Friday, September 5, 2014

Dog attack report by breed - Sept 2014

The top 5

In the 25 days since the last published report on August 7th, there were no reported attacks on humans in North America by Rottweilers, Huskies, Wolf hybrids, or Bull Mastiffs. There was one attack by a Boxer and one attack by an unidentified breed. During the same interval, pit bulls inflicted serious injuries on 25 people, maimed 19, and mauled to death 3 individuals. 

The human cost of pit bull violence

The rate of pit bull attacks against animals is far more horrific, there being on the order of 100 times as many attacks on animals as there are on humans

There are many serious or fatal pit bull attacks on pets every day. 

It's worth noting that, if you remove pit bulls from the equation, it would shape up as a relatively quiet month, and that's the case most of the time.

The full current report from is available here

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dog attack report by breed - Aug 2014

We've been busy lately with some other "big picture" activities, but with the summer of 2014 beginning to wind down, it's about time to publish a current version of the statistics on serious and fatal dog attacks. 

Since the previous summer report in June of last year, 39 people have been mauled to death by pit bulls; an additional 737 have been maimed or disfigured. Attacks from all other breeds combined are but a small fraction of that number.

One of the lucky ones - pit bull attack survivor Lorrie George
In reaction to these reports, there are invariably accusations, denials, and questions from pit bull advocates who are angered by the identification of breed in the attack data, and who charge that the media reports are all based on hearsay, that nobody can identify a pit bull, etc. So it's helpful to share an excerpt from the report here:
Compiled by the editor of ANIMALS 24-7 from press accounts since 1982, this table covers only attacks by dogs of clearly identified breed type or ancestry, as designated by animal control officers or others with evident expertise, who have been kept as pets. All accounts are cross-checked by date, location, and identity of the victim.  Attacks by police dogs, guard dogs, and dogs trained specifically to fight are also excluded. 
What does this mean, in practical terms? Well, first of all, it means that the breed identification is fairly reliable. It also means that the attacks counted in this report did not come from fighting dogs or guard dogs, but were, for the most part, committed by family pets. The only anomaly in that regard affects Huskies, as many of the Huskies involved in the recorded attacks were actually semi-feral sled dogs, raising the numbers above what would normally be expected.

Here is a graphical summary from the report, listing the 5 breeds most involved in serious attacks on humans. As you can see, pit bulls remain the top offenders, and all other breeds combined don't come close to their level of violence.

You may access the full report here

A tale of two breeds

In 3 plus years since this article was originally published (6/5/2011) there have been scores of people killed and thousands maimed or disfigured in the US by "family pit bulls", and yet the myth persists that pit bulls are harmless, misunderstood dogs. Pit bull advocates like to try to deflect the negative attention away from pit bulls, to other types of dogs, such as Akitas - which they claim are much more dangerous than pit bulls, but interestingly enough, Akitas have been responsible for a grand total of zero human fatalities in the US during the same period.

News flash: Dogs can be dangerous - especially strong, good-sized ones. We rely on their sanity and good temperament to inhibit them from attacking. Not all dogs are created equal though, and a certain few species have caused concern, arising either from their size and strength, or their behavior, to the point that they have been designated as "dangerous dogs". I have mixed feelings about Breed Specific Legislation, but that's a discussion for another day.

With all the reports of pit bull violence in the news lately, I find it interesting to compare the "marketing" of pit bulls with that of another breed which is also sometimes considered dangerous - the Akita. Both breeds are physically capable of causing a lot of trouble, and both breeds have their fans, rescuers and advocates. But the marketing of the two breeds is very different, as are their respective records of violence.

Let's take a look at how Akita advocates characterize the breed, for those seeking information:

Akitas are inherently aggressive towards other animals and for this reason, they should not be allowed to run free or roam at will.

Akitas like to take charge--an inherited trait from their wolf ancestry and may at some time, challenge you for the dominant position.

Akitas may respond with aggression if treated harshly.

Akitas do not like to be teased and can respond by biting.

Akitas consider eye contact a challenge and can react aggressively. 

That sort of advice provides some serious food for thought, making it clear that these dogs can be dangerous. While responsible Akita owners generally have good, well-behaved dogs, it's clear that Akita ownership is not for everybody. That particular advice came from the site, but the same advice has been available for some time from most Akita organizations.

It's interesting to how compare this to how pit bulls are described by their advocates - the following points were taken from a representative pit bull information site, and any of them, if googled, will provide pointers to a number of other web sites where you can read these and similar claims:

The bull breeds are nicknamed the "nanny dog" - they are great with kids.

