Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pit Bull Education 3

I have a small quiz for you to start off this blog. Now don't get upset, this will be fun I promise! Go to: and find the pit bull. (Or look at the photo on the left.) There is only one, and all of the dogs are pure breeds who's photos have been taken from breeder websites, and therefore should be an accurate representation of the breed. Take your time, I'll wait............................
Think you know? It's number 16. Yep, that's right 16. Don't feel bad if you didn't guess right, I have given this quiz to shelter staff and volunteers and they guess wrong too. So what does this tell us about dog bites or attacks? Do you think it's possible that maybe the person being attacked or an eye witness might have seen one of the other dogs listed here, or a mix there of? Of course it is. But they always seem to report the dog to be what? A pit bull. More on this and what it means for bite statistics later...
Right now I would like to talk about a subject that is very near and dear to my heart: Responsible Ownership. Being a responsible pet owner is important no matter what breed of dog you have, but it is especially critical for pit bull parents.
How about another little game to help get my point across? Let's play a little Fact or Fiction! OK here we go: Fact or Fiction: Pit Bulls have locking Jaws...................Fiction! There is no special mechanism that allows a pit bull to lock their jaws.
Fact or Fiction: A Pit Bull's biting power measures in at 1000psi...........................Fiction! It's more like 350, witch is actually LESS than a German Shepherd and Rottweiler.
Fact or Fiction: Pit Bulls are time bombs that turn on their owners.............................Fiction! No SPAYED or NEUTERED FAMILY pit bull has ever attacked anyone.
Fact or Fiction: Pit Bulls attack without warning...................................Fiction! All dogs give us the signs we just fail to read them.
OK last one: Pit Bulls are more dangerous than other dogs.............................Fiction! Any dog is only as dangerous as their owners allow them to be.
Alright, now onto the aforementined bite statistics. Basically, they are completely un-reliable. As mentioned above, the victim ID's the breed. We've already exposed how accurate that is, and just to illustrate my point further, let me share this story with you: A friend of mine, who is a wonderful pit bull daddy and fire fighter, was called out to a dog bite one day during his shift. The victim said that the dog that bit him was a pit bull that lived in a house down the block. When my friend arrived at the home, he found the dog to be a pure bred German Shepherd! If the breeds are left un-verified they unfairly get reported as pit bulls. It is also important to remember that there is no national dog bite database and only REPORTED bites are recorded by the CDC. So what about all the other bites out there like provoked bites such as when the poodle bites her groomer? Or what about the kid who gets bit by the dog at the end of a chain whom he's provoked every day on his way home from school? Is it really the dogs fault? Shouldn't the blame lie elsewhere like on the dog's owner for chaining him or the kid's parents for not teaching him how to treat dog? Or the kid himself?
Remember that people can make numbers say anything they want, and one should always ask questions. For example: What percentage of dogs in the given community are pit bulls? And what percentage DON'T bite? (If the percentage of pits in a community is high it would follow that they would be involved in more bites, but this does not mean that they are more dangerous. Think of it this way, is a Ford Focus more crash-prone than a Bentley, or is it just that there are more Focus's on the road?)
Enforcement of dog bite laws is yet another thing that is lacking. Each city/county can decide for themselves how to handle these situations. Some have severe penalties and others little to none. Most punish the dogs and do little in the way of disciplining the owners who allowed the incident to occur. If we simply enforced leash laws with stiff financial penalties, dog bite numbers would drop dramatically. How many dog bites occur ON leash? Not many. So start handing out hefty tickets like candy. (Hitting people in their pocket books will tend to get their attention!)
In the end, it always seems to come back to one theme.....responsibility.
Please join me next time as we cover BLS and Pit Bulls in the media!

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