Pit bulls versus everybody. Should they be banned?

The 4-year-old boy was pulled from his mother’s arms last month by four pit bulls, dragged under a fence and fatally mauled. About a week later, a young woman was said to commit “suicide by dog” after entering a yard holding a pit bull with puppies.

Then this month, another terrifying incident: A 60-pound pit bull tore from its leash, knocking over a 67-year-old man walking his small Havanese mix in Washington Township, leaving both man and dog with bite injuries.

The savage attacks have reignited a roiling debate over efforts in some communities to regulate or even ban the breed. Meanwhile, a bill in Lansing that would strike down local pit bull laws across the state awaits a vote by the legislature. Scientists, animal lovers and experts can be found on both sides of the debate, in Michigan and across the nation.

After the death of 4-year-old Xavier Strickland of Detroit, Detroit’s City Council announced it is reviewing its vicious dog ordinance. Detroit is not considering a ban on pit bulls ‒ a breed that is wildly popular in the city. But at least two dozen other Michigan municipalities have “breed-specific legislation” or rules that ban or restrict pit bull ownership, according to a list maintained by a group that advocates for victims of serious and fatal dog attacks, Dogsbite.org.

Michigan already has a state law against vicious dogs, but some victims of pit bull attacks and their supporters want Michigan to ban pit bulls specifically.

In a debate that can sometimes echo the back-and-forth over gun control, those who love or rescue pit bulls, argue that it’s not the breed that is dangerous, it’s the people who raise them. Among pit bull defenders, what’s needed are stronger laws aimed at malicious owners.

Count state Sen. Dave Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, among those who believe that pit bulls are unfairly shouldering the blame for bad owners.

Robertson said he sponsored Senate Bill 239, which would prevent local goverments from banning specific dog breeds to shift the focus to dog owners. The bill was pushed by pit bull rescuers and animal rights groups months before the recent maulings. It passed the Senate in October and awaits a vote in the House.

“I want to put the onus where it properly belongs,” Robertson said, “on the human being who is responsible for the animal and how it is socialized or not socialized.” He said that instead of banning specific breeds, cities are better off passing laws that ensure owners take the right steps to house, register and control their pets.

Victims’ groups consider bans on pit bulls a common sense solution and bills like Robertson’s a threat to public safety.

“It is a matter of who we value more – dogs or people,” said Mia Johnson, a founding member of National Pit Bull Victim Awareness.

Fence, neuter, ban

Michigan’s vicious dog law says that if a dog fits the legal definition of “vicious” it can be killed or confined to the premises of the owner, who could also face costs for damages.

Across Michigan, about two dozen local breed-specific ordinances go further. They use a variety of restrictions to specifically take the bite out of pit bulls.

These laws often restrict or ban the American Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier, as defined by the American Kennel Club or United Kennel Club – or any mixed breed commonly identified as a pit bull.

The towns of Buena Vista and Morenci, for example, consider all pit bulls to fit the definition of “vicious.” In Saginaw, pit bulls are among five dogs deemed “dangerous.” Ypsilanti requires pit bull owners to spay or neuter their dog. And in Dearborn Heights, owners must get the dog injected with an identification microchip and provide two color photos to the city clerk.

At least 14 local laws in Michigan ban the pit bull – or any mix thereof – altogether.
In communities where pit bulls are banned, it is typically up to the owner to remove the animal or show their pet isn’t truly a pit bull, a requirement that some owners say is difficult (and expensive) to prove.

In southwest Michigan, Hartford, population 2,688, avoids pit bull problems by banning pit bulls, said Yemi Akinwale, the city manager.

In Grosse Pointe Woods, which also has a ban, Mayor Robert Novitke said the decision to regulate dog breeds should be left under local control. While Novitke opposes Robertson’s ban on bans, the city council in Grosse Pointe Woods is set to review its pit bull ban after a resident with a pit bull inquired about the law.

“I think you have the general welfare of the community to take into account and we know our communities better than the state of Michigan,” Novitke said of his support for local control of the issue.

Dispute over effectiveness of bans

Experts are split on the wisdom and effectiveness of breed-specific legislation.

National Pit Bull Victim Awareness is a coalition of more than 50 groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, that backs regulations specific to pit bulls.

“We are not talking about the right to own or not own these dogs,” Johnson said. “We are concerned with measures that increase public safety, much as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has done about drunk driving.”

A 2011 legal analysis by a group at the Michigan State University College of Law, noted that breed specific laws are controversial because many people consider pets more like family than property. The analysis said, however, that such laws are usually upheld in court if they provide “clear breed definitions, clear descriptions of regulated conduct” and offer pet owners “an opportunity for a hearing.”

Those who oppose breed-specific laws have some powerful organizations on their side.

The American Bar Association is against such laws, as are the National Animal Control Officers Association, National Veterinary Medicine Association and the Michigan Humane Society.

The White House also opposes these laws, saying they are largely ineffective and pointing out the Centers for Disease Control “noted that the types of people who look to exploit dogs aren't deterred by breed regulations - when their communities establish a ban, these people just seek out new, unregulated breeds.”

In past generations, German shepherds, doberman pinschers and rottweilers have all had a turn at having the worst reputations, though arguably, no other dog has been blamed for as many deaths as pit bulls.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has tracked bites by breed and reported that in cases of very severe injuries or deaths, pit bull-type dogs are more frequently involved, the data showed.