Pit Bulls are not human aggressive. They are gentle and loving dogs.

In actuality, pits are bred to be affectionate toward people

Pit Bulls are no more vicious than Golden Retrievers, Beagles or other popular dogs!

Very interesting. In contrast to the dangerous Akita, the pit bull seems rather harmless - it's all blue skies, rainbows and butterflies, if the pit bull advocates are to be believed. Excellent news!

Just to make sure though, let's see if we can confirm this marketing info with empirical evidence. There have been a number of 3rd party studies on dog attacks that we can reference. Here are a few of them:

U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities January 2006 to December 2008
Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to June 25, 2010
Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs
Are "Pit Bulls" Different? An Analysis of the Pit Bull Terrier Controversy

Even a casual glance through studies referenced above destroys the assertion of the advocates that pit bulls are harmless and gentle with people.

Some highlights of the studies: Pit bulls, estimated to be around 5% of the dog population, were responsible for more maimings and deaths than all ofher breeds combined during the 28 year study period. Rottweilers are a distant second, while Labs, German Shepherds and Dobermans were far below the leaders. Akitas were even further down in the rankings, vying with Pomeranians and Beagles for last place. There was a single death attributed to an Akita, which pales in comparison to the 73 deaths by Rottweiler and the astounding 166 deaths by pit bull.

The study by the Emergency Room doctors (Bini et al) made the following conclusion: "Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs."

So to recap, Akita advocates warn that Akitas must be treated with respect and caution and can be dangerous. There have been some injuries and even a death from an Akita bite. On the other hand, pit bull advocates claim that pit bulls are just misunderstood people-pleasers who have been unfairly demonized by a vast media conspiracy. But what do we see in the cold hard reality of the real world? These "nanny dogs", touted as "great with children" are known to have killed 175 children in the USA so far. These misunderstood "people pleasers" are known to be more likely to turn on their owners than any other breed.

The contrast between the Akita and pit bull communities is as stark as the difference between the respective records of violence of the two breeds. While the Akita community has proven to be cautious, frank and responsible, the pit bull community appears to live in denial and has a credibility problem.

The disconnect with reality is unbelievable. But what concerns me even more is that the disconnect is going to get even worse. There is a renewed push from top pit bull advocacy groups to "rehabilitate the image" of the pit bull and counter it's "bad rap" by ramping up the "education" campaigns.

That's right - instead of working to reduce the number of pit bulls dumped into the system by breeders, or holding pit bull owners accountable for attacks committed by their animals, they are just going to turn up the pit bull hype machine instead.

Instead of help for victims of pit bull violence, we're going to have to endure even more feel-good articles about how safe pit bulls are. More pit bulls will be pushed onto an unsuspecting public, and the pit bull death toll will continue to rise, even while the propaganda machine blares forth the message, ever louder and more frantically, that pit bulls are wonderful. War is peace. Black is white. Love is hate. It's 1984 all over again! Stand by for further announcements from the Ministry of pit bull Truth.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I just saved my dogs life

Lucy says:

The pit bull across the street (a new one) darted across the street into my yard and started going after my Chihuahua and ran in side my house trying to catch her. I have this combo mace/alarm siren device and a knife I always carry on me. I deployed the siren, dropped the mace, opened up my knife. It was complete mayhem. Both of my daughters and my husband were trying to get the pitbull away from our Chihuahua. The pitbull then ran outside and the owner of the pitbull face planted on our driveway and was all bloodied from trying to get his pitbull under control. I stabbed it between the shoulder blades in the back, and it took off across the street back to his house with the bloody owner chasing it. I stood in the driveway and screamed at the top of my lungs. My husband told me to get into the house which I did. My girls came with me while my husband talked to the owner. I do believe that, this time, I was prepared. I managed to save my dogs life.
Roxanne, safe after the attack
Update: the owner of the Land shark that came into our house to attack our dog didn't know that I stabbed the beast until he read the police report today. He called the police to press charges against me and they said "Absolutely Not".

Update - the owner of the mauler that tried to kill Roxanne has concocted a story to peddle to social media:

 The all too predictable reaction from those eager to form a lynch mob:

Unfortunately this is quite typical after a pit bull goes on a killing spree. The pit bull owner paints himself and his mauler as victims, and spreads his own narrative. Lying comes to these people as easily as breathing comes to most of us. (Fortunately the post above was removed once the fraud was discovered - but the damage has been done)

The epidemic of pit bull violence against pets, livestock and companion animals is horrific, and getting worse every decade. Roxanne was blessed to have an owner who was ready and willing to defend her.

