Pit Bull Attacks - Can We Afford the Risk?

ANIMAL WATCH-On September 13, Forbes Magazine published an Infographic report on, "America's Most Dangerous Dog Breeds," which reveals that Pit Bulls -- the breed most responsible for dog bites in the 1990s, has held its lead in attacks into the 21st century, with even greater frequency. 

And, since the Michael Vick debacle, donation-funded 50l(c)3 Best Friends Animal Society has taken the lead in nationwide lobbying against breed-specific legislation (BSL) which could help protect both the dogs and their victims--alleging that the only breed which appears to enjoy killing its own is just "misunderstood." (See: The Pit Bull Lobby)  

BACKGROUND ON PIT BULL ATTACK REPORTING 

The first chronicle of Pit Bull attacks in the U.S. was compiled after the 1981 raids in Toledo, Ohio, which caused thirty-two fighting dogs to be seized and housed at the Medical College. This involved the college in research and collecting documents in preparation for the trial and litigation. 

The information they uncovered triggered an investigation not only into the cruel world of dog fighting, but also disclosed undeniable evidence of "The Gathering Storm" of attacks on humans -- often children. This became the subtitle of a compilation of 1,000 abstracts from books, magazines, newspapers and other sources from 1970 to 1986 in a book entitled, "The Pit Bull Dilemma." The researchers described an ominous task of trying to cope with a group of dogs in which "there are gentle, as well as dangerous and unpredictable animals." 

The Forbes report by data journalist Naill McCarthy cites tracking by DogsBite.org, which carefully analyzes media reports from across the country and whose 13-year fatality report identified breeds of dogs involved in U.S. attacks between 2005 and 2017. 

Pit bull types killed 284 people over that 13-year period -- 66 percent of total dog-attack fatalities, despite the breed accounting for just 6.5% of the total U.S. dog population. Rottweilers were in second place with 45 fatal attacks recorded, while the German shepherd was third with 20. 

WE ALL PAY FOR PIT BULL ATTACKS 

On April 8, 2018, a report by Merritt Clifton of Animals 24-7, announced  that State Farm, the leading property-and-casualty insurance company in the U.S. and one of the few companies that insures Pit Bulls, pays out double the norm in the industry for dog attacks.   

State Farm reports that it handed over a record $132 million to settle dog attack claims in 2017, and claims nationwide increased to a total of 18,522.  

State Farm's own statement indicates that, since 2008, it “has paid over $1 billion for dog-related injury claims.” The company admits that the premiums paid by the owners of other breeds subsidize this cost. 

Dog Bite Claims Nationwide Increased 2.2 Percent; California, Florida and Pennsylvania Lead Nation in Number of Claims  

According to a statement released by the Insurance Information Institute on April 5, 2018, dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one third of all homeowners’ liability claim dollars paid out in 2017, costing almost $700 million. 

--The number of dog bite claims nationwide increased to 18,522 in 2017, compared to 18,122 in 2016, a 2.2 % increase.  

--The average cost per claim increased by 11.5 percent. 

--The average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $37,051 in 2017, compared with $33,230 in 2016. 

“The increase in the 2017 average cost per claim could be attributed to an increase in severity of injuries,” said Kristin Palmer, chief communications officer with the I.I.I.  “But the average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 90 percent from 2003 to 2017, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs.” 

Where to Get Dog Owner Liability Insurance - Dog Bite Law. Dogbite Law attorney Ken Phillips provides a helpful guide to companies which provide policies for homeowners and renters who own various breeds. 

NATIONAL PIT BULL VICTIMS AWARENESS 

Map of pit bull attacks and deaths reported in the news 2018  

This is an Interactive Map of news reports of pit bull attacks and deaths in 2018 (USA and Canada) by National Pit Bull Attack Victims Awareness.  

Click on locations to bring up information about the attack, including a link to the original source. Click “Show” to view attacks by month. 

Undoubtedly, one of the reasons most dog owners and adopters do not know about Pit Bull attacks is because they only receive local news. Dog bite reports may be suppressed by animal control agencies in order to avoid a drop-in adoptions and better statistics.  This map provides an honest and searchable database. 

OWNERS INCREASINGLY ATTACKED BY THEIR OWN PIT BULLS 

Pit Bull Attacks Owners: "Home looked like the scene of a massacre" 

On July 13, 2018, FOX19 reported a brutal pit bull attack in Taylor Mill, KY, which sent the dog's two owners to the hospital and "left their home looking like the scene of a massacre." 