The veterinary association, however, also concludes that breed-specific laws do not work, and are in any event difficult to enforce.

Bad dog or bad owner

The pit bull may well be the only dog with organizations formed both to ban it and save it.

Pit bull detractors, including victims’ rights groups, say that aggression is to pit bulls what hunting is to hounds – instinctual and inbred.

By some estimates, pit bull maulings occur at a rate of about 20 deaths per year nationwide: the group Dogsbite.org estimates that pit bulls were responsible for 203 deaths in the nation from 2005 to 2014. In 2014 alone, Dogsbite collected data on 42 fatalities, and the group says pit bulls contributed to 64 percent (27) of those deaths.

But some experts say such statistics don’t always tell the whole story.

Maria Iliopoulou, a veterinarian and researcher at Michigan State University, said five to seven factors related to environment and nurturing can determine whether a dog will be dangerous, not just breed.

“Dogs are individuals,” she said. The pit bull’s reputation for violence results from people who want a strong dog for nefarious intentions or owners who do not properly socialize their pets. “It’s a human problem, not an animal problem,” Iliopoulou said.

Melissa Miller, director for Detroit Animal Control, says people shouldn’t necessarily trust statistics on bites and maulings. The numbers could be skewed because bigger dogs are stronger and their bites may require medical attention more often whereas a nip by a Yorkie may not be reported, she said. Miller said she believes pit bulls get a bad rap.

She estimates there are about 143,000 dogs in Detroit and the number of pit bulls is high. On any given day, she said, Animal Control houses about 200 dogs and about half look like pit bulls or mixes. Of those, several that are not thriving are euthanized daily to make space for more.

The trouble with pit bull bans, she said, is that pit bulls look like at least a dozen other breeds and can be hard to identify - even for trained animal control officers. Those claims are echoed by the Michigan Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The most dangerous dog in the world is any large, male, unneutered dog that spends most of its life chained up, Miller said.

According to PETA, pit bulls are abused more than any other dog in America. The group supports spaying and neutering all pit bulls and wants breeding to be banned for as long as pit bulls are overrepresented in shelters. Tens of thousands of pit bulls are euthanized each year because they outnumber all other breeds, according to PETA.

Dogged history

Actually, experts say, there’s no such dog as a pit bull. The term refers to dogs from three breeds – the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier and Staffordshire Bull Terrier – or any dog that is a mix of one of them.

The dog commonly known as a pit bull has over the past generation become one of the most popular guard dogs in big cities, the pooch of choice for dog fighters and wanna-be tough guys who use it to promote a certain image.

Never mind that pit bulls were once used in ads to sell Buster Brown shoes and the RCA Victrola, or that The Little Rascals, Helen Keller and President Theodore Roosevelt had them as pets. The dog in the 1983 movie, “Flashdance?” Pit bull. Three-legged dog on “Parks and Rec” – pit bull.

The pit bull is descended from English bulldogs was used in the middle ages in Rome to bait and fight bulls. When bull baiting was outlawed in the 1800s in Europe as too horrific for public entertainment, the dog was crossed with a terrier to create a more agile dog. The offshoot was used to fight other dogs in pits – hence the name. Less aggressive dogs were often killed. While the dogs with gameness, or a fight-to-the-death temperament, were bred to make more fighters.

And it continues.

On Jan. 9, police arrested 11 people and removed five pit bulls from a house in Pontiac where dog fighting was suspected. Some of those arrested had traveled as far as three hours to the home.

Defending pit bulls

Walking into the small building that houses the Michigan Pit Bull Education Project in White Lake Charter Township recently was like wading into a puddle of puppies. The five blue-eyed, grey puppies that Terry Hodskins, the founder of the group, was caring for wiggled in unison, grabbing at shoe strings.

The pups were homeless, the result of an unexpected pregnancy. The former owners did not get their two dogs fixed because nobody expected them to ever be able to mate, Hodskins said.

The pups’ mom is a pit bull. Somehow, the dad is a Chihuahua.

“I’ve had people say we should call them chit bulls. Or chihua pits,” Hodskins joked.

Hodskins owns five pit bulls and has rescued at least 500 over the past decade. When pit bulls are left at the Oakland County shelter, they ‒ and other large, strong dogs such as rottweilers ‒ are considered not adoptable. So the shelter calls Hodskins to find pit bulls a home.

Hodskins has spent years trying to show people that pit bulls are unfairly stigmatized. It took her a long time to voice this comparison out loud, but she stands by it. To her mind, pit bulls are discriminated against just as African-American men are ‒ by people and officials who do not care to get to know the truth about them.

“If pit bulls are banned, will neglect end?” she asks. “Hell no. (Neglectful owners) are just going to go to another breed.”

Mistaken identity

Fresh out of the hospital from a bout with cancer, Marilena Gahman had to go to court in Waterford last summer wearing a hospital mask and gloves to answer a citation. The city was trying to force her to get rid of her two dogs ‒ a 62-pound female named Naya and a 73-pound male named Second Chance. A neighbor had told cops the dogs were pit bulls. Waterford’s ordinance says dogs that are predominantly pit bull are banned.

