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Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Bite of Reality...


In June of this year, a three year-old child in Moore, Oklahoma, loses his entire arm due to a multiple pit bull attack. 12 year-old Nicholas Scott Faibish is killed at home by the family’s pit bulls in San Francisco, California, June 2005. Both of these instances received national media attention. More recently, Monica Keen of the Sequoyah County Times reported that a two-year old boy has been severely mauled by a pit bull terrier north of Muldrow, Oklahoma, on Wednesday, November 2, 2005.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), breed specific legislation against pit bull dogs, or pit bull dog types, has already been passed and is currently enforced in seven cities in Colorado. The State of California has passed a similar breed specific law. The AKC monitors and reports state bills and legislation on its Legislative Alerts web page. Accessed on November 5, 2005, the AKC has posted for the year 2004 and the current 2005 calendar year approximately 104 alerts concerning various types of dog related proposed bills and legislation throughout the United States. Should and can the local, state, and federal governments solve the problem of dog bite related injuries and death with breed specific legislation? I don’t think so.

As a veterinary health professional I can tell you from personal experience and observation that dog-bite related injuries are a real problem. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control recognizes this as a national problem.

According to the CDC’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week web page which was reviewed on August 18, 2005, the CDC reports that more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year. This same article gives the following statistics:

a. Annually, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites.
b. Approximately half of these are children.
c. Of those who are injured by dog bites, 386,000 seek medical care in an emergency department.
d. Approximately 12 deaths occur each year due to a dog bite related injury.
e. Boys are at greater risk than girls, and children between the ages of five and nine years of age are at the greatest risk of being bitten.

The medical costs that my hospital incurs due to injuries that are incurred by biting dogs affect our workman’s compensation rates. As a result of severe dog bite injuries my facility loses productivity. Additionally, my staff suffers needlessly due to biting pets.

The Insurance Information Institute states that dog bites cost the insurance industry approximately $320 million dollars in 2003. These types of costs are usually passed on to the consumer in the form of higher insurance premiums.

The obvious economic costs of dog bite related injuries are tremendously outweighed by the needless deaths, maiming and the life-long physical and mental disabilities that are suffered by the victims. A solution other than breed specific legislation must be developed.

There are several factors that must be considered in solving this problem. Current local leash laws should be enforced and policed to encourage responsible pet ownership. Those laws that are outdated and that are irrelevant to today’s current society should be updated.

Local laws should restrict the number of pets owned by citizens who live within the city limits and the ordinances should require the neutering of all pets. If a pet is to be used for breeding, a special license should be required. All pets should be vaccinated and a license required for individuals to sell pets or give them away. Pet population control methods for feral animals should be implemented, monitored for effectiveness, and adjusted as needed. Municipalities should provide low-cost spay and neuter clinics for low-income pet owners. Additionally, all animals should be permanently identified with a microchip and proper housing and secure fencing should be provided. Chained animals should also be enclosed by a secure fence. Finally, city ordinances should be developed to specifically address vicious animals and be strictly enforced.

Public education can be made readily available through city hall, the local shelters, the library, and the public schools. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides several educational resources on its website such as the publication “Educational Resources for Dog Bite Prevention”. Additionally, the AVMA does not promote breed specific legislation. The CDC provides material in conjunction with its annual promotion of “Bite Prevention Week” in the month of May. Insurance companies, animal welfare organizations, and many civil groups also provide helpful information and materials for the general public.

Proper breeding programs should be encouraged and implemented. Animals that do not pass temperament tests or do not meet the breed’s standard and guidelines should be spayed and neutered. Owners who breed mixed breed animals should be required to apply for and maintain special licensing and meet animal quality standards including temperament testing.

Rescue groups and organizations should be licensed, monitored, and required to meet specific standards. All animals must be spayed or neutered and pass a temperament test before being adopted. Additionally these animals must be permanently identified with a microchip.

Pet populations that are found in communities with high crime rates should be closely monitored and policed with all leash laws being strictly enforced. Permanent identification of pets, such as microchipping, will encourage pet owners to act more responsibly in the care and control of their pets.

Responsible dog owners or their pets should not be punished for crimes that they did not commit. Responsible pet owners have their pets spayed and neutered and also keep them contained.

The CDC’s article, “Which Dogs Bite – A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors”, states that dogs that bite were predominantly unneutered males. It was additionally reported that females that had had more than one litter were more likely to bite. This same study also states that the owners of biting dogs were less likely to have their pets licensed or vaccinated and that the dogs that were chained were more likely to incur serious or fatal bites to the victims.