When Taylor Mill Police rolled-up at the yard at about 11:30 p.m., they found the family's pit bull actively attacking the man and were forced to shoot the dog. 

The entire incident resulted in blood throughout the house and all over the yard. Inside the house, where the wife had been mauled, they found blood on the floors, the kitchen cabinets, and up and down the walls. 

A family member told FOX19 the Pit Bull's name was Rocky. At 4 years old, he said the dog has never acted aggressively in the past and has no idea what set the dog off. 

Both victims were transported to a hospital with serious injuries. A fundraiser on Sept. 22, 2018, is hoped to assist the family with serious medical and other financial costs of the attack. 

Five Pit Bulls Maul 2-year-old Toddler to Death  

On August 2, 2018, a 2-year old boy died and his aunt was injured after being attacked by five Pit Bulls inside a home in Philadelphia, according to Newsweek

Officers arrived home around 5:20 p.m. "They could clearly see the child laying in the middle of the living room floor and said the dogs were around the child, attacking the child, and that's when they had to take immediate action," Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. 

The boy's 23-year-old aunt, who was babysitting the child, was also injured trying to protect him.

The boy was rushed to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, but his injuries were too severe for him to be saved by doctors. “The child had severe injuries to his head, face, torso, both arms and both legs,” Small said. 

In May, the Newsweek report states, an 8-month old girl died after she was mauled by a pit bull at her grandmother’s home in Florida. The girl, later identified as Liana Valino, was attacked at the property in Miramar by the family pet after her mother dropped her off. She was sitting in a baby bouncer. 

A LOOK AT RECENT VICTIMS OF PIT BULLS ACROSS THE U.S. 

2 Children in 2 Cities Across State Lines Attacked by Same Pit Bulls   

On September 14, 2018, CBS-2 reported that two Pit Bulls -- released from the animal shelter -- had attacked two children in two different cities, 20 miles apart and across the Indiana/Illinois state lines.  

The first attack occurred last month in Munster, Indiana. Eight-year old son, Sacha Pchelenkov, is credited with saving his two-year old brother's life. The dogs were impounded and quarantined for ten days and then released by the animal shelter. Soon the owners either sold them or gave them away.  

This week they attacked Nadia Esco, whose mother described what happened to her daughter, “She wasn’t just bitten, she was mauled. She has marks all the way from her shoulder blades to her knees; 32 bites for one child. She only weighs 50 lbs. You almost killed my baby.” 

230 Pit Bull Attacks have been Reported In Cook County During Past 8 Months 

On August 9, 2018, CBS 2 reported that a Pit Bull attacked the two women with whom it lived in the Burnside neighborhood of Chicago, while they were in front of their home. 

This followed a violent attack in the Woodlawn neighborhood in May, which resulted in the amputation of a 68-year old woman's leg. 

Also, in August 57-year old Karen Brown was killed by a Pit Bull which then charged police officers who tried to save her in Chicago’s Deering neighborhood. Police have been unable to locate the owner of the dog. 

CBS 2reported that, as of the first week of August -- just a little over seven months -- 2,553 dog bites were reported in Cook County, with 230 of the attacks reported to be by Pit Bulls or their mixes. 

San Antonio's Animal Care Services cites irresponsible pet ownership in recent dog attacks   

On September 3, 2018, MySanAntonioreported five dog attacks in the past three weeks have left five people with serious injuries including a 79-year old man and a 4-month old baby boy. San Antonio Animal Services avoids listing breed: A 3-year old suffered eight broken ribs; a 1-year old girl had facial lacerations and a skull fracture; another 1-year old is in intensive care with multiple injuries; and the 4-month old is being treated for a punctured lung and multiple bites on his torso. 

4-year-old Noah Trevino Killed by the Family Dog...  

Noah Trevino, age 4, was killed by the family dog, a pit bull mix, on March 25, 2018, in Converse, Texas, Noah Trevino was airlifted to an area hospital in serious life-threatening condition after being found with his neck in the jaws of the large dog. 

Sheriff’s Sgt. Elizabeth Gonzalez said the family freed Trevino from the dog’s hold and began performing CPR until deputies arrived and took over. Trevino was later pronounced dead at the hospital. 

