Layne has worked in shelter medicine for over six years and likes to share her advice with fellow animal guardians.
What Does It Mean to Be "Breedist"?
The term "breedism" is based on prejudice and can be understood in the ways that racism describes ignorance, judgement, and hate. Racism involves prejudice, discrimination, or exclusion simply based on skin color. Just as people face unfair prejudices based on their skin tone even in contemporary times, humans have created breedism in the dog world.
Breedism: Discrimination or prejudice based on a dog's breed and outward appearance rather than past and current behaviors and temperament.
Breedism is also defined as "prejudice concerning breeds of animals" (Wiktionary). Now, let's separate racism from breedism so that we can really dig into the canine realm and not draw incorrect or misinformed overlap between the two issues.
Here we will discuss the varying opinions about different dog breeds and behavior. Most importantly, we will look at the facts.
What Makes a Dog Mean, Aggressive, or Dangerous?
As someone who has worked in animal shelters and with dogs in veterinary medicine for over a decade, I will tell you exactly what I have observed:
- Certain breeds are prone to behaviors that they are bred for
- Dogs are a product of their environment and raising
- There is no predictability to what type of dog is more likely to bite
- Small dog bites go underreported
- Pit bulls refer to several breeds and not one breed
- Many mixed-breed dogs are often mistaken for pit bull breeds
- Humans ruin dogs
- Some dogs are born with traits that develop independently of their raising
Why Do People Hate Pit Bulls?
I've been fortunate enough to not get bit seriously in my work experience. The few times I have been close to being bit was by a Yorkie, a Belgian Shepherd, a terrier, a Border Collie, a black lab, and a mixed-breed mom protecting her litter.
Which Dogs Bite the Most? The Most Dangerous Dogs
We are all familiar with the many reports about pit bull breed bites. They make the headlines every time. Why is this? These are big dogs! Their bites cause more damage and go reported more often than a smaller dog's bite. I will advocate for these breeds in that, you can't judge a book by its cover.
When I was working in shelter medicine, one of our retired volunteers had a pit bull blend. She also fostered kittens! Her pit bull would check up on the kittens, cuddle them, and clean them—it was simply adorable. This shaped my opinion of pit bull breeds very early on. I've also seen pit bulls wake up from surgery wagging, done jugular sticks on pit bulls with light restraint and no issues—and I'm someone who is all about safety. In the words of Dr. Denenberg, of Bristol Veterinary College:
"Every dog has its limit, and if they're pushed far enough, they bite. Some dogs have to be pushed really, really far before they show aggression, whereas other dogs show it much sooner, but each dog has the potential to be dangerous."
Breeds That Are Most Likely to Bite
Keep in mind that this reflects Douglas County Data from 2010-2017—this does not reflect worldwide or current data. This is just a reflection of one area. Bite records will vary depending on breed popularity in a given region.
- Labrador Retrievers
- German Shepherds
- Australian Shepherds
- Pit Bull Blends
- Border Collies
- Siberian Huskies
Are you surprised to Labrador Retrievers on this list? I bet so!
Are You Afraid of Pit Bulls?
For each question, choose the best answer for you.
- Are pit bulls one breed?
- Not sure
- Have you ever been bitten by a dog?
- Did you provoke the dog?
- Not sure
- Pit bulls bite more people than any other breed.
- Not sure
Use the scoring guide below to add up your total points based on your answers.
- Are pit bulls one breed?
- Yes: +5 points
- No: +0 points
- Not sure: +1 point
- Have you ever been bitten by a dog?
- Yes: +5 points
- No: +0 points
- Did you provoke the dog?
- Yes: +2 points
- No: +0 points
- Not sure: +0 points
- Pit bulls bite more people than any other breed.
- Yes: +5 points
- No: +0 points
- Not sure: +0 points
Interpreting Your Score
A score between 0 and 5 means: You seem to have a healthy understanding of dog breeds and breed behavior.
A score between 6 and 10 means: You may have had a negative experience with a dog but are open to giving all breeds a chance.
A score between 11 and 13 means: You may have had a negative experience with a particular breed and are hesitant to change your opinion.
A score between 14 and 15 means: You have fairly solid ideas about pit bull breeds.
A score between 16 and 17 means: You likely agree that there should be breed-specific legislation.
Bite Records 2010-2017: Minor to Severe
Labrador Retriever 69
German Shepherd 24
German Shepherd 2
German Shepherd 44
Labrador Retriever 20
Australian Shepherd 35
Pit Bull Breeds 10
Siberian Husky 2
Pit Bull Breeds 28
Australian Cattle Dog 9
Australian Shepherd 1
Border Collie 22
Border Shepherd 6
Golden Retriever 5
Chesapeake Bay Retriever 1
Chinese Sharpei 1
Great Dane 1
Siberian Husky 1
Siberian Husky 4
Labrador Retriever 1
Pit Bull Blend 1
Prea Canario 1
Shiba Inu 1
Pit Bulls and Other Animals
What Is a Pit Bull?
A pit bull is a class of dog that includes the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier breeds, and in some cases, the American bulldog.
