SCOPE OF ISSUES

“Although only 5% of the U.S. and Canadian dog population are pit bulls, in the past nine years pit bulls have accounted for 80% of the dogs involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks, resulting in two-thirds of the deaths and disfigurements.”
“Pit Bull Awareness day & month mark 33 years of exponentially accelerating pit bull mayhem”
by Merritt Clifton, October 3, 2015

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Victims of pit bulls include children, families, communities, pets and and farm animals. The extensive numbers of attacks and victim services takes a severe toll on the healthcare system, taxpayers, animal control services, police and police department staff, fire departments, and emergency responders. Please read more about the impact of pit bulls on taxpayers and communities.

PIT BULLS ARE A DANGER TO PEOPLE

Dog MaulingPit bull attacks on humans in the U.S. have reached an epidemic level, increasing 773 percent from 2007-2014. In a 30-year study of dog attacks in Canada and the US, 3394 people were attacked by dogs in a fatal and disfiguring manner. 2113 or 60% of the attacks were by pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

So far in 2015, pill bulls have killed 18 people, most of them young children and the elderly. In 2014, 27 people were killed by pit bulls and in 2013, 25 people were killed. In the 8-year period from 2005 to 2012, pit bulls killed one American citizen every 19 days. Canadians have not experienced the pit bull carnage evident in the U.S., but attacks in Canada are on the increase.

AVOCA, a national ad hoc coalition of bereaved families and survivors of canine attacks, is one group that seeks to lend a voice to victims while educating the general public. View details of human deaths by pit bulls in 2015 and details of human deaths by pit bulls in 2014. For more information and statistics, see AVOCA and Ban Pit Bulls.

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PIT BULLS ARE DANGEROUS TO FAMILIES

familyMichael Vick’s high-profile trial for dogfighting and cruelty to animals in 2007 roused a growing sympathy for pit bulls, encouraging people to adopt them and bring them into their homes. In the almost-10 years since, pit bulls have been increasingly marketed to families with children as a result of overbreeding, overcrowding in shelters, and extensive public relations campaigns.

Pit bulls are not suitable family dogs. A study of fatal dog attacks between 1990 and 2007 found that 85% of pit bull victims were children, and 48% of people killed by pit bulls in 2014 were family members. Approximately 85% of victims are under 13 years old and most are under 3. The majority of pit bull attacks are triggered by small, everyday movements: answering a phone, reaching for TV remote, opening a purse, opening a car door, slipping on ice, sitting down on a bed, reading a Bible, and taking down a Christmas tree. View details of unprovoked triggers. The number of attacks has rapidly increased as more pit bulls of unknown backgrounds are adopted. From 1991 to 1998, pit bulls averaged nearly 3 deaths per year, while from 2007 to 2014, pit bulls averaged 21 deaths per year.

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PIT BULLS ARE A COMMUNITY ISSUE

communityPit bulls are a community issue that affects the right of the public to use the streets, sidewalks, laneways, parks and public spaces of a city or town. People are being attacked while jogging, riding their bikes, taking out garbage, picking up their mail, or entering and exiting stores.

A healthy community is a cohesive, safe and happy place that provides a high quality of life for everyone, without fear of attack by an unpredictable dog. It is our social responsibility is to take special care of those most vulnerable in our society – the young, elderly and disabled, and to protect our community members, including people who move through communities to do their jobs: mail carriers, meter readers, delivery people, landscapers, police officers, and animal control. Read more about attacks on mail carriers and on people shopping at PetSmart and Petco.

daxtonsJeff Borchardt, whose 14-month-old son Daxton was killed by his babysitter’s pit bulls, recently launched a billboard project in Wisconsin to educate communities about the dangers of pit bulls. Daxton’s Friends for Canine Education and Awareness sponsors the billboards through donations and provides information to the public about dog breeds and safety. Borchardt believes the general public is being told “a very dangerous set of myths” by animal shelters and “rescue” organizations whose goal is to place millions of cast-off pit bulls and other dangerous dog breeds into the homes of average families.