How will the municipalities enforce breed specific legislation? Can this type of legislation become problematic in the future? Will this type of law only affect the citizens who are compliant leaving the lawbreakers untouched?

In the article, “A Pit Bull Primer”, Janet Wells with the San Francisco Chronicle gives an in depth look into the situation of breed specific legislation and reports on the Denver, Colorado, pit bull ban ordinance. The citizens of Denver are reacting. She reports that the city is being compared to Nazi Germany. An underground railroad has been formed in Denver to transport pit bulls out of the city to a shelter that is willing to take them in according to the Rocky Mountain News Article “Pit Bulls Go Underground”.

Once you have banned pit bulls, you will soon discover that the other breeds of biting dogs will be vying for this unenviable number one position and that the criminal element concerning vicious dogs will still exist.

While the study in the article “Which Dogs Bite – A Case-Control Study of Risk Factors” was completed in 1993, it sheds some significant light on how statistics can change throughout the years during a breed specific ban.

This study reported that the breed most likely to inflict a bite wound was an unneutered male German Shepherd less than five years of age or a mix of that same breed. Chow Chows and Chow/Shepherd crosses were listed as second. Akitas were third in the report.

The study was conducted in Denver County, Colorado, where the breed specific ban of all pit bull terriers and pit bull-type dogs has been implemented since 1989.

There have been six reported dog bite related deaths in the state of Colorado from 1979 through 1994 according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review dated May 30, 1997. The aforementioned MMWR also reported that during the 1995 – 1996 time period that there were 25 dog bite related deaths in 14 states with the predominant killer breed being Rottweilers. Two of those deaths were in the state of Colorado.

Oklahoma’s breed specific legislation is already here. Oklahoma State Representative Paul Wesselhoft is proposing pit bull ban legislation according to the Oklahoma House of Representatives Media Division. The representative has become personally involved with the family of Cody Yelton; the three year-old boy who lost his arm earlier this year in Moore. The proposed breed specific legislation would affect the entire state and not just a single municipality. Wesselhoft is preparing to introduce the new bill in the next legislative session.

State Bill 247 declares that an emergency exists and became effective July 1, 2005. The bill was sponsored by Senator Jim Reynolds. The original language within the bill stated, “Potentially dangerous or dangerous dogs may be regulated through local, municipal and county authorities, provided the regulations are not breed specific.” The words “provided the regulations are not breed specific” have been stricken from the bill.

House Bill 1282 became effective on November 1, 2005 and contains breed specific legislation also. There are several other pieces of legislation with breed specific wording. Will this legislation be effective? No it will not. Potentially, it could be the catalyst that would make this bad situation become worse. This is a societal problem. Not a specific breed problem.

People train these dogs to be vicious. Dogs chained on the front porch of a home are not household pets. We need to address the sector of society that trains dogs to attack people and actively seek out these individuals and animals and remove the threat. We need to make our neighborhoods safer and help protect our children.

If we ban pit bull and pit bull-type dogs other breeds will replace them. Larger and more dangerous dogs are already being bred and more are being imported into the United States from Europe and South America. The AKC only provides a small glimpse into the hundreds of fighting type breeds of dogs that are available throughout the United States.

Dog fighting is still an honored sport in Japan and the Tosa is one of their most feared fighting dogs with certain varieties of Tosas weighing up to 200 lbs. Last updated on October 13, 2005, the Stonewall Kennel website boasts of importing 23 Tosa dogs into the United States. The Stonewall Kennel is located in Tennessee.

The Argentine Dogo is a fierce South American fighting dog. The AKC website shows that the contact for the Argentine Dogo of America Club lives in Temple, Oklahoma.

The Cane Corso originates from Italy. Insights to this breed can be found on the International Cane Corso Federation website. The Cane Corso can weigh up to 145 pounds. It is an ancient breed and was developed as a warrior dog by the Romans. It was bred to kill people. The International Cane Corso Federation strongly warns prospective owners to think twice before obtaining one of these dogs. Blue Steel Kennels is one of several that breed Cane Corso dogs here in Oklahoma and their website warns prospective buyers of unscrupulous breeders of the Cane Corso.

These dogs are already here in the United States and we cannot ignore the cross-breeding of these dogs and the ready availability of these animals. Additionally, wolf-hybrids are another major concern for the public and are common within the state of Oklahoma.

