Science More Grist for the Maul
posted by June 30 at 21:15 PMon
Adding more fuel to the Pit Bull Debate ‘08—continuing today with a delightful tale of a scalping—I present to you data from the latest and greatest paper on the subject: Canine and human factors related to dog bite injuries. Courtesy of your own Elenchos!
Breed is absolutely a factor, as are dogs remaining sexually intact. Like the earlier study I covered on this topic, certain breeds of dogs, particularly if not spayed or neutered are vastly more likely to bite to the point of harming a person than others. Specifically?
Terriers, the broad family that includes pit bulls, tops the list in this case-control study.
Breed mattering is another way of saying genes matter. If you artificially select dogs to be violent, they’ll be violent. Combine breeding for violent temper with breeding for strong jaw muscles and large size and you have an unwelcome combination. It’s also worth noting that breeding for a dog the size and shape of a terrier does not require breeding for bad and uncontrollable temper.
To insist on having a badly tempered, strongly muscled large dog as a pet is like insisting on the right to drive a backhoe to work each day. Yes, if you as the owner act perfectly, most likely nobody will get hurt; there just isn’t much room for error.
Yes, pit bulls can be sweet, kind, gentle dogs. Can be. The