Are pit bulls more dangerous than other dog breeds?
For some, the answer is absolutely, definitely, yes. Pit bulls should be banned. They were bred for aggressiveness and their fighting ability, and they are a danger to you, your children, and everyone who lives in your neighborhood.
For others, pit bulls are unfairly attacked in the media and they are largely misunderstood – the problem with pit bulls is not genetics, but it is their environment. A dog is only as dangerous as its owner allows it to be…
Which is true?
South Carolina does not make a distinction between “dangerous” dog breeds or cute and fluffy dog breeds – if a dog’s owner allows their animal to attack a person, they are liable for the damage caused. Whether it is a dog bite or some other form of dog attack, SC law provides for strict liability when your dog injures someone.
Are Pit Bulls More Dangerous than Other Dogs?
The debate over whether pit bulls are more dangerous than other dog breeds is polarized. Some who have witnessed or experienced vicious dog attacks are now on a genocidal mission to eradicate the world of dangerous dog breeds. Pit bull breeders and owners, however, are just as aggressive in their defense of their favorite four-legged friends.
Who is right?
Pits Bulls are More Dangerous and Should be Banned
At dogsbite.org, they go to great lengths to tie all pit bulls to the sport of dogfighting – from “bull baiting” in 16th century England, to current-day dogfights, they say the breed has been selectively bred for their aggressiveness and fighting ability.
The blood sport of “bull baiting” began over 1,000 years ago in England (various sources dispute this date). What is undisputed is that by 1500, bull baiting had progressed to Britain’s national pastime. Bulldogs were reportedly first mentioned by name in 1631, referring to their function rather than a distinct dog breed. By 1800, and through further selective breeding, the bulldog developed into a compact muscular dog characterized by tremendous jaw strength.
When they attack, pit bulls may cause more damage than other types of dogs because they tend to not let go – hanging on and shaking their prey until it is dead with powerful jaws.
But do pit bulls attack more often than other dog breeds? Even dogsbite.org acknowledges that they don’t necessarily bite more than other breeds – the problem they have with pit bulls is the amount of damage that they can cause when they do bite:
Depending upon the community in which you live and the ratio of pit bulls within it, yes and no. But whether a pit bull bites more or less than another dog breed is not the point. The issue is the acute damage a pit bull inflicts when it does choose to bite. The pit bull’s “hold and shake” bite style causes severe bone and muscle damage, often inflicting permanent and disfiguring injuries. Moreover, once a pit bull starts an attack, firearm intervention may be the only way to stop it.
Pit bulls may be more aggressive to other dogs or pets, however:
Due to selective breeding for the purposes of dogfighting, pit bulls are highly dog-aggressive. This aggression is not limited to dogs; pit bulls frequently kill other companion pets and domesticated animals. Leading pit bull education websites warn pit bull owners to, “Never trust your pit bull not to fight.” These same websites also state that pit bulls should never be left alone with another dog or animal.
When a pit bull attacks another dog, the dog’s owner may get involved and suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their pet. Also, unchecked aggression against other animals can lead to aggression against humans.
Pit Bulls are Misunderstood and Unfairly Scapegoated
Others are just as passionate about defending pit bulls, often citing statistics that directly contradict the pit bull-haters’ statistics. For example, a National Geographic article points out that fatalities from pit bull attacks (or any dog attack) are actually rare:
Fatalities are incredibly rare. In the U.S., we have 320 million people and between 77 and 83 million dogs. So your chance of being killed by any type of dog in the U.S. in any given year is one in 10 million.
Furthermore, many people are unable to identify a pit bull when they see it – many fatalities reportedly caused by a pit bull may have been a different breed entirely, and the statistics are likely to include dog attacks from multiple breeds:
People who have studied these cases, like Jeffrey Sacks at the CDC, have shown that when it comes to fatalities caused by pit bulls, the breed identifications are often not accurate. The title “pit bull” has expanded so dramatically over the years that people are lumping any dog with a large head and short coat into that category rather than separating out each of the pit bull breeds.
Another problem is that pit bulls are used in dogfights – a pit bull who has been raised by a loving owner, trained, and socialized is one thing. A pit bull who has been abused, neglected, and trained to fight other dogs is something else entirely:
A study on fatalities between 2000-2009 in the journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association found that in over 80 percent of those cases there were four or more significant factors related to the care and control of the dog. These were dogs that had not been socialized; were large and sexually intact; and had no relationship to the person who was killed. In other words, perfect storm of factor upon factor.
Does it matter if you were attacked by a pit bull or a chihuahua? Not for purposes of suing the dog owner, although a jury may see more “shock value” in a vicious attack by a pit bull…
Can I Sue if I Was Attacked by a Pit Bull in SC?
SC law provides for strict liability if a person is “bitten or otherwise attacked” by a dog in a public place or anywhere that they have a legal right to be – including the dog owner’s property unless they are trespassing.
For purposes of liability, it doesn’t matter what type of dog attacked you.
There is no “one bite rule” in South Carolina. Dog owners do not get a “second chance,” and you do not have to prove that the dog’s owner knew their dog was dangerous – although there are some defenses like trespassing or provocation, it is strict liability.
If you were attacked by a dog in Myrtle Beach SC, your Myrtle Beach dog bite lawyer on the Axelrod team will help you to determine who is liable and to recover maximum compensation whenever possible.