A close escape

The number of innocent animals mauled by pit bulls is simply heartbreaking. It's a welcome reprieve when a beloved animal companion survives such an attack. Here is one victim who survived.

It has been a year since my Yorkiepoo, Colette, was attacked by an unleashed bully breed dog. I'll never forget her screams while she was being attacked.

The attack was awful, but could have been much worse. I was walking my Yorkiepoo and Jack Russell terrier when two unleashed bully breeds (one American Bulldog and one Pit Bull) came at us. Luckily, the pit bull and my JRT just stood there, but the American Bulldog savagely attacked. I keep reminding myself that I was fortunate that Colette wasn't hurt worse (or killed), that the second dog didn't attack, that my JRT wasn't attacked and that my injuries were minimal. but it makes me hesitant to walk in a very nice neighborhood.

A recent picture of Colette.

Note - out of all canine attacks on animals, pit bulls appear to have committed no less than 95% of such attacks, an unprecedented level of violent aggression, but one which can be accounted for by the specific purposes for which pit bull type dogs were developed, and the specific resulting traits which define their genetic imperative.

See the study How many animals do pit bulls kill? for more information.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Akita

Are you considering an Akita? Think again. Richard Gere gave this breed a boost in "Hachi: a dog's tale"  but this is no Retriever or Shepherd we're talking about. In order to properly care for one of these large, strong willed animals, you'll need to know exactly what you're dealing with. We came across this article on the now defunct, and felt it was worth passing along. 

It really has been a long trek with me and the Akita, as for a long time they were on my secret list of breeds I could not stand. My very first childhood dog was part Akita, and while I loved him dearly his aggression was just a trauma to me....not merely that he had it, but HOW, which I would come to know to be rather Akita specific. I then went through an extended history of Akitas aggressing on my own dogs and on those of my comrades, and just for my own sensibility could not exactly connect with a dog who was so NOT a GSD.

For a working dog, I would like to see something more trainable and handler thirsty, thank you very much, and so for the longest time while those who I would review the breed for never would have guessed my personal feelings, there was no love lost between me and the Akita. He was a pretty face but a marauder, and stacked up against other breeds not worth much to me personally. 
Didn't like him. Didn't like him one bit. I didn't even admire anyone who liked him....I thought they were being sucked in by an impressive form and were just clueless to how dogs COULD be.

That would change in, of all things, a shelter setting when I was asked to test out dominant dogs. And people were not too keen to mess with this staunch figure who did not bark, did not growl, did not flinch, but just in his stance lent the firm suggestion that he was packing heat and was not afraid to use it, but would not let you know when. I am also not only a wildlife rehabber but more to the point a stallion manager, and what I found was an animal strikingly reminiscent of the latter. Not the jiggy, over thirsty stallions, but the crested ones who were vats of confidence. The ones who would try to fake you out. 

And in time, we came to an understanding, the Akita and me, and he won my begrudging admiration. For in such a dank, depressing dungeon of chaos, with nothing left to hold onto, he would still stand proud. A sense of self and self says animals do not have that, but they would do well to pull their faces out of books and stats....that belonged only to this dog. This defiantly proud animal, stuck in domesticity but never quite electing to bow. 

Now before I say a word more, to underscore this CLEARLY. They are adorable as puppies, they are stunning adults, and they are impressiveness on a leash....massive ego dogs. And massively overbred, milled to the gills. You will see many variations in Akita temperament. I have found some softer, I am found some affably outgoing, even some submissive. The Akita being spoken of here is what breeders go for, judges look for, and what breed fanatics revere most. THIS is the Akita in America when he is what his greatest supporters would expect him to be. Some would call the Akita dominant. To me, more aptly put, he is the personification of ALPHA. He is confident, contained and never out-stated. Drama and the Akita are often many miles removed. He is mysterious at times and can be hard to read. He does everything with self assurance....he doesn't rush in - he just responds. He is often intolerant of stranger dogs in his backdrop. I have more than a few times seen an Akita not show aggressive response until within strike range, and then it comes fast and hard. For he is not aggressive in a traditional sense - he is resolved, absolute, intent. He can, more than most, be intolerant of those messing around with his possession or his own sense of order. He is, infamously, intolerant of heavy or harsh handling, or being treated disrespectfully.