Are Pit Bulls More Dangerous Than Other Breeds?
Pit bulls have a serious history of performance, abuse, and misuse for bull-baiting, dog fighting, and even as nanny dogs or guardians. Unfortunately, pit bulls too, have become the breeds of choice in criminal activity and guarding. Their large jaws, muscular build, and high pain tolerance make them suitable for "guarding" and "fighting," which often leads them to develop behavior and temperament problems as any dog would. They are also noted for the incredible jaw power and "hold and shake" biting strength, which unfortunately can lead to severe damage or death of smaller animals, babies, and even adult humans.
A website advocating for legislation to protect dog bite victims and prevent dog bites even argues that it's hard to say whether or not pit bulls bite more than other dogs. Even so, the American Veterinary Medical Association states: "DogsBite.org's claim that pit bull–type dogs were responsible for 65 percent of the deaths during that 12-year period is disputed by some groups as inaccurate and misleading."
"Pit bull" refers to several breeds that are automatically unfairly represented in statistics. Essentially, seeing pit bulls in data when paired against isolated and specific dog breeds is misleading. Data would have to isolate bites based on breed type—the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier breeds, the American bulldog—for a fair reflection.
Want to Know Once and for All?
36 Angry Chihuahuas
Dogs Are a Product of Their Environment
People are perfectly capable of raising happy, well-adjusted dogs of any breed. That's why it is important to take pet ownership seriously.
Here are some ways to practice responsible pet ownership:
- Neutering: Spaying and neutering is one place to start! Get rid of those sex hormones! Tone down aggression and fight overpopulation.
- Early socialization: Dogs need to be exposed to all types of environments, situations, peoples, and animals when they are young.
- Positive training: The way you train (and punish) your dog can greatly influence their reaction to strangers. Use reward-based training methods rather than punishment that involves fear. Teach gentle behavior. Never use physical punishment.
- Stimulation: Bored dogs develop bad behaviors—just like humans. Destructive and abnormal behaviors stem from lack of stimulation.
- Choose a breed you can handle: Don't try to care for a large, muscular breed if you can't even control or train them on the lead! No one wants to see a human being walked by a dog—that often happens when owners can't control their large breed. This leads to call kinds of problems.
- Teach children how to interact: Many times, dog bites can be prevented. A child should never approach an unknown dog without asking permission first. Children should be taught how to approach dogs. They should also learn that they can never take something away from a dog when it's in their mouth or in their "possession zone."
- Lifestyle and exercise: Large breeds need space to run as do all dogs. If you are considered a large and powerful breed, give them adequate space! They need to burn off that energy. Don't acquire a breed that will go crazy in a small apartment. This often leads them to redirect.
- Breed traits: Understand the breed you are getting (this goes for mixed-breeds, too). If you have a Greyhound or a Collie, a fragile rabbit may not be the best pet to let roam around or live in the same house. Some shelters will temperament test dogs to see whether they are cat-friendly. Ask about this when considering adopting.
- Do a DNA test: Some black labs, lab blends, and boxers are unfairly labeled as pit bulls and excluded from housing lists. Do a DNA test—it must just surprise you.
Being Cautious Does Not Make You Breedist
You should be cautious with any dog! As mentioned, any dog can bite in any circumstance, even the sweetest dogs. Having worked with various dog breeds, the most unpredictable breeds I had seen was a golden lab blend (she had a bite record) and a terrier blend. With that said, I always noted a dog's body language, sociability, eyes, and level of nervousness. If a large breed appears nervous, you'd be sure I'd be on alert. You simply have to take into account that a large breed can inflict more damage.
Tips for Approaching a Dog
- Always ask the owner if it is ok and they are friendly.
- Never stare at a dog directly in the eyes.
- Use a kind, gentle voice.
- Remove hats, glasses, crinkly jackets, or restrictive clothing.
- Offer the back of your hand for a sniff.
- Never reach over a dog's head or reach for them with an open palm.
- Never lean over a dog.
- Never put your face up to a dog's face.
- If the dog is friendly and you are "big"—you can crouch sideways, facing away from the dog. This gives the dog the opportunity to lean their body into you if they want to be pet.
- Don't scream or try to "rough play" with your hands or body. (I see so many people jumping and playing "dog" with dogs—they hate it and it confuses them).
- Don't touch their rear, even for scratching. This makes them nervous if they don't know you.
- Be gentle with older dogs—they are arthritic and often in pain.
Opposition to breed bans has been expressed by the AVMA and CDC, along with the American Bar Association, Humane Society of the United States, and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The Obama administration even took sides in the debate, describing breed-specific laws as "a bad idea" in August 2013 after an online petition calling for federal breed bans garnered more than 30,000 signatures.
States With Breed-Specific Laws
District of Columbia
It's Your Job to Prevent a Bite
Remember, it is your job as a pet owner to prevent bites. All dogs can bite! If your dog has behavioral problems, please work with a trainer. Also, please exercise caution when bringing your dog out in public. It is your responsibility to keep your dog and the public safe and inform people of your dogs behavior—this includes veterinary professionals. Warn them ahead of time when working with your dog. Muzzling your dog ahead of time for an exam is a wonderful gesture.
