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.

Perspective: the dog bite epidemic in the USA

The most recent USA survey of dog bites conducted by CDC researchers concluded that in 2001, 2002 and 2003 there were 4.5 million American dog bite victims per year (1.5% of the entire population). (Sacks JJ, Kresnow M. Dog bites: still a problem? Injury Prevention 2008 Oct;14(5):296-301 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18836045.)

Dog bites send nearly 316,200 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (898 per day). (Holmquist, L. (Thomson Reuters), and Elixhauser, A. (AHRQ). Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008. November 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb101.pdf)

Approximately 750,000 dog bite victims require medical care each year. (J.J. Sacks, M.Kresnow, and B.Houston, Dog Bites: How Big a Problem?, Injury Prevention, March 1996; 2: 52-54, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1067642/.)

The financial impact of dog bites

The total annual monetary loss from dog attacks in the USA is between $1 billion ("Take the bite out of man's best friend." State Farm Times, 1998;3(5):2) and $2 billion (Voelker R. "Dog bites recognized as public health problem." JAMA 1997;277:278,280).

The average cost of a dog bite-related inpatient stay is $18,200, which is 50% higher than the average cost of other injury-related hospitalizations ($12,100). (Holmquist, L. (Thomson Reuters), and Elixhauser, A. (AHRQ). Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008. November 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb101.pdf)

Approximatly half of the medical costs of dog bites are paid by Medicare, Medicaid, health care providers (because no payment is made) and the victims themselves, while a bit less than the other half is paid by private insurance. (Holmquist, L. (Thomson Reuters), and Elixhauser, A. (AHRQ). Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008. November 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb101.pdf)

Dog bites and other dog-related injuries account for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out to victims and defense attorneys, costing more than $570 million. (Insurance Information Institute, Dog Bite Liability, May 2016, http://www.iii.org/issue-update/dog-bite-liability.)

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 11-year period from 2005 to 2015, pit bulls killed 232 Americans, about one person every 17 days. (Colleen Lynn, 2015 U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities, at http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2015.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 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.) 

Pit bulls kill other people's pets and animals

In 2015, pit bulls killed more than 24,000 dogs, 13,000 cats, 9,000 hooved animals, and between 30,000 and 45,000 small mammals and poultry. (Merritt Clifton, Pit bulls killed 24,000 other dogs & 13,000 cats in 2015, at http://www.animals24-7.org/2016/01/31/pit-bulls-killed-24000-other-dogs-13000-cats-in-2015/.)

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 bulls kill 3 African-American children for every one white child

A black child is about three times more likely than a white child to be killed by a pit bull. (Merritt Clifton, A black-and-white issue that the humane community has yet to face, at http://www.animals24-7.org/2016/01/20/a-black-and-white-issue-that-the-humane-community-has-yet-to-face/.)

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.)