This is the romantic Akita, but it also can be the actual Akita. This is a niche breed who should be SO less popular than he is. Those who love him do so profoundly. A dog from quite a different culture, he is not a fawning or highly emotive dog, but he is intensely loyal to his family. He would defend them to the death, considers them his own, wants to be near them, and separates from them poorly. Rehomed as adults, Akitas can take a while to settle in.....this is a dog of discretion and they do not open their hearts carelessly. Once embraced by an Akita however, he is yours for life. And in death as well, much as Akita legend would show. To understand the Akita, cultural understanding is important, as is to function. There are many hats this breed has worn in his history, but I think the one that most defines him is a hunter of large game, which he pursued not only with determination, but also held at bay until the hunter could arrive. Now when it is a bear being held, should the dog back down he would likely get killed, but getting too riled up, also, would have escalated the situation and perhaps prompted the bear to strike. 

So in the Akita character, we do see a dog with lots of determination, an absoluteness of holding his ground and tremendous rates of confidence and self control. Many who are drawn to this breed find something reminiscent of the wolf in him and something primal....a "savage beauty." They also are able to enjoy some marvelous qualities the Akita can bring. One is that for all his size, he is not bursting with energy, has a marvelous in-home energy, is very tidy, and can be rather good at not being constantly underfoot. He is, in short, a superior house companion. He also has a vibrant, charming demeanor and an enthusiasm for life that brightens his personality tremendously, and is extraordinarily devoted to his people and his life. He is a protector and a guard dog who takes the matter of turf very excellent breed for a sense of inner security....and yet is not a noisy animal.

When an Akita barks, LOOK, for infrequently is he a random barker....he is not one to sweat the little things in life. Many of the other breeds considered for security and protection are considerably more reactive than this dog. These are qualities that partner well with our modern lives. As well, beauty is as beauty does, and this is an enormously intelligent breed and a true thinker. You may not always know his thoughts, but that he is always assessing and always aware is vividly clear. A very wise animal, he seldom does anything stupid and has a very knowing presence. It IS that presence that draws people. 

There is much Akita brings to the plate. Presence personified, he is one of the most loyal of all breeds, offers a distinct brightness and he is amazingly responsible. He has a great energy, is easy to live with and offers a tremendous sense of security and pride in ownership. I am sure Taz is destined to agree, however, that this is NOT the dog for an inexperienced owner. Akitas need a great deal of socialization. They need an owner who will ensure their world to not become too "small"...getting out with them frequently, having them experience many different situations, so that they will not define their territory lines too profoundly. And they need the experience of someone who knows how to be a calm, strong and effective leader. 

This breed is a total Goldilocks. If you are too soft with him he may well not respect you....and this is a dog who can be naturally driven, to function, to enforce his wont....and yet at the same time if you are too stern with him, he will not tolerate that, even if you are his beloved. There are very few breeds who are as infamous to their responses for overbearing handling....this IS a dog who will put you on the floor....but not having control of a dog so determined is an equally bad idea. He already loves he wants to be sure you know what you are doing, that you do it well, and that you treat him with respect. A dog of very strong will and at times an achingly independent mind....far less a follower than many....the Akita is a training challenge where fairness, consistency and self assurance are paramount.

Those who connect with this breed can manage OB titles with him and even can turn him into a hunting dog and retriever. They also can do well in therapy work.  A good mentor is essential, as well as is a devotion to laying a good foundation down, always having control of your dog, and being someone worth listening to. 

The single greatest piece of sage Akita advice I can give is that an Akita WILL decide what is acceptable and what is not. If that sentence made you nervous, this breed may well be too much for you. 

The original article was found at this link, which may or may not remain available:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Strategies for dealing with dangerous dogs next door

An anonymous reader sent these suggestions for dealing with maulers next door. This is a threat to be taken seriously as evidenced in tragic cases like those of  Klonda Richey and Juan Campos, not to mention the staggering number of innocent pets mauled to death in their own yards by invading pit bulls. We welcome comments, and if there is enough interest, we'll incorporate updates, improvements and refinements. 

First of all, get the neighbors on board.

Get as many neighbors to call in every single complaint they have, and send letters when needed. You cannot be the only one that wants the maulers gone. Make sure the owners get anonymous notes about their dogs being a threat, and let them know that every time their maulers leave the house someone is watching them, waiting to have them removed.

Do not harass them or be nasty, just let them know they are posing a threat and they will not be tolerated. Even the biggest jerk is bothered by a steady onslaught of complaints. REMAIN ANONYMOUS. There is power in this, as well as safety.

Keep in mind that if you engage these people directly, they may get violent. People have been shot and killed over this.

Stay safe. The owners are often as volatile as their grippers, and they frequently have anti social behaviors and criminal proclivities. Let the authorities handle them, and keep your actual names out of any actions.