Artist Joan Kowal initiated and continues with a poignant touring outdoor art exhibit, which includes crosses for each fatality victim. Unfortunately, with more than 200 new victims each month, community outreach will continue to grow. For more information on community initiatives, please visit Daxton’s Friends, Out of the Blue, Frankie Fund, The P Word Tour, Walk for Victims of Pit Bulls

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PIT BULLS ARE DANGEROUS TO PETS AND COMPANION ANIMALS

petsCommunities become terrorized by stray pit bulls or neighboring pit bulls when these dogs maim and kill precious pets, a daily occurrence across the U.S. and a sporadic occurrence in Canada. Stories of pit bulls attacking beloved dogs and cats can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pitbullskilledmypet.

Fifty-thousand dogs per year, including at least 34,250 pit bulls, attack other animals, according to Animals 24-7 analysis of dog attack data from 2013-2014. Of the 82,000 animal victims per year, 59,000 die; 23,000 survive their injuries. Pit bulls killed 95% of 15,500 dogs that were fatally attacked by other dogs.

Pit bulls were responsible for 61% of the fatal dog attacks on cats in 2013-2014, killing 5,216 cats. While more dog deaths by pit bulls are reported than cat deaths, pit bulls were responsible for almost 2/3 of the cats killed by dogs in a two-year period. For more information see http://www.animals24-7.org/2015/01/27/how-many-other-animals-did-pit-bulls-kill-in-2014/

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PIT BULLS ARE DANGEROUS TO FARM ANIMALS

farmMany sources document pit bull attacks on livestock, a worrisome set of statistics because not much can be done to protect these farm animals. True to their bull-baiting heritage, pit bulls kill enormous numbers of cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas, donkeys, pigs, and chickens. Pit bulls are known to severely injure and even kill horses, 1,000-pound animals.

Merritt Clifton, of Animals 24-7, has studied pit bull attacks for over 30 years. In 2013-14, he noted that pit bulls killed 93% of 6,000 hooved animals that were fatally attacked by dogs. For more information on animal attacks, please see Animals 24-7, Ban Pit Bulls and Sudden, Random, Unprovoked and Violent.

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PIT BULLS ARE A HEALTHCARE ISSUE

healthcarePit bull attacks are a costly healthcare issue. In 2013, about 27,000 people in the United States underwent reconstructive surgery after a dog attack. About 800,000 bite victims a year, at least half of them children, require medical attention. An average of 25 people a year have been killed by pit bulls in the U.S. in recent years. The collateral costs include life flights, lifesaving interventions, plastic surgeries, burials, and mental health costs for post-surgical trauma and PTSD. Due to the utter savagery of pit bull attacks, most surviving victims suffer PTSD, a lifelong struggle.

A Texas hospital study found that attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Out of 334 dog attacks studied, one-third of the attacks were caused by pit bull terriers and resulted in the highest rate of consultation (94%) as well as 5 times the relative rate of surgical intervention. Imagine the impact of this disproportionate use of resources in hospitals across the U.S. In addition, a 2014 UC Davis (Pediatrics) research document is part of a growing body of scientific evidence showing that pit bulls, unprovoked, inflict much more damage than all other dog breeds. On top of the extreme costs to the medical institutions themselves, rarely do pit bull owners help pay medical expenses, which are typically borne by victims and taxpayers. The average pit bull injury starts at $25,000 and quickly goes beyond. For more information, see http://blog.dogsbite.org/2008/04/flashback-pit-bull-problem-is-over-20.html

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PIT BULLS ARE A TAXPAYER ISSUE

animal-controlIn addition to the toll they take on victims, pit bulls are the most overbred and euthanized dogs in North America, with taxpayers subsidizing the euthanization of more than 1 million pit bulls in shelters every year. Attacking pit bulls are quarantined and/or held in shelters, sometimes for over a year, with taxpayers subsidizing their boarding.

Example: For the investigation of dog attacks and dealing with dangerous dogs, the cost to taxpayers of Animal Services in the Portland, Oregon area (where pit bulls have attacked 8 times more than the next breed of dog) totalled more than $3 million in the fiscal year 2015.

About two-thirds of the dogs in U.S. shelters as of June 2014 were housed by tax-funded animal care and control facilities, and of those, 34% were pit bulls.

