Originally posted by Kay
@Aug 4 2005, 08:31 AM
We had a terrible experience a few days ago. My Maltese and I were visiting my mother and a neighbor's dog suddenly very viciously came after my dog. If I had not had my dog on a leash and the patio gated, I'm sure he would have killed my dog. The dog that attacked runs off leash with other big dogs and seems to get along well with them. Thank goodness that this was one time the owner had him on a leash.
I was talking to my dog's breeder and he said to keep the Maltese away from big dogs. He said that some bigger dogs will turn on a small dog and kill it regardless of how friendly they seem with other dogs their own size. I've had two nights of nightmares now reliving the possibilities.
I don't even want to socialize my dog now. I'm scared to death for him to be around anything larger than 10 pounds anymore.
By the way, I had to hold my little lion-hearted 7 pounder back. He also got aggressive in return and tried to go after the big dog. I understood his anger completely - I wanted to go after the dog, too, but I'm not 7 pounds. By the way, this big dog wasn't a normally vicious breed - it was a golden retriever but the terribly vicious way in which it came after my dog reminded me of a pit bull. So I'm just posting this FYI. I'll never trust another dog around my dog again.
As someone who does pit bull rescue that comment about pit bulls completely irrated and annoyed me. Check your facts before comments like that. There are many of us trying in vain it seems at times to help save a great breed. Not only from the undeducated public mindset that you have displayed but also from the "owners" and I use that term loosly that see the dogs as a status symbol, somthing to fight abuse and treat as a money makeing machine. The irresponsible owners are ruining it for those of us that love our dogs as much as you love your malt. I know the following is long but it is very interesting if you read it all.
statistics can lie, here's the real truth
Between the years of 1965 and 2001 there were 101 fatalities atributed to "pit bulls" and pit bull crosses. This number is about twice as much as the next highest dog on the list. Sounds really scary, doesn't it? Those simple numbers are blared across the media and pointed to with fervor in courthouses looking to get the "pit bull" banned. The real truth of the matter is much more complicated than a single number.
First of all let's address the issue of breed. As I have stated before here, the "pit bull" is not a breed, but a 'type' of dog. There are 5 different breeds classified as "pit bull", and approximately another 13 or so that look similar enough to be mistaken for a pit bull even by a more experienced dog-lover. The problem arises when under the stress of an attack the victim or witness incorrectly identifies the breed. In the heat of the moment, any medium-sized short-haired muscular dog is a "pit bull". The dogs in the pictures were called a 'pit bull mix'. See if you can identify the pit bull HERE, and then think how hard it would be to pick if you were being attacked by one of these dogs, or were witnessing an attack. "Because there are so few fatal dog attacks, any error in breed identification can critically affect a breed's reputation. With only approximately 20 fatal attacks in any given year, inaccurate identification of a conservative three or four breeds can result in an approximate 20% margin of error"(1). For example: in 1989 in CA, a man was attacked by a pack of Shepherd/Doberman/unknown mixes that were originally identified as pit bulls, and in 2000 in FL a medium-sized reddish dog chained to a doghouse attacked and killed a child. The newspapers claimed the dog was a pit bull, but the shelter workers and sheriff's department classified the dog as a mixed breed dog, with no predominate breed. That being said, of the 101 fatal bites that occurred, an astonishing 57%, more than half, were inflicted by "pit bull type dogs (this includes anything that was reported to be a pit bull, but was unconfirmed)", 32% by pit bulls, 13% by pit bull crossbreeds, and only 2 bites are attributed to American Staffordshire Terriers. One attack was by a pack of 6 bull terriers that were allowed to roam free, although this attack is so old (1947) it is not included in the statistics. There are NO attacks attributed to the Staffordshire Terrier. (percentages are approximate)
Chart 1: summary of breeds
57% "pit bull" type dogs
32% pit bull terriers
13% mixed breed dog with "pit bull" apparant in breeding
2 attacks American Staffordshire Terrier
1 attack Bull Terrier