She argued the dogs weren’t pit bulls and was told to go to a veterinarian suggested by the city to prove it. The vet agreed that the female dog wasn’t a pit bull, but said the male looked like one and had to go. It took six months, a DNA test and about $500 for Gahman to prove that Second Chance, who she found wandering the streets, was a legal Waterford resident. Though he had an American Staffordshire terrier as a grandparent, he was not “predominantly pit bull.”

Help me, Ma

Days before Christmas, the judge in crime-scarred Detroit cried from the bench as she listened to Xavier Strickland’s mother describe the boy’s final moments.

The child screamed, “Help me, Ma,” as Lucille Strickland, hysterical, screamed for help, she testified. After the boy died, some 90 bite marks were identified on his body.

The dogs’ owner, Geneke Lyons, 41, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and possessing dangerous animals causing death.

Lyons is expected to go on trial in May.

And few people doubt that his pit bulls will be on trial right along with him.

About The Author

Chastity Pratt Dawsey

Chastity Pratt Dawsey is a Bridge staff writer, concentrating mainly on Detroit issues. She can be reached at cpratt@bridgemi.com

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Comments

Deena
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 9:47am
I agree that what happened to Xavier Strickland is tragic, however banning a single breed, or set of breeds, will not eradicate the problem. It was not that long ago that the jogger in Metamora Township was killed by Cane Corsos. Several years ago, I was badly attacked by a black lab. There needs to be more responsibility placed on the owner, and perhaps better education about dog ownership.
Dave T
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:14am
Deena, So if that's your opinion, can we build a case for more training of parents who own children who become criminals. Should we jail the parents?
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:32pm
Pit bulls vs Labs To really understand the dangers of pitbulls, compare them to other dogs. Compare type to type. Specifically, retriever type dogs to pitbull type dogs. The reason I am comparing retriever TYPE verses pitbull type is because those two dog types are both capable of killing and are roughly in the same size ranges. Retrievers are the most popular and most numerous type of medium-large dog in America and have been for over 10 years straight, so you can't say the high death toll from pitbulls is because there are more pitbulls. Retrievers far outnumber pitbulls. There aren't more pitbulls than retrievers, so the significant difference in the human death rate from pitbull attacks CAN'T be blamed on there being a higher numbers of pitbulls. Comparing retriever types and pitbull types also covers the same number of breeds when talking about the LEGAL definition of the word pitbull. retriever types (includes mix) : 1. Labrador retriever 2. Golden retriever 3. Curly Coated retriever 4. Flat Coated retriever 5. Nova Scotia Duck Tolling retriever 6.Chesapeake Bay retriever vs. legally defined pitbull types (includes mix) : 1. APBT (registered) 2. American Staffordshire terr. 3. Staffordshire Bull terr. 4. American Bully 5. American Bulldog 6. pitbulls that aren't registered When comparing the death rate for retrievers and pitbulls it is a big eye opener for people to find out that pitbulls killed 27 American people last year (2014) AND pitbulls have killed 13 people so far this year (2015), yet there currently isn't even a single documented US death from retrievers last year (2014), nor has there been a death from a retriever this year thus far. For the last 5+ years in America, pitbulls have been averaging around two deaths PER MONTH. You'd have to GO BACK SEVERAL YEARS to find even two TOTAL US deaths from retrievers. To me, the differences in those dog type comparisons are significant and shocking to think about. There's no denying that something is wrong with pitbulls. It's the breed. And it can't be just the "bad owner" excuse because PLENTY of retrievers are abused and neglected. Yet, they RARELY kill. Pitbulls have consistently killed in ranges of 22-27 American people for the last 5 years. It's the breed. If it were mostly a matter of bad owners, then racing Greyhounds would be commonly killing people because they are frequently abused and neglected. Greyhounds are good sized dogs, VERY muscular with capable jaws, and if they wanted, Greyhounds could certainly kill a human. During their racing career, they spend much of their spare time kenneled, sometimes even in small 3x4x3 crates, and are not well socialized to things other than the other racing dogs. Racing Greyhounds chase lures their entire career, having their already high prey drives even more enhanced, so that alone should cause them to be involved with frequent animal attacks leading to human fatalities, yet it is almost unheard of for a Greyhound to kill a human. Matter of fact, If you can find even a single (documented) case of a Greyhound killing someone in North America, please let me know. I searched and I couldn't find ANY deaths in North America due to Greyhounds. Compare that to the predictability at which pitbulls kill humans. We can predict that 20+ American people will be killed by pitbulls this year because it has consistently happened for 5 years now. It's the breed. Some may say that the abuse suffered by pitbulls is worse than the abuse suffered by greyhounds, and I wouldn't argue against that, especially when it comes to dogfighting. BUT, I want to point out the FACT that MOST dog bite fatalities caused by pitbulls are from the family owned pits, NOT fighting dogs or dogs which are any way affiliated with dog fighting/guarding drugs. While I'd actually agree that the abuse from dog fighting is worse than the abuse from dog racing, that is actually a mute point because it ISN'T the dogfighting affiliated pitbulls which are so commonly killing people, it's the family PET pitbulls. The PET pit is turning on their owner/owner's family just as much as they are attacking a stranger. These family pits have NEVER been fought and never have they been trained to fight. MOST of these killer pits are well cared for. They aren't starved. They are loved. NO abuse. Maybe in some cases there is lack of socialization, but that goes right back to the racing Greyhound comparison. Many racing Greyhounds aren't well socialized, but they