Teach Kids Smart Dog Interaction Early
All dog breeds deserve a chance, and it's time that people start getting real about what role they play when it comes to dog bites and fatalities. Smart ownership is key. Making sure your dog is secured and in an environment in which it can thrive is critical. Do not be irresponsible and leave situations up to chance. Supervise your children and teach them how to read canine behavior early on. Looking is better than touching!
Note: Please be understanding of and sympathetic towards dog bite victims in the comments below!
Also, do you have cats at home? Are you curious about their breed? Learn how to ID a mixed-breed cat.
Has your opinion changed?
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Has your opinion of pit bull breeds changed?
- Do you think that dogs a product of their environment and raising?
Interpreting Your Score
If you got 0 correct answers: Consider further reading.
If you got 1 correct answer: In the right direction.
If you got 2 correct answers: Great job being open-minded.
© 2019 Laynie H
Laynie H (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 14, 2019:
Thanks for the feedback Liz—I'm always interested to hear all perspectives. I've had an interesting take working in the veterinary field—there were certainly breeds I was more cautious of simply based on size and strength.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 14, 2019:
I have read your article with great interest. I was once chased by an alsatian and around that time there were several incidents of people being attacked by similar dogs. So I have been wary of dogs since.. Until my daughter and son-in-law got a labrador. Now I happily take their dog out for walks.
Why I hate pit bulls
b: they are prone to sickness and everybody else hates them and nobody wants to treat them, so they skew euthanasia numbers dramatically.
c: nobody wants to adopt them, so they skew the numbers even more and pack our shelters so that better dogs have no place to go.
d: they encourage people to inbreed them and sell them at ridiculous prices to already poor people who will only end up tossing them to the 'b' reason after 8 years.
they break in to my fucking yard and to this:
to my friendly and sweet aussie shephard while he sits on my porch.
ripped throat, over a dozen punctures all over his body, severely damaged muscles in one leg, a double chin thing that is skin separated from flesh and will not heal for the rest of his life.
i am sick and tired of hearing shit about "it is the owners" or "only if they are raised bad" or "well i have a friend with a nice one" or "animals are animals and will act like them".
the bottom line is that they are unfit to be bred as pets and should be banned everywhere. the UK did it, why can't we?
now, i don't think that they are over aggressive. in fact, i think that they are one of the most friendly and well natured breeds. my problem is with them physically. sure, all dogs fight. all dogs bite each other, and lots of dogs bite humans far more frequently than pit bulls, such as chihuahuas and spaniels. the problem is that pits have been selectively bred for centuries with only one functional purpose to inflict massive physical damage. they are not fit, in any way, to be pets and the only redeeming trait that they have is removing one of their dipshit owners from the gene pool once every 40 days or so in the US.
ok, i'm done ranting. time to go put some ointment on my dog.
Yikes, sorry about what happened to your dog. Is he alright?
Yeah, pits are pretty nasty. My old neighborhood had a big pit bull problem. Around 4 of the people on our street had them and they got out a surprising amount. A sweet old dog got killed by one on my neighbor's porch. The owners were ready to shoot the pit before its owner intervened.
I'm with you. I don't care how friendly a particular pit bull is, they're too damn dangerous to keep as pets.
Yes we did sir, though I believe its legal to have a pet tiger in Texas, so I think banning pitbulls is still a little far off.
I must admit, I thought you were on about the fighting style from the thread title, lol.
Sorry about your dog man, all the best. =(
Team Ceddy Bear! ♥
Like I said on you FB page lobo, have their dog put down.
I NEVER approved of pit bulls, it scares me that I see those fuckers on my street now being walked by people who not only look shaddy, but look like they don't know how to control them if they were to get out of control.
My cats like to go outside every once in a while and we have a leash to walk them down the street, so I would HATE to see one of those ugly ass dogs coming at me and trying to attack my cats, my dog and even my mom or myself.
I wish they were banned here in the US, they are by far the most WORTHLESS dog breed out there. like you said lobo, only trained and built to fight and cause massive physical damage.
I hope your lil buddy has a healthy recovery.
Yah sorry bout all of this Lobo. I do agree with the way you see things about Pitbulls. I wont say i hate them or whatever since i have no reasons to hate them all but i go agree that the dog in itself is too dangerous to be a domectic animal.
I wish a healthy recovery for your little buddy during the holidays. Happy holliday's to all of you BTW.
she wouldn't hurt anything/body. there are definitely bad owners out there and they're definitely in the wrong for breeding pitbulls for fighting. please don't categorize all pitbulls into the same lane since there are good ones. Like people you'll get the bad and the ugly and because of how pitbulls have been raised they're stereotyped for being dangerous which is mostly due to the lack of TLC. sorry but I love Milky to death. here she is.
Oh god that's horrible. No dog deserves that. I hope he recovers as quickly and safely as possible.
