Recently, there was another vicious attack by a Pit Bull that sent a man to the hospital where he underwent surgery to repair the damage. I do not have all the facts of the attack, but regardless, this is yet another incident of a Pit Bull turning on an adult or child and causing serious injury or death. The difference is this time the victim was someone I know, and that hits too close to home for comfort. Such attacks are all too common in the United States, but when the cry goes up against Pit Bulls and the danger they represent, supporters of these animals jump to their defense claiming the fault lies with the person who was attacked and not with the dog. The American Pit Bull Foundation claims Pit Bull attacks are the result of human neglect or abuse, and when treated kindly and respectfully, Pit Bulls are no more dangerous or prone to maul or kill than any other breed of dog. They say responsible dog ownership is the key to reducing vicious attacks by any dog. I agree responsible dog ownership is important, but between 2005 and 2017, Pit Bulls accounted for over 70% of all dog attacks resulting in a human fatality; therefore, it is time common sense prevailed and something was done to protect people from these animals.
There is no question there are dog owners who neglect and abuse their dog causing the animal to lash out, but there are times when Pit Bulls turn on people who were basically in the wrong place at the wrong time. Animal abusers should be punished severely, and maybe they are getting their just reward when the animal turns on them, but what about children and innocent people who have done nothing intentional to provoke the dog when it attacks? Is a child getting his just reward when he playfully pulls on a Pit Bull’s ear or plays with the dog too roughly and the dog attacks? Does a child who accidentally steps on a Pit Bull’s foot and causes the dog pain deserve to be mauled and have his face ripped off? Does a mail carrier or meter reader doing his job deserve to be hospitalized with life threatening injuries because he unknowingly ventured into a Pit Bull’s territory? I think not even though proponents for these dogs will never concede the dog was not provoked and the human was not at fault.
I agree humans (adults and children) sometimes do foolish and stupid things. That is why society has created safety laws/regulations that require people to wear seat belts, warning labels are placed on lawn mowers warning users not to insert a hand or foot in the discharge shoot, and regulations are passed into law that require motorists to stop at railway crossings. These laws/regulations are there for a purpose – to keep people safe. People are human; they make mistakes – they drive too fast, they clean clogged grass from lawnmowers with the engine running, and they get in a hurry and race trains to the crossing. By nature, they are careless, neglectful, and at times down right stupid. That is why there are rules, regulations, and guidelines, to keep people safe from themselves as well as others. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume human beings may indeed sometimes be guilty of lack of care and common sense when handling Pit Bulls or other animals, but isn’t it equally reasonable to assume there should be laws to protect people from potentially dangerous animals that pose a threat to human well-being? When it comes to Pit Bulls, where are the regulations to keep these aggressively bred animals away from innocent children and unsuspecting adults? Why do we allow people to be maimed or killed with regularity by an animal that is descended from the English bull-baiting dog that was bred to use its powerful jaws to bite and hold bulls and bears around the face and head?
Aggression is in the DNA of the Pit Bull! The animal was bred to fight and kill; it was not bred as a lap dog or companion dog. Strict regulations are needed for an animal, that to this day, can turn aggressive at the drop of a hat and instinctively clamp it jaws around the face of a child or adult and literally shake and rip skin into shreds while crushing bones. Regulation of such killing machines to keep people alive and well is not over-bearing government; it is common sense.
Some will say I am being overly dramatic, and I am giving Pit Bulls a bad rap. They will say the Pit Bull is a great, friendly, loving family pet, and to some extent, they may be right – until the animal turns on a member of the family or a neighbor. It should be common sense that such animals have no business sharing space with people, especially children, but unfortunately too many people do not think that way. They think of their Pit Bull as a valued friend, a personal bodyguard, and a member of the family that would never hurt anyone; however, let’s look at the facts:
- The April 2011 issue of Annals of Surgery warned children with a Pit Bull in the home are at the highest risk of injury or fatality. The report recommended “these breeds (Pit Bulls) should be regulated in the same way in which other dangerous species, such as leopards, are regulated;”
- Unlike most dogs, Pit Bulls may not give a warning such as growling before attacking. Also, unlike most dogs, they are not likely to back down once engaged in an attack. They are bred to kill or fight to the death;
- The United States Army acknowledges Pit Bulls are high-risk dogs, and prohibit these dogs in many military housing units;
- Pit Bulls consistently rank at the top of fatal dog attack lists. Pit Bulls make up 6% of the dog population, but they are responsible for 68% of all dog attacks and 71% of dog-related deaths. The viciousness of this animal can be seen in the following breakdown – Human Fatalities by Dog Breed: 2005 – 2017:
- Pit Bull 284
- Rottweiler 45
- German Shepherd 20
- Mixed Breed 17
- American Bulldog 15
- Mastiff/Bull-mastiff 14
- Husky 3
- From 2005 to 2017, Pit Bulls killed one American every 16.7 days while Rottweilers were second killing one American every 105 days; and
- 50 countries regulate Pit Bulls as a dangerous dog breed. In 39 of those countries, the regulation is a national-level law.
Although Pit Bulls are beautiful animals that appear loving and social, the evidence supports they are a dangerous threat to human limb and life, especially young children. Denying this reality will not make these dogs any less dangerous or threatening. There are those who will continue to argue the problem is with people, not Pit Bulls, and though there is truth to their argument, that truth does not negate the facts that these animals are a potential lethal risk to children, neighbors, and anyone who comes into contact with them – even owners. Therefore, is the ever-present possibility of a Pit Bull in the home mauling or killing a loved one worth the risk of ownership? For a reasonable and prudent individual, I would think the answer would be NO, but sensibility is a human trait that often defies all logic. However, regardless of the school of thought a person may embrace, the reality is Pit Bulls are dangerous, and ownership should be strictly regulated or maybe even denied completely.
©Jack Linton, March 19, 2019