I know personally that Oklahoma has hundreds of commercial dog breeders. Some of these breeders have USDA licensing but many of them do not and are known as puppy mills. Kennels that breed dogs for profit are particularly dangerous to the unsuspecting public.

All dogs bite. According to the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control over one-half of the victims are bitten by their family pet. It is my personal experience that most biting dogs weigh less than 30 lbs. These dogs can easily maul a small child. Once any dog has bitten someone there is an increased risk that it will bite again.

While the pit bull is listed as the number one killer in the MMWR study we cannot neglect the remaining breeds that have killed people. Banning pit bulls will not address these breeds of dogs:

1. Rottweilers
2. German shepherds
3. Huskies
4. Alaskan malamutes
5. Doberman Pinschers
6. Chow Chows
7. Great Danes
8. St. Bernards
9. Akitas

The breed of dog that I encounter in the clinical setting that is most likely to bite is the American Cocker Spaniel. I have been bitten by a german shepherd dog, a chow chow, and a rottweiler; however, one of my most severe bite wounds was delivered by a lhaso apso mix.

I assure you that I have personally handled thousands of dogs. Hundreds of them are pit bull dogs and mixes thereof. I do not have a fear of the average pit bull dog that is kept as a family pet or as a show dog. Additionally, I am seeing an increasing number of imported dogs that are larger, faster, and potentially more dangerous than the pit bull come into our Oklahoma City practice. Most dogs that have poor temperaments and/or lack training will bite irregardless of breed.

The United States and the state of Oklahoma do not have a dog breed
problem. The maiming of our children is only the symptom of a societal illness that can result in death. As with any illness the cause must be found, an effective treatment plan implemented, and a cure sought.

I ask you today to write your senators and representatives and support legislation that will address the true problems that cause dog bite related injuries and death. Breed specific legislation is only a bandaid, not a cure.

T.J. Morgan


Blogger Shauna DeMoss said...

You are incorrect with your description of the Cane Corso. First, nowhere on the Parent Breed Club’s site does it say this dog was bred to kill people. What a slanderous statement! There has never been a death recorded anywhere in the WORLD that is attributed to this breed. The Corso does most probably descend from the Canis Pugnaces ( the Roman war dog) The Rottwieler and countless other Molosser breeds share this common ancestor as well. However, over the last 2000 years the corso has been influenced by many breeds and has preformed mostly utilitarian tasks such as protecting and herding livestock, pulling carts, hunter boar and being the guardian and companion for the family.

It is true that we encourage the consumer to do their research before they buy this breed. Not because they kill people as you stated in your article. But because they are a large breed and require a lot of time, socialization, room and funding to rise. If we were the breed club for St Bernards or Irish Setters, the caution would be the same!

You obviously are against Breed Bans, but statements such as the one mentioned above are what cause hysteria in the uneducated public. Please adjust you article to reflect the truth.

If you need further details, feel free to contact me.


Shauna DeMoss, Board Member of Cane Corso Association of America/ ICCF

November 28, 2005 10:59 AM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...

The past of the "Cane Corso", is not only largely present and alive but also extraordinarily current, as if time had just slipped away.

The "Corso" has conserved from its ancestors the "Molossi" of Epiro and the "pugnaces" of Rome, used in war and for fighting in the circus, the aggressive and combative nature necessary for successfully reaching its goal, with no hesitation and with surprising potential force. Through contact with man in social situations he has learned to react only when necessary, becoming an excellent interpreter of human gestures. With these characteristics the "Cane Corso", has survived until today.


Most dog fanciers try their best to preserve the original purpose and function of that breed, no matter how ancient it may be. War dogs are what the title implies.

The Cane Corso, along with all other types of Molosser, Molossian, Molossi, and Mastiff breeds have been lumped together by the general public as pit-bull types. These are the dogs that legislation is being written for.

The extinction of any breed of dog would be hard to imagine, but that is what is coming your way if "positive" action is not taken.

As a club, what will you do to help prevent your breed from following the path of the American Pit Bull? Over-breeding of the breed seems to be bringing to fruition its own demise.

Will you thoroughly screen prospective owners? Many drug dealers pay large sums of money for dogs; so price alone will not ensure that your pup won't be chained to someone's front porch.

Will you only allow the sale of sterilized animals?

Will you implement a breeding program or guidelines that must be followed and strictly enforced?

There are many facets to the problems that you face. Hysteria by the public has already arrived.