 Signia's Cheerleader
I disagree. It's completely true that pitbulls won't go apeshit on any other living thing unless they're trained shitty. I have an American Terrier Pitbull and she is harmless. If an Aussie Sheppard was trained to fuck shit up they will fuck shit up. It's on the owner or lack thereof. Physically, it's true that they are incredibly well built and gnarly. But that's no reason to outright ban an entire breed. There would be so many breeds banned if that were the case, including pitbulls.
That said, what happened to your dog is awful. Hope your dog gets better and isn't permafucked.
i know many great, caring pit bull owners. out of them, maybe a third have had their dog be involved in some horrible incident with a friend, child or neighboring pet. i've also known many chihuahua and blue heeler and hound dog owners who were shitty and mean or who trained their dogs to be mean and bite people. out of them, not one has been in a serious incident with anybody that i am aware of. trannymagic, you managed to combine all of the excuses and cover ups for the breed that i outlined in the OP in one paragraph. kudos for that.
i've also known many of the breed that i loved, and were kind and gentle. hell i used to own one myself.
that isn't the point, though. people get bitten by dogs all the time. they get a couple small punctures, maybe a few stitches, and go on their way. if it is a pit, though, expect severe lacerations and possible maiming for the same encounter. it isn't their temper or personality that is the problem. it is the end result of their rare aggression. it has nothing to do with how they are treated or raised.
once, in 1996, a Pomeranian killed a baby girl. once. ever. i have personally been bitten by them like 5 times. i have never been bitten by a pit bull, and am around them far more often many of the times they have abusive or aggression encouraging owners. blaming their temper or bad owners is retarded. it is an inherent problem with the breed. many dogs are more aggressive and bite more frequently than pit bulls. they don't have the same terrible results, though. pits need to be eliminated from domestication because they are dangerous, period. if you have a small terrier or a Labrador as a family pet and your 5 year old niece unwittingly grabs it by the ear while it is eating, it gets a chomp on the hand, maybe a few stitches, and a lesson learned. if the same pet of the same demeanor happens to be a pit bull, she dies.
i know that the dog that came to my yard is most likely a very friendly dog. i also know that he probably approached my dog on the porch to play or just communicate and my dog tried to be dominant and defend his territory because. well. it is his house. that is his job, and he does it well. it happens with other dogs in the area all the time. they come over, bark, growl, sometimes throw down, and tomorrow they are friends again. that is normal dog behavior. that doesn't change the end result here, though. the whole system of domestication gets thrown out when pit bulls are brought into the mix.
every 21 days since 2003, an american has been killed by a pit bull. attacks by pits on other pets are not documented and usually not even reported, but i'd bet the number for them is more like. 50 every day or more.
here is a map of fatal maulings of people by these "pets" in texas alone for the past century. http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=U. 8192749593590792990.00046d2e24f771e82421e&z=7
every single year since they have began tracking, they have killed more people than all other domesticated animals, combined.
in 2008 alone, there were 373 REPORTED instances of police officers or civilians shooting a pit bull to stop an attack on another person in the united states. of those incidents, six of the victims were still killed by the animals.
from 2006-2008, 19 dog breeds were listed as the killers in 88 human deaths in the US. of those, 59% were pit bulls. the next highest was rottweilers at 14%.
i could go on all day, but i'll skip straight to my favorite fun fact of the evening: i will kill the holy shit out of any of these animals that i see on my property without batting an eye for the rest of my life.
also, it should be noted that pit bulls are centuries old. you don't need to specify "american pit bull terrier". you can say "american bull dog" or "american pit bull terrier" or "american staffordshire terrier" or "staffordshire bull terrier". they are all the same fucking dog the pit bull, bred in england, to kill things. it simply has so many different names because of a century long history of advocacy against them and violent attacks on people, as a means to circumvent ban laws and to increase adoption rates because the dumpsters behind every vet office in america are already full of the motherfuckers, and we are out of chinese restaurants to empty them.
please, do continue to ignore history, statistics, police reports, newspapers and fucking reality, and blame "bad owners" instead of the breed.
it would be less dangerous to people if we started allowing black bears as pets.
sorry for the rant, but i've been seeing red for two days straight now.
fuck pit bulls. fuck the mean ones and fuck the nice ones. fuck every single god damn one of them. even milky.
Arguments for and Against Breed Specific Laws
The dog bite epidemic is of great concern to humanitarians, the government, the insurance industry, and canine professionals, among others. In addition, the nearly constant reports of pit bulls killing and maiming children is of special interest to the public in general. The issue is whether to ban certain dogs, restrict them, take a different approach, or do nothing at all. There are four main points of view regarding what should be done, discussed in this section.
Argument in favor of doing nothing at all because there supposedly is no problem
Some say, "do nothing at all." Some feel that banning a breed is like human racial discrimination. They feel that dogs attack people who deserve it for one reason or another. They feel that the statistics compiled on dog attacks are inaccurate, and that the press has created the false impression that there is a dog bite problem in the USA. There is no such problem, they say.
Argument against breed specific laws, but conceding that other corrective measures must be taken
A large group of organizations and experts believes, "do nothing to the dogs, but educate dog owners, children and the elderly, enact strong criminal laws prohibiting dangerous behavior on the part of dog owners, and gather more information about the problem."
