By Attorney Kenneth M. Phillips, author of Dog Bite Law (dogbitelaw.com)
Note: at the request of users of DogBiteLaw.com, this page can be printed out with the authoritative citations that support each point made about pit bulls.
The number of pit bulls
There are approximately 4,680,000 pit bulls in the United States. (There are 90 million dogs and pit bulls make up 5.2% of them. See American Pet Products Association, Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics and Merritt Clifton, 2016 survey: List of top 5 U.S. dog breed types ousts pit bulls.)
Pit bulls are disliked by most Americans
Americans believe that pit bulls are at least somewhat dangerous and that a family with small children should not harbor a pit bull. (YouGov.us, Poll Results: Pit Bulls, July 24, 2014, https://today.yougov.com/news/2014/07/24/poll-results-pit-bulls/.)
Most of the pit bulls offered for sale or adoption have been given up by their former owners. (Merritt Clifton, "Rescued" pit bulls now outnumber pit puppies, http://www.animals24-7.org/2017/06/14/rescued-pit-bulls-now-outnumber-pit-puppies/)
Between 19% and 32% of all dogs taken to shelters are pit bulls. (Emily Weiss, Rising from the Pitt, ASPCAPro, https://www.aspcapro.org/blog/2017/05/19/rising-pit [19%]; Merritt Clifton, "Rescued" pit bulls now outnumber pit puppies, http://www.animals24-7.org/2017/06/14/rescued-pit-bulls-now-outnumber-pit-puppies/ [32%].)
Pit bulls remain in shelters approximately three times as long as other breeds. (Lisa M. Gunter, Rebecca T. Barber, Clive D. L. Wynne, What’s in a Name? Effect of Breed Perceptions & Labeling on Attractiveness, Adoptions & Length of Stay for Pit-Bull-Type Dogs, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0146857).
Forty percent of pit bulls in shelters are euthanized every year. (Emily Weiss, Rising from the Pitt, ASPCAPro, https://www.aspcapro.org/blog/2017/05/19/rising-pit).
Pit bulls bite more humans than other breeds
Approximately 75 studies conducted in 28 USA states, as well as cities, counties and Canadian provinces, establish that the number of pit bull attacks on humans far exceeds the number of attacks on humans by other breeds. (The studies are summarized and linked at Dogsbite.org, Pit Bulls Lead "Bite" Counts Across U.S. Cities and Counties, Sept. 1, 2016, http://blog.dogsbite.org/2009/07/pit-bulls-lead-bite-counts-across-us.html.)
In the 13-year period from 2005 to 2017, pit bulls killed 283 Americans. (Colleen Lynn, 12-Year U.S. Dog Bite Fatality Chart and Colleen Lynn, 2017 U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities.) In 2017, 39 Americans were fatally mauled by dogs, and 29 of the 39 were killed by pit bulls. (See Colleen Lynn, https://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2017.php.)
There are 3.6 million pit bulls in the USA, including purebreds and mixes, making them about 6.6% of the canine population. (Merritt Clifton, Most Popular Breed in US Ain't Nothing But a Hound Dog, at http://www.animals24-7.org/2015/07/20/most-popular-breed-in-u-s-aint-nothing-but-a-hound-dog/.) They are responsible for over 80% of all canine homicides. (Colleen Lynn, 2015 U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities, at http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2015.php.)
Pit bull bites are more deadly than those of other breeds
Studies by health care providers establish that pit bull attacks are associated with higher median Injury Severity Scale scores, a higher number of hospital admissions, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death. (Bini, John K. MD; Cohn, Stephen M. MD; Acosta, Shirley M. RN, BSN; McFarland, Marilyn J. RN, MS; Muir, Mark T. MD; Michalek, Joel E. PhD, Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs, Annals of Surgery: April 2011, vol. 253, iss. 4, pp. 791–797, cited at http://journals.lww.com/annalsofsurgery/Abstract/2011/04000/Mortality,_Mauling,_and_Maiming_by_Vicious_Dogs.23.aspx.)
Pit bulls killed 33 of the 45 people in the USA and Canada who died after being attacked by a dog in 2015. (Merritt Clifton, Record 33 fatal pit bull attacks & 459 disfigurements in 2015, at http://www.animals24-7.org/2016/01/04/record-33-fatal-pit-bull-attacks-459-disfigurements-in-2015/)
Pit bull owners are more likely to be irresponsible
In nearly all of the cases in which Attorney Kenneth M. Phillips has been consulted, where a pit bull killed a person, the pit bull owners had no insurance and therefore the victim's family received no justice in the form of compensation.