Even PETA's president supports the killing and banning of pit bull dogs and pit bull-types of dogs.
Controlling an Animal as Deadly as a Weapon

With PETA and legislators both against you, how do you plan to overcome this obstacle?

Would you meet with your legislators and try to persuade them to let you help them write their legislation?

In places like Colorado, I think that this would be a more effective approach than picketing and protesting alone. With a community effort, effective and reasonable legislation would be more sensible and would maybe even help alleviate some of the actual problems.

The only way to win your battle is by being smarter than your opponent.

I wish you luck.


November 28, 2005 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is ignorant articles like this that spread ignorant notions on breeds that do not deserve to be mentioned. Do your research on the Cane Corso before writing such nonsense, educate yourself. Have you owned a Cane Corso before? Talk to people who own a Cane Corso...they may share a different point of view. Furthermore...there has not been a documented case of an attack by a Corso on a human, there is a reason for that. They are gentle, sensitive dogs and are quite frankly the best dogs I have ever owned or trained.

September 17, 2008 10:15 AM  
Blogger It's me, T.J. said...


You're wrong.

You can start your research here:



September 18, 2008 7:41 PM  
Blogger Dixie Chick said...

RE:USDA licensed kennels: any USDA licensed kennel IS a puppymill!!! Reputable breeders have only a few breeding animals. Almost all keep the animals in their home, or perhaps a small kennel, usually rotating the dogs between kennel and home so they all get some inside/home time. These people do not have commercial facilities and do not need to be licensed by the USDA. If a kennel is big enough to be licensed by the USDA, it IS a puppymill.

There are also "Backyard breeders", people who irresponsibly breed males and females of whatever breed, the only requirements being that they be able to get pregnant and have puppies. These people are not reputable breeders either (they don't do all the hip/eye/heart/health tests on their breeding animal) but individually they don't churn out as many puppies, many of which will ultimately become dogs killed at the pound, as do the USDA licensed puppymills. (However, since there are more of these type, collectively, they might well produce more puppies than the big puppymills.)

March 03, 2010 7:37 PM  
Blogger Stop Making Excuses said...

While bsl is an issue that Pit Bull owners do not want to face, IT IS what the Pit Bulls need!

June 12, 2010 7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct in your assertation that banning breeds will result in the introduction of potentially more aggressive, destructive, and demanding breeds. Additionally, I fear for our society should the Cane Corso ever become as pervasive and/or "popular" as today's Pit Bull. All things being equal, I would MUCH prefer for my neighbor to own several Pit Bulls, as opposed to their owning even one Cane Corso, Caucasian Ovcharka, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu (or any of the numerous other virtually "unfamiliar" breeds in the U.S. today). I have had the pleasure of working with,training, and sharing my life, family, and home, with a vast variety of large dog breeds. Every dog I've had the honor of knowing has been unique and individual in personality. However, within that "individuality," reside unmistakable breed specific characteristics/tendencies. Admittedly, I've known Greyhounds that have "acted" more like Chihuahuas than Greyhounds, and Chihuahuas that have behaved more like Bassett Hounds than members of their own breed, and am an individual who can appreciate all arguments pertaining to the "Nature vs. Nurture" debate; exceptions exist and should be expected. Thus, my observations are based solely upon those commonalities that I -typically- find in individual members of specific breeds of dogs, despite variances in "Nuture." On average, individual members of specific breeds share specific characteristics of that breed. For example, the vast majority of Labs I've known absolutely adored the water, while the opposite is true for the vast majority of Basenjis I've encountered. Additionally, the vast majority of Pit Bulls I've met did not exhibit "people aggressive" tendencies. The same can not be said for the overwhelming majority of Filas I've known (the Fila, much like the Tosa, is also considerably larger). Personally, I've never owned a more loyal, eager to please, affectionate, or more protective dog, than the Cane Corso. The social responsibility that goes along with owning an animal with the characteristics and potential of the Cane Corso is enormous and humbling. Given the inherent tendencies of this and similar breeds, the personal and social repercussions from failing to provide appropriate and consistent training, discipline, committment, structure and environment are proundly serious, and potentially dire. Should one substitute the Cane Corso, or other such "stranger/people suspicious" breed, for the ubiquitous and oft neglected, abused, abandoned, American Pit Bull Terrier, the outcome would be egregiously disastrous. I think it is time to hold pet owners responsible and legislate responsible pet ownership. The breed is not the problem. The dog is not the problem. Irresponsibile dog owners are the problem. It is they who should be banned.

April 25, 2012 5:11 PM  

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