A respected group of canine professionals took this position in the authoritative paper entitled, A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention. They advocated dealing with the epidemic by instituting a combination of animal control ordinances and educational efforts, as well as more accurate reporting of dog attacks. They opposed breed bans on the ground that any dog could be a bad dog, that it is too difficult to identify breeds like pit bulls, and that people with bad intentions will turn harmless breeds into killer breeds to stay one step ahead of the law.
Other organizations that exist specifically to oppose breed bans and, in particular, pit bull bans, also promote stiff criminal laws against people who abuse dogs or habitually violate the animal control laws. See, for example, the "Three Strikes You're Out" proposal by Animal Farm Foundation, Inc., an organization devoted "to restore the image of the American Pit Bull Terrier, and to protect him from discrimination and cruelty" (the quote is from their home page).
The following points are often contended by those who oppose breed bans:
- The USA generally does not favor the restriction and punishment of the masses based on the actions of a few.
- Focusing legislation on dogs that are "vicious" distracts attention from the real problem, which is irresponsible owners.
- These very breeds as a whole have proven their stability and good canine citizenry by becoming search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs working inside hospitals, herding dogs and family companions for years.
- Banning one so-called dangerous breed will merely hasten the upswing in popularity of some other breed that will be used for vicious attacks on people and other animals.
- There is no valid reason to deprive animal lovers of their well behaved pets.
- The reports and statistics are flawed. Among other things, a dog bite victim is usually unable to identify the breed of dog that bit him or her. Therefore, victims will name the type of dog that currently is on people's minds as being the dangerous dog.
- There are better and fairer ways to protect the public. See, for example, the five-point program advanced by Animal Farm Foundation.
One of the best survey-type articles about breed bans argues that it is illogical. (See, Malcolm Gladwell, "Troublemakers - What pit bulls can teach us about profiling," The New Yorker, Feb. 6, 2006.) Mr. Gladwell states:
"The strongest connection [i.e., "characteristic" or "sign"] of all, though, is between the trait of dog viciousness and certain kinds of dog owners. In about a quarter of fatal dog-bite cases, the dog owners were previously involved in illegal fighting. The dogs that bite people are, in many cases, socially isolated because their owners are socially isolated, and they are vicious because they have owners who want a vicious dog. The junk-yard German shepherd -- which looks as if it would rip your throat out -- and the German shepherd guide dog are the same breed. But they are not the same dog, because they have owners with different intentions."
The list of organizations and a partial list of experts who oppose breed specific laws is provided at Expert Opinion on Breed Specific Legislation at the website of Animal Farm Foundation.
Argument in support of breed restrictions as opposed to bans
Many authorities say, "teach people dog safety, regulate by passing tougher civil and criminal laws, and restrict by keeping certain breeds away from the wrong people, places and situations."
This group agrees with the "community approach" but would go further, eliminating the "one bite rule," requiring insurance as a condition for ownership of certain types of dogs, toughening the dog control laws, criminalizing the failure to stop a dog attack in progress, and keeping dangerous dogs away from the wrong people, places and situations.
It is now abundantly clear that the bigger, more powerful breeds have no purpose or place in crowded urban settings. In states like California, however, it is illegal for cities to regulate dogs in any manner that is specific as to breed. In other words, no city is allowed to make Presa Canarios, Rottweilers or pit bulls "against the law." In fact, cities are not allowed to regulate those dogs in any way whatsoever, unless the regulation applies to all dogs. (See California's prohibition against laws based on breed.)
You might wonder why it is illegal to own a goat or a chicken in a crowded city, but perfectly fine to own a man-eating dog! It makes absolutely no sense. In fact, the laws that makes breed specific legislation illegal are not only illogical, but also hypocritical. The ban against breed specific legislation can hurt dog owners by making it seem legal to own any kind of dog they want, in any setting. Society seems to say to prospective dog owners, "go ahead and get any dog you want." However, if something happens because that dog was inappropriate, then society may put the dog owner in jail -- possibly for life. The prosecution of Knoller and Noel for the horrific mauling of Diane Whipple was a breed specific prosecution. Quite correctly, the prosecutors showed that the breed of dog that killed Whipple was dangerous and totally inappropriate for a crowded apartment building in a crowded city. However, is it fair to keep cities from regulating the kinds of breeds that people keep, and yet allow prosecutors to throw the book at people who keep giant, cattle herding dogs like Presa Canarios in their apartments? If breed specific prosecutions are legal -- and they certainly should be! -- then breed specific regulations also should be legal.
At some point, the laws against breed specific legislation should be repealed or at least revised, so that the bigger, more powerful dogs can, like goats and chickens and a host of entirely benign animals, be banned from or restricted in a reasonable manner. This does not necessarily mean that existing dogs need to be killed, or even that the dangerous breeds need to be entirely eradicated. The new laws should do any or all of the things set forth in Preventing Dog Bites: Keep Certain High-Risk Dogs Away From the Wrong People, Places and Situations.
