend pits as a family dog.”
Dr. Radcliffe Robins – Dog behaviorist
“Temperament is 100% genetic; it is inherited, and fixed at the moment of the dog’s fertilization/conception/birth. Temperament in the dog cannot be eliminated nor transformed from one type to another. It cannot change during the dog’s lifetime. It is the permanent mental/neurological characteristic of the individual dog. Environment, socialization or training can MODIFY the expression of an individual dog’s temperament, but they cannot transform it nor eliminate it. The dog will die with the temperament with which it was born.”
MICHAEL W. FOX, veterinarian, animal behaviorist
“I spent 20 years studying the behavior of dogs and it’s not in their nature. Man, has created a monster, If you wish…These dogs were selectively bred to fight, they have greater propensity to fight than other animals, which is brought out in training.” “They can attack people, and because the attitudes of Pit Bulls it is more likely they will attack people. The worry is the power of the dogs jaw…to bite and not let go. It’s quite sufficient to crush right through a child’s arm or leg.”
ARTHUR HERM, veterinarian, animal control
“I disagree with those people who believe they can train aggressiveness out of dogs, and added he believes aggressiveness is “inherent” and “genetic” in all dogs while pit bulls “seem to have more of that.”
KATHRYN HAWKINS, DVM
“After seeing another dog die from a pit bull attack, I feel compelled to write. The opinion that pit bulls are “mean because of the way they are raised” is often not the case. A Both of the dogs I took care of that died were attacked unprovoked by pit bulls that were in families that raised them responsibly. Just as a retriever is bred to hunt birds — an instinct you can’t stop — many pit bulls have a genetic tendency to attack other animals. When they do, they are extremely powerful and don’t quit. I have never been bitten or growled at by a pit bull — they are very friendly. But when the instinct to attack another animal occurs, they cause serious damage, or death. They don’t bite people any more often than other breeds but when they do, it’s bad. The aggressiveness toward other animals and damage they do is not because of “the way they are raised” — it is usually due to a genetic instinct not in the control of the owner.”
TRISH KING, Director, Behavior & Training Dept. Marin Humane Society
“There is no direct eye contact or very little direct eye contact. It is very quick and over with. Which is one reason why with pit bulls and rottweilers, we have problems. Because they’re bred to do direct eye contact and so they are off putting to other dogs and actually scary to other dogs. The fourth undesirable characteristic – arousal or excitement – is actually the most problematic. Many bully dogs cannot seem to calm themselves down once they get excited. And once they get excited all their behaviors are exacerbated. Thus, if a dog is over-confident and has a tendency to body slam or mount, he or she will really crash into the other dog or person when he’s aroused, sometimes inadvertently causing injury. He may begin to play-bite, and then bite harder and harder and harder. When you try to stop the behavior, the dog often becomes even more “aggressive.” In this way, play can turn into aggression fairly quickly. Research on the brain has shown that excited play has exactly the same chemistry as extreme anger. This allows a play behavior to switch quickly into aggression. And, once the dog has become aggressive a few times, the switch is much easier.”
MELANIE PFEIFFER, veterinary assistant
“Working in a veterinary hospital, you are exposed to all kinds of animal trauma. One of the more common ones is dog fights. I can honestly say that in three out of four cases, an American pit bull terrier is involved. Many times, we are able to save the life of the afflicted, but yesterday, we were not.”
“I propose that all owned American pit bull terriers be registered and all breeding be halted indefinitely. How many mutilated faces, mangled limbs, butchered pets and even human deaths does it take to convince us that this breed needs to be phased out?”
KEVIN COUTTS, Head Dog Ranger, Rotorua, New Zealand
“There was concern among dog authorities about American pitbulls being allowed into New Zealand as they were dangerous, unpredictable animals, Mr Coutts said. “A lot of people in this town get them because they are a staunch dog and they will fight. They are perceived as vicious … It’s frustrating they were ever allowed in the country … we can’t go back now though,” Mr Coutts said. COUTTS’ comment on a pit car mauling This sort of thing happens when people own this breed of dog and then don’t look after them.”
