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Pitbull Owners Survival Guide

« My Dog Votes™ Launches Voter Awareness Survey Of Louisville Metro Candidates | Main | Texas Candidate For Gov Gets Pitbull Kisses »

October 25, 2006



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First of all I have some rescue pit-bulls and a couple of pit-bull pups that a friend took from people who weren't caring from them. Both of them skin and bones then, gorgeous now. Both these pups were bought and paid for because, at the time, these people had an impulse and the money to act on it.

What is the answer for "irresponsible" breeders who will breed pups then sell to anyone who can and will pay? These buyers would probably never be considered to adopt by a reputable shelter or rescue. Or for that matter, a reputable breeder.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on this? The breeders know that there is market of young males who want a tough l looking "bad" dog and are willing to pay. (In fact these breeders cater to this market). How do we stem the breeding and sale of these dogs to very irresponsible owners by very irresponsible breeders? In most cases that I've heard of, "Pit-bull" attacks, usually involve people with poor fences, who have been told/cited repeatedly, and probably shouldn't have had the dog to begin with except they could buy them. In other words how do we make sales of these pets, and perhaps all pets, occur only between responsible parties? How does the enforcement of current laws do that?

In addition the nearby Walmart parking lot is, in my opinion, a haven for these kind of irresponsible transactions

And as the final insult many of these dogs end up in kill shelters because their is no room in breed rescue for them.

So what are the alternatives solutions that stop irresponsible breeding and owners ship?



Thanks for the tip, I've posted the article on my blog.

It's not far-fetched at all.


Wow,is all I really can say. Does anybody live in Pittsburgh? If you do I want to ask you to listen to 104.7 in the morning.I have always thought of him a little off the wall till now. Let me get back to this in a few.

I have had Dobs all my life and kinda just laughed off the looks you get. I got a Rotti a year ago, same never minded the more ferquent looks even at class. He is in obedience and confermation and is doing great.

This is when I first started hearing about the total story on BSL,banning cropping tails, ears. Banning almost a whole group of dogs. WE are lossing the P.R battle quickly!! I was talking to somebody from Germeny at a show. This is how the tail cropping ban happened. By the time the real dog people got involved it was to late. It had such momentum it couldn't be stopped.

This is why I urge people to listen to 104.7 pittsburgh Quinn and Rose. He does not talk about dogs. But he a talks about issues that people are trying to advance could be tied directly to Best Friend new direction. He talks about the what and who behind the issue. And That is what everybody is missing!!!

sorry if this is very choppy I just have so much running thru my head right now.Aslo read this article.

What if the animal rights movement wins?

by Walt Hutchens

Timbreblue Whippets

again wow!!


I saw a comment on here that mentioned something about poodles being the top breed for biting some years ago. Biting I can handle. Can someone please explain to me the reason some dog lovers are ignoring the statistics that pit bull breeds KILL more people than any other breed? I love dogs. But I cannot stand back and ignore the facts that statistics prove.

** I hope that opposing views are also welcome on this website **


Sorry, my comment is long too. Keep or toss!

I think that the problem we have these days, aside from the over-engineering of dog ownership, the overblown hype about bites and the obsessing over trivialities, is that as humans become more and more detached from reality, the historical belief that they are not 'animals' becomes more socially ingrained. To say that a dog which is hostile to other dogs, or 'animals' but not humans or to state, as many owners do for example, that an entire breed is human-friendly is counterproductive because:

a) it gives dogs much more credit in terms of differentiation than they have. Of course they recognize humans as different and of course they chase small animals, that's a given, but if humans always behaved as prey animals do, then the dogs would be unable to differentiate to any degree. This is why children are bitten more often - small stature so they are at eye level, a tendency to stare, erratic sudden movements, shrieking, etc.

b) it gives the non-dog savvy people, the ones most likely to be bitten, a dangerously false sense of security

c) it perpetuates breed stereotyping, which is what got us into this mess in the first place. There is no 'breed' which is friendly, unfriendly, etc. Certain lines of working terriers or working hounds for example, have been selected for a very high prey drive but this requires reinforcement through training.

d) it take the onus off the owner, where it belongs, and puts it on the dog, which is innocent and amoral.