Argument in support of breed bans
There is a large and growing group that says, "ban pit bulls and their closely related breeds." This group of advocates is diverse and respected, and it even includes Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). They see the pit bull as overly dangerous and overly abused by mankind. The danger of pit bulls and Rottweilers is well established, in that they account for 75% of all reported canine-inflicted human deaths in the past two decades. It is undisputed that pit bulls in particular are the most abused dog in the USA created for the specific purpose of violence, the dogs are treated cruelly to make them as dangerous as possible, and are routinely abandoned when they are not vicious enough for their evil masters.
The case for banning pit bulls has grown more convincing as each year goes by. In 2017, the USA death count from pit bulls was 29 direct deaths plus 9 additional deaths in which a pit bull attack was a contributing cause of death (for example, a man fought off a pit bull attack and died of a heart attack just minutes later). Unlike the breeders of Doberman Pinschers during the 1970's, the proponents of pit bulls have taken no steps to improve the dogs, preferring to spread misinformation about them and about the mutilations and killings that they cause. An article by Colleen Lynn in the Orlando Sentinel convincingly argued that "Banning pit bulls saves lives and protects the innocent."
There are three articles that present very well the argument in support of breed bans. The first is by an attorney who won the famous Denver breed ban case. The City of Denver passed a breed ban against pit bulls which the State of Colorado attempted to overturn. The State lost in court because the City produced the evidence that pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs. The story of that case, and a review of that evidence, is contained in Nelson K. One City's Experience - Why Pit Bulls Are More Dangerous and Breed-Specific Legislation is Justified. Muni Lawyer, July/August 2005, Vol. 46, No. 4.
The second is an article that considered the problem from a humane standpoint. The following rationale for banning pit bulls appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on June 8, 2005. It was written by Ingrid Newkirk, the president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the author of "Making Kind Choices" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2005).
Controlling an animal as deadly as a weapon-- Ingrid Newkirk
Most people have no idea that at many animal shelters across the country, any pit bull that comes through the front door doesn't go out the back door alive. From California to New York, many shelters have enacted policies requiring the automatic destruction of the huge and ever-growing number of "pits" they encounter. This news shocks and outrages the compassionate dog-lover.
Here's another shocker: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the very organization that is trying to get you to denounce the killing of chickens for the table, foxes for fur or frogs for dissection, supports the shelters' pit-bull policy, albeit with reluctance. We further encourage a ban on breeding pit bulls.
The pit bull's ancestor, the Staffordshire terrier, is a human concoction, bred in my native England, I'm ashamed to say, as a weapon. These dogs were designed specifically to fight other animals and kill them, for sport. Hence the barrel chest, the thick hammer-like head, the strong jaws, the perseverance and the stamina. Pits can take down a bull weighing in at over a thousand pounds, so a human being a tenth of that weight can easily be seriously hurt or killed.
Pit bulls are perhaps the most abused dogs on the planet. These days, they are kept for protection by almost every drug dealer and pimp in every major city and beyond. You can drive into any depressed area and see them being used as cheap burglar alarms, wearing heavy logging chains around their necks (they easily break regular collars and harnesses), attached to a stake or metal drum or rundown doghouse without a floor and with holes in the roof. Bored juveniles sic them on cats, neighbors' small dogs and even children.
In the PETA office, we have a file drawer chock-full of accounts of attacks in which these ill-treated dogs with names like "Murder" and "Homicide" have torn the faces and fingers off infants and even police officers trying to serve warrants. Before I co-founded PETA, I served as the chief of animal-disease control and director of the animal shelter in the District of Columbia for many years. Over and over again, I waded into ugly situations and pulled pit bulls from people who beat and starved them, or chained them to metal drums as "guard" dogs, or trained them to attack people and other animals. It is this abuse, and the tragedy that comes from it, that motivates me.
Those who argue against a breeding ban and the shelter euthanasia policy for pit bulls are naive, as shown by the horrifying death of Nicholas Faibish, the San Francisco 12-year-old who was mauled by his family's pit bulls.
Tales like this abound. I have scars on my leg and arm from my own encounter with a pit. Many are loving and will kiss on sight, but many are unpredictable. An unpredictable Chihuahua is one thing, an unpredictable pit another.
People who genuinely care about dogs won't be affected by a ban on pit- bull breeding. They can go to the shelter and save one of the countless other breeds and lovable mutts sitting on death row. We can only stop killing pits if we stop creating new ones. Legislators, please take note.
The third is an article that presented the issue from the standpoint of "actuarial risk," meaning the risk of serioius harm posed by pit bulls in general. The editor of Animal People, Merritt Clifton, argued that for a number of reasons those who care about dogs need to take action against the continued breeding of pit bulls. See Bring breeders of high-risk dogs to heel, Merritt Clifton, Animal People, Jan-Feb 2004. This article is another convincing analysis of the need to enact breed specific laws that will effectively deal with the broad range of risks posed by pit bulls and their owners.
