5 min read (Articles narrated by Mabel)
After seeing many hurtful comments about Pit Bulls on YouTube, Facebook, and even my blog, Molly decided that this was a topic she wanted to cover. Most people who are against Pit Bulls use the argument that over 60% of dog bite fatalities were caused by Pit Bulls. I know Molly likes to have an ideal balance between facts and emotions, so she decided to look into this more to see how accurate dog bite statistics are. As it turns out, they might not be showing us everything.
Most sources agree that Pit Bulls cause the most dog bite fatalities. We’re not disagreeing with those statistics, but they definitely don’t change how much we love Pit Bulls (and all dogs). Plus, we don’t think those numbers are quite as cut and dry as many people think. Here are some reasons why those statistics could be misleading.
“Pit Bull” Isn’t One Breed
The term “Pit Bull” is very vague. Many people mistake it for one breed of dog, but it’s really used to described any dog with a stocky, muscular build, such as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. So, that percentage of dog bites is accounting for a wider group of dogs than just one breed.
Many People Misidentify Breeds
Not only is Pit Bull a broad term, but many people use it for dogs that wouldn’t technically fall in that category. People can label a dog as a Pit Bull just by looking at their appearance, but sometimes, those dogs don’t have any Pit Bull breeds in them at all.
In a 2015 study, shelter staff and veterinarians observed people identifying dog breeds. The participants claimed that 62 of the dogs in the study were Pit Bulls even though only 25 of them were some type of Pit Bull breed.
Pit Bulls Mixes are Super Common
Pit Bulls may be even more common that we think. When considering all the dogs that could fit under this label, about 20% of dogs in the United States are Pit Bulls or Pit Bull mixes. Plus, there are plenty of breeds that look similar to Pit Bulls even though they aren’t commonly grouped in the category. More dogs of one breed means more potential for dog bite instances.
People Are More Likely to Report Bites for “Dangerous” Breeds
Victims of dog bites seem more likely to report the incident if they think the breed is dangerous. The Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions states that dog bite statistics aren’t really statistics. The dogs with the most bite incidents tend to be common breeds and big dogs, which should be expected. There are so many other factors that should go into dog bite statistics than just breed.
Also, reports rarely take mixed breed dogs into account, despite there being so many mixed breeds in the world. For example, if a dog is a mix of a Golden Retriever and a Pit Bull, a bite victim would likely label the dog as a Pit Bull and not a Golden Retriever.
Bigger Dog Bites are More Dangerous
If we’re looking at bites and not just fatalities, it’s unlikely that Pit Bulls would rank the highest. I’ve never seen a big dog bite, but I’ve seen lots of small dogs bite. Yet, it’s less likely for small dogs to inflict severe damage, so most small dog bites go unreported. Two small dogs have bitten Molly, but she never went out of her way to report them because both situations could’ve been prevented. Big dogs are just more likely to cause a severe injury or fatality if they bite.
We’re not saying that small dogs are aggressive. I don’t like to say any dogs are aggressive. However, smaller breeds seem more likely to bite because people often handle them even when it’s clear they don’t want to be picked up. Dog parents also tend to be more lenient when training small dogs because they know they can’t cause the same amount of problems as a giant dog.
Here’s the Bottom Line!
On this blog, we love all dogs! The sad reality is that most dog bites could’ve been prevented, but the dog still has to suffer for it. Dogs usually have warning signs before they bite, which is why it’s important to teach kids how to behave around dogs. Most dog bites involve young children, so it’s likely that the kids were stressing the dog out in some way. If you’re worried that your dog could bite, keep them away from people and work on training more often to prevent future problems.
Of course, getting bit by a dog is terrifying. We don’t want to discredit the pain and suffering of dog bite victims. But we don’t think dogs should pay for it when someone could’ve trained them or kept them away from that situation. Instead of banning specific breeds from towns and businesses, there needs to be a better way. For communities worried about dog bites, ban dogs based on their individual temperaments rather than their breeds. No dog should be hated just because of their looks.
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