The collateral cost of managing the current pit bull crisis in North America far exceeds the cost of monitoring restrictions on pit bull type dogs, including mandatory spay/neutering. The costs rise exponentially every year. In 1999, pit bulls were about 3% of the U.S. dog population, but accounted for 17% of shelter dog admissions. Since 2000, pit bulls have increased to about 5% of the U.S. dog population, but were about 25% of shelter dog admissions and 50% of the dogs killed in shelters during the 10 years ending in 2009. Pit bulls since 2010 have increased to almost a third of shelter dog admissions nationally, and more than 60 % of the dogs killed in shelters. For more information, see Ban All Pit Bulls – Blogspot and the Dogsbite.org

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PIT BULLS ARE AN ANIMAL CONTROL ISSUE

animal-control 2The toll that pit bulls take on Animal Control officers reduces time for officers and staff to help other people and animals. In a 30-year study of dog attacks in Canada and the U.S., 3,394 people were attacked by dogs in a fatal and disfiguring manner, and 2,113 or 60% of the attacks were by pit bulls and pit bull mixes. Pit Bulls are the #1 biters in many communities, and when a dog bites, a report must be filed, and rabies ordinances, such as 10 day rabies observations, must be followed. This is time-consuming to animal control staff and can be costly, since staff must be paid to handle and follow up on these bite cases.

Stray pit bulls are generally held by animal control for 3-10 days. Even if it is determined that an animal would be euthanized when reclaimed, it cannot be euthanized until the stray hold is up. When shelters have many animals on stray hold, adoptable-owner surrenders may have to be euthanized to make room. With 40% of the population being pit bulls, this means many of the animals on stray hold are pit bulls. Essentially, the high pit bull population is indirectly causing the euthanasia of adoptable animals.

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PIT BULLS ARE A POLICE AND PARAMEDICS ISSUE

policePolice officers and sheriffs are often caught in no-win situations, in which they are not able to reach victims in time, or they need to shoot attacking pit bulls to save themselves or other people.

When an attack occurs and victims are fighting for their lives, first responders cannot by law attend to them until police have secured the area. Many victims have to be life-flighted to a trauma center and every second counts. There have been cases where the victim expired at the scene from exsanguination while awaiting medical attention while police attempted to restrain or capture dogs. Firemen cannot enter burning residences or buildings if an aggressive pit bull threatens them in the doorway or yard.

First responders are frequently subjected to horrific scenes in the aftermath of a pit bull mauling. They are the first to witness the damage to pit bull attack victims, who often lose limbs, scalps, noses, ears, eyes, chins, and genitals to these dogs. Officers have even called the attacks “feeding frenzies”.

Attacking pit bulls sometimes have to be shot many times before releasing victims. There have been hundreds of examples of pit bull advocates tying up phone lines, flooding email addresses, marching, picketing police stations, and demanding national attention when aggressive pit bulls are shot by police to stop or to prevent a mauling or fatality. In 2014, pit bull advocates picketed the Peoria Police Station to protest the alleged shootings of three local pit bulls and to demand charges of animal cruelty be laid against the officers. In Regina, Canada, the police service was forced to close its Facebook page as a result of abusive, profane and hateful comments by pit bull advocates. They reported, “We did this because the nature of the discussion was largely disrespectful and, despite requests, continued to contain profanity and hate speech, as well as posts inciting violence.” Police officers who shoot aggressive pit bulls are usually assigned to desk duty awaiting review, further impacting the economics of law enforcement.

For commentaries on cases where pit bulls were shot or confronted by police, see https://www.facebook.com/groups/PitBullsShotByPolice/

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PIT BULLS ARE A LEGISLATION ISSUE

pitbull25For many years the powerful and well-funded pit bull lobby has sought to dismantle breed-specific legislation at the state level across the U.S. and also in Ontario. Pit bull enthusiasts waste enormous amounts of taxpayer money protesting an acknowledged public health and safety issue.

Despite the fact that more than 700 U.S. cities have enacted bans or restrictions on pit bulls, lawmakers in 19 states have been persuaded by animal welfare groups to remove the power of regional bans at a state level. Yet three of these states, California, Florida, and Texas, have fatality-by-pit-bull numbers higher than all other states’ numbers.