In June 2013, Chrysler agreed to recall 2.7 million Jeeps because in 14 years there have been at least 37 Jeep accidents that caused at least 51 deaths. Compare those numbers with deaths caused by pit bulls: in 7 years (half the number of years), pit bulls have killed 151 Americans (three times as many as those killed in Jeeps). There are those who believe that it is at least as important to fix the pit bull problem as it is to fix the Jeep problem.
Now, suppose a state enacted a law that prohibited Chrysler from recalling the Jeeps? We would decry such a law, but that is exactly what California and some other jurisdictions did when they prohibited breed specific laws which aimed at pit bulls (i.e., requiring that they be muzzled in public, or banning them entirely). To those who would point out that Jeeps have not been banned, the answer is that they were not banned because they can be fixed -- and so can pit bulls, which also can and should be "fixed" (i.e., neutered).
As journalist Merritt Clifton pointed out in the article cited above, "It is time to stop pretending that all dogs are created equal, and instead take the lead in seeking legislation which recognizes that some breeds are in fact enormously more dangerous than others--just as legislation recognizes that a puma or African lion or even a 20-pound bobcat must be regulated differently from a ten-pound tabby. This is what would be most fair to all dogs and all people who keep dogs."
Attorney Kenneth Phillips' journey from opposing breed bans to advocating the complete elimination of pit bulls
In January 2018, I created a video called "Do Not Adopt a Pit Bull" which was styled as a Super Bowl commercial. It started out with what seemed like a football crowd going wild over a "score" of 29-0, but quickly revealed that 29 was the number of Americans killed by pit bulls in 2017. It then pointed out that this breed killed the most children and family members, and concluded by warning, "Do Not Adopt a Pit Bull."
The video went viral in January 2018 and was seen over 8 million times. It was viewed not just on social media but also TV news broadcasts. It became newsworthy because a huge number of pit bull lovers protested it. They said it was unfair even though it accurately reported that this dog is the number one killer of people, children and family members.
The pit bull lobby's protest over "Do Not Adopt a Pit Bull" illustrates why I changed my mind about breed specific laws. Since the 1990's, my law practice has been entirely devoted to representing the families of people killed by dogs, and people who are disabled or disfigured because of a dog attack. I have seen with my own eyes that among dogs, pit bulls maul and kill the greatest number of people, cause the greatest amount of damage, and destroy the greatest number of other people's pets. I know these things because as a trial attorney I am required to present evidence to win my cases, including police reports, animal control records, medical information, autopsy findings, and the actual testimony of dog owners, witnesses, victims, police, animal control officers, doctors, animal behaviorists and other experts. I have extensively questioned pit bull owners, seen the wounds and looked into the faces of the dead. My conclusions have been confirmed by
For the past 20 years, I trusted that pit bull lovers would do what the Doberman and Rottweiler fanciers did, which was to breed the violence out of their dogs. I counted on the pit bull community to do the right thing to protect the breed as well as their own families, friends and neighbors. After all, it would be in their own best interests to do so. Therefore, trusting that the owners of these dogs would eventually solve the problem, I advocated against breed specific laws aimed at pit bull owners and the dogs themselves. I supported restrictions on who could own pit bulls and how they had to be maintained (meaning how they should be treated and what precautions to take around them).
Instead of doing the right thing, however, the pit bull crowd did exactly the opposite. They failed to take any measures to breed the violence out of the dog, bred literally millions of unwanted pit bulls per year which had to be euthanized at public expense, and maintained a campaign of misinformation about the breed which falsely proclaimed that the animal is safe around people, a "nanny dog" for children, and good with other animals. Each of those claims was the opposite of the truth. Among dogs, the pit bull is the number one killer of humans, number one killer of children, number one killer of pets, and number one killer of its owners, its owners' children, and its owners' parents. When it attacks, it usually attacks the people around it, not burglars.
Rather than choose to protect our communities, make the breed acceptably safe, and confirm that a free and ethical people can be trusted to make the right decisions without the necessity of restrictive new laws, the pit bull lobby has done absolutely nothing to correct the pit bull problem, but has made the problem bigger and worse every year.
It is not the case that every pit bull is vicious, of course, but that every one of them presents an intolerable risk of a person or pet's death, disfigurement or disability. Intolerable risk is why we have all but banned tobacco smoking even though only a small percentage of people die from it. Intolerable risk is why we banned the public from owning machine guns even though murdering someone with one of them would be the fault of the doer and not the machine gun itself. Intolerable risk is why products are recalled even when just a few children or adults are killed by them.
When I began writing Dog Bite Law 20 years ago, I took the position that breed specific laws were unreasonable, but the deceit and intransigence of the pit bull community in the USA, combined with the huge and annually rising number of dead and maimed Americans and cruelly slaughtered pets, has convinced me that the only solution to this horrific problem is to completely eliminate pit bulls -- to stop adopting them, stop breeding them, and make the breed extinct.
At the very least, restrictions must be placed on who can own a pit bull, how it must be maintained (i.e., muzzled, neutered and properly cared for), and the amount of damage that any one dog can do before it is confiscated and euthanized. If necessary, let people keep their pit bulls but outlaw further breeding of them. Let people keep pit bulls in their homes and walk them in public but never without muzzles. All pit bulls must be microchipped so we can identify and euthanize the vicious ones. No pit bulls should be adopted out of shelters humanely euthanize them because for the most part they are unwanted and too many have proved to be vicious. People who violate animal control laws must be prevented from owning pit bulls forever.