A woman stopped by our table (I was at Trillium Dog Show all weekend fundraising for Banned Aid) and said she knows that aggression, hostility, etc are inherited. She was showing dogs there. I told her it is highly unlikely but because attitude is learned, it makes sense that if you breed a fear-biting or neophobic bitch, that her pups will learn the behaviour at a very young age. If you couple this with a lack of proper care of the bitch and pups, if you don't handle the pups and bitch often, don't feed them highly nutritious food, don't bring them into the house, then you will definitely reinforce the neophobia, no question. To state that it is genetically inheritable is, in my opinion, specious. The thing is, if you do treat the bitch and pups properly, you will have stable, well adjusted dogs, well at least you will have made a decent effort to get everybody off to a good start.

We have to step on the AR folk, the enemy is gathering strength while we sit and debate the merits of 'pit bulls' and Rottweilers vs GSDs and Ridgebacks...

Tori Lilley

This is absurd. Since when did we relinquish our right to be a FREE nation! I spay and neuter all my pets, not because they are dangerous (I own Rottweilers)but because too many dogs need homes. Despite the fact that I would never buy a puppy from a breeder because of pet overpopulation, people have every right to breed. Again, why are Americans so myopic and treat the symptom rather than the cause? The people who are irresponsible or train any pet to be vicious should be the ones targeted with legislation that works against them and protects the animals. This issue is becoming tiresome. We wonder why the rest of the world looks at us with disgust, it's this type of thinking that permeates Americans and trickles into every aspect of our lives, not just politics and foreign policy. Wake up America!

D. Shields

Just one more thing.. I went to the Euro. Dog Holocaust web site. This is a site that will really scare any dog owner. It lists the history of the new dog legislation in Europe & it's Not Good!

I randomly chose a set of dog regulations from their list. I did not read it 1st, I just picked one & posted it below. And after reading it, I wonder what Europe can offer us in Dangerous Dog Legislation except red tape & hysteria? You'd have to be a lawyer, & a rich one to understand & comply with this one set of laws that applys only to a small region of Germany. Now think about a whole continent with hundreds more variations on Dog Laws. No more car trips with Fluffy, I'm thinkin'!

D. Shields

Please assume until they state (in writng!) otherwise, that all "Animal Welfare" related groups are Pro-BSL!

A Canadian 'animal welfare' group moderator answered me personally & stated that their group's agenda for Pittys, & other large/dominant breed dogs that are the most usually 'chained' up/abused dogs was to end all this cruelty by exterminating these breeds/types. And that was some years ago..I had originally asked why was the outright hatred & slander of some breeds was permitted on their chat board, & why they refused to post any positive thoughts, or anything at all that did not agree with their 'loaded gun & monster' malarkey.

Of course all this changed, just as it did with other some A.W. groups, when 1 of their members liberated?, freed", stole? saved?, a dog of the Nasty persuation from a Cdn. animal control pound. This dog became the exception to all their past crass generalizations. It was Mr. Cuddly, fer Pete's sake, not a monster! (Is this sounding a little familiar? -See the section on this web site about a similarly 'liberated' chained dog that has gone into hiding, or something.. coutesy of the Animal Welfare people.)

I guess the Cdn. dog was their Token Rotti, after months of vilifying Rottis? It also went into hiding. Was he just supposed to appease the people who were not taken in by hate-speak, or was he just there to raise money for the 'save the chained dogs' campaigns?

Most of the European solutions to 'dangerous dogs' is mass quantities of innocent dogs, becoming banned & dead dogs, not to mention horrendous financial & emotional blackmail used on the devasted owners of these dogs. It's kidnapping made legal! If this stuff works toward any 'animals' welfare', I'm hard pressed to see how.

(I'm hoping some anti-BSL delagates get a chance to speak. Some will be attending, & I'm hoping they are not swallowed up by a pre-conceived platform that doesn't want to hear from anyone else. In short, business as usual.)

Joe Chvastek

Is this Best Friends organization the same as the one that owns the dog spa / day care business?