In 2015, legislators in seven U.S. states have been in the crosshairs of the powerful and well-funded pit bull lobby: AZ, GA, KY, MI, MT, NC, and WA. So far, AZ, GA, KY, MT, NC, and WA have voted against a state-level anti-BSL bill. By doing so, they are supporting the right of individual counties, cities and communities to enact breed-specific restrictions against dangerous dogs, mainly pit bulls. The MI bill is in progress (October 2015). Many of these anti-BSL bills carry over into the following year, so if a bill is defeated in 2015, it might carry over into 2016. See http://www.dogsbite.org/pdf/3.5-year-trend-bsl-preemption-bills-dogsbite-org.pdf and http://blog.dogsbite.org/2015/09/release-breed-specific-legislation-faq.html for more information.

With a battle cry of “Blame the deed, not the breed”, pit bull lobbyists promote punishing people after their dogs attack, rather than preventing attacks in the first place. However, it is almost impossible to ask legislators for pit bull restrictions, and almost impossible for them to do their job. For example, when former Sen. Bruce Starr, a Republican, proposed a ban on pit bulls in 2009, he said a backlash swept the Capitol. “Every phone and email address in the building was melted down,” he said. When Rep. Vicki Berger introduced a separate 2009 bill that would have required pit bull owners to obtain $1 million in liability insurance, she “subsequently heard from every pit bull owner in the world”. Massive protests and large-scale terrorist tactics are intended to scare legislators and city council members from ever introducing the topic of breed-specific restrictions, much less approve it.

The U.S. federal government is also at odds with itself. In 2013, the White House issued a statement against laws banning specific breeds, saying they are “ineffective and often a waste of public resources.” Yet the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marines all ban pit bulls and other breeds on their bases. For more information on legislation issues, see http://www.dogsbite.org/legislating-dangerous-dogs-bsl-faq.php

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PIT BULLS ARE A SHELTER ISSUE

sheltersArguably the most serious issue in shelters is euthanization. The numbers of pit bulls in shelters across America increased up to 60% in 2014, with 80% of pit bulls in shelters ultimately euthanized. Of 11 major shelter systems that provided pit-bull-killing data in 2012, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Regulation killed 53% of their pit bull intake, and the average among the other 11 systems was 80%. For more information, see Animal People News.

In a new trend, many shelters and rescue groups, desperate for homes, downplay their danger with ads designed to mislead potential adopters: calling them “medium brown dogs” and other descriptors instead of naming the breed; naming them after celebrities; using cute names and descriptions; using euphemisms to describe character and behavior; and calling them mixes like “lab mixes” or “boxer mixes”.

Potential adopters believe they can rely on the expertise of shelters for sound advice about potential pit bull adoptions. The truth is that shelters are educated by advocates of dangerous dogs in how to avoid liability when adopting out potentially or known dangerous dogs.

Since 2010, at least 41 dogs — including 30 pit bulls — rehomed by U.S. shelters and rescues have participated in killing 38 people. In the shelters themselves, where pit bulls frequently kill other dogs, the ASPCA has recommended extensive safeguards for the protection of staff, including the installation of panic buttons near kennels housing pit bulls. For a comprehensive look at rescue shelters and the myriad of problems caused by the overpopulation of pit bulls, see Shelter Dogs Attacks at http://www.animals24-7.org/2014/09/27/32-years-of-logging-fatal-disfiguring-dog-attacks/; http://www.banpitbulls.org/who/attacks-by-pit-bulls-rescued-from-shelters/; and http://sruv-pitbulls.blogspot.com

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PIT BULLS ARE A RESCUE GROUP ISSUE

rescue groupThe number of pit bulls at no-kill shelters increased six times in the year 2014. Due to the extreme overbreeding of pit bulls and because of their aggressive tendencies, breed-specific rescue groups for pit bulls have formed in the U.S. and Canada over the past 10 years for the specific goal of taking in unwanted pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

In October 2015, there were approximately 150,000 dogs available for adoption from shelters and rescue groups on Petfinder, and more than 20,000 were pit bulls. This is more than twice the percentage of currently owned pit bulls, who are estimated to be about 5% of the dog population. It is 9000 more pit bulls (almost twice as many in three years) than PETA found on Petfinder in 2012.

The scenario is explosive. Stressors include high percentages of owner-surrenders by people who can’t handle their dogs’ aggression; the pressure by shelters – especially no-kill shelters – to get rescues to take on some of the shelter burden; rescues not having enough foster homes; taking on more pit bulls than they can handle; the need for constant last-minute “pulls” of pit bulls from shelters where they are scheduled for euthanasia; and a high degree of staff burnout from caring for and managing the fallout of the pit bull crisis. Rescue staff have constant exposure to the trauma of pit bulls that have been injured, abandoned, neglected, and abused. On top of this, they often face an ungrateful or hostile public – a public that doesn’t want to know what happens in shelters or out on the road in the truck.