0 attacks Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Now let us turn our attention to the reasons behind the bites. There are several factors that contribute to a bite. One of the largest impacts on the numbers are chained dogs. "Chaining a dog creates an unnatural and unhealthy environment. Dogs require excercise, mental stimulation and social interaction with either other dogs or with the humans who aquired them. None of these requirements can be met living at the end of a chain."(1) Chained dogs make up 36% of all fatal "pit bull" attacks. The next largest group is dogs running loose, at 21%. (by "running loose" I refer to dogs allowed to run around the neighborhood frequently, not a dog that has simply gotten out). Shortly following this is visitors to the house, at 17%. Almost all the attacks in this category are small children that were left unattended with the unfamiliar dog. Another 9% of attacks occurred when the victim entered the property where the "pit bull" was housed, in most cases by climbing over the fence (or into the kennel in one case). In these cases the dog was defending its territory. There are 9 cases involving dogs used for fighting, 5 cases of dogs used as guard dogs, 2 cases of dogs guarding a place of business, 1 case of a dog used as a murder weapon, 1 case of gross human negligence (mother abandoned days old baby in yard with 2 "pit bulls"), and 1, yes only ONE case of pit bulls turning on thier owner. If you understand the cruelty these dogs are subjected to, it is supprising the numbers aren't higher. "Dogs are tortured, teased and abused in hopes of making them mean. Those refusing to fight or those who lose are horribly killed or left to die in alleyways... People from the worst segments of our society seek these animals out to guard drug houses, intimate other gang members, thwart police action and enhance thier vacuous self-esteem. Any real or imagined viciousness on the part of the Pit Bull breeds pales in comparison to the brutality, callous disrespect for life, and inhumanity of many of thier owners."(1) Also take into consideration the sheer numbers of "pit bulls" and pit crosses there are across the country. Although it its basically impossible to guess the actual population, you can get an idea how many there are, and the type of "quality care" they receive, from these few examples: New York City reports the Pit Bull to be its 3rd most populous dog in 2001, Los Angeles CA reports that 40% and San Francisco CA reports 1/3 of all dogs entering thier shelters are pit bulls or pit crosses, in 1999 the Pennsylvania SPCA reported finding over 4000 pit bulls wandering the streets, most scarred and/or abandonded, and the Michigan Humane Society reported that in only 3 of its shelters over 1,820 pit bulls were destroyed in 2000. It is estimated that there are at least 250,000 pits involved in dog fighting nationwide. The ADBA registered 220,000 American Pit Bull Terriers in 1999, making them the #1 dog in America. It is estimated that The American Pit Bull Terrier and other Bull Breeds make up 9% of the total canine population in the USA, which is more than 55 million dogs in the USA.
Chart 2: summary of circumstances
36% chained dogs
21% dogs allowed to run loose around the neighborhood
17% visitors (usually unattended children)
9% entered dogs property or territory
9 cases of dogs used for fighting
5 cases involving guard dogs
2 cases of dogs guarding place of business
1 case of dog used as murder weapon
1 case gross human negligence
1 case pair of pit bull type dogs attacked and killed owner
Compared to the sheer number of 'pit bulls' present, the number of attacks is supprisingly small, so why then do we hear about 'pit bull' attacks in the news every other day?
The media has vast influence over our perceptions of which breeds of dogs are dangerous, as they decide which dog attack stories to publish. With over 4.7 million dog bites recorded each year in the United States and with over 800,000 of these attacks serious enough to require medical attention, the resources for dog-bite stories appear unlimited. Yet, the media seems to delight in Pit bull related stories, so much so, that in their haste to report the latest Pit bull attack story the truth often takes a backseat to sensationalism.
Listed below is a small sampling of inaccurate and misleading media accounts that have caused irreparable damage to the image of Pit Bulls:
Killer Pit Bulls Rip Granny to Shreds New York Post (NYPost.com) Dec. 11, 2002
Pet Pit Bulls Kill Woman, 80, in Her Home The New York Times (nytimes.com) Dec. 11, 2002
[The victim's daughter and granddaughter (owner of the dogs) could not believe the dogs, a female Pit Bull and a male Lab/Pit mix attacked and killed the elderly woman. The family hired a forensic pathologist to review the case. It was determined that although the victim had sustained some dog bites, all the bites were non-lethal and post-mortem. The grandmother was not "ripped to shreds" by the dogs but died from cardiac arrhythmia. Both dogs were eventually returned to their owners.]