ALEXANDRA SEMYONOVA, animal behaviorist
“You will also not prevent the dog from being what he is genetically predisposed to be. Because the inbred postures and behaviors feel good, fitting the body and brain the dog has been bred with, they are internally motivated and internally rewarded. This means that the behavior is practically impossible to extinguish by manipulating external environmental stimuli. The reward is not in the environment, but in the dog itself! As Coppinger and Coppinger (2001, p. 202) put it, “The dog gets such pleasure out of performing its motor pattern that it keeps looking for places to display it.” Some dogs get stuck in their particular inbred motor pattern. As pointed out above, this kind of aggression has appeared in some other breeds as an unexpected and undesired anomaly – the golden retriever, the Berner Senne hund, the cocker spaniel have all had this problem. The lovers of aggressive breeds try to use these breeding accidents to prove that their aggressive breeds are just like any other dog, “see, they’re no different from the cuddly breeds.” But a cuddly breed sometimes ending up stuck with a genetic disaster does not prove that the behavior is normal canine behavior. All it proves is that the behavior is genetically determined. “These dogs aren’t killers because they have the wrong owners, rather they attract the wrong owners because they are killers.” The 100 Silliest Things People say about dogs.
MARK WULKAN, MD, surgeon at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
“There is a difference with the pit bulls. In the last two years we’ve seen 56 dog injuries that were so severe the patient had to be admitted to the hospital so this doesn’t count just a little bite and then goes to the emergency room. Of those 56, 21 were pit bulls. And then when we look at our data even further, of the kids that were most severely injured, those that were in the hospital for more than 8 days or had life threatening injuries, 100% of those were pit bulls.
The latest study, which was just released, by the NCBI, The National Institute of Health:
The patients most likely to suffer dog bite injuries of the head and neck are children. Although a number of dog breeds were identified, the largest group were pit bull terriers, whose resultant injuries were more severe and resulted from unprovoked, unknown dogs. More severe injuries required a greater number of interventions, a greater number of inpatient physicians, and more outpatient follow-up encounters. Healthcare utilization and costs associated with dog bites warrant further investigation.”
STEPHEN COHN, MD, professor of surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center
“I think this is a public health hazard, this particular dog. We just have to have them contained in a way that protects the general public. I don’t want to see another kid come in dead.”
JOHN BINI, MD, chief of surgery at Wilford Hall Medical Center
“There are going to be outspoken opponents of breed legislation, who say: ‘My pit bulls lie with my baby and play with my rabbit.’ And that’s fine. I just think we’re seeing something here, and I think it does warrant a discussion as to whether this is a risk that a community wants to take.”
MORTALITY, MAULING, AND MAIMING BY VICIOUS DOGS, April 2011 Annals of Surgery
“Fortunately, fatal dog attacks are rare, but there seems to be a distinct relationship between the severity and lethality of an attack and the breed responsible,” they wrote in an article published in the April issue of the medical journal Annals of Surgery. “These breeds should be regulated in the same way in which other dangerous species, such as leopards, are regulated.”
DAVID E. BLOCKER, BS, MD, Dog Bite Rates and Biting Dog Breeds in Texas, 1995-1997
Bite Rates by Breed page 23
One out of every 40 Pit Bulls (2.5%) and about one out of 75 Chow Chows (1.4%) generated a reported human bite each year (Table 29; Figure 7).
One out of 100 Rottweilers (1%) caused a reported bite, and less than one out of 250 German Shepherds (0.37%) bit a human each year, not statistically different from the average for all dogs combined (0.53%).
Huskies, Dobermans, and Australian Shepherds had bite rates slightly lower than German Shepherds but higher than Labrador Retrievers.
Less than one in every 500 Labrador retrievers (0.15%) was associated with a reported bite each year. All other breeds examined individually, including Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, and Dachshunds, had bite rates lower than Labrador Retrievers.
Odds ratios for each of the five most commonly biting dog breeds versus all others presented similar findings (Table 30). The odds of a Pit Bull in Bexar County causing a bite were 5 times greater than the odds for all other breeds combined, at 4.9 to 1.
Chow Chows and Rottweilers also had odds ratios significantly greater than the average, at 2.9 to 1 and 1.8 to 1, respectively. The odds ratios for German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers were significantly lower than the average, at 0.67 to 1 and
0.26 to 1.
PETER ANTEVY, pediatric E.R. physician, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital
Dr Antvey sees at least five dog-bite victims a month in his emergency room. Unfortunately, he said, “the biggest offender is the pit bull.”
MELISSA ARCA, MD
“The reality is that any dog can bite, and statistically speaking, a child is most likely to be bitten by the family dog or a dog that they know. When you’re talking about bite severity resulting in life-threatening and even fatal injuries, pit bulls and Rottweilers are the main culprits.
Experience absolutely colors our perception, and in this case I can’t help but be affected by what I’ve seen. I will never forget a young child I treated in the ER during my pediatric residency. She suffered severe facial lacerations and tears to her face after a pit bull attack in her local park.”
