Sunday, June 26, 2011

Discussions with the pit bull community: media reporting

Whenever I've spoken to members of the pit bull community about the relatively high number of pit bull attacks compared to other breeds, it always comes down to one of a few standard responses - either flat-out denial, anecdotal non-sequiturs about wonderful pit bulls, or conspiracy theories.

I'm not one to rule out conspiracies, but as a rule of thumb I hesitate to assume a conspiracy when more plausible (and obvious) explanations exist. For instance, consider the oft-heard claim that pit bull attacks are over reported by the media - a media eager to report such attacks, while ignoring attacks by other breeds.

First of all, attacks in general are under reported from what I can see. Several people close to me have been attacked by pit bulls, and none of the attacks ever made the news. You may try in vain to google them, but they are below the radar. It's a fact that not all dog attacks are reported, and that's no evidence for a conspiracy - and it's only natural, for instance, that a life threatening dog attack is more likely to make the news than a nip from an ankle biter.

However, if  someone is killed by a dog - any breed of dog - it makes the news. So we have a level playing field when it comes to fatal dog attacks, because every fatal attack is reported. This affords us an opportunity both timely and unique: to tally the breeds involved in such attacks and find out once and for all which breeds are responsible for the most deaths.

As it turns out, a number of dog attack studies have been done over various time periods. The most comprehensive study to date was done by Clifton Merritt for the animal people, and covered dog attacks in the US over a 28 year period between 1982 and 2010, broken down by breed, type of victim, and severity of attack. We can examine the breed by breed death totals discovered in this study to arrive at a clear picture of the comparative threat posed by various dog types. The full report is available here but the highlights are shown below. Let the facts speak for themselves:

1982-2010 chart:

BreedBodily harmChild VictimsAdult VictimsDeathsMaimings
Pit bull terrier1552691529166859
Wolf hybrid826841946
Bullmastiff (Presa canario)582221931
German shepherd795220950
German shepherd-mix37268724
Pit bull-mix1024421751
*Chart ordered by number of deaths; includes only a portion of breeds listed in report.

Discussion notes:

  • Even if the pit bull category was "split three ways," attacks by pit bulls and their closest relatives would still outnumber attacks by any other breed.
  • Pit bulls are noteworthy for attacking adults almost as frequently as children, a characteristic not shared by any other breed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wadena County Humane Society Lies and Blames Victim After Their Pit Bull Attacks

Fellow bloggers, please re-post and cross-post -

While attending a Pet Expo at the County fairgrounds a 7 year old border collie service dog named Cheyanne was attacked by an adoptable pit bull named Lola owned by the Wadena County Humane Society. Someone had to use a stick to pry Lola's jaws off Cheyanne.

Blamed Victim and supposed pit bull harrasser Cheyanne before the accident

Cheyanne was rushed to the veterinary clinic with puncture wounds and possible nerve damage. The Humane Society blamed Cheyanne for the attack claiming that Cheyanne "harrassed" their pit bull despite eyewitnesses who say that Cheyanne was sitting calmly when the pit bull attacked. While the police believe the dog will be put down after 10 days, the Humane Society says they were not told to do so and still have Lola up for adoption - with no warning about "NO DOGS" on her post.

Cheyanne's owner, who says her dog alerts her to seizures, wants compensation for medical costs and possible replacement cost for a service dog and will bring her case before the county board meeting on Wednesday.

Any suggestions to the Humane Society about honesty, integrity, responsibility, public service, public safety and pit bulls should be directed here:

Wadena County Humane Society 501(c)(3) non-profit
310 Ash Ave NW hwy 10 west
Wadena, MN 56482

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 248
Wadena, MN 56482

Phone #: (218) 632-5938