I hear it all the time. “Pit Bulls get a bum rap. I have one. They’re really sweet.”
Believe me, I know what it’s like to love a dog beyond all reason. I prefer most dogs to most humans. At the risk of sounding horribly cliché, my dogs are, indeed, my best friends. And there’s nothing cuter than a Pit Bull puppy.
It’s really easy to take an emotional stance regarding Pit Bulls. I, for one, have felt a Pit Bull’s hot breath on my eyelashes as one lunged at me from the open window of a van as I walked past. That will make you go home and change your boxers. So am I biased? Hell yes. And I’ll be the first to admit that that’s not fair.
So I decided to take all emotion out of it and look at the actual statistics. I went to the website dogsbite.org, and checked out this peer reviewed study entitled Dog attack deaths and maimings, U.S. & Canada, September 1982 to December 31, 2014.
As much as I would have loved to have been proven wrong about this breed, the cold hard facts are these: Pit bulls and close pit mixes caused 3617 of the total number of dogs attacking humans in fatal and disfiguring cases. That’s 69% of all such attacks by all breeds.
That’s a lot of pain and suffering. The next most dangerous breed, the Rottweiler, accounts for 535 such attacks during the same period. The third most dangerous breed is the German Shepherd, accounting for 113 attacks.
So the Pitt Bulls are more than 6 times more likely to attack, maim and/or kill than the next runner up, the Rottweiler, and 32 times more likely to do so than the German Shepherd. I think we can all agree that that’s one heck of a statistical spike.
Yes, yes, you might say that it has everything to do with their training. Pit Bulls are the most common breed to be used in illegal dog fighting. You’re absolutely right. Odds are quite good that you’re a loving dog owner who isn’t attack training your pooch.
But there’s a reason they’re used in dog fighting. When this breed latches on to something, it is pretty much physically incapable of letting go. Even if your dog were only being playful, only trying to say, “Hey, stop pulling my ears!” He’s still incapable of letting go. He’s still going to cause injury or death in a situation like that. It may not be “his fault”. He may not have started it. He may be the sweetest creature on earth and/or he may have been provoked. But the damage will still be done. To me, that’s like leaving a baby in the room with a friendly 8 foot python and then being surprised at the results. It’s not the python’s fault that he’s hungry, right?
Given those inarguable facts, do you really want to take a chance and get this breed? Do you really want to risk your safety and that of your loved ones? And if you don’t care or can’t accept this evidence, perhaps you might be willing to think with your wallet. Do you really want to put yourself in danger of being sued? Do you really want to reduce your chances of getting your home insured or your rental application accepted?
If one type of berry caused 69 percent of all food-related death or illness, would you eat that berry? That berry might be really delicious, and that berry is certainly not going out of its way to kill you. But I strongly suspect that you wouldn’t eat that berry. Some risks aren’t worth taking.