I know that Best Friends is letting one of the best pit bull rescues in the country go down the tubes. They helped Best Friends out of a situation in Houston with a lot of pit bulls and now Best Friends is draining them of all their resources and manpower. Thanks to Best Friends you will be saying good bye to Spindletop. You would think the 30 million could help the 100 Katrina pit bulls that Spindletop is taking care of for them.

vickie haywood

Do you think the Terv and Malinois are on this list because the government and police departmants breed and import so many of them because the are so tractable and trainable that they make top notch police dogs, herding dogs, rescue dogs, therapy dogs, cadaver dogs,search dogs??? And how will Uncle Sam get around all the BSL when it comes time to replace ageing dogs for the work they do all over the country and the world with the US military???
It is a puzzle to me, how one can legislate a breed..instead of the bad careless unscrupulus owners!! And we sit and wonder how we can manage not to be able to afford health insurence ;and home owners insurence that we are REQUIRED to have in order to own a home in this country.Isn't it amazing that 25 years ago the number one biting breed with CDC was the poodle???By reason of the huge numbers registered for over 20 years, carelessly bred by commercial breeders, with no regard to health or temperment, as an ACO even in the early 80's I personally investigated a large number of bites from small fluffy dogs!
If I had to report every bite i receive during the course of my work each day as a dog and cat groomer, a lot of my clients would be in deep dark trouble!!!
What we have come to is horrible. I believe our founding fathers are rolling in their graves at the mess we have allowed to be created.VOTE THEM ALL OUT OF OFFICE AND START OVER!!!!
Vickie Haywood
The Hairy Beast Grooming, North Carolina


I saw some intersting posts about this at:
among others, and I'm going to keep checking all these resources for updates on this "summit" as it's obvious that Best Friends is not fooling anyone. Instead, they are simply preaching to the choir. The fact that they raked in 32 million dollars last year alone is alarming. It would appear as if BF is positioning itself to be a "mimi me" to big brother H$U$ and their "one generation and out" formula for domestic animal breeding. More than alarming is that Best Friends president Michael Mountain (also known as "Father Aaron"), at 21 year of age, preached about the coming apocalypse and unity of Christ with Satan to a packed auditorium at Louisianna State University “dressed in white with a purple cape with a white dog in one hand and a black dog in the other - a German shepherd." (quotation courtesy of Mountain). Givin the bizarre religeous history of certain Best Friends board members, you have to wonder why they would choose to put themselves in the public spotlight when their history can be researched so easily on the internet. Has Joe Trippi joined the Process Church of the Final Judgement? Or does Best Friends need a spinmaster of his caliber to handle the fallout? Is the real truth a question like "how many licks does it take to get to the center..."? The world may never know.

Anthony Olewnik

I believe the only reason "Pit Bulls" are targeted is because of their size. They are a working dog whose muscles may seem threatening but truly the only bad animals are from bad owners. In these cases NURTURE is what makes an animal how he behaves, not NATURE. I believe owners of dogs that are aggressive need to be investigated and possibly be prevented from owning any pets. As far as young children, they need to monitored with pets. The reason they get bit is because of accidental harming of the animal. Anything that is hurt will respond aggressively.

I realize this is very long, but as an expert in this field, I want to re-post information I sent, in September, to another blogger concerned about the "Best Friends" summit.

I want to emphasize that the following information is based on years of dedicated research, and decades of dog training experience. I do not simply pass along information I've heard or read somewhere...which is sadly what most people, on all sides of dog-related issues, do.

I recognize that some of your readers may find parts of it quite controversial. That's okay. Facts are facts, even if they conflict with some other [expert's] unresearched opinions.

As such, I've opted to leave those sections in, because they're vital in refuting unfounded notions about dogs, canine genetics, and dog behaviour, which lead to myths about canine aggression.

Any individual point of controversy should not take away from the overall message of fact and reason that does not support the view that any entire dog breed could be considered "dangerous".

Only once people stop repeating inaccurate information (no matter how good it may sound), will we ever hope to get to the heart of this issue, and start reducing the number of unprovoked dog bites.