don't kill people due to the lack of it. http://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/greyhound-racing-faq http://www.aspca.org/fight-cruelty/abomination-greyhound-racing http://www.animal-rights-action.com/greyhound-dogs.html Comparison of human fatalities for pitbulls and retrievers over 10 year period in USA- 2014 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 27 retrievers- 0 2013 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 25 retrievers - 0 2012 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 23 retrievers - 1 2011 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 22 retrievers - 0 2010 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 22 retrievers - 0 2009 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 14 retrievers - 0 2008 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 15 retrievers- 2 2007 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 21 retrievers - 1 (same attack also involved a pitbull [American Bulldog] ) 2006 Human Deaths: pitbulls - 18 retrievers - 0 2005 Human Deaths: pitbulls- 16 retrievers -1 TOTALS for 10 year period (2005-2014 USA): pitbulls - 203 retrievers - 5 Until something is done to regulate WHO can own pitbulls and to mandate HOW they must be contained/trained, the high death toll from pitbulls will obviously continue. 2015 Human Deaths (so far as July 7) pitbulls - 13 retrievers - 0 Ongoing totals since 2005 (so far as of July 7, 2015) pitbulls - 216 retrievers - 5 (Greyhounds - 0 )
Snerpderg
Fri, 01/29/2016 - 9:27am
Thank you. Unfortunately, you will encounter an onslaught of replies in the effort to debunk your facts that will include insults, false information, smokescreens and threats. Also emotional replies giving testimony to the respondent's exceptional Pitbull and how it is a nursemaid, will lick you to death, be more gentle than a poodle, etc. I recently got dragged into a debate and the people defending the pitbulls were relentless. At no time did they acknowledge the three children killed already this year by pitbull dogs. If they did at all, it was to emphasize how the killer animals were abused and mistreated, causing them to kill. They completely ignore the fact that three little children are brutally murdered by one particular breed of dog. I don't understand how people can choose a dog breed over the welfare of people.
lynnf
Fri, 01/29/2016 - 6:43pm
mur·der ˈmərdər/ noun noun: murder; plural noun: murders 1. the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another. "the stabbing murder of an off-Broadway producer" synonyms:killing, homicide, assassination, liquidation, extermination, execution, slaughter, butchery, massacre; More This is the definition of murder. A dog cannot murder, as (1) they cannot premeditate and (2) only humans commit murder.
Beth
Wed, 03/16/2016 - 3:50am
How many were they relly pit bulls. I have a lad/ boxer mix that people say a that's a pit bull. There been a lot that say if was a pit bull and the dog has not been what they say it was.
Nikki
Fri, 01/29/2016 - 4:16pm
Oh Craig, you're cute. I've been around long enough to see you vomit hate though to know that you don't just define pit bulls as the few listed there. BSL advocates call anything from a vizsla to a bull mastiff a pit bull. Once you start talking about mixes, those are MUTTS. Just stop it with your misinformation to try to make BSL look more appealing.
MighiganMom
Sun, 01/31/2016 - 1:14am
I know our local shelter is full of Pitbulls. I imagine our shelter isn't the only one. Being in a shelter can be difficult for some dogs and I'm wondering if it is especially bad for Pitbulls? If it is extra tramatic for the breed could this be part of the biting issue? Could we do something to help at that stage?
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:35pm
"Sorry for your loss,but.....". (Insert sociopathic pit bull defense)
Grant Richter
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:31pm
BSL works everywhere it is implemented properly. How could it not? No pit bulls = no pit bull attacks, no dead children, no dead pets, and no dead pit bulls in shelters. Why is it so hard for people to understand that a breed of dog created to kill is dangerous? Has the world lost the ability to reason?
Nikki
Fri, 01/29/2016 - 4:18pm
Grant, it doesn't work everywhere it's implemented and that's an outright lie. It works for preventing one type of breed biting but it fails at actually reducing dog attacks. That reason, in itself, is why BSL is being overturned left and right. No new BSLs enacted and a handful overturned just in the last few months. If it works so well, it wouldn't be disappearing at a rapid rate.
Nikki
Fri, 01/29/2016 - 4:18pm
Excuse me, one type of dog. Not breed as a pit bull can be...what is it now? 25 different breeds?
Coasterking
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 9:56am
Pit bull dogs like guns are not dangerous by themselves. It takes someone to make them dangerous. Pit bull dogs become dangerous because of bad owners raising them wrongly. Guns become dangerous because of bad owners using them wrongly. No dog is bad on his/her own, it takes his/her environment and upbringing to make him/her bad. An outright ban is ridiculous. Do we outright ban stupidity? If we did, there would be a lot of people who couldn't live in a lot of places. Stop the insanity of outright bans, just punish those who deserve to be punished (bad owners).
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:38pm
There are still too many people parroting "it's how they are raised or trained". Common comments like “all dogs bite” and “it’s bad owners, not bad dogs". These statements are misleading. Unlike pit-bull-type dogs, non-fighting dogs usually only bite defensively. When they do, they grab and release; they don’t maul in the grip-and-rend style of fighting dogs. Explosive, unpredictable aggression can emerge in pit bulls as young as four months. Bad owners may exacerbate pit bulls’ inherited traits, but even ideal owners cannot eliminate or reliably control them. They are the number one mauler and killer for a reason. Pick another breed. MORE THAN 200 people have been killed by pit bulls and thousands have been mauled, maimed, disfigured, and dismembered for life by those that were "raised properly" in loving family's as their pet, since the last person was killed by one trained to fight in 2008. IT'S NOT HOW THEY ARE RAISED!!. "Pit bulls don't become dangerous because we fight them, we fight them