Monday, August 17, 2009

When Pit Bulls Act Up, Punish the Owner

When Pit Bulls act up, punish the owner. As a general rule, this is not a bad one for all dogs. And yet, sometime that advice takes on an ironic tone, as in the case last week of a Loudon County, Viriginia Pit Bull owner which made the local paper.

Two days after a 20-year-old man was found dead in a Leesburg home, two pit bulls have been euthanized for apparently attacking him.

The body of Carter Patrick Ridge Delaney was found in the foyer of his home in the 100 block of Plaza Street Monday afternoon after relatives called police because they hadn't heard from him.

How common are dog bites? Pretty common.

A survey by the Centers for Disease Control concluded that more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs annually.

Almost 800,000 bites a year are serious enough to require medical attention.

Over 365,000 people are taken to hospital emergency rooms after serious dog bite attacks.

Among children, getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms.

According to of the 88 dog bite incidences that caused death in the U.S. between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2008, Pit Bull type dogs were responsible for 59% (52) of the deaths, and Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and American Bulldogs, combined, accounted for 77% of all attacks. One death, believe it or not (I believe it), is attributed to a Jack Russell Terrier.


Anonymous said...

Dog bites MUST be taken seriously. I find that too often dog people say that it's not that big a deal.

They don't know many trial lawyers. Trial lawyers see dog bites as a major issue.

If it has teeth, it can bite.

However, the most ironic story about a golden retriever killing someone was a young dog that had been encouraged to rough house. The dog grabbed a scarf that a little girl was wearing, and he strangled her to death. It's technically a "dog bite fatality," but the problem could have been solved had the dog been trained not to get so rough.

Silly Wicket said... is a fear mongering, paranoia ridden website; whose sole purpose is to enact nation wide BSL and encourage the euthanasia of all pit bulls and pit bull type dogs. their "data" is based on highly biased "first person" accounts and is widly regarded as junk. I would have expected better sourcing from you Patrick, as someone who has exposed such lunacy in the past.

PBurns said...

MAYBE SO, Silly Wicket, but unlike you they have actually taken the time to collect the data on fatal dog bite maulings for a 3-year period.

And yes, they supply names, dates, articles, etc. and their data lines up perfectly with the CDCs.

Show me your data, or show me their error.

Did you even read their report? Did you read the CDC report? Did you read the news articles on the fatal maulings?

You are a young mother. Try to read a few of the news articles here >>

You are a young mother. Take the time to look at the photos of the kids with mangled faces here >>

Close your eyes and imagine the face of YOUR lovely child being ripped by a Pit Bull.

What? You do not want to see real people?

Why not?

They are part of this too, aren't they?

You ask, will I listen to people who have been victims of dog bite attacks?

Sure. Why not?

They *might* have an interest in actually getting it right.

They might be motivated enough to put a human face to the 365,000 people who are taken to hospital emergency rooms after serious dog bite attacks every year

Doing right by the dogs does not mean you ignore what the dogs can do to people.

Nor does it mean you ignore the data.

The dogs deserve better than that kind of response.

They deserve a solution. That solution has to be pro-responsibility. Being pro dog means you are pro-responsibility. It does NOT mean you ignore the data, silence, the wounded, OR rush crazy-train towards fascism. There is a middle ground, and we cut steps into slippery slopes all the time.

But yes, let's put TWO faces on it, eh? Not just the dogs: the people too. And not just the dead, but the wounded as well. I am OK with that. Why aren't you?


Shane said...

Using press reports to tally dog bites is flawed in a number of ways. The primary one is breed identification. Any medium-sized short haired dog tends to get lumped in as a Pit Bull. I once saw a news report where a man claimed to have been bitten by a 50 pound brown & white Rottweiler. Apparently this man had no clue what a Rottweiler looked like, but it bit him, so it must have been one. A Rottweiler is a distinctive looking breed. If people misidentify a Rottie, how the heck can they accurately identify a Pit Bull?

I also have a hard time accepting that any statistics compiled through Google are accurate. That's on par with citing Wiki as a source.

The much-cited Clifton report was created in the same fashion as the report, and the CDC has publicly stated that the data on there is incorrect.

Please show me the CDC statistics that match up with this report.

Chris said...

Unfortunately you continue to focus on the breed in addressing the problem and are quoting data that is not only flawed, but which is from a report from the CDC who now admits should not be used to determine which dogs are most likely to bite.

The CDC has published a statement that the single-vector approach in “Breeds of Dogs” does not “identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic.” The AVMA has published and distributed a comparable statement.

The AVMA Task Force went further: “An often-asked question is what breed or breeds of dogs are ‘most dangerous’? This inquiry can be prompted by a serious attack by a specific dog, or it may be the result of media-driven portrayals of a specific breed as ‘dangerous.’ . . . singling out 1 or 2 breeds for control . . . ignores the true scope of the problem and will not result in a responsible approach to protecting a community’s citizens.”

From examination of mortality tapes (death certificates), the CDC determined that at least 327 persons were killed in dog-bite incidents during the years 1979-1998. Since death certificates do not provide information on the circumstances of the attack or the breeds of dogs involved, the CDC relied on newspaper articles to capture this data. Newspapers articles were searched for information on these attacks and provided breed information on 238 of the 327 deaths due to dogs during this 20-year period.

No newspaper articles could be located on 89 of the 327 dog-bite-related deaths during this time period, and as such these deaths were not included in the CDC’s statistical data on breeds of dogs involved in attacks.

Extensive additional research* has resulted in locating and documenting 40 of the 89 fatalities for which the CDC could not locate newspaper articles reporting the incident and/or the breed of dog involved. Of the 40 fatal attacks not located in newspaper reports, 37 involved breeds of dogs other than a pit bull or pit bull type dog.

Given the small study population of the CDC study (n=238), the omission of 40 additional cases is significant.

Both the CDC and Dr. Lockwood warned that their enumerations were not an argument for breed legislation of any kind. They were righter than they knew. Not only are the published tabulations under examination impossibly unrepresentative of the total dog population, the tabulations themselves are inaccurate!

The CDC stopped tracking dog attacks by breed in 1998. They understand that such tabulations are not science and are no basis for public policy.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm really disappointed. I thought this was a great blog until I read this entry, and then the personal attacks and weasel-worded response to Silly Wicket's comment. All of the implications that Silly Wicket is in the wrong -- "you're a young mother" (implying she's endangering her children), "I'll listen, why won't you?" (implying she's close-minded and you're better than her because you're not) -- are all extremely rude. "Why aren't you?" is a weasel-phrase that doesn't promote reasonable discussion. does not do anything but generate fear. Tell me what positive programs they encourage for the safety of human/dog interaction that don't involve banning dogs. Their agenda is bad for dogs because it wants the elimination of certain breeds. That puts all dogs at risk, not just pit bulls and rottweilers, although they would certainly be on the front lines.

My husband is an ER doctor and yes, he sees lots of dog bites. Most dog bites require stitches, not facial reconstruction or death -- which does not excuse the bite or whatever failure in dog ownership. And you know what breed causes most of the bites he sees? Mixed breeds.

Don't give into this fear and hate. And please don't think that the issues facing pit bulls and rottweilers and other so-called "vicious breeds" doesn't effect you because they're not the kinds of dogs you own. Everyone who loves dogs has a stake in the issues of dog ownership and behavior.

Chris said...

Also please note that the CDC now points people to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions for dog bite information and prevention.

I encourage you to read their report

PBurns said...

As the CDC notes at >> :

"At least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 human DBRF [dog bite related fatalies] during the past 20 years [1979-1998]. Pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half of these deaths. .... Despite these [data] limitations and concerns, the data indicate that Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human DBRF [dog bite related fatalities] in the United States between 1997 and 1999. It is extremely unlikely that
they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities."

See the table at the link, above, for the number of dog bite deaths per year and breed, 1979-1998.

The data for the 3-year period given in this post (2006-2009) by fits perfectly with this CDC data, as noted.

The folks at also give articles detailing EVERY dog bite for the three year period given.

With less than 30 dog bite deaths per year, and all the stories given for EVERY fatal dog bite case, it would seem to be a pretty easy thing for the Pit Bull community to find the 30 Collies or Airedales or Pugs that are being "mis-counted" as Pit Bulls or Rottweilers.

But of course, those 30 examples are not there, are they?

And there is a reason for that.

The Pit Bull community is lying when they say we have no idea what breed or type of dogs are rsponsible for the majority of fatal dog attacks. We certainly DO know for recent years, during a period in which this kind of stuff has been tracked very, very closely.

Let's face it: with 20-30 deaths per year, it's simply NOT that hard to check every single dog.

The fact that the breed-blind Pit Bull community has not done that research speaks volumes.

The folks who represent dog bite victims, however, have actually taken the time to gather EVERY newspaper account and post them on the Internet.

Contrary to what has been asserted, newspapers are NOT a bad way to find fatal dog bite cases: these cases tend to make the news, don't they?

Are you saying there are a LOT more fatal dog bite cases out there? Cases that don't make the news? Right. Not true.

As for a dog breeds being mis-identitied, GO FOR IT. Here are all the cases: find the "data changer" examples >>

Where are the Golden Retrievers counted as Pit Bulls and the Labradors counted as Rottweilers?

Please post the NAME, DATE and SOURCE for your "wrong data" claim for any fatal dog bite named in the comments section of this blog. Fair warning however: to move the numbers very much, you are going to have to find a LOT of misidentification. In fact, out of the 88 fatal dog bites detailed, 24 Pit Bulls, Rottweillers or American Bulldogs are going to have to be misidentified to move the number to "just" 50 percent. Good luck!

On the upside, the task has never been easier. At the link given, the people killed are actually given a NAME and a face, the dates of the attacks are given, the location of the attacks are given, and MULTIPLE newspaper and media sources are given for every attack in PDF format.

How convenient!

You say that want to show that the data is all wrong and complete nonsense?


Do the "dog work" of doing the actual research.

Here are ALL the citations to every article and at the links you can read THE ACTUAL ARTICLES (multiple articles on every fatal dog bite).

Show us all where the folks are all wrong.


Chris said...

First and foremost you should indicate to anyone reading your blog what the term pit bull actually encompasses.

Unfortunately the debate you have started is one you can find on a million blogs out there and in the comment sections of online newspapers across he United States.

There are people who have pain stakingly taken the time to go through each and every account in the CDC report and their are some wonderful books documenting this that I also encourage you to read.

Again, the information you are citing are from news reports from local websites.

The CDC and AVMA indicate the following in their updated literature that they provide to the public and other organizations.

"Statistics on fatalities and injuries caused by dogs
cannot be responsibly used to document the “dangerousness”
of a particular breed, relative to other breeds,
for several reasons. First, a dog’s tendency to bite
depends on at least 5 interacting factors: heredity, early
experience, later socialization and training, health
(medical and behavioral), and victim behavior.7
Second, there is no reliable way to identify the number
of dogs of a particular breed in the canine population
at any given time (eg, 10 attacks by Doberman
Pinschers relative to a total population of 10 dogs
implies a different risk than 10 attacks by Labrador
Retrievers relative to a population of 1,000 dogs).
Third, statistics may be skewed, because often they do
not consider multiple incidents caused by a single animal.
Fourth, breed is often identified by individuals
who are not familiar with breed characteristics and
who commonly identify dogs of mixed ancestry as if
they were purebreds. Fifth, the popularity of breeds
changes over time, making comparison of breed-specific
bite rates unreliable."

PBurns said...


I am not looking for a promotional piece for someone's tract book.

I am looking for someone to DO THE DOG WORK and go through those 88 cases and find the bad data that people like you claim is there.


If not, I do not need to hear from you again. And that goes for anyone else who wants to post.

Yes, it's "put up or shut up" time!

The ONLY comment I am going to greenlight on this post are people who go through those 88 cases with very easy to reference citations.

No more typing monkeys. No more zombies.

You want to hose the folks?

Excellent! I would love that.


But you are going to have to do it by actually doing the DOG WORK.

Here are ALL the citations to every fatal dog bite article for three years >>

At the link you can read THE ACTUAL ARTICLES (multiple articles on every fatal dog bite).

Find the dogs that have been misidentified.

Find the huge swath of "secret" fatal dog bite attacks never reported.

We have three solid years of articles and 88 fatal dog bite cases given here.

Show me the problem with the data by naming each victim that was bitten by a NON Pit Bull, Rotty or American Bulldog that the said was bitten by a Pit Bull, Rotty or American Bulldog.

Show me the dozens of fatal dog attacks that occured in the U.S. during this three-year period that missed.

Put up or shut up.

Do the dog work.

If you will not do the simple dog work suggested, your comment will be deleted.

If you do do the dog work, however, I will shower you with accolades -- especially if it changes the conclusions.

Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one. The folks at have an opinion for two reasons: they have been bitten (interesting, but not that important to the policy debate) and BECAUSE THEY COLLECTED THE DATA and supplies the source material.

They did the dog work.

Anyone who wants to "prove them wrong" has to PROVE IT, not just state it.

You want to prove them wrong? Excellent! DO THE DOG WORK!!


joyce kesling, CDBC said...

You said, “Dog bites MUST be taken seriously. I find that too often dog people say that it's not that big a deal.”
I agree, any dog bite should be taken seriously, no matter what dog and/or breed/mix. I am not familiar with the CDC report cited, but there are two pieces of literature that some of you might be interested in reading.
The first one is Karen Delises book The Pit Bull Placebo, available for complete download; just use the title key words. I only reviewed chapter 8-15 since they were most applicable for my interests. Delise does a great job of detailing several attacks that include pertinent information often neglected by the news media. I want to know why, what environmental influences played a part in the attack, what are all the contributing factors, I want details. The news media is only interested in sound bites that grab TV watchers attention. There is also another report by Corona Research, Inc. 2009, Dog Bites in Colorado, Report of Dog Bite Incidents Reported to Animal Control between July 2007 and June 2008.
There is also a problem with researchers/scientists who don’t agree on how much heritability contributes to dog aggression. According to some, personality in dogs, dominance and aggression has fairly substantial heritability, indicating that selective breeding can enhance or reduce this behavior…Certain breeds have been selected for enhanced dominance and aggression. Pit bulls and Rottweiler’s currently receive the most public attention in this regard, and pit bulls have been banned in many locations because they are perceived as being dangerous. While advocates of these breeds claim that maltreatment is a more likely underlying cause of the kind of aggression leading to biting incidents (some of which involve human fatalities), in fact we know that ***********personality is fairly unresponsive to environment. Aggressive and dominant personalities likely only remain in check because dogs' owners have established themselves in a position of dominance over the animal, and other people are at risk, particularly when the owner is absent.
Then you have the other side, who believe it is unproven that genetics plays this large a part, but rather the animals environment, learning, and expression of certain innate traits are more likely.
I’m still on the fence on this, but also believe that BSL is the key to solving the problem.
joyce kesling, cdbc

PBurns said...

See above post if you want to comment.

Chris has already FAILED, but a hat tip to Mike who says he will DO THE DOG WORK of going through those 88 dog cases.


PBurns said...


I am already getting nonsense from folks who are very quick to type and very slow to research.

Please do not waste my time by throwing up half-assed work.

I really do not have time for nonsense. Do it right, and do it once. Read that last sentence again.

I would LOVE to see folks PROVE that the data is complete rubbish.

So far, however, all the poster have done is prove how little they read, and how little they research.

Again: do it right ONCE, and check your own work.

Once you think you have found a mistake in the data (and read their articles and all of their links), attack your own thesis and see if it stands up to scrutiny.

Then figure out how much change all of your "found errors" actually bring to the data. Is it 5 percent? Is it 12 percent? More? Less?

My email is once you have sorted it out, written it all down, done the math and have a complete, bomb-proof and coherent presentation, send it to me with your real name, and if it pans out you get real credit and a full and complete post on this blog.

But please do it once and do not make me find errors in the first movement.

I give full applause and real credit for serious work, not typing.

Send me your best and make it polished and tested, not tossed out stream-of-consciousness. The DOG WORK is not done in 15 minutes. It actually takes hours and hours and hours.


Pai said...

I'm pretty sure the dog bite research and presentation that you want is in The Pit Bull Placebo.

PBurns said...

An interesting read, but not too responsive to the current data excercise.

YES, all dog deaths are rare (I have said it before, comparing it to lighting strikes), but apparently it is a YES that Pit Bulls are currently waaay over-represented in both the serious and fatal dog bites column. Why that is so is an interesting question. What is clear is that they are. Arguing otherwise is a bit like saying "9 millimeter handguns are not killing a disproportionate number of people now because if we go back 50 years and compare weapons we find that .38 caliber revolvers used to be the most common choice of street gun." Which is true. Except NOW it's 9 millimeters, isn't it? In the case of guns, it's not that the revolver failed, it's that the 9 millimeter semi-auto is a better gun. A different thing happened with the dogs, of course. Look at what over-breeding did to German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, and it's not hard to understand why these dogs are no longer in much demand.