There has been no published study of the number of dog bites suffered by humans which resulted from an attack or attempted attack by one dog against another dog. Nevertheless, the experience of Attorney Kenneth Phillips suggests that a significant percentage of bites to humans result from such incidents. For that reason, it is his opinion that a dog's propensity to attack other dogs clearly makes that dog dangerous to people.
Approximately one-third of Mr. Phillips' cases started out as a dog attacking another dog, and then turned into a dog attacking a person. For example:
- A 14-year-old girl was walking her puppy in a small Texas town. Across the street, a pit bull in the fenced front yard spied the puppy. The pit jumped the fence and raced toward the girl and her pet. Seeing the pit coming, the girl picked up her puppy and held it over her head. The pit bull arrived and began biting the girl on her arms, legs and buttocks, which left her with ugly, permanent scars. The physical injuries and medical expenses resulted in a settlement of $100,000.00.
- An eye surgeon took his dog to a dog park. While there, his dog and another began to fight. The other dog was a mastiff; the doctor's dog was a labrador. The mastiff grabbed the labrador by the throat and started shaking it. Neither the mastiff's owner nor the doctor could make the mastiff let go. The doctor had a can of Mace in his pocket. He sprayed Mace into the eyes of the mastiff. It let go of the labrador's throat and began biting the doctor on his hand. As a result of the injuries to his hand, the doctor finds it difficult to engage in his occupation as an eye surgeon who has to do microsurgery -- a job that requires steady hands. The settlement was $50,000.00.
On the basis of cases which he handled or was involved in, Mr. Phillips is of the opinion that one of the things that makes any dog dangerous to people is its propensity to attack other dogs. The reason is that the owner of the other dog is often nearby, either trying to pull the dog away, holding the dog, or breaking up the fight. It is natural for a human being to protect his or her pet. This is a normal human response to a dog fight -- unless the person is a criminal who attends dog fights.
Therefore this is an unpublicized danger worthy of further attention and study. For example, people need to know how to protect their dog (vigilance, keep it on a leash, be familiar with the other dogs in the neighborhood, etc.) and how to break up a dog fight without getting hurt (grabbing a dog by its legs rather than reaching into its mouth). The authorities need to study the issue further.
There is a side of this that is a current hot topic in the dog world: breed specific laws. It is a sad fact of life that the pit bull was created by mankind to kill other small animals. Like it or not, that is what the dog was bred for, and it remains the essence of the dog. Any one pit bull might be sweet to its owner, but is still "hard-wired" to kill other small animals. For that reason, pit bulls are dangerous to people because they have the in-born propensity to attack other people's pets, which often results in a redirected attack against the other people, or a bite to another person.