|Linda Henry, severely maimed by her own pit bulls|
It's time for a mid-year update of the statistics on serious and fatal dog attack in the US, and it comes as no surprise that pit bulls have further widened their lead over all other breeds as the most dangerous type of dog, as this has been a violent year so far. In the first 141 days of 2013, 14 people were fatally mauled by dogs, and 13 of the 14 cases involved pit bulls.
|High risk: Pit bull|
Some relevant insights can be gleaned from the report. Pit bulls (variously referred to as staffy, amstaff, apbt) now make up approximately 6% of the dog population in the US, while, over the past 5 years they have been responsible for well over 70% of the fatal attacks, a disproportionate representation.
|Toddler Beau Rutledge mauled to death by family pit bull|
In contrast, large retrievers (labrador, golden etc) make up over 8% of the dog population, but serious attacks by large retrievers are rare in comparison.
|Labrador retriever, the most popular dog in the USA|
A good example of a safe breed would be the Irish Setter - with no fatal or disfiguring attacks recorded in the 31 year study period. Other relatively safe breeds include the Greyhound, Standard Poodle and Dalmatian, none of which accounted for a single fatal attack, and the Weimaraner, St Bernard, Great Pyrenees and Collie, each with only a single recorded death over the same 31 year period.
|Safe breeds: Weimaraner, Collie, St Bernard|
Interestingly, data indicates that the actual number of pit bulls in the US has not materially changed in 10 years. Nonetheless, the number of violent and fatal attacks committed by pit bulls continues to rise, most likely due to well financed PR campaigns aimed at convincing prospective dog adopters and others that pit bulls are not dangerous if treated well, that they have a good temperament, and were once known as "nanny dogs", a particularly insidious myth which sprung from the imagination of pit bull promoters in the latter part of the 20th century.
|Human death toll, showing all breeds with over 10 fatalities|
You can download a full copy of the June 9th report here
References for further reading -
The nanny dog myth revealed
The pit bull hoax: The ATTS
Fatal pit bull attacks: the archival record