You need the neighbors to be witnesses and write their own complaints about the dogs, so the sooner you organize them, they better. Just know most people are both lazy, AND hesitant to get involved. This may be the most frustrating thing. Head this off by offer to write the letters for them, as long as they agree with the content and are willing to sign it. The more people you can get to complain the better it is for you. Letters to the local newspaper can also help, if enough neighbors do it.

Secondly, approach the landlord or the property management company. 

Send the owners landlord a certified letter telling them all about the danger this dog poses, and list all of the attacks and escapes, plus any other witnesses. Make sure you include the bill for your dogs vet bills, with a detailed description of the wounds. Ask them for reimbursement, and ask who their insurance carrier is (you should already know this).

Let them know that they WILL be liable for any more attacks. Since they have been notified, if they do nothing to remedy the situation, it will be even worse for them financially if any attacks happen. Let them know that the average insurance claim for pit attacks is $500,000, with awards being much higher if a lawsuit is necessary.

Let them know that you understand their position, but that you cannot live in terror each day. Spell out clearly that your small children are in serious danger; they may have kids too. Be polite, be to the point, offer a way out: eviction. I would send it overnight, with a signature required for delivery.

Call the landlord and see if they are willing to do anything, and when this will happen. Make sure you wait until they get the letter. Be kind and polite, and make sure they know that they will be on the hook for any attacks from the maulers. If they are going to help, thank them profusely and tell them they are saving lives. People need to feel good

about doing the right thing.

Thirdly, approach their insurer.

Find the insurance carrier and send them a similar (but shorter, and more professional) letter. If you weren't paid by the landlord, make a claim. If you were paid, make sure they know this.

Tread carefully! Be advised that this step could result in the insurance company dropping the coverage.This could force the landlord to have the mauler removed in order to secure new insurance coverage, but it could also result in a victim being unprotected financially. Without insurance, victims can only get a judgement against the landlord, many years later, if you are lucky, with no guarantee of recovery.

To be fair, you may be unprotected anyway, as many carriers will not pay out for pit bull attacks. They are often not covered because of the inherent hazard. You can find out if they cover pit attacks BEFORE you let them know about the situation- if they don't, you might as well let them know, you have nothing to lose. If this is the case, also let that

landlord know that HE will be personally liable!

Fourth: Call the cops.

Engage the police department, and push for removal of the animal and for charges from the last attack (based on the pattern, which you MUST document carefully).

Call them about the dogs anytime you feel threatened, or they are lose, or trying to get loose/ ANY excuse to have them come out, you need a record of complaints. Be frank with them, some might actually help you. They may also be more apt to come with guns drawn if they know the dogs are likely to attack. This is good, one snarl and the grippers may be


Then send the Police/ Sheriff, and Animal Control, a letter with the same information, plus the dates of any complaints. Firmly request that the dog is removed, and remind them that they too have been informed, and when an attack on a human occurs, they may be considered responsible. They won't get hit financially, but people may lose their jobs or get suspended if the case is egregious enough. I wouldn't bet on this outcome, but it is still a good threat.

If the steps above just won't work, you might opt to go vigilante, in which case your legal covering will be shaky at best. But it is a matter of safety at this point, and I would call it self defense. (As a wise man once said, it's better to be judged by 12 than to be carried by 6.) The maulers will at some point "somehow" get loose and seize a human victim. Your children are in very real danger. If only I were kidding - but a pit bull attack is so sudden, and so violent that, even if you are right there, you may be unable to stop them. Your conscience must be your guide here in choosing between greater and lesser evils, for the greater good.

It would be best if you could see them at large, and record it on your cell phone. Then you can call the cops and tell them that you are in deadly situation, that they are violently aggressive and have killed before. When cops have to come out to take care of a pit bull running loose, things often escalate in such a way as to result in the removal of the threat.

Do not call animal control (aka, pit bull social workers), they won't help you, as they tend to be primarily concerned with trying to maintain a positive image for pit bulls. The police, on the other hand, see these attacks often enough they know to shoot to kill.

Of course there are other ways to rid the neighborhood of these killers permanently, but I don't think the owners of this site want anyone posting things that encourage harming any animal. It sickens me that it can come to this in order to keep people safe from these beasts.

To pit lovers who think this is cruel: F you. We are tired of being forced to deal with your deadly dogs everyday - especially those of which owners know to be aggressive, those that have killed animals and attacked humans in the past. It's on you to keep your maulers contained. They shouldn't be killing and attacking, ever, let alone at this insane rate. You all like to talk about responsible owners, but finding one is near impossible. 

The danger needs to be resolved before someone dies.