Legal Experts and the Enemy of Humanity
THOMAS J. MOYER, Chief Justice, Ohio Supreme Court 1987-2010
“The trial court cited the substantial evidence supporting its conclusion that pit bulls, compared to other breeds, cause a disproportionate amount of danger to people. The chief dog warden of Lucas County testified that: (1) when pit bulls attack, they are more likely to inflict severe damage to their victim than other breeds of dogs; (2) pit bulls have killed more Ohioans than any other breed of dog; (3) Toledo police officers fire their weapons in the line of duty at pit bulls more often than they fire weapons at people and all other breeds of dogs combined; (4) pit bulls are frequently shot during drug raids because pit bulls are encountered more frequently in drug raids than any other dog breed…. The evidence presented in the trial court supports the conclusion that pit bulls pose a serious danger to the safety of citizens. The state and the city have a legitimate interest in protecting citizens from the danger posed by this breed of domestic dogs.”
WILLIAM M HOEVELER, US DISTRICT JUDGE, ADOA v Dade County, Florida
Despite plaintiffs’ contention that there is no such animal as a pit bull, plaintiffs’ own experts have written articles about their pedigreed dogs referring to them by the common nickname of pit bull. At trial, these experts identified photographs of dogs as pit bulls, rather than delineating the dogs into any one of the three breeds recognized by the kennel clubs. Moreover, veterinarians commonly identify dogs as pit bulls — rather than one of the three recognized breeds — by their physical characteristics.
Two veterinarians, testifying for the defendants, stated that they are often called upon to identify a dog’s breed because it is an integral part of the animal’s health record. This they do by reference to standard physical characteristics. Generally, these veterinarians testified, owners themselves know what breed their dog is.
There was ample testimony that most people know what breed their dogs are. Although the plaintiffs and their experts claim that the ordinance does not give them enough guidance to enable owners to determine whether their dogs fall within its scope, the evidence established that the plaintiffs themselves often use the term “pit bull” as a shorthand method of referring to their dogs. Numerous magazine and newspaper articles, including articles in dog fancier magazines, refer to pit bull dogs. Veterinarians typically refer to the three recognized breeds and mixed breeds with conforming characteristics as pit bulls. In addition, the veterinarians who testified stated that most of their clients know the breeds of their dogs.
DON BAUERMEISTER, Council Bluffs, IA prosecutor
“All dogs can “get into it”. The reality, though, for way too many dog owners is the sudden, unprovoked, violent and very serious attack from a pit bull. These folks have to pay the immediate vet bill. Yes, sometimes, the Court is able to intervene and order restitution, but what about the dead dog. What about the psychological damage to those who had to witness the attack. I have seen pit bulls attack and injure other dogs. It is something that you will never forget. A very purposeful bite, indeed. Pit bulls are pros and the rest of the dog world are amateurs. Man made them this way.”
KORY NELSON, Denver, CO City Attorney
“The most significant point about the justification for bans or restrictions of pit bulls is that these are not dependent upon a claim that every pit bull has a higher than average propensity for attacking humans. The justification is based on the clear evidence that, as a group, pit bulls, compared to other breeds, generally have a higher propensity to exhibit unique behavioral traits during an attack.
These behaviors have a higher likelihood of causing more severe injuries or death. The Colorado Dog Fanciers trial court made this clear, stating that, while it could not be proven that pit bulls bite more than other dogs, there was “credible evidence that Pit Bull dog attacks are more severe and more likely to result in fatalities.” The court, in great detail, noted fourteen separate areas of differences, including: strength, manageability and temperament, unpredictability of aggression, tenacity, pain tolerance and manner of attack.
A municipality that is experiencing a problem with pit bull attacks needs to consider for itself the best course of action to protect its citizens, especially those most likely to be unable to defend themselves from the tenacious and sustained attack of a pit bull, who will likely bite, hold, and tear at its victim despite efforts to stop it. However, given the clear rational evidence, breed-specific legislation is still a legally viable option.There is no new evidence that undermines the holdings of Colorado Dog Fanciers, only new relevant evidence that adds additional support for BSL, as the differential treatment of pit bulls is based upon logical, rational evidence from the scientific field of ethology.”
BOB JOHNSTONE, Cincinnati, OH city attorney
“We have amassed what I consider an overwhelming amount of information that demonstrates to me that pit bulls are, by far, responsible for more fatal or serious attacks than any other breed.”
JUDGE VICTOR E. BIANCHINI, San Diego, CA
“A pit bull is the closest thing to a wild animal there is in a domesticated dog.”