The following was written "off the top of my head", in response to concerns about the Best Friends' agenda. It is not a composed article meant for publication. Please also keep in mind, it has a decidedly Canadian perspective, although there is ample U.S. data referenced.

This is what I wrote (with a few minor clarifications):

Dear (blogger),

As you know, I am an expert in Canadian dog bite statistics.

After years of research, there are a number of interesting facts I've uncovered (most of which are now widely published). As such, I've provided a synopsis here, for you and your readers. I realize it is very long, but it is a more concise collection of my years of research; right here, in one place.

The situation with unprovoked dog bites is not what nearly everyone believes it to be.

If I had one pet peeve, it is that most people merely repeat things they’ve heard or read. They don’t really know if what they’re saying is true or not. They merely “believe” those things to be true, and that’s enough for them, I guess.

You know what I say, “No matter how often or loudly a myth is repeated, it is still just a myth.”

Some people simply like agreeing with others. Some like to pretend they’re especially knowledgeable or have unique insight. Whatever the source for so many of these myths, years of research has proven the majority of beliefs I encounter about dogs are simply untrue.

Whenever discussing the issue of dangerous dogs, it's always important to remember a few key points about the dog bite statistics (especially as they pertain to Canada):

1. The most dangerous breeds in Canada are, in order: German Shepherd, Cocker Spaniel, Rottweiler, and Golden Retriever.

Why do I say this? Well, this is not dog "bite" data, but rather dog "attack" data based on the reporting information from the Canadian Hospital Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (CHIRPP).

The CHIRPP members (hospitals, and reporting physicians and nurses) have no reason to lie about the information they receive, surrounding the breed of dog that has attacked.

Why do I say "the most dangerous"? Well, because the CHIRPP data only applies to the most severe dog attacks (i.e. those injuries serious enough to require treatment in hospital). These are not little nips that can be treated with ice or even a band aid. These are severe dog bite injuries that need to be treated in hospital. The dogs that cause the most serious injuries in Canada belong to the above-mentioned breeds, more than any others.

Unlike municipal dog bite data (where any bite, no matter how inconsequential, or even against other animals, is counted), the CHIRPP data only relates to the most serious dog attacks against human victims.

2. 'Pit bulls' are rarely in the #1 spot in dog bite statistics.

Any measures to restrict or ban the #2, #5, or #37 'breed' of dog in the dog bite statistics, but not #1, is pure hypocrisy.

As faulty as the logic may be, if you're going to ban or restrict a type of dog in an attempt to reduce the number of dog bites, then it must be the ones who bite the most and/or cause the most serious injuries. Either way, that 'breed' is not 'pit bulls'.

3. There hasn't been one confirmed death of a child attributed to an unprovoked attack by a 'pit bull' in Canadian history. (There has been one unconfirmed death.)

4. The very first human fatality attributed to an unprovoked attack by a 'pit bull' in Canadian history occurred in May of 2006. Until then, every insinuation or claim about Canadians being in danger of being killed in unprovoked attacks by 'pit bulls' was totally unfounded.

(In the Ontario case in May, the dog was actually only part 'pit bull'. It was a Labrador Retriever/'pit bull' cross, and the dog's owner was the victim.) (It should be noted that there have been at least two human fatalities in Canada attributed to unprovoked attacks by Labrador Retriever crosses, yet this was the first for a 'pit bull' cross.)

5. Municipal dog bite statistics often combine reported dog bite data against both humans and other animals.

While I don’t have any problems with doing so, those citing combined statistics must be aware that the majority of the dog bite reports aren’t against people. To imply otherwise is, at best, misleading and, at worst, dishonest.

For example: Toronto has arguably the largest municipal ‘pit bull’ population in Canada. In 2004, 12 of the city’s estimated 30,000+ ‘pit bulls’ had been reported for biting. (That’s about 0.04% of the population, by the way; leaving 99.96% of Toronto’s ‘pit bulls’ completely innocent of such allegations.) However, the majority of those reported bites were against other animals. Only 2 of the 12 could even begin to be called “attacks” against humans.

So, when 2 out of at least 30,000 dogs of a loosely-defined type are involved in attacks in an entire year, is that really justification for not just trying to ban or restrict them, but for making sweeping generalizations about all the rest?

