“By the time rescue workers arrived, the woman’s intestines were on the floor, Linda told me. Her mother’s arms were mangled. One arm was amputated before the poor woman died in the hospital the next morning.” This is how Kerry Dougherty described a pit bull attack in the July 3, 2017 issue of The Virginian-Pilot.
Yet in her letter to the editor of this newspaper, Marian Sarchet would have us believe there is no difference between a chow and a pit bull, which leads inevitably to some questions. Why is it that dogs killed 392 Americans from 2005-2016 and none of the dogs involved were chows but 65 percent were pit bulls, which only make up 6 percent of the dog population? Why is it that more than 10 peer reviewed articles and studies published in scholarly journals like Clinical Pediatrics, Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery have shown that pit bulls are the most likely to bite, the most likely to bite a person in multiple locations and the most likely to cause death? Why is it pit bulls not chows are the favorite dog of drug dealers, dog fighters and other deviants?
As soon as I read about an Amsterdam boy being mauled by a pit bull and a Johnstown police officer shooting a pit bull that lunged at him as he lay on the ground, I knew the “all breeds are the same” propagandists would come out of the woodwork and light smudge pots to cloud the issue. That they did, writing letters to local newspapers and leaving comments on their web sites. What I find most appalling is not one expressed any compassion for the victims of the attacks.
They repeated the same old dogma, the same myths they have used for years to halt responsible legislation that would deal with a serious problem. One myth is the infamous Nanny Dog Myth. Says Ms. Sarchet in her letter, “Oh, yes. Nanny dogs — that is what pit bulls are called in England, gentle pets who love and protect their families and children.” But this myth and the name Nanny dog are recent inventions. The so called Nanny dog, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which in America became the Pit Bull Terrier, was described in a 1908 New York Times article as a fighting machine that “… does not simply take a hold and stay there. He takes a hold and begins to eat his way through and tear and worry. If his first hold doesn’t suit, he takes another. If he gets his adversary by the throat, he will tear out the throat in a minute or so and end the battle.” Ms. Sarchet also failed to mention that the American Pit Bull Terrier is banned in the UK, home to the mythical Nanny dog.
Space does not allow me to deal with other myths. You can easily find them by doing a little research. Better yet watch some videos or view some photographs of people being attacked or killed by pit bulls.
At least 40 countries have passed breed specific legislation. All studies done where breed specific legislation has been enacted have shown a dramatic drop in fatal dog attacks. This includes studies ranging from Aurora, Colorado to Catalonia in Spain. Federal and state courts have upheld breed specific legislation more than 30 times.
If some states have rescinded breed specific regulations, it is because politicians have listened to a small group of propagandists rather than the voices of dog bite victims, police officers, scientists, pediatricians and surgeons. Surgeons like Dr. David A. Billmire who for 30 years has done reconstructive surgery on children in the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital after being mauled by pit bulls. In an op-ed piece for Cincinnati.com in 2014, Billmire wrote, “Based on my extensive experience, I believe that the risk posed by pit bulls is equivalent to placing a loaded gun with the safety off on the coffee table. In my opinion, these dogs should be banned.”
I agree with the dogmatists on one point—it is not the pit bull’s fault if it attacks, maims and kills. It is doing what it was bred to do. The pit bull did not exist in nature or come about by evolution. It was created by irresponsible humans for one primary purpose. And it is irresponsible people spreading propaganda about pit bulls who bear some responsibility for the 254 Americans who were killed between 2005 and 2016 and the tens of thousands who required extensive reconstructive surgery because of “Nanny dogs.”
Dan Weaver lives in the Town of Florida and operates a business in downtown Amsterdam.