U.S. SUPREME COURT, April 26, 1897, SENTELL v. NEW ORLEANS & C. R. CO.
“Laws for the protection of domestic animals are regarded as having but a limited application to dogs and cats; and, regardless of statute, a ferocious dog is looked upon as hostis humani generis, and as having no right to his life which man is bound to respect.”
HORSWELL BB, CHAHINE CJ, oral surgeons
“Dog bites of the facial region are increasing in children according to the Center for Disease Control. To evaluate the epidemiology of such injuries in our medical provider region, we undertook a retrospective review of those children treated for facial, head and neck dog bite wounds at a level 1 trauma center.
Most dog bites occurred in or near the home by an animal known to the child/family. Most injuries were soft tissue related, however more severe bites and injuries were observed in attacks from the pit-bull and Rottweiler breeds.
Younger (under five years) children sustained more of the injuries requiring medical treatment. Injury Severity Scales were determined as well as victim and payer mix demographics, type and characteristics of injury, and complications from the attack.”
DR RICHARD SATTIN, chief of unintentional-injuries section of the Centers of Disease Control
“We’re trying to focus public attention on this greatly underestimated public hazard.
In 1979, pit bulls accounted for 20 percent of fatal attacks by dogs. That figure had risen to 62 percent by 1988.
Nobody knows the dog population of the United States or the exact breakdown by breed. We do not believe that pit bulls represent anywhere near 42% percent of dogs in the United States. Therefore, we believe that the pit bull excess in deaths is real and growing.”
ROBERT D. NEWMAN, M.D.
“As a pediatrician I was disturbed to read Vicki Hearne’s assertion that there are no bad breeds, just bad dogs (Op-Ed, April 15). There is ample evidence to suggest that certain breeds of dogs are more dangerous to children than others.
From 1979 to 1994, there were 177 known dog-bite-related fatalities in the United States. Of these fatalities, 66 percent were caused by five breeds: pit bull, Rottweiler, shepherd, husky and malamute.
If you include crosses among these five breeds, that number rises to 82 percent. Other breeds, like Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers were not implicated in a single fatality during this same period.
I laud the American Kennel Club’s attempt to include information about dog breeds considered ”not good with children” in the coming edition of ”The Complete Dog Book,” and lament the fact that the book is being recalled at the request of some breeders.
Seattle, April 16, 1998″
DR. PATRICK BYRNE, Johns Hopkins Hospital
“I can’t think of a single injury of this nature that was incurred by any other species other than a pit bull or a rottweiler.”
Dr. Chagnon has every right to leave our town as she claims she will if pit bulls are banned, just like every one of her patients has the right not to attend her clinic where she brings her pit bulls.
I applaud Mayor Pro Tem Joanne Sanders for bringing this issue to the forefront. In the interest of public safety, I recommend we enforce a spay/neuter requirement on pit bulls while reviewing and revamping all of our policies relating to animal bites.
BONNIE V. BEAVER, BS, DVM, MS, DACVB, Professor and Chief of Medicine, Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University
Executive Director, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
By its origin, a pit bull is a fighting dog that takes very little stimulus to initiate aggression, and it will continue to fight regardless of what happens.
Pit bulldogs have been responsible for about 70 percent of the deaths of humans killed by dogs since 1979.
The AVMA warns veterinarians to be careful about supplying behavioral evaluations of dogs for insurance purposes.
“It’s risky for veterinarians,” said Dr. Beaver, explaining that there are many situations in which a dog may behave aggressively, and temperament tests can’t rule out the possibility of aggression. “You don’t have temperament tests that can identify all possibilities.”
COLLEEN HODGES, Veterinary Public Health spokeswoman
“Some families think that they can raise a loving pet if they treat a pit bull like any other dog. They may not realize that the dog was bred to fight and that some of these dogs may have fighting in their genes.
They are tough, strong, tenacious. They are much more capable of inflicting serious damage, and some of them do. I would not recommend pits as a family dog.”
TRISH KING, Director, Behavior & Training Dept. Marin Humane Society
“There is no direct eye contact or very little direct eye contact. It is very quick and over with. Which is one reason why with pit bulls and rottweilers, we have problems. Because they’re bred to do direct eye contact and so they are off putting to other dogs and actually scary to other dogs.”
The fourth undesirable characteristic – arousal or excitement – is actually the most problematic. Many bully dogs cannot seem to calm themselves down once they get excited. And once they get excited all their behaviors are exacerbated.