Additionally, courts and animal control departments which declare particular dogs to be vicious must be charged with euthanizing them instead of the current practice of sending them to other cities where they are likely to continue inflicting damage, or to private rescue groups which are free to adopt-out the dogs to unsuspecting families.
We cannot allow a shrill minority of misinformed or deceitful dog owners to prevent the enactment of long-overdue laws that will protect Americans from the unacceptable risks presented by pit bulls. For this reason, I ask all Americans to support restrictions on pit bulls now.
Additional information about pt bulls and breeds bans can be found at Daxtons Friends, Dogs Bite, and Awareness for Victims of Canine Attacks. Join in the ongoing discussion and get the latest news about dog attacks at the Dog Bite Law Group on Facebook.
Why People Love Pit Bulls
Friday, November 23, 2018 12:36:20 PM America/Los_Angeles
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘A dog is a man’s best friend,’ but Pitbull’s take this euphemism to a whole new level. Pits were created by breeding Bulldogs with Terriers in order to produce a dog possessing the agility of the terrier and the incredible strength of the Bull Dog. Until 1835, Pit Bulls gained increasing popularity in the United Kingdom for their strength in the popular sport known as dogfighting . After the ban, Pit Bulls played a prominent role in twentieth-century America as a catch dog for wild hogs and cattle. Due to their unique combination of agility and strength, Pit Bulls have been a popular choice amongst dog owners as a guard dog. They are also easy to potty train, ensuring housebreaking is a breeze. If you’re still on the fence as to whether or not you should invest in this amazing breed, listed are 10 reasons that may help make this decision a little easier.
Pit Bulls Are Wonderful With Children
Hands down, Pit Bulls make some of the best guard dogs. Many people envision Pit Bulls as being one of the fiercest dogs but few realize just how gentle these guys really are. If you raise your Pit from a young age, they are usually highly affectionate, meaning your children will always be safe around your family friend.
Pit Bulls Stay Healthy With Proper Care, Even If It’s Minimal
Pit Bulls are usually free from some of the genetic issues faced by other breeds. While it is certainly true that Pits have some genetic issues, like patellar luxation and hip dysplasia, these genetic issues are rare and usually not fatal.
Pit Bulls Want To Please Their Master
This is one of the reasons why Pit Bulls are easy to potty train, they are eager to please. When they do something wrong, once reprimanded, they will usually try to avoid it in the future. These types of dogs really crave the affection and attention of their owners and anything that may hinder that will not be something these pets would want. When potty training, using a dog potty or indoor dog grass for a certain period of time will usually help make this process simple and less messy.
Pit Bulls Are Not Lazy
If you’re an athletic person who lives for their morning jogs, then owning a Pit Bull will certainly enhance your life. These types of dogs love the outdoors and are very athletic by nature. Morning jogs or evening walks are encouraged when you own a Pit as these activities will not only keep you healthy and fit but also strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
Just Because They’re Fierce, Doesn ’t Mean They Don’t Like To Cuddle
Pit Bulls are known and bred for their strength and prowess, but few people know their dirty little secret….they love to cuddle! Even though Pit Bulls are athletic by nature, they also usually have a sedentary side which craves affection. Hugs and petting are a must with this dog.
Allergy Friendly Coat
Unlike other dogs, Pits aren ’t usually very furry creatures. Many who choose not to own a pet, do so for reasons oftentimes related to their physical health. For those will allergies, cats and dogs are typically out of the question. Although Pit Bulls do have fur, it isn’t excessive like a Chihuahua’s.
They Don’t Need Lots Of Grooming
For those people who find grooming a pain, Pit Bulls are perfect for you. One of the reasons Pitbull’s are people amongst most pet owners is that they are a breeze when it comes to grooming. Rarely do owners really even need to groom these types of dogs as their fur isn’t very thick or fuzzy.
Pit Bulls Are Just Downright Funny
Just like people, dogs have distinct personalities with Pit Bulls possessing some of the most rambunctious ones. Being a former owner, I can tell you how much these dogs love to play. Having plenty of backyard space to run around is a must with these breeds.
Pit Bulls Make The Cutest Puppies
Pit Bulls make some of the most adorable pets. Even when they don’t use the potty as they should. When you see their cute faces starting to pout, your heart will instantly melt, guaranteed. Regardless of this fact, pet potty and wee wee pad's are a wise investment for these pups.
Pit Bulls Have Been Rated Some Of The Best Baby Sitters
A recent news story broadcasted on WNDU out of Nebraska detailed a wonderful Pit Bull who actually protected a nine-year-old child during a home invasion. When the masked man entered the house, the nine-year-old child ran upstairs and called his trusty Pit Bull down to confront the masked man. Astonishingly, the Pit Bull, named Baby Girl, attacked the intruder and chased him out of the house.