6. No matter what dog ‘breed’ tops the dog bite statistics, the vast majority of bites are still attributed to other breeds.

To better help people understand the absurdity of a breed-based approach to dog bite prevention, let’s imagine that ‘pit bulls’ are responsible for a virtually unheard of 10% of bites in some Canadian city. That still leaves 90% of biting dogs unaffected by any breed-based approach.

This is the primary reason why breed bans have been such a colossal failure wherever they’ve been tried. The majority of biting and attacking dogs are not affected, so their owners are free to continue to behave negligently.

7. All dogs can bite.

There is no such thing as a breed of dog that has never bitten, never attacked, never maimed, or never killed (a person or other animal).

8. It is the size of the victim, not the dog, which best predicts severity of injury in an attack.

While even the very smallest dog breeds have killed humans, the very largest dog breeds are rarely involved in attacks.

9. Adults are rarely seriously injured by dogs of any size, while children are the most common dog bite victims. Their attackers range from the very smallest to the very largest dog breeds.

10. The dogs actually involved in attacks are not genetically related in any meaningful way.

This goes right to the heart of common, yet completely unscientific, baseless claims about allegedly inheriting aggressive behaivours or being bred for aggression.

In short, the dogs involved in attacks are not closely genetically related to one another. This tends to refute the idea that the attack was due to some aberrant inherited gene.

Think about it. What could the Dalmatian that bit off a boy’s nose 10 years ago and the Golden Retriever that left 76 stitches in a girl’s face, just a few years ago, possibly have in common, from a genetic standpoint? Is anyone really trying to suggest they’re genetically related, and both inherited some sort of as-yet-undiscovered “attack gene”?

Even the Rottweiler that killed a child in New Brunswick and the Rottweiler that killed a child in Ontario don’t share any common ancestors in their pedigrees; making the whole notion of a shared genetic cause for attacks completely ludicrous.

Put simply, the individual dogs involved in unique attack incidents are not genetically related in any way other than that which makes them dogs.

11. Psychology defines aggression as learned behaviour.

I’ve been researching dog biting incidents since 1999. I have yet to find a dog involved in an attack that didn’t have a known history of aggressive behaviour.

Aggression has to be learned and practiced before it is perfected. I have yet to come across a case of a dog that attacked unprovoked, without ever having barked menacingly, growled, lunged, snapped, or what have you.

This completely refutes the (quite silly) urban myth that “some dogs just turn”, or that dogs can be THIS unpredictable. (i.e. friendly family pet with no history of ever having behaved aggressively one minute; then savage, unprovoked attacker the next)

As an experienced dog trainer (one who has spent many of those years SUCCESSFULLY re-training aggressive dogs), I can attest that dogs are not all that unpredictable. Sure, they might do something out of the ordinary, every now and then. However, for a dog to suddenly behave aggressively in a way that is truly threatening or injurious, it must have practiced those behaviours in the past. This is the nature of all learned behaviours. Only practice makes perfect. (I can elaborate more on that, if you wish.)

It’s as though people can’t imagine any other form of aggressive behaviour, other than biting. To help them along, I must point out that aggressive behaviours follow a fairly predictable scale of escalation. It may begin with staring or raised hackles (all merely indicating discomfort with a situation). That can lead to raised lips, growling, stiffened body posture, menacing barking, lunging, and attempted bites. Long before an unwarranted bite ever occurs, there are a litany of warning signs that the dog will eventually bite.

Even the most die-hard dog fighting breeders admit they have to start their puppies very young (often at six weeks), to turn them into superior fighters. When asked why they have to spend so much effort training their (allegedly bred-to-fight) dogs, none can provide a scientifically or practically sensible response. Most use made-up terminologies to emphasize what they believe are inherited traits, while playing down the daily training they force on the dogs. Yet it is clear that, without this ongoing encouragement, the dogs don’t become proficient fighters.

I’ve researched so many cases where the owner has allegedly claimed the attack was the first time the dog behaved aggressively, I now pay little heed to such statements. The neighbours almost always tell a very different story.