Thus, if a dog is over-confident and has a tendency to body slam or mount, he or she will really crash into the other dog or person when he’s aroused, sometimes inadvertently causing injury. He may begin to play-bite, and then bite harder and harder and harder.
When you try to stop the behavior, the dog often becomes even more “aggressive.” In this way, play can turn into aggression fairly quickly. Research on the brain has shown that excited play has exactly the same chemistry as extreme anger. This allows a play behavior to switch quickly into aggression. And, once the dog has become aggressive a few times, the switch is much easier.
DIANE JESSUP, pit bull expert, breeder, former ACO
“Jessup, the animal control officer in Olympia, uses two pit bulls to train police and animal control officers on surviving dogs attacks.
Unlike dogs who are nippers and rippers, her pit bulls are typically “grippers” who bite down and hang onto their victims.”
Jessup believes that much of dog behavior comes from their genes. “I truly believe that a dog is about 90% genetics,” says Jessup.
on protection sports
This difference in “sheepdog versus bulldog” mentality in a trainer is best understood when training the “out!” or release command. It is common practice for those training shepherds and sheepdog types to use force such as hard leash corrections or electric shock to get the dog to release the sleeve.
Sadly, I had one young man come to me because a club trainer was slugging his little Am Staff female in the nose, till she bled, trying to get her to release the sleeve.
She would not! And of course she would not! She was a good little bulldog, hanging on for dear life, just as her bull and bear baiting ancestors of old did.
She was a super little gripping dog, who took the pain she experienced as just “part of the job” once her owner set her upon the sleeve. And this is the response from well bred pit bulldogs—to ignore pain while gripping. It is, after all, what they are bred for! Give me a bulldog like her, rather than one which will allow itself to be yanked off the sleeve due to pain.
MICHAEL BURNS, Los Angeles Animal Control Lt.
“You have a dog that has aggressive tendencies enhanced through constant and incestuous breeding. If there are some recessive genes on the aggressive or psychotic side, they will make themselves manifest.
They are different. There’s an absence of the normal sounds a dog makes when it attacks. It’s almost a workmanlike way they hold on in an attack. It’s a persistence I haven’t seen in any other breed.”
KURT LAPHAM, a field investigator for the West Coast Regional office of the Humane Society
“Most breeds do not multiple-bite. A pit bull attack is like a shark attack: He keeps coming back.”
DAVID GENDREGSKE, Clare County MI Animal Control Director
“In my opinion they appeal to the most irresponsible pet owners and to younger people,”
“The younger people have no jobs to support the animal, or they have to move where animals aren’t allowed and (the dogs) end up here.” Certain people like pit bulls because they are intimidating, he said. “They want to scare people. It’s an intimidation thing.
They’re number one with those being incarcerated. If there’s a dog left behind (when someone is sentenced to jail or prison), it’s always a pit bull,” he said. He cited the time a pit bull got out of a car and attacked a horse.
He was pulled off, but he went back and grabbed the throat. He was pulled off again and again and went back after different parts of the horse. “What kind of a dog but a pit bull would do that?” he asked. “All dogs can bite but not with that ferocity. “ Some people will say that how a pit bull acts and reacts is dependent upon how the dog is raised, he said.
“But he was raised to kill for centuries,” he said. “You can’t breed it out in one generation.” If the popularity of pit bulls is a fad, it’s a long term one, he said. “I keep seeing more and more pit bulls,” he said. “It’s getting worse.”
Pit bulls, he said, are not good as a working dog, except for perhaps wild boar hunting. “And they’re not one of the smarter breeds,” he said, despite other’s beliefs that they are intelligent.
VICTORIA STILWELL, celebrity dog trainer
“Presas are not to be fooled with, they’re dangerous. You’ve got a fighting breed here. You’ve got a dog that was bred for fighting. You’ve got one of the most difficult breeds to handle.”
CESAR MILAN, celebrity dog trainer
“Yeah, but this is a different breed…the power that comes behind bull dog, pit bull, presa canario, the fighting breed – They have an extra boost, they can go into a zone, they don’t feel the pain anymore. He is using the bulldog in him, which is way too powerful, so we have to ‘make him dog’ (I guess as in a “regular” dog) so we can actually create the limits. So if you are trying to create submission in a fighting breed, it’s not going to happen. They would rather die than surrender.”. If you add pain, it only infuriates them..to them pain is that adrenaline rush, they are looking forward to that, they are addicted to it…That’s why they are such great fighters.” Cesar goes on to say…”Especially with fighting breeds, you’re going to have these explosions over and over because there’s no limits in their brain.”