because the English specifically bred to them to be dangerous." Ray Brown - pit bull owner, breeder, dog fighter.. Here is a letter written by her father subsequent to her and her unborn child's death: I have tried not to say anything but, every time there is a pit bull attack Darla’s name comes up. People commenting about whom they think she was and what happened to explain away the simple fact that a pit bull killed her. HER PIT BULL KILLED HER. People have said “She was white trash and that she must have abused her dog.” or “She fell off a ladder and the dog didn’t attack -- it only was trying to awaken her.” and “Her husband trained the dog to attack Darla.” I also heard she left Yakima because they outlawed pit bulls. In reality, Darla had been living in the Bay Area several years before she decided she had the time and the room to have pets. Prior to her marriage, Darla adopted a female pit bull and became a member of a local pit bull group that advocated against the BAD RAP that they always fell into. Darla exercised, trained and loved her dog while providing a good home. After marriage, Darla’s husband wanted a male pit bull and one was rescued. This pit bull was larger than average and for some reason, they chose not to neuter. Darla’s husband came home for lunch and found Darla dead, her neck torn open and the male standing over her. Darla’s dog was in the corner of another room. Cowering and had urinated on the floor. This was the end of Darla’s life and she was pregnant with her first baby. Two lives ended BECAUSE of a pit bull. I became Darla’s Dad when she was about four years old. She played basketball and soccer in school. It was a joy watching her grow up and become an adult. When she turned 18, she asked me to formally adopt her and I did. Darla was raised around horses, cattle and pigs as well as dogs and cats. Darla always treated animals with dignity, respect and love. Everyone loved Darla. She was a genuine good person through and through. Darla was so happy when she called to tell me she was going to have my grand baby. She sent me sonogram images and audio from the baby’s heartbeat. Yes, I still have all of the pictures and audio plus her texts, emails and her phone number in my phone. Darla’s baby shower was 1 month away when she died. She was planning on flying up to Seattle for it. I had just sent her a crib. Darla was 32 years old; she took her time and planned everything. This was the most exciting time in her life. We, as a family were just as excited. I can only imagine the shock and horror that she felt. She honestly believed in the pit bull. I have always had dogs. I have 3 now. I have never trusted a pit bull. I know why. Darla is always in my heart. I think of her every day. I am deeply, deeply saddened by this tragedy. It seems almost worse because it was preventable. My mind goes down the “what if” path very often. I love Darla and I miss her. -Doug Robinson
sue
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 2:20pm
My granddaughter and friend "rescued" actually stole a pit bull puppy. A classmate was saying the dog wasn't aggressive enough so he was going to use it as a bait dog. He's now 4 yrs old, neutered and has lived peacefully with a small dog, is afraid of thunder and fireworks and is good natured. Barks at the mailman but if he's in person will wag his tail and loves a scratch. He's loved and kindly cared for, an inside dog. However having said all that, out of the blue last month he attacked a young mixed breed 6mo dog. Why, who knows. It was very scary esp as he was like in a trance and almost turned and bit granddaughter who he loves above all others. Needless to say, we still love him but are monitoring his environment and contacts. Vet had no answers except anti-anxiety meds. Nature vs nuture..... this dog lives on an ideal home BUT this happened.
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 3:38pm
I know. Genetics. They actually wag their tails while attacking too
Matt G
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 8:10pm
Come meet my Staffordshire Terrier American Bulldog mix. I challenge you to find her aggressive in any situation except in attempting to cuddle with anyone that will let her and chasing balls and sticks into the water. She has been well socialized with kids and other dogs. She has been bitten herself and has never retaliated. As for all the giant anecdotal posts, they mean nofhing. Your statistics are based on total deaths and not based on the conditions the dogs are raised in. Yes there is a dog fighting and "tough guy" culture out there. Nothing you have cited accounts for that fact. If you show me solid statistics that adjust for that and show that even pit mixes raised in good situations still bite and kill people significantly more than other breeds, I'll consider changing my mind. The dog on dog biting anecdote is irrelevant. People are violent in some situations, anecdotally as well...what does that prove? My own anecdote means nothing statistically, either...other than it breaks the breed-wide stereotype you're attempting to perpetuate.
suzanne
Sat, 01/30/2016 - 1:13am
Please be careful,if the dog has grabbed a pup once he will do it again.maybe next time he will kill it.These pits almost go into a trance when "in the zone"they don't care who gets in the way.Could be one of the children next time,Don't buy this "how they are raised" baloney.You have been warned by this dog-listen to your gut and have him put down, Tough decision and kids will be upset,but they will be alive.
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 9:57am
A better solution would be for legislatures (state or local) to require liability insurance when people want to engage in potentially dangerous activities, The liability insurance would cover all damages without a monetary limit. If the activity is truly dangerous, the cost of such liability insurance will be very expensive. If the the activity is not dangerous, than the cost of insurance will be low. There is no need to ban these activities. The penalty for not having insurance and the cost of insurance would effectively ban dangerous activities from communities which are concerned about neighbors doing these activities. We would still have the political process to decide what is considered dangerous, but the market would decide how dangerous is it.
EB
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 2:19pm
