(Because of an editing error, this letter did not run in its entirety. Here is the complete letter.)
This is in reply to the letter from Harold Warner regarding pit bulls. I have owned dogs since I was a toddler. I have owned spaniels, collies, St. Bernards, dobermans, pointers, setters and just plain mutts. I am not now, and have never owned a pit bull or other fighting dogs.
First, there is no such breed as a pit bull. Rather, it is a term that refers to any of three or more breeds, the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and any crosses between the three. It is also applied loosely to any dog that looks like a pit bull. In a few parts of the world, the American bulldog is also classified as a pit bull-type dog, despite the fact that they have major genetic differences.
Second, many people who hold a warped and hateful outlook on life feel that they need a tough dog to reflect their own identity, or to make up for their own inadequacies. Thus, a great many of these dogs are selected for their perceived attitude and trained to be vicious. Puppy mill breeders, recognizing this, will intentionally raise and sell the worst of the litter, something that no self-respecting breeder of any breed would ever do. Over the years almost every large breed, even Great Danes and St. Bernards, has gone through this fate.
Mr. Warner is quick to state facts, but produces none.
Are some breeds more likely to bite than others? The list of top breeds involved in both bite injuries and fatalities changes from year to year and from one area of the country to another, depending on the popularity of the breed. Although genetics do play some part in determining whether a dog will bite, factors such as whether the dog is spayed or neutered, properly socialized, supervised, humanely trained and safely confined play a significantly greater role.
Responsible dog ownership of all breeds is the key to dog bite prevention.
In short, no particular breed is inherently vicious. Banning one breed will simply transfer the onus to another breed while obfuscating the real problem.
Human factors are more important than environmental factors in the genesis of dog bites. The most common factor is an owner who should not be allowed to own a dog.