The iconic pit bull isn’t exactly America’s favorite breed of dog. In fact, it’s one of the most reviled. Pit bulls are known to bite humans more than other breeds, which makes it difficult for them to find a home. These dogs deserve to live a happy, healthy life just like any other animal, but they need to be sheltered in a way that reduces their threat to the public.
American dog shelters have a pit bull problem on their hands. More than 50% of all pitbulls in the U.S. are either up for sale or adoption, and between 19% and 32% of all dogs taken to shelters are pit bulls. And getting rid of them is easier said than done. Pit bulls remain in shelters approximately three times as long as other breeds. If the animal fails to find a home, shelters have no choice but to put them down. Forty percent of all pit bulls in shelters are euthanized every year.
So, are these dogs really as big of a threat as they seem?
Unfortunately, pit bulls are known to bite more humans than other breeds of dogs. From February 2013 to the present, animal control agencies and health departments in 19 U.S. states report that pit bulls are leading all breeds in biting incidents. From 2008 to 2018, pit bulls killed or maimed 3,569 people in the U.S. and Canada.
Pit bull bites are also more deadly than those of other breeds. When they bite, they bite hard.
From 2011 to 2019, 14 peer-reviewed retrospective medical studies from Level 1 trauma centers from all four corners of the U.S. all came to the same conclusion: pit bulls are inflicting a higher prevalence of injuries than all other breeds of dogs.
Another study found that pit bulls inflict “more complex wounds” than other breeds. The wounds were more likely to be unprovoked and the animals were more likely to roam off the designated property. “The probability of a bite resulting in a complex wound was 4.4 times higher for pit bulls compared with the other top-biting breeds,” the authors wrote.
So, what’s the solution?
Dog owners should be ready to accept the responsibility that comes with raising a pit bull. That means keeping them in enclosed areas from which they can’t escape. Children and people sensitive to dogs should stay away from the animal. Most Americans believe that families with small children shouldn’t have pit bulls.
These animals can also be a danger to other dogs and animals. In 2019, pit bulls accounted for 91% of all reported fatal attacks on other animals, 91% of all fatal attacks on other dogs, 76% of all fatal dog attacks on cats, and 82% of all fatal dog attacks on other pets, poultry, and hoofed species.
But some pit bull owners aren’t carrying their weight. In fact, pit bull owners are more likely to be irresponsible than the owners of other dogs. For example, they may not have insurance to cover the damages caused by their dog.
Several published, peer-reviewed studies in authoritative journals of psychology and forensic science report that pit bull owners on average are more likely to be socially deviant, engage in crimes involving children, domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and violent crimes against other persons.
In some cases, pit bulls also have been known to eat their owners. In 2019, police found the remains of Freddie Mack (57, Johnson County, TX) in the excrement of his 15 pit bulls.
Pit bulls account for more than their fair share of accidents and injuries considering less than 6% of all dogs in the U.S. are pit bulls. There were approximately 4.5 million pit bulls in the United States in 2019, making up approximately 5.8% of the country’s dog population.