Pit Bull Attack Victim Leaves Hospital WTVO (Channel 17) April 25, 2003
Man Struggles to Recover from Pit Bull Attack WTVO (Channel 17) April 29, 2003
[The man in this case was never bitten by a Pit bull. Indeed, there is no mention of the dog making contact with the man at all. Instead, the man was running from the dog and he ran into the road and "slammed" into a passing van. He sustained serious injuries from the collision with the vehicle.]
Pit Bull Horror New York Daily News February 7, 2004
Pit Bull Mauls 3-Year-Old's Face New York Newsday February 6, 2004
[A Bronx family owned a Boxer dog and a German Shepherd puppy that usually were kept in the basement as guard dogs. Two days before the girl was bitten, the family took in a Pit Bull. The 3-year-old was alone playing with the three dogs when a dogfight started. At this point the girl was bitten in the face by the Boxer (also reported to be an American bulldog). It was later acknowledged that the Pit bull (also reported to be a Pit bull mix and a "pet bulldog") was not involved in the attack on the girl]
Cortland Pit Bull Mauling Death WBNG.com (Channel 12) Dec. 9, 2002
[It was later determined that although the Pit bull participated in the death of 24-year-old Eric Tallman, the dog did not inflict the fatal wounds. The victim died from blunt force injury. It was later revealed that the victim was beaten to death by an acquaintance over a drug debt.]
Barstow Trial Opens in Boy's Death: Pit bulls fatally mauled Cash Carson, 10. The Press-Enterprise May 5, 2001
Murder Charges Filed in Pit Bull Mauling The Associated Press June 17, 2000
[This tragic case of a 10-year-old boy killed by dogs was carried extensively in the media. The dogs were repeatedly headlined as "Pit Bulls". Neither of these dogs were "Pit Bulls". One appeared to be a Pit Bull Mix and the other dog (the male that inflicted the fatal wounds) was clearly a mixed breed dog. Animal Control and photographs of the dog more accurately identify him as a possible Chow/Pit Bull mixed breed.]
Vancouver Girl Badly Injured in Pit Bull Attack CTV News Dec. 23, 2002
[This was a very severe attack and as such garnered much media attention. As a result of more in-depth coverage the breed was later correctly identified as a Mastiff/Rottweiler mixed breed]
Family's Pit Bull Kills Boy, 20, months The Gainesville Sun May 8, 2000
20-month-old Killed by Bull Terrier Naples Daily News May 9, 2000
[This child was not killed by a Pit Bull, nor a Bull Terrier, nor a "family" dog. How the dog came to be labelled a "Pit bull" is unexplained. The owner described the dog to be a Labrador/Mastiff/Rottweiler cattle dog. The dog was used to herd cattle and was kept chained on the property. Animal control and the Alachua Sheriff's office confirm the dog was a mixed breed. Photographs of the dog reveal no discernable breed.]
Another serious problem with the image of Pit Bulls is the over-reporting of Pit Bull attacks vs. other breed attacks. Unquestionably, a disporportionate amount of media attention is given to Pit Bull attacks. One example of this is a recent fatal attack in Detroit by a Pit Bull. This story ran in over 30 separate national newspapers and was also picked up by FOX news, CNN and two British newspapers. Two weeks earlier a man was killed by his German Shepherd Dog and this story ran only in the local community newspaper. Proposed breed specific legislation as the result of an individual severe or fatal dog attack in a community appears to be a phenomena that arises almost exclusively from a Pit Bull or Rottweiler attack. Severe or fatal attacks by other breeds of dogs almost never initiate this kind of response. (2)
One final thing to consider: I previously stated that 'pit bulls' peaked in popularity in the '80s, which was very shortly followed by a peak in bad breeding/bad training/etc. This chart, divided by year, shows there were very few bites, averaging less than one a year, prior to the 1980s, but beginning in the '80s, there has been two peaks in bites. I believe this represents time when after the breed first got its bad reputation and lost popularity, then gained popularity again with thugs, drug dealers, and wanna-be dog-fighters due to the tough reputation they were supposed to have. The 'pit bull' is again on a downswing in bites, and unless any other miscreants decide to trash the breed further, should settle back to its pre '80s average of aprox. 1 bite or less a year.
I believe that these numbers speak for themselves, and presented with the facts behind the statistics, the numbers aren't as scary as they once were. It is apparant that a happy, healthy, well adjusted, well cared-for, loved family 'pit bull' is as good and safe as any other breed.