A short time ago KXLY did a story on a Coeur d'Alene man bitten by a pit bull. That story prompted quite the discussion about pit bulls on our website and facebook. In response to that, KXLY is taking a look at dog bites in the city and county of Spokane.
It's no surprise, pit bulls do have a reputation for being very fierce. However dog trainers say all dogs bite. It's just that some breeds are bred to bite less.
When Ryan Draper found a young dog running for the freeway he didn't plan on keeping the pit bull.
"As you can tell, Dozer is a sweetheart so yah, I had to keep him," said Draper owner of Dozer, a now 11-year-old pit bull.]
Now, 10 years and thousands of games of fetch later.
"I mean, playing fetch, he's a hard core advocate of that," said Draper.
Dozer is an irreplaceable part of Draper's life. A part that Draper knows comes with a stereo type.
"I try not to invade anybody's space and keep him on a leash," said Draper. Draper says Dozer is great with kids however he does notice people being a little extra careful around his dog.
The American Kennel Club doesn't recognize pitt bulls as a specific breed but a classification of bully breeds originally used for bull baiting and fighting in England in the early 19th Century. When dog fighting was banned in the UK in 1835 breeders wanted to keep the breed and focused on enhancing the dog as a companion. The AKC now recognizes three breeds that originated in this effort, the American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Bull Terrier, all of which are the result of over a century of this careful breeding for solid temperament.
Since pit bulls were introduced in America they've grown in popularity in some circles for their reputation and fear factor. Often times being used in illegal dog fighting rings.
"History has shown that the public tends to generalize a specific breed with aggression. Years ago it used to be the Doberman, it used to be the Rottweiler, the German Shepherd, right now it's the pit bull," said Nicole Montano, SCRAPS' Animal Protection Manager.
Montano says every breed bites, none more than others.
"Right now we have investigated more bites by labrador retrievers," said Montano.
The Spokane Regional Health District records all dog bites in the region that break a victims skin. Since the start of 2012 there have been 249 dog bites. Pit bulls accounting for the vast majority of those bites with 56. Pit bull mixes racked up 7 bites, German Shepherds 10, shepherd mixes 11, Labradors 9 and lab mixes 10. Australian Shepherds and Chihuahuas each bit 7 times since the start of 2012.
In the city and county of Spokane pit bulls only make up 3 percent of licensed dogs and are responsible for 25 percent of the recorded bites. German Shepherds and shepherd mixes account for 6 percent of all licensed dogs and account for 11 percent of all bites. Labradors and lab mixes account for the largest percent of licensed dogs at 14 percent and account for 7 percent of all bites.
Marilyn Keech has been training dogs since 1980 and works as a area trainer for PetsMart's dog trainers. She says dog usually bite out of fear if not socialized when young.
"So some of those dogs might be wonderful at home but in the wrong situation without the proper training incidents can happen," said Keech.
Because of the strength of their bites and reputation it's possible pit bull bites get reported more often than other dogs. Something Draper says is causing others to miss out on a great companion.
"I think it's sad for the dog," said Draper.
Any breeder will tell you that it's important to research the breed and the type of dog you want to have, especially living in an apartment or small confined area. You might want to consider getting a different type depending on your surrounding.