To use a more famous case as an example, little Courtney Trempe was killed by a dog the owner claimed had never behaved aggressively before. The owner went on to say he “couldn’t have known” the dog would attack, because it had never tried to bite a person. Well, it turns out the dog had not just attacked previously, but had actually killed two neighbourhood dogs in the past. That is an aggressive dog, by anyone’s standards.

But it does bring me to my next point…

12. Aggression is aggression is aggression. The idea that aggression can be species-specific is not based in any kind of scientific, statistical, or practical data. It seems to be little more than wishful thinking. Those perpetuating this notion tend not to have even attempted to validate this theory in any way.

There is a very disturbing myth being promulgated by a number of groups that should know better than to perpetuate unfounded myths. The idea that aggression towards other dogs is markedly different than aggression towards humans is scientifically and statistically baseless. (But I realize a lot of people learned this myth, and repeat it as though it is true.) I have to point out that the real-world data, in no uncertain terms, clearly refutes such theories.

Of the dogs involved in their first aggression incident towards a human, the vast majority had behaved aggressively towards other animals (usually other dogs) in the past.

Of the dogs involved in their first bites against humans, where the dog had no history of aggression towards humans, the majority had behaved aggressively towards other animals (usually other dogs) in the past.

Of the dogs whose first bite against a person resulted in that individual’s death, and where the dog had no history of aggressive behaviour towards humans, every one of the cases I’ve investigated involved dogs that had behaved aggressively towards other dogs in the past. (see the Trempe case example, above)

So, while some aggressive dogs may, for now, limit their aggressive behaviour to other animals, it in no way guarantees it will remain that way forever.

Most, if not all, the first-time human biters had only behaved aggressively towards other animals, in the past. Their owners, having believed the myth that aggression is species-specific in dogs, are always "surprised" when their dog-aggressive dogs bite someone.

Again, dog-aggression could remain contained, for a number of social and environmental reasons. Statistically, these dogs are equally as likely to bite a human, one day. Dogs with histories of aggressive behaviour (towards either humans or other animals) are almost exclusively involved in unprovoked biting incidents.

13. Nearly all unprovoked dog bites would not be prevented by dog control laws.

Since dog control laws typically only apply to the conduct of owners (and their dogs) when they’re on public property, it completely negates their ability to affect the circumstances that lead to the vast majority of unprovoked dog bites.

When it comes to total dog bite numbers, almost all take place on the owner’s property.

When it comes to reported dog bite numbers, the overwhelming majority take place on, or directly adjacent to, the owner’s property.

Supervised dogs in a public place account for less than 1% of all bites.

This makes public restraint laws especially ineptly-aimed and ineffective in reducing dog bites.

Most unprovoked biting incidents involve (typically an unsupervised) dog known to the victim. Whether or not the victim knows the dog, the bite usually takes place on the owner’s property (where the dog is either loose or tethered), or directly adjacent to the owner’s property (where the dog was either allowed to venture off the owner’s property, or “escaped”).

Very few unprovoked biting incidents involve a supervised dog. Simple supervision appears to be very effective in preventing dog bites.

When bites take place far from the owner’s property, the dogs involved were most likely loose, roaming, unsupervised dogs.

Simply put, public restraint laws don’t target the situations that actually lead to unprovoked dog bites.

14. Cities that address the real causes of unprovoked dog bites (i.e. lack of supervision & lack of socialization and training) are hugely successful in reducing the number of dog bites.

Calgary is the best example we have in Canada. They reduced dog bites by 70%, even during a period where the population doubled.

Calgary’s approach was to first enforce existing laws. They strictly enforce licensing, and boast a licensing rate of 90% (compared to most cites’ 10-20%). In this way, they have a better handle on the dog population in their community, which helps in making decisions and drawing conclusions.

They also have a zero tolerance policy for acts of aggression. (Something I’m personally totally in favour of. Dogs are not weapons, and anyone who unethically uses a dog for that purpose shouldn’t be allowed to own one.) Any report of aggressive behaviour of any kind results in a visit from animal control and a warning.