GARRETT RUSSO, dog trainer
“I estimate Medical & Veterinary bills related to injuries caused by pit bulls in the Tompkins Square dog run in 2011, $140,000.00. Estimated Medical (human) & Veterinary (canine) bills from all other breeds and mixed breeds combined during the same period, $5,000.00.” (Estimate gathered from reports to by owners to the dog park association.)
STEVE DUNO, dog trainer, pit bull owner
“The dogs that participated in these attacks weren’t Pekingese. You don’t have herds of Pekingese roaming the city attacking people. When someone says all breeds are created equal, well then they’re denying the definition of what a breed is. Breed serves a particular purpose.”
“I like them. They’re eager. They’re athletic. They’re aesthetically pleasing. But even if they’re bred perfectly, they can be problematic, particularly with other dogs.”
“When you combine the breed specific behaviors … with owners who either don’t give a rip, or with owners who (have) too much dog, you have a problem.”
JEAN DONALDSON, dog trainer
“Most commonly, she sees dogs with aggression problems. While she’s a fierce opponent of “breed bans” like the proposed outlawing of pit bulls that San Francisco debated two years ago, she believes it’s undeniable that some breeds are predisposed to violence. Many breeds that were bred as guardians or fighting dogs were carefully designed to not like strangers, she says. She thinks it’s disingenuous of breeders to further enhance this trait, and then expect owners to compensate with training.”
ARLENE STERLING, Newaygo County, MI Chief Animal Control Officer
“It is genetically inbred in them to be aggressive. They can be very nice dogs, but they are very prey driven and they are extremely strong. It makes them high risk dogs and it makes them extremely dangerous.”
BOB KERRIDGE, New Zealand SPCA executive director
“That is the only real way to solve this problem – is to license owners and to give them the responsibility that goes with owning a dog. It would be extremely useful when you have a neighbour who is concerned about that dog next door. You can look at it and see they don’t have a license and take it away. That’s owner responsibility.”
“We led the charge to stop the importation of the pitbull because of the concerns they would be crossbred with other dogs… But there’s not a lot we can do about that because it’s happened. We wish someone had listened all those years ago.”
JIM CROSBY, pit bull hired gun
“Line breeding tends to concentrate recessive traits. The propensity for violent attacks by a dog would be a recessive trait.”
DIANE JESSUP, Washington pit bull owner and expert
“It’s not sensible to get an animal bred for bringing a 2,000-pound bull to its knees and say I’m going to treat this like a soft-mouth Labrador,” says Jessup, the former animal-control officer. She blames novice owners, as much as actual criminals, for bringing the breed into disrepute. “It’s a capable animal, and it’s got to be treated as such.”
JOHN ROCKHOLT, South Carolina dogman
“It’s inhumane not to allow them to fight. If you have to encourage them to fight they are not worth the powder it would take to blow them away. To never allow them any kind of combat…That’s inhumane.”
RAY BROWN, former pit bull owner, breeder, dog fighter
Pit bulls didn’t become dangerous because we fight them; we fight them because the English specifically bred them to be dangerous.
MARK PAULHUS, HSUS southeast regional coordinator
If it chooses to attack, it’s the most ferocious of all dogs. I’ve never known of a pit bull that could be called off (during a fight). They lose themselves in the fight.
F.L. DANTZLER, HSUS director of field services
“They’re borderline dogs. They’re right on the edge all of the time. Even if the dogs are not trained or used for fighting, and even though they are generally good with people, their bloodline makes them prone to violence.”
JOHN FAUL, animal behaviorist
Faul said they were dangerous and a threat to life. He said the pit bull was bred to be absolutely fearless and had a “hair-trigger” attack response.
“The cardinal rule is that these dogs are not pets,” he said.
“The only way to keep them is in a working environment.”
He said the only relationship one could have with the pit bull was one of “dominance, sub-dominance”, in which the dog was reminded daily of its position.
ANDREW ROWAN, PhD, Tufts Center for Animals
“A pit bull is trained to inflict the maximum amount of damage in the shortest amount of time. Other dogs bite and hold. A Doberman or a German shepherd won’t tear if you stand still.
A pit bull is more likely to remove a piece of tissue. Dogs fight as a last resort under most circumstances. But a pit bull will attack without warning. If a dog shows a submissive characteristic, such as rolling over most dogs wills top their attack. A pit bull will disembowel its victim.”
“A study by Dr Randall Lockwood of the US Humane Society found that pit bulls are more likely to break restraints to attack someone and that pit bulls are more likely to attack their owners, possibly as a result of owners trying to separate their dogs from victims.”