In Canada, the steady stream of unwanted pit bulls transported to Canada from the U.S. overburdens the staff and facilities of Canadian rescue groups who are already dealing with a glut of homeless Canadian-bred pit bulls.

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PIT BULLS ARE A TRANSPORT ISSUE

transportationWhen shelters adopt a no-kill policy, the number of pit bulls spins quickly out of control, resulting in such measures as “free” pit bull give-away days of pit bulls with unknown backgrounds; marketing strategies to re-name pit bulls as “mixed breed” or other types of dogs, to make them more appealing to potential adopters; and transport initiatives where many dogs spend years being moved from shelter to shelter. The latter is often an outcome of the “No Kill” movement, with shelters forced to keep dogs rotating among different geographic locations in the U.S. in an attempt to pass on the problems and keep their numbers low, in order to receive ongoing funding.

In Canada, pit bull importation has become a serious issue with well-meaning rescuers transporting pit bulls with no behavior evaluations, and no health checks. Without laws, regulation or government monitoring, thousands of dogs are entering with no background checks and no records of where they go. Many are rescued pit bull-type dogs and mixes. There is no way to know if they were surrendered for aggression, or if they were trained to kill then abandoned. The British Columbia branch of the SPCA already transports and relocates to homes more than 16,000 dogs per year, and Canada destroys more than one million healthy dogs annually. Yet Air Angels Canada estimated more than 6,000 additional dogs and possibly up to 10,000 dogs were imported from the U.S. in 2014 by rescue groups, and the number of liability cases against rescuers is growing.

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PIT BULLS ARE A SERVICE DOG ISSUE

service-dogAs a result of breed-specific legislation in certain areas and to increase the rights of pit bull owners in general, pit bull advocates are using the “Service Dog” label to get their canines into areas that generally do not allow dogs. These irresponsible actions put vulnerable populations at risk of serious maulings, and owners of bona-fide service dogs say people misrepresenting themselves and their pets in stores, restaurants and even airports has led to a backlash against disabled people truly in need of their service dogs. To further their agenda, pit bull lobby groups are also promoting pit bulls as fake “Therapy Dogs”. Emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, comfort dogs and companion dogs are terms that describe animals that provide comfort. They have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, and as a result do not qualify as service animals under ADA regulations.

In July 2015, Florida joined California and a growing number of other states who have criminalized the claim that an unqualified pet is a service animal. For more information, see Ban Pit Bulls, Ban all Pit Bulls – Blogspot, Dogsbite.org, and Daxton’s Father.

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PIT BULLS ARE A JOURNALISM ISSUE

protestorsJournalists and editors across North America find themselves under attack by pit bull advocates when they write articles exposing the truth about pit bull mauling numbers and related pit bull issues. Lori Welbourne, a Canadian journalist, recently experienced a torrent of abuse when she wrote about the issues in The Province. During the past month in the States, Merritt Clifton of Animals 24-7 has been pummelled by pit bull advocates for writing an article critical of “Pit Bull Awareness Month”. J. Thomas Beasley, J.D., author of “Misunderstood Nanny Dogs” (2015), became the target of harassment and defamation, as well as two online petitions to have him disbarred as an attorney.

As J. Thomas Beasley puts it, “Fueled by single-purpose organizations like Animal Farm Foundation, Best Friends Animal Society and the National Canine Research Council, all these groups exist solely to advocate for Pit Bull type dogs — and to silence anyone who dissents”.

Despite the protests of pit bull enthusiasts to the contrary, only a small fraction of pit bull attacks are actually covered by the news media. Read commentary by J. Thomas Beasley, J.D. Editors are becoming reluctant to publish reports of attacks, or to name the breed in many attacks, even though they have the right to pressure local police departments for correct information — all as a result of relentless media harassment in the past few years,

Please find more sources of information about pit bull denial at Craven Desires, 17 Barks, The Canine Game Changer, Scorched Earth, the Politics of Pit Bulls , and Safety Before Bulldogs.