City officials are clear, in that they agree one of the biggest aspects of their success was the creation of ample off-leash areas for dogs to be exercised, socialized, and trained off-leash. With reportedly the largest number of off-leash parks in Canada, it’s no coincidence that Calgary also has the lowest dog bite rate of any major city in Canada.

Several years ago, I made this prediction, “When the studies are done, we’ll find the cities with the best access to off-leash parks are also the cities with the lowest percentage of dog bites.”

Calgary certainly suggests my prediction was correct.

Finally, Calgary increased the penalties for some transgressions. Combined with increased enforcement, the large percentage of licensed dogs, along with the higher fines, has led to Calgary’s animal control department becoming financially self-sufficient.

It’s win, win, win, in Calgary, all because they addressed the real causes for unwarranted aggression in dogs.

15. Breed-specific approaches to dog bite prevention have failed.

There isn’t one region that can claim a reduction in the number, or severity, of dog bites as a direct result of banning a breed of dog.

In Winnipeg, officials promoting the city’s long-time ban on ‘pit bulls’ often misleads the public by stating “’pit bull’ attacks” have been eliminated. Well of course they’ve been eliminated. ‘Pit bulls’ are banned in Winnipeg. You don’t have to be rocket scientist to figure that out. There are also no wooly mammoth attacks or saber toothed tiger attacks, either.

When Winnipeg banned ‘pit bulls’, German Shepherds, and their crosses, were far and away the most common biters in that city. After ‘pit bulls’ were banned, there was an average of close to 50 more bites per year, for the following decade. In addition to the rise in overall dog bites, the number of bites by German Shepherds and crosses, Labrador Retrievers and crosses, Terriers crosses, and Rottweilers and crosses, skyrocketed.

Kitchener is another example. The city of Kitchener banned ‘pit bulls’ in 1997, without ever having done an analysis on the city’s dog bite data. Only after ‘pit bulls’ were banned was it discovered they were #8 in the 1996 dog bite statistics, “right behind #7 Poodles,” as it is commonly said. In what could only be a deliberate attempt to mislead the public, officials immediately halted the collection of dog bite data by breed.

Even so, while we don’t know which breeds have been doing the biting, we can still determine if the ‘pit bull’ ban has been effective in reducing dog bites in Kitchener. Every animal bite is required, by law, to be reported to the Medical Officer of Health. With a sleuthing, it was discovered that dog bites haven’t been reduced at all, since ‘pit bulls’ were banned in 1997. They’ve remained pretty constant.

According to a BBC report, hospitalizations due to dog bites rose 25% after ‘pit bulls’ were banned in England.

Officials from most of the cities that have repealed breed-specific laws have used terms like “ineffective” and “unenforceable”.

16. All dog breeds are genetically identical. Even DNA can’t distinguish between a Chihuahua, a ‘pit bull’, a Great Dane, and a wolf. (Yes, while there are occasional claims of in-roads, in this area, using "markers", all dogs are still considered genetically identical.)

Those rare individuals with the personal expertise necessary to accurately attempt to determine a dog’s breed based on appearance alone typically are not employed in the various occupations charged with enforcing most breed-specific legislation. This leaves the subjective determination of a dog’s breed to the very inexpert animal control and shelter workers. In some cases, police officers must decide the dog’s breed, yet not one police officer is trained to (accurately) differentiate between dog breeds.

The same can be said of veterinarians. A veterinary license infers expertise in diagnosing and treating illness, for the most part. Neither practicing veterinarians nor veterinary students are required to prove any expertise in breed identification in order to obtain a license. Any expertise an individual veterinarian may possess, in terms of breed identification, or even dog training and behaviour, was most likely acquired outside the requirements of licensing.

Because the people enforcing breed-specific laws are not dog breed identification experts, the likelihood of misidentification is unconscionably great. (In Ontario, several dogs have already been misidentified, under breed-specific ordinances.)

17. "The public" is not in danger of unprovoked dog bites.

For instance, every recent dog-related fatality in Canada has involved dogs and victims residing within the same home. The same could be said for the majority of bites and attacks, as well.

This is very important information, in terms of quelling the public’s hysteria. “The public” is rarely involved in unprovoked biting incidents. Most bite victims knew the dog and were voluntarily interacting with it at the time of the bite. Most bite victims are bitten by their own dogs.

