A quick search of dog bites on the Internet will yield a query full of incidents where a dog has attacked a person, another dog, and many times a child.
A large percentage of those stories report that the attacks were carried out by a pit bull.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and a bite is described as one that breaks the skin.
Of those 4.5 million bites, 885,000 require medical attention.
On Saturday evening a 4-year-old Newhall boy was attacked by a pit bull and suffered severe bites to the rear scalp area of the boy’s head.
To read the full story click here.
As you dive into the statistics they repeatedly cast a negative light on the Pit Bull breed, also known as American Pit Bull Terrier.
The dogs are a cross between a Bulldog and an English Terrier. Bulldogs were bred in England in the 1800s for the purpose of baiting bulls, a sport where dogs are trained to fight bulls and bait them or subdue them by latching onto their snouts.
According to the American Kennel Club the Bulldogs of the 1800’s resembled the pit bulls of today, describing them as agile, tenacious and courageous.
It is because of these characteristics dog fighters sought and exploited Pit Bulls, which has led to their vicious reputation.
According to dogbites.org in 2009 there were 32 fatal dog attacks in the U.S with 14 of them involving pit bulls.
One of the main components of the fear surrounding pit bulls is their bite.
They are described as having enormous jaw strength, as well as a “hold and shake” bite style.
These dogs may have a reputation for being vicious and in some cases “blood hungry,” but many owners report that pit bulls are the most loving and compassionate dogs they have owned.
The majority of dogs that attack people are often neglected, abused, or trained to fight.
“Almost all dogs kept for fighting are kept chained. Isolated and deprived, untrained and driven to frustration, chained dogs can become aggressive and dangerous,” according to humanesociety.org.
That organization is striving to change the perception the public has about these dogs and fight against the people who breed and train pit bulls to fight.
Another organization that strives to help change the stigma of these dogs and help those that have been neglected, abused or abandoned is Villalobos Rescue Center in Agua Dulce.
The center currently has more then 150 pit bulls, which they have rescued.
“Pit Bulls were originally bred to be nanny dogs, they took care of the kids,” said Tia Torres, Founder of VRC. “These dogs are human friendly but can be animal aggressive.”
The VRC has been rescuing pit bulls since 1993, and recently was picked up for a reality TV show on Animal Planet called “Pit Bulls and Parolees.”
Torres says before the show the center averaged one adoption a month but now they average between 5-10.
When asked about the views that all pit bulls should be euthanized she said that it’s like saying that all Catholic priests are pedophiles.
“It’s just ignorance. Do I think everyone should be saved? No. I’ve euthanized them [pit bulls] for bad temperament,” said Torres. “My children and I have never been bitten or attacked, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.”
The CDC offers these tips for preventing dog bites:
- Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn what breeds of dogs are the best fit for your household.
- Dogs with histories of aggression are not suitable for households with children.
- Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog. If a child seems frightened by dogs, wait before bringing a dog into your household.
- Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a household with an infant or toddler.
If you decide to bring a dog into your home:
- Spay/neuter your dog (this often reduces aggressive tendencies).
- Never leave infants or young children alone with a dog.
- Don’t play aggressive games with your dog (e.g., wrestling).
- Properly socialize and train any dog entering your household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g., rolling over to expose the abdomen and giving up food without growling).
- Immediately seek professional advice (e.g., from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.
To learn more about the Villalobos Rescue Center and how you can adopt one of these animals click here.
To Learn more about the Humane Society’s efforts to protect these animals click here.