The homeowner insurance on a house I rent out requires me to keep the insurance company updated regarding the breed of dog my renters may have. Since the company asks the question and require updates, I assume that my rates are determined at least in part by the dog breed. What Ben is advocating may already be happening. I've often wondered why my homeowner insurance company has never asked me about guns in the house, since I would think an insured with guns would be more of a liability than an insured without guns. Maybe that's coming.
karla
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 3:35pm
The problem with your solution is that lots of people won't buy insurance and people will be left blowing in the breeze for damages. The problem is the dog pure and simple.
Dave T
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:09am
Has anyone seen a bill proposed by this Republican dominated legislature that supports real people. I think not. If this bill passes, Detroit could be known as the largest city in Michigan with the most guns, drugs and vicious dogs. That should really help tourism.
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:40pm
"Pit Bull Heros" The actual numbers, 2010-2013, for alleged HEROIC deeds by pit bulls vs. pit bull mayhem: 19 human lives claimed to have been saved by pit bulls (several cases extremely dubious); 98 people killed You do know there are other animals in the world than the fighting dog pit bull don't you? pit bulls; 15 people died from heart attacks, car accidents, etc. suffered while trying to escape from pit bull attacks; 927 people disfigured by pit bulls. Ratio: 55 dead or disfigured per person saved.
Alex H
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:16am
The first thing that caught me was the title, "Pit Bulls vs. Everyone." Pit bulls are not up against everyone. Many people are advocates for these misunderstood breeds (a pit bull is not one breed of dog, but a term used to describe many breeds that share similar characteristics) and have wonderful dogs who are considered pit bulls living with their families and co-habituating beautifully with their children and other animals. Again, the deaths of any children or humans are upsetting, whether it is by a dog, human or vehicle, but to say that all dogs are capable of this is a big case of stereotyping. It's like saying all pit bull owners in low socio-economic areas don't care about their dogs. I agree that this goes back to educating dog owners in general. Teaching them about the life of a chained dog and how training your dog to be a "guard dog" can have unexpected, tragic results as we see here in this article. Bravo to Dave for stepping up and putting an emphasis on education.
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:42pm
"Sorry for your loss, but..." (insert sociopathic pit bull defense)
Bob Moreillon
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:18am
Yes, ban the pit bull breed starting now, and maybe Cane Corsos if they are on the list of breeds involved with the most attacks on human and other animals. There are plenty of breeds like our Border Collies, that make wonderful pets without being vicious.
Anna
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:54am
We do not need and should never implement any ban on specific breeds of dog. What we do need is to strictly enforce the existing laws about uncontrolled or vicious dogs, regardless of breed. Pit bulls raised with good socialization are every bit as gentle and safe to interact with as retrievers, cocker spaniels, or poodles. It is vicious or irresponsible owners who create vicious dogs, not their breed. My children and I, and several of our neighbors were attacked by another neighbor's Yorkshire Terrier. This dog was quite small, weighing under 5 lbs. but would attack anything and everything that moved except her owner. She even bit the owner's kids, apparently without the owner correcting or more closely monitoring her dog's behavior. I wasn't too sad when the dog was killed because she ran out of the house to attack the wheels of my van (all she could reach) and was crushed.
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:45pm
There are still too many people parroting "it's how they are raised or trained". Common comments like “all dogs bite” and “it’s bad owners, not bad dogs". These statements are misleading. Unlike pit-bull-type dogs, non-fighting dogs usually only bite defensively. When they do, they grab and release; they don’t maul in the grip-and-rend style of fighting dogs. Explosive, unpredictable aggression can emerge in pit bulls as young as four months. Bad owners may exacerbate pit bulls’ inherited traits, but even ideal owners cannot eliminate or reliably control them. They are the number one mauler and killer for a reason. Pick another breed. MORE THAN 200 people have been killed by pit bulls and thousands have been mauled, maimed, disfigured, and dismembered for life by those that were "raised properly" in loving family's as their pet, since the last person was killed by one trained to fight in 2008. IT'S NOT HOW THEY ARE RAISED!!. "Pit bulls don't become dangerous because we fight them, we fight them because the English specifically bred to them to be dangerous." Ray Brown - pit bull owner, breeder, dog fighter.. People's cute little personal experiences, stories, and pictures with their own awesome pit bulls or time spent in a shelter, rescue or as a vet tech, as a trainer, does not change the fact that pit bull type dogs are the number one canine killer of children, people, other people's beloved pets, and livestock of all other dog breeds combined and of all time. If all these dog owners would have picked a safer pet like a beagle instead of a pit bull many people, other people's pets and livestock would be alive today. What other type of dog has the ability to kill humans that would be mistaken for a pit bull type? These families know exactly what breed killed their loved one. You can read their individual tragedies here: http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2014.php Two words to prove pit bull type dogs are inherently dangerous, "BREAK STICK'. Pit Bull Rescue Central recommends ALL pit guardians to have a "break stick", a wedge-shaped piece of wood used to pry open a pit bull’s jaw during an attack. RED FLAG! Does not sound like a safe family pet if you need a break stick on hand. "Since pit bulls have a strong fighting background, we recommend that pet owners also have a breaking stick as a precaution, even if they don't plan to use it in an illegal context. However, please be discreet. Breaking sticks are not something to brag about and the general public might have the wrong impression if you walk around with a stick in your hand. Breaking sticks are not illegal, but they are considered dog fighting paraphernalia in certain states and/or with certain law enforcement agents." http://www.pbrc.net/breaksticks.html This person demonstrates how to use a break stick on a pit-bull: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfMVH4wY5Pg