If you don’t own a dog, your risk of being bitten is very low. If you also don’t interact with dogs, or live next door to a dog that is routinely left unsupervised, or one that is known to behave aggressively, then your risk of being bitten is virtually nil.

Even when we don’t account for contributing factors (such as proximity) you are still more than 100 times more likely to be hit by lightning than killed by a dog. (In Canada, the likelihood of being killed by a dog you don’t know or live with is virtually zero.)

18. ‘Pit bulls’ are, if anything, less likely to bite.

In the U.S., ‘pit bulls’ are estimated to make up 9% of the dog population, yet they typically only make up 2-4% of dog bites, nationwide. In case your readers don’t understand what that means, it would be expected, purely on population alone, that 9% of dog bites would be attributed to ‘pit bulls’. Since less than half (even a third) of bites are reportedly caused by ‘pit bulls’, this suggests they’re much less likely to bite than should be expected.

19. ‘Pit bulls’ are less likely to kill than people.

In the U.S., even extremely conservative estimates suggest that only 0.00002% of the ‘pit bull’ population has killed. This is much lower than the human population (men, in particular).

Whatever someone’s views about ‘pit bulls’ might be, it can’t change the fact that at least 99.99998% have never, and will never, kill anyone.

20. 99.9% of all dogs, from all breeds, will never be involved in an attack.

Huge generalizations about dog breeds is not only unscientific, it’s not even practically accurate. I like to put it this way, “If any ‘breed’ were genetically programmed to attack, certainly more than 0.1% of them would.”

21. The media.

While I don’t want to get into a protracted discussion about the lack of honesty in media reports of dog bites, I will summarize by saying that reviewing media reports of dog biting incidents is not “research” because the media is extremely biased in regards to which stories it chooses to cover.

The media reports dog biting incidents involving ‘pit bulls’ to the near-exclusion of all others. In addition, they use other tactics to exaggerate the details, such as salacious language, or references to other dog biting incidents involving ‘pit bulls’.

There are countless incidents of media bias. In Ontario, a ‘pit bull’ killed another dog, and it was front-page news, that reappeared in the media for weeks. The owner was swiftly taken to jail. Around the same time, two Labs killed another dog, and attacked a ‘pit bull’ without any real media interest. The owner of the Labs was not charged with any serious offence.

There are other blatant incidents, as well. One weekend, two off-leash dogs (one of them being a ‘pit bull’) got into a squabble, and every major media agency reported the incident. That same weekend, a child was mauled by the family’s Golden Retriever, and not one media outlet covered the story.

A child was mauled so savagely by his grandfather’s Labrador Retriever, he required treatment at two Ontario hospitals. Only one media outlet covered this story in just one broadcast.

Again, relying on the media for the facts of dog biting cases is not advised.

Naturally, I could go on. But there you have a pretty good primer (off the top of my head), regarding the facts about the who, what, where, when, how, and why dogs bite unprovoked.

Because I kept encountering the same story, over and over and over again, in my research of dog biting incidents, I was led to create a dog bite prevention strategy that deals with the factors common to nearly all the cases I’d investigated.

I made it simple, and easy to remember. And I made sure not to include anything that would require an individual to develop some kind of expertise. People who don’t own dogs or aren’t experienced dog trainers still have a right to protect themselves from unprovoked dog bites. The following is what I call, the “3 Simple Steps to Dog Bite Prevention”:

1. Avoid unsupervised dogs.
2. Never leave children unsupervised with dogs.
3. Ensure our own dogs are properly trained and adequately supervised at all times.

By following these “3 Simple Steps”, we could virtually eliminate unprovoked dog bites in Canada.

It is not just important, but vital, to know what ACTUALLY causes dogs to bite unprovoked, if we ever hope to reduce those numbers. Obtusely theorizing about possible causes or solutions is not helpful and, as in the case of breed-specific legislation, is often harmful to both humans and dogs.

If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Marjorie Darby

Catherine Varidel

I would like for all those attending the conference to see the wonderful side of these breeds.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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