Pitbulls - Threat or Menace? Our blind spot when it comes to this breed

Hardly a month goes by without some story about a child or elderly person being mauled by a pitbull. If it were alligators or ostriches, there's be laws passed banning them and everything would be done to exclude them from contact with people.

It wouldn't be "It's not the alligator (or ostrich) that's the problem, it's the owner."

But when a pitbull kills someone's toddler, dog lovers will say "It's not the pitbull, it's the owner that is the problem."

Well gee, that mental bumpersticker sounds great but it's something you say after a dog has done something horrific.

The dog owners who say that never really follow the platitude up with a proposed solution. Why? Because none of the obvious solutions are possible as long as people will blindly defend a breed that has the instincts and hair trigger reactions this breed has.

What would be the negative consequence of this breed disappearing from the face of the earth? And, please, let's remember it's only a breed—a very recent and artificial one—not a species. If every pitbull were replaced with an Irish Setter or Yorkie, even if they bit, a lot less damage would be done.

Another problem is that all too often, the worst elements of society seem attracted to this and some of the other large, aggressive breeds.

If you're willing to admit that we have a problem here, what is your solution?

Tags: dogs, pitbulls, vicious

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Yes, the effective solution is never the one that first comes to mind.

Anyway, how about we don't take any pitbulls away, but just not allow any new ownership?

OR, how about this: require all pitbulls to be rendered toothless, or to have rubber choppers installed instead?

So, you want to starve them to death? 

How about the dozens of other breeds of dogs with stronger bites? Want to rip their teeth out too? 

Why not make it illegal for people with violent criminal records to own dogs? Or make it illegal for people convicted of animal cruelty crimes to own dogs? That'd be more effective. 

You are obsessed with bite strength, which is something I never addressed. My parents had a sheltie who lost all of its teeth eventually and believe me, it didn't starve to death.

IIRC brittany spaniels are the breed that is the most likely to bite someone. Besides, many dogs in these supposed 'pitbull' attack are not even pitbulls at all. Also, pitbulls are bred to be dog aggressive, and human non aggressive. If you have a dog fight between two pitbulls, it is perfectly acceptable to reach in and pry the dogs apart with your bare hands. With any other breed this is an incredibly stupid thing to do.

Once again, the change of subject. Read my original post. It was not about frequency. And you're right, pitbulls can be hell on other dogs, not to mention cats and small children.

I would ask anyone posting claims of stats to back it up and not blindly make claims. The idea that it takes years to make Pit Bulls aggressive is an emotional argument and not supported by facts. The facts are that the majority of all fatal dog attacks in the US are carried out by pits. Link for the record, there is only one retriever listed here and not one Golden. 

 

There are a host of dogs that shouldn't be owned by many people. I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Mine is frankly a puss of RR. He displays dominance as part of his play, but it's all show until someone calls him on it. So let me take on "my breed". The ridgeback should not be owned by everyone. I know a lady that owned one that attacked her while she was driving her car. Later it attacked a child. The reality is that she wasn't dominant. Some breeds need dominant owners. I embarrassed myself recently at a dog park over a non-dominant ridgeback owner whom asked his dog if it was "playing" after it charged and attacked mine from 50 feet away. It stopped because I was charging it, then the owner. (All three of their dogs regularly attack other dogs and I lost it finally.) So if you have a Akita, Pit, Ridgeback, Cane Corso, American Bulldog (and many more) you should be dominant and understand dogs quite well to begin with before you even consider the breed. Maybe even licensed owners is a good solution? 

 

You don't hear of these other dangerous breeds being a problem due to price. Pits are quite often free. Try finding a free Ridgeback outside of a Rescue Site. Try finding a Rescue Site to give you one without having had one before. So when you take the time to decide to spend $1600 on a dog, you may have even read a book on them. Pit's are cute and plentiful which leads to the snap decision to get one. If you end up with a dominant one, and you don't take the time to learn, then we have trouble. So I agree with it being the owners, but the breed is dangerous inherently. It may be that it's only 3% or less, but it's clearly there. That doesn't mean that I don't love them and think that they can't be one of the best dogs in the world too. But regulation of breeding and ownership may be a middle ground solution.

 

Dogs are dogs no matter what. If we were to come up with a solution for the big dogs that are aggressive, it should apply to the little dogs too. Just because they can't maul a person to death, doesn't mean that they don't bite or dangerously cause kids to run away and potentially into traffic or knock old people down. The only dog I've called the cops on was a Chihuahua. All dogs are the same and should be treated the same. My neighbors Dachsund should be listed as a dangerous dog. If we are to set a standard, it should apply to all dogs. 

 

I'm all for moving past emotional arguments defending dangerous breeds. Pose some solutions. I'm not for ending the breed because it won't be long until the next breed is at the top of the list and up for extermination. I would be for a training class on dogs and dog behavior. Not some silly Petco training, but a real understanding of how dogs think and view the world so that you can see behaviors developing and have ideas about how to quash it. While it would be good for all breeds, it would be most effective with the breeds that are inherently more prone to full aggression as a requirement prior to ownership. 

Your link says that there are 20-30 or so dog attack fatalities per year. Even if all of them were pitbulls, that is still an incredibly small percentage of pitbulls that have killed someone. There are probably several million if not tens of million pitbulls in the country.

 

Assuming a minimum of a million pitbulls(311m population, one pitbull for every ~300 people) in the country, and a maximum of 40 pitbull deaths a year (higher than any year on the wikipedia page for all dog fatalities) any pitbull has a 4e^-5% chance of killing someone. That is about a 0.02% chance. I don't have any stats, but I'm sure many day to day things most people do are more dangerous than that.

 

So 20-30 fatalities a year is an acceptable tradeoff.

30 lives vs. millions is an acceptable tradeoff.

Because...?

What do we do? Extermination for every breed that has ever killed a person? Do we extend that to other species? Extinction for wildcats?  Wolves? Hippos? Hippos kill nearly 3,000 people per year. Should we outlaw Automobiles?  Those cause millions of deaths every year. 

My point is simple. You are suggesting an overkill response. 

Most of those other species belong where they are. A dog is an artificial wolf. Which reminds me: let's not forget that every "breed" is artificial. Let's also remember that breeds aren't species. Wiping out a breed isn't exactly like wiping out an endangered species. What is it about one particular breed that makes keeping it essential. We lived for centuries without pitbulls, and when they came along it was for something shameful.

Did you know that breeding has pretty much not been good for dogs? The inbreeding required has left almost every breed with a high rate of serious health issues ranging from hip dysplasia to blindness to an inability to deliver pups normally, requiring caesarean births in most cases, in some breeds.

Why can't we just learn to love generic dogs?

Working dogs at least have a purpose. A pitbull's purpose is now illegal.

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