At least four other people besides Trevino have been killed by a pit bull or a pit bull mix so far in 2018. In all but one instance, the pit bull was the family dog. 

Three-year old Rylee Dodge of Duncan, Oklahoma, was the one victim younger than Trevino. The 3-year old was in the care of her grandmother, and the child opened the door to play with the pit bull her father had acquired five days earlier from a friend. The dog immediately attacked her. Criminal charges are pending in that case, according to TexasDogBiteInjuryLaw.com. 

The three other 2018 victims of fatal pit bull attacks were: 49-year old Hong Saengsamly of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; 46-year old David Brown of Owensboro, Kentucky; and 53-year old Laura Ray of West Monroe, Louisiana. 

ADOPTERS KILLED BY PIT BULLS 

Oklahoma pit bull death: Dad's adopted dog kills daughter, 3

Jan 17, 2018 - Dad is devastated after his daughter, 3, is killed by the pit bull he'd ... girl died on Sunday after the family's newly adopted pit bull attacked her. 

4-year-old nearly loses eye after family's newly adopted pet attacks...

May 3, 2018 - A 4-year-old Caldwell County girl is recovering after a dog that the family recently adopted attacked her inside her home on Wednesday. 

Maryland Woman Killed by Pit Bull She Adopted Just 2 Weeks Earlier ...

Sept. 4, 2018 - A 64-year-old Maryland woman is dead after her newly adopted pit bull ... Woman Loses an Arm in Attack by Four Pit Bulls, Police Investigate ... 

Scared of Pit Bulls? You’d Better Be!  

In 1999, Brian C. Anderson, wrote an op-ed, "Scared of Pit Bulls? You'd Better Be!" based on some of his personal experiences, for City Journal that should be read today by anyone who is contemplating adopting or purchasing a Pit Bull.  He discussed the endorphin rush, suggested by The Economist as possibly one of the reasons Pit Bulls so frequently and tenaciously attack. 

The pit bull's unusual breeding history has produced some bizarre behavioral traits, described by The Economist's science editor ...First, the pit bull is quicker to anger than most dogs, probably due to the breed's unusually high level of the neurotransmitter L-tyrosine. Second, pit bulls are frighteningly tenacious; their attacks frequently last for 15 minutes or longer, and nothing—hoses, violent blows or kicks—can easily stop them. That's because of the third behavioral anomaly: the breed's remarkable insensitivity to pain. ..."The dogs may be junkies, seeking pain so they can get the endorphin buzz they crave," The Economist suggests.  

In her 2017 editorial, "Pit Bulls are Not our Friends," Barbara Kay, weekly columnist for the National Post in Canada, quotes, Cesar Millan, who seems to confirm the theory of The Economist

The power that comes behind bull dog, pit bull, presa canario, the fighting breed—they have an extra boost, they can go into a zone, they don’t feel the pain anymore . . . If you are trying to create submission in a fighting breed, it’s not going to happen. They would rather die than surrender . . . If you add pain, it only infuriates them . . . to them pain is that adrenaline rush, they are looking forward to that, they are addicted to it.

 – Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer 

L-TYROSINE -- IS IT A FACTOR IN PIT BULL ATTACKS? 

In a 2006 study by Dr. Mauro Di Pasquale, "An In-Depth Analysis Of L-Tyrosine," he discusses many of the effects of L-Tyrosine (in regard to athletes), which can be administered or naturally produced within the body: 

"Thus, tyrosine and phenylalanine (which can be converted to tyrosine) are precursors for the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine... The use of tyrosine may potentially be useful as an anti-depressant, as well as for its stimulating and anorexiant properties." 

IS PIT BULL AGGRESSION DUE TO TRAINING OR GENETICS? 

Pit Bull advocates blame any bad behavior and fighting instinct on "training." It seems fairly logical that the owners of Pit Bulls do not train them to kill themselves and their families. Thus, don't we need to look honestly at the genetics and physiology of the dog and whether it can be changed by breeding to remove the triggers which cause unpredictable and deadly behavior?  

Or, are the real political and economic forces behind "No Breed-Specific Legislation" those who benefit from the dog's behavior--the multi-billion-dollar dog-fighting industry, which does not want the bloodlines or behavior changed and has no responsibility or risk if you or your child or victims across the nation are attacked?

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.