With pit bulls, use common sense

This is in response to a Feb. 13 letter titled “Don’t Believe the Negative Hype About Pit Bulls.” I am appalled by the statement that just because dogs are bred for certain characteristics, they will not show them.

While this may be true, the problem with pit bulls is that you never know when those characteristics will show up. This only means that owners of pit bulls need to be extremely cautious with their dogs. In the letter, the author admonishes us to “do some research,” and I took the advice.

The author stated that “No single neutered household pet pit bull has ever killed anyone.” My recommendation to the author is to do some research. One might start by checking in with the family of Betty Todd, formerly of Hodges, S.C. Betty was fatally attacked by a pit bull whose family said the dog had never shown any aggression before. But it was later found that this pit bull had killed the family’s Siberian husky four months earlier, even though it had been neutered to reduce its aggression before biting Todd.

I went to the website Dogbites.org. There, I found that there were 32 U.S. fatalities related to dog bites in 2013. Pit bulls accounted for 78 percent of those deaths. The website also shows that pit bulls make up only about 6 percent of the total U.S. dog population.

Here are just a couple of additional statistics:

 Together, pit bulls (25) and Rottweilers (1), the second-most lethal dog breed, accounted for 81 percent of the total recorded deaths in 2013. This same combination accounted for 74 percent of all fatal attacks during the nine-year period of 2005-2013.  The breakdown between these two breeds is substantial over this nine-year period. From 2005-2013, pit bulls killed 176 Americans — about one citizen every 18.6 days — versus Rottweilers, which killed 33.

I could fill many of your pages with further statistics, but I am sure you get my point.

I don’t mean to say that I believe the breed should be obliterated. Many of these dogs are beloved pets. My daughter and son-in-law own a pit bull. What I do mean to say is you can never be too careful with a pit bull because you never know what might set them off and how they will react. With many dogs, they might warn you by growling at you to make you realize you are doing something they might not like. You cannot count on this type of a warning from a pit bull or a Rottweiler.

It just so happens that there was an article in a local newspaper on Feb. 13 that described how a 10- year-old boy was mauled by a pit bull and is in critical condition. I haven’t done any research on how often pit bulls bite or maul people where they don’t eventually die from the attack, but I would venture to guess that this statistic would be quite high.

Almost every single time I read an article about a dog attacking someone, it involves a pit bull. And I have never read an article about a dog attacking someone where it’s turned out to be a cocker spaniel, a yorkie or a beagle.

Do I think pit bulls are getting a bad rap? Absolutely not.

Pat Iacone