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 10:55am
While I do agree that owners have a lion's share of responsibility in the dilemma; I have yet to find any reputable source that denies/refutes that pit bull attacks far exceed in number and ferocity attacks over other breeds. I would like to see statistics that show if there was any particular breed prior to the rise of the pit bull that was responsible for a similar rate of attacks? My assumption is that we would see a group of breeds with similar numbers rather than one predominant breed standing out (just a theory). My perception is that pit bulls are unrelenting/unforgiving if/when they attack and their nature is unpredictable. I'm sorry, but as the father of four young children, I would rather err on the side of caution...no animal is worthy of protection above/beyond human life.
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 3:45pm
Pit bulls attack, maul , and kill more than all other breeds combined. Pit bull protesters try to claum other dogs had bad reputations previously , but pit bulls have killed more people in the last 5 years than shepards , dobermans and rotts have in the last 45 years. The truth out there and takes ten seconds to find out. I suspect you don't want to hear it.
Multie Petowner
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 11:24am
YES, it WAS horribly tragic that a child died because of an attack by the animals in the care of that monster of a human that were raised in such a way that they trusted no one and were dangerous to that extent. Can we stop calling the breed a Pit Bull? Calling them a "pit bull" is like saying "house cat" or "feral cat". It is a moniker merely describing the lifestyle put upon them as a result of the humans that they have come to expect to feed them. They are Bull Terriers. If they become accustomed to being ignored and trained to be aggressive and someone treats them as nothing more than rodent control for a "pit" of an area, then the description fits.
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 3:49pm
Only pit bull owners claim the can't be identified on every death post. It's not how they are raised. Bad owners own al breeds. They aren't out there killing like pits. It's the breed. It has everything to do with the breed. For hundreds of years these dogs have been bred to bring down bulls and fight other dogs. They were never meant to be companion animals. The only legal activities pit bulls are useful for is the hunting of feral pigs and wild boar. They make lousy watch dogs because their gameness makes it impossible to call off the dog in the middle of an attack. One million pit bulls are euthanized in North America each year due to overbreeding. The enthusiasts of every other working or sporting breed are honest about their dogs being inappropriate for anyone looking for a lap dog. Pit bull enthusiasts? Dress them up in tutu's and party hats and blame the victims whenever a dog does what it's been bred to do.
Jackie
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 12:13pm
I lived in a city in California where someone was raising chickens for cock fighting. The man owning the house was arrested, and the chickens were confiscated. Chickens were not outlawed. It's a case of foolish people with criminal intent. Don't blame the dogs for foolish humans actions.
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 3:52pm
It's the owners who adopt them.. It has everything to do with the breed. For hundreds of years these dogs have been bred to bring down bulls and fight other dogs. They were never meant to be companion animals. The only legal activities pit bulls are useful for is the hunting of feral pigs and wild boar. They make lousy watch dogs because their gameness makes it impossible to call off the dog in the middle of an attack. One million pit bulls are euthanized in North America each year due to overbreeding. The enthusiasts of every other working or sporting breed are honest about their dogs being inappropriate for anyone looking for a lap dog. Pit bull enthusiasts? Dress them up in tutu's and party hats and blame the victims whenever a dog does what it's been bred to do.
lynnf
Fri, 01/29/2016 - 7:12pm
They make lousy watch dogs because for a treat they will watch a criminal cart off your TV and other electronics. I have adopted pitbulls for over 30 years and could not be happier with their companionship. They were wonderful with my children, with the rest of our pets and the current dogs love my grandchildren and work on my little farm. None of them (we have always had multiple dogs, minimum of three) ever bit anyone in or out of the household. My children were supervised and taught to respect the animals' feelings and space and the animals were trained to respect the children and each other as members of the family (pack). And just as I supervised my children and kept them close, I did for the dogs. They were kept where they belonged in the yard or the house. They were well socialized with friends of the kids in and out of the house so no one ever got hurt. This is called responsible ownership, which is what well over 5 million pit parents practice in the US.
Susan bebow
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 12:34pm
Ban completely NOW. How is it any different from having tigers or alligators as pets? children and adults are being maimed and killed here people!!! It shouldn't take more than a split second to decide to get rid of them completely A baby in Florida had his face ripped off in his own home last week. An older lady was attacked by 5 or 6 pit bulls in her apartment hallway! We should not be tolerating this!!
John Q. Public
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 8:28pm
You comment has some noteworthy observations. It's telling to see the characteristics of the victims; they're disproportionately children under 10 years old, or women over 50. That's not a result of "bad owners."