Published, peer-reviewed studies in authoritative journals of psychology and forensic science establish that pit bulls owners as a whole -- statistically -- are more likely to be socially deviant, engage in crimes involving children, domestic violence, alchohol abuse, and violent crimes against other persons. (Jaclyn E. Barnes, Barbara W. Boat, Frank W. Putnam, Harold F. Dates, and Andrew R. Mahlman, Ownership of High-Risk ("Vicious") Dogs As a Marker for Deviant Behaviors, J. Interpersonal Violence, Volume 21 Number 12, December 2006 1616-1634, abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17065657; Laurie Ragatz M.A., William Fremouw Ph.D., Tracy Thomas M.A., Katrina McCoy B.S., Vicious Dogs: The Antisocial Behaviors and Psychological Characteristics of Owners, Journal of Forensic Sciences, Volume 54, Issue 3, pages 699–703, May 2009, abstract at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1556-4029.2009.01001.x/abstract; Allison M. Schenk, B.A.; Laurie L. Ragatz, M.S.; and William J. Fremouw, Ph.D, A.B.P.P., Vicious Dogs Part 2: Criminal Thinking, Callousness, and Personality Styles of Their Owners, J Forensic Sci, January 2012, Vol. 57, No. 1, doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2011.01961.x, available online at: onlinelibrary.wiley.com.)
The worst example is Laquandra Kinchen Ligons who in 2014 stabbed to death a neighbor who poked Ligons' pit bull with a metal rod to protect the victim's cats. (Pablo Lopez for The Fresno Bee, Fresno woman sentenced to 12 years for killing woman in dispute over pets, http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/crime/article19643112.html#storylink=cpy.)
Pit bulls kill their owners and family members more than half the time
Of the 31 Americans killed by dogs in 2016, 23 were killed by pitbulls and their mixes, and 12 of those 23 victims were either the owner of the pitbull (4) or a member of the pitbull owner's family (8). (See details given by Colleen Lynn, http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2016.php.) In 2017, of the 39 Americans killed by dogs, 29 were killed by pitbulls and their mixes, and 18 of those 29 victims were either the owner of the pitbull or a family member (including a relative). (See Colleen Lynn, https://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2017.php.)
Pit bulls kill more children than any other breed of dog
In 2017, dogs killed 15 children out of the 39 total human fatalities. Pit bulls kllled 8 of the 15 youths. (See Colleen Lynn, https://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2017.php.)
Pit bulls are the No. 1 canine killers of other people's pets and animals
In 2017, pit bulls killed 13,000 dogs, 5,000 cats and 20,000 horses and other farm animals. (See Merritt Clifton, 'Pit Bull Roulette' killed 38,000 other animals in 2017.) Having destroyed more than 90% of other animals killed by dogs, the breed became the number one killer of other people's pets, horses and farm animals.
Pit bulls engage in home invasions more often than any other dog
Approximately once per month during 2015, 2016 and 2017, a pit bull has entered the home of a person not its owner for the purpose of killing or injuring people or pets. In addition to homes, the invaded premises have included apartments, schools and even a police station. There were 16 such incidents in 2015, 17 in 2016, and 11 in 2017, with the first recorded one in 1912. (See Safety Before Pit Bulldogs, Extreme Attacks: List of Invasion Attacks by Pit Bulls, at http://safetybeforebulldogs.blogspot.com/2014/03/collection-of-home-invasion-pit-bull.html.)
Pit bull attacks (deaths and disfigurements) are on the rise
Fatal and disfiguring attacks by pit bulls have risen 830% since 2007. (Merritt Clifton, Record 33 fatal pit bull attacks & 459 disfigurements in 2015, at http://www.animals24-7.org/2016/01/04/record-33-fatal-pit-bull-attacks-459-disfigurements-in-2015/)
The pit bull attack cover-up is on the rise
The authorities either unwittingly or purposely are engaging in a cover-up pertaining to pit bull violence. In the three decades from 1982 t0 2013, only 45 canine homicides or disfigurements were by dogs of an unidentified breed, but in 2014 there were 36 and in 2015 there were 78. (Merritt Clifton, Record 33 fatal pit bull attacks & 459 disfigurements in 2015, at http://www.animals24-7.org/2016/01/04/record-33-fatal-pit-bull-attacks-459-disfigurements-in-2015/)
"Pit bull" is a term that describes all descendents of the Old English Bulldog
The Old English Bulldog was adapted into a fighting dog referred to as the "Bull and Terrier," which then became the Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, English Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, etc. All such varieties are referred to as "pit bulls" or "pit bulls and their mixes." (See, i.e., Staffordshire Bull Terrier from The Book of the Dog, http://www.staffordmall.com/phildrabble.htm.)
Dogs that attack other dogs are dangerous to people
A study in Orange County, Florida, established that in a 12-month period 7% of all bites to humans occurred when two dogs met. (WKMG 6 News, Web Extra: Animal Bite Statistics," June 2, 2015, cited at http://www.webcitation.org/6Z1dDCYdp.)