Jørn Våge, Tina B Bønsdorff, Ellen Arnet, Aage Tverdal and Frode Lingaas, Differential gene expression in brain tissues of aggressive and non-aggressive dogs
The domestic dog (Canis familiaris), with its more than 400 recognised breeds , displays great variation in behaviour phenotypes.
Favourable behaviour is important for well-being and negative traits such as aggression may ruin the owner-dog relationship and lead to relinquishment to shelters or even euthanasia of otherwise healthy dogs [2,3].
Behavioural traits result from an interaction of both genetic and environmental factors. Breed specific behavioural traits such as hunting, herding and calmness/aggression are, however, evidence of a large genetic component and specific behaviours show high heritabilities [4-8].
ALAN BECK, Sc.D
However, Alan Beck, director of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine Center of the Human-Animal Bond, favors letting the breed go into extinction.
“This breed alone is a risk of serious public health factors,” Beck said. “We are keeping them alive against their own best interests.”
Beck said while he does not advocate taking dogs from current and caring owners, he does feel that it has become more of a social and political issue for people than a health one.
“If these dogs were carrying an actual disease, people would advocate euthanizing them,” Beck said. “This breed itself is not natural.”
“It has this sort of mystique that attracts a population of people. Of course, most of these dogs are never going to bite, as champions of the breed will tell you. But most people who smoke don’t get cancer, but we know regulations help reduce a significant risk.”
“I know you’re going to get beat up for this. But they just aren’t good dogs to own. That’s why so many of them are relinquished to shelters. There are too many other breeds out there to take a chance on these guys.”
MERRITT CLIFTON, journalist, Animal People editor
There are very few people, if any, who have written more on behalf of dogs over the past 40-odd years than I have, or spent more time down the back alleys of the developing world observing dogs in the habitats in which normal dogs came to co-evolve with humans.
But appreciation of the ecological roles of street dogs & coyotes, exposing dog-eating and puppy mills, opposition to indiscriminate lethal animal control, introduction of high-volume low-cost spay/neuter and anti-rabies vaccination, introduction of online adoption promotion, encouraging the formation of thousands of new humane societies worldwide, etc., are not to be confused with pit bull advocacy.
Pit bull advocacy is not defending dogs; it is defending the serial killers of the dog world, who kill, injure, and give bad reputations to all the rest. Indeed, pit bull advocacy, because it erodes public trust in dogs and people who care about dogs, stands a good chance of superseding rabies as the single greatest threat to the health, well-being, and human appreciation of all dogs worldwide.
STANLEY COREN, PhD
“A dog’s breed tells us a lot about that dog’s genetic heritage and makeup. Genetics is a strong determinant of personality. In the absence of any other information, we can make a reasonable prediction about how the dog will behave based upon its breed.” p 84
“When we crossbreed, we lose some of that predictability, since which genes will be passed on by each parent and how they will combine is a matter of chance. Fortunately, there is some data to suggest that we can still make predispositions without knowing much about its parentage.
John Paul Scott and John L Fuller carried out a series of selective breeding experiments at the Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine. By happy chance, their results revealed a simple rule that seems to work. Their general conclusion was that a mixed breed dog is most likely to act like the breed that it most looks like.” p 77
Dog trainers/animal control, Pit Bull breeders, owners, fanciers, experts
RANDALL LOCKWOOD, PhD
Randall Lockwood, who said he has witnessed the best and worst of pit bulls, said illegal dog-fighting is perpetuating dogs that are hazards to humans and other animals. Shaped by dog-fight enthusiasts, they are “a perversion of everything normal dogs should do. What they’ve created is a canine psychopath.”
“Fighting dogs lie all the time. I experienced it first hand when I was investigating three pit bulls that killed a little boy in Georgia. When I went up to do an initial evaluation of the dog’s behavior, the dog came up to the front of the fence, gave me a nice little tail wag and a “play bow” — a little solicitation, a little greeting. As I got closer, he lunged for my face.”
The pit bull, in its purebred or mixed form, has been responsible for most of the fatal dog attacks on humans in the last two years. In 1987, there were eight deaths from dog attacks in the country, and seven involved pit bulls. In 1986, there were 13 deaths, seven involving pit bulls. But pit bulls have been victimized by hype.
The dogs are no strangers to ordinances. A pit bull ban was passed in London in the 1400s.
These dogs can be canine crocodiles. They have a dark and bloody history.
In the United States, pets are considered property in the eyes of the law. And one of the most hotly defended rights of the individual is the right to own anything, no matter how stupid or dangerous the choice — even when what someone wants to own is a threat to them, their family, and the community around them.