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:30pm
Here come the most vile and digudting comments from the sub human pit bull owners
Richard
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 1:52pm
Why should the legislature get involved in this? Isn't the Republican Party the advocate for local control? And for less government? Except, of course, when they aren't!
Robin
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 2:38pm
They were created for a purpose- because people wanted fighting dogs-so they created them for that. Since dog fighting is illegal-they are no longer "needed". They not only need to be banned, they need to be extinct! There is no "purpose" for them anymore and they certainly should not be considered family dogs! You dont have to train a pointer to point or a lab to retrieve or a bloodhound to track-its in their genetics because its what they were bred to do. Same with a pit, no one has to "train it to be mean", it was created to maul & kill and saying they are trained to do it is asinine. Ban & destroy the mf's before one more innocent pet or person is mauled or killed!
Matt
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 2:45pm
It is how they are raised AND how they are bred. The behavior of any dog is determined by both of these factors. Genetic problems -- aggressive behavior and physical issues like hip dysphasia -- are due to a relatively small breeding stock. Reputable breeders keep their breeding stock diverse by keeping careful records of sire and dams. They avoid inbreeding. Aggressive or overly hyper dogs are not bred. The problem with pit bulls is fundamentally a problem with breeders. First, these dogs have been bred for hundreds of years to fight other dogs and animals to the death. Both the physical and behavioral characteristics of pit bulls are the result of hundreds of years of selective breeding to create a fighting dog. Second, unregulated breeding has resulted in a largely local breeding stock made up of the dogs best suited for dog fighting. No amount of love and training is going to eliminate this instinctive drive in the animal. If the dog is denied opportunities to fight or hunt other animals it will seek opportunities when it is away from its master and trainer the same way a suburban border collie will attempt to herd a field of children playing soccer or chase cars. Close to one million pit bulls are euthanized each year due to unregulated breeding. The breeding of pit bulls should be regulated and pit bull owners should be required to obtain liability insurance for each dog.
karla
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 3:14pm
I'm always interested when people tell me my Beagle tracks because that is her natural instinct, Labs love water because that is their natural instinct, or German Shepards make good trackers because that is their natural instinct, the list goes on. Those same people will tell me that Pit Bulls have no attack instinct and any violence is the responsibility of the owners even though the breed was specifically bred and developed to fight and kill. Apparently, those individuals believe that Pit Bulls are the only breed that falls out the normal instinctual development track. Pit Bulls are a menace and need to be monitored. If the owners don't care for them, fine or jail the owners; but let's stop giving the dogs a pass when they kill or maim or children, etc.
Craig
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 3:55pm
It has everything to do with the breed. For hundreds of years these dogs have been bred to bring down bulls and fight other dogs. They were never meant to be companion animals. The only legal activities pit bulls are useful for is the hunting of feral pigs and wild boar. They make lousy watch dogs because their gameness makes it impossible to call off the dog in the middle of an attack. One million pit bulls are euthanized in North America each year due to overbreeding. The enthusiasts of every other working or sporting breed are honest about their dogs being inappropriate for anyone looking for a lap dog. Pit bull enthusiasts? Dress them up in tutu's and party hats and blame the victims whenever a dog does what it's been bred to do.
Matt G
Sat, 01/30/2016 - 12:03pm
You have a very poor understanding of modern genetics and how it links to behavior in organisms. I would suggest reading about epigenetics.
Nikki
Fri, 01/29/2016 - 4:23pm
Do what you're saying is that my pit bull is a lab because she loves water and retrieves like a champ? I need to figure out what my plott hound really is because he loves pigs too. Dogs are not brought into this world automatically knowing what to do. They need guidance, just like a child.
Mary
Thu, 01/28/2016 - 6:30pm
Sadly the author only cited PRO PITBULL SOURCES that claim pitbull bans are not effective. Pitbulls bans are VERY EFFECTIVE and there is tons of evidence that they reduce deaths, serious maulings, dog fighting, gang related violence, and euthanizations. I hope the author edits this and adds some truth about the efficiency of pitbull bans. There is more to support that bans work and sources like the AVMA are not supported by all veternarians. Vets make on average 7 thousand patching up surviving dogs that have suffered from pitbull attacks. www.banpitbulls.org has a wealth of data showing that bans on pitbulls in Places like Council Springs Iowa have virtually eliminated deaths and maulings from pitbulls. Areas that pass the bill that this senator is proposing also experience MORE FATAL PITBULL ATTACKS In THEIR STATES! Pitbull ban comparison A good comparison to show the effectiveness of pit bull bans: pit bull type dogs were banned in Ontario in 2005 but are still legal in Illinois. Population: Ontario 13.5 million (Toronto: 2.7 million) Illinois: 12.8 million (Chicago: 2.7 million) Pit bull fatalities since 2005: Ontario: 0 Illinois: 11 www.nationalpitbullvictimawareness.org has a prewritten letter and contact information to send on to prevent the BIG GOVERNMENT dictator amendment in Michigan that would take away very effective laws that mandate that pitbulls be spayed and neutered in towns that have had huge problems with dog fighting and overbreeding. SEND THE LETTER .. this is a pro dog fighters bill
lynnf
Fri, 01/29/2016 - 7:19pm
You should read it more carefully. They made mention of your victim's awareness site, dogsbit, and PETA, so I think the anti-pitbull sites got equal treatment to the actual academic sites.

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