News Flash: Banning Pit Bulls Reduces Dog Bites… Or Does It?

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A groundbreaking study from Canada claims to show that the incidence of hospitalizations from dog bites has decreased after Pit Bull-banning legislation was introduced:

The University of Manitoba-affiliated authors analyzed two decades of data before and after pioneering dog legislation in their province. They caution that the results do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, but do point to a significant link between the laws and bite-related hospitalizations.

“I was surprised at the result at first myself,” said Dr. Malathi Raghavan, an epidemiologist at the university and the lead researcher. “It leaves me with a positive impression [of the laws]. There’s something in it.”

What the study doesn’t tell you is that the numbers of dog attacks were already falling before the Pit Bull bans were introduced. The photo in the article (See the picture above) demonstrates the problem – the dog is the photo is not actually a Pit Bull.

The fact is, no-one really knows what makes a dog a Pit Bull. There is no test for Pit Bull. So when a study tries to measure how many people are injured by Pit Bulls:

“Last year, a Texas study published found a large proportion of dog-bite injuries treated at a major trauma centre were inflicted by pit bulls, and that those attacks were more likely to cause death, severe injuries, hospital admissions and higher hospital bills”

What they are measuring is the incidence of people’s understanding of what a Pit Bull actually is.

And if I, a Veterinarian with 12 years experience of working in the animal welfare field, have difficulty defining a Pit Bull, what about an average person?

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

4 comments

  1. Your posts are excellent and well presented, thankyou! The ‘Pit Bull Controversy’ is something that’s close to my heart, something that I’ve done a great deal of reading about, and many hours thinking about. Here in the UK we have the ‘Staffie Controversy’, with attacks by Staffies making headlines while attacks by Border Collies for example (in my experience more aggressive and unpredictable than Staffies) aren’t reported.. 9 times out of 10 it’s owner irresponsibility that’s the problem, and it angers me that innocent dogs like Lennox (a ‘carer’ dog for his family’s disabled daughter) are being taken from their homes, kept in horrifying conditions and then killed in the name of the law, just for looking like a Pit Bull. It’s discrimination that shouldn’t be allowed in a modern society, just as for apartheid..

    • Good point. There are many breeds I could put on par with Pit Bulls in the measure of their destructive ability. German Shepherds and Rottweilers. Come to mind. Once you start thinking like that, there is no end to ‘dangerous breeds’. The real solution, of course, is education and training.

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