FRANKLIN LOEW, dean of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine
“I’m not aware of any other breed of animal that has ever been singled out this way. This is man biting dog.”
HUGH WIRTH, veterinarian
RSPCA Victoria president Dr Hugh Wirth said the dogs were a menace and were not suitable as pets for anyone.
“They are time bombs waiting for the right circumstances.”
“The American pit bull terrier is lethal because it was a breed that was developed purely for dog fighting, in other words killing the opposition.
“They should never have been allowed into the country. They are an absolute menace.”
“The fact of life is that the community doesn’t want American pit bull terriers. They’ve said it loud and clear over and over again – they want them banned.”
GRAEME SMITH, veterinarian
“My views about associating a breed with dangerous behaviours were challenged over time as I saw the impact of Pit Bull attacks. Talking to owners with dogs of this breed who have themselves been turned on, it became clear that these animals are unpredictable and when they attack they can cause serious injury or death.”
“It is very hard to give Pit Bulls the benefit of the doubt.
Avoiding the identification of dogs and their behaviours by their breed means the legislation in place can be such that allows these Pit Bulls “one free bite.” This “one free bite” can have fatal consequences.”
If it looks like a Pit Bull, it is a Pit Bull.
What’s at stake is the safety of people and their own pets in the wider community, there is no room for gambling with an unpredictable animal.
And that is so often the case. No one knows where these dogs are until they come out and cause some form of grief. My position is about protecting the public and other animals from these animals.
NICHOLAS DODMAN, BVMS, ACVB, ACVA
“Rottweilers were originally bred to guard the money of peasants returning home from the city of Rottweil in Germany, so their fierceness was prized. Staffordshire bull terriers and pit bulls were programmed to deliver a full crushing bite to the noses of bulls. “They’re locked and loaded,” as Dodman puts it.”
on breed profiling
But Dodman defends the practice. “The insurance companies have no ax to grind,” he says. They base their decisions on actuarial statistics showing that certain breeds in certain homes are a recipe for trouble and the cause of lawsuits.
on the MA muzzling law
After a spate of attacks by pit bulls this summer, Massachusetts lawmakers passed legislation requiring the dogs to be muzzled in public. Some pit bull owners protested, but a Tufts expert says the law may be a good idea. Breeds like pit bulls and Rottweilers, says animal behavior expert Nick Dodman, are hardwired for aggression.
“Some of these dogs are as dangerous as a loaded handgun,” Dodman– director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at TuftsSchool of Veterinary Medicine – said in an interview with The Boston Globe Magazine.
Genetics play a big role.
“No doubt about it, pit bulls are genetically predisposed toward aggression,” he told the magazine. “Justas certain breeds of dogs were bred to herd, certain were bred to hunt, certain to point, and others to swim.”
While most pet owners accept that their dogs have certain genetic behavioral characteristics, there is still resistance to the idea that some dogs are more dangerous than others.
“Everybody accepts [genetic behaviors like herding or hunting] until you throw in the word ‘aggression’ and things like a full, crushing bite, which some breeds were specifically bred for in the past.”
Statistics on dog attacks reinforce the link between certain dogs and dangerous behavior.
“It’s like a scene from “Casablanca” when they say, ‘Roundup the usual suspects,’” Dodman told the Globe.“It’s always German shepherds, chow, husky, pit bull.The numbers do the talking.”
He added that pit bulls and Rottweilers alone account for more than 50 percent of the fatal dog attacks every year. Despite the danger, the owners of these dogs often fail to take proper precautions.
“A lot of owners of aggressive breeds are suffering from denial and ignorance, because no one wants to be fingered as having that kind of dog,” Dodman said.
“Genetics does play a role and people who think it doesn’t are kidding themselves,” says Dodman. “The pit bull is notorious for a very hard bite. They are always No. 1 in the lethal dog bite parade. The dog was bred for pit fighting. It was bred to never give up, to bite and hang on.”
KATHERINE HOUPT, VMD, PhD, DACVB
Says Katherine Houpt, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell and author of Domestic Animal Behavior: “Different breeds have genetic predispositions to certain kinds of behavior, though that can be influenced by how they are raised. The pit bull is an innately aggressive breed, often owned by someone who wants an aggressive dog, so they’re going to encourage it.”
“I have seen so many pit bulls taken by very nice, very dog-savvy people who did all the right things,” said Houpt. “They take them to socialization class, they take them to obedience school, they are fine for a few years, and then they kill the neighbor’s dog.”