This past week, we were devastated to learn of two incidents involving roaming pit bulls attacking children in the city of New Orleans. We have been following these cases closely, as well as the ensuing media coverage. The owners in both incidents have been identified and cited by the Animal Control officers working with the Louisiana SPCA. The two little girls involved are recovering from their injuries.
Both incidents were entirely preventable. In spite of media coverage highlighting the breed of the dogs involved, dog safety is not breed specific. Earlier this week, an 11-year old in Washington was mauled by a mixed breed dog; in Concord, California, a young girl sustained serious injuries after being bitten by a yellow lab; in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a child was attacked by the family's cur; and so on.
In light of this, we want to reiterate our standards for responsible dog ownership (of any breed):
*Never leave your dogs unsupervised, even in a fenced yard.
*Always supervise interactions between dogs and children.
*Report any stray or aggressive dogs in your neighborhood--don't wait until something happens.
*Never allow your dog to walk or roam off-leash--no matter how well-behaved.
Unfortunately, rather than focusing on individual dogs and their owner, "pit bulls" continue to garner the headlines. On WWL radio, Tommy Tucker was heard telling his listeners that pit bulls should be shot and "sent to doggie heaven and be done with." It is not appropriate for mainstream media to encourage people to shoot family pets--and it doesn't feel like something that would make the community safer. ABC26 has posted a poll on banning pit bulls--a costly practice that has actually resulted in increased dog bites in other cities. None of this hysteria promotes safety.
With so much misinformation being recirculated on the airwaves, we thought it was a good time to remind people of some of the basic facts:
*Pit bulls do NOT have "stronger jaws" than other breeds; all dogs, on average, have a bite with 320 lbs of pressure per square inch.
*Pit bulls do NOT have "locking jaws"; the University of Georgia found that there were no differences in jaw structure between pit bulls and other dogs
*The CDC does NOT track dog breeds involved in bites and does NOT endorse the suggestion that a dog's breed is a predictor of behavior; an often-cited CDC study of dog breeds has actually been discredited by the CDC on their own website.
*Pit bulls do NOT attack without warning; a study by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, Germany found that "pit bulls signal like other dogs."
If you would like more information on the truth about pit bulls, including some helpful, printer-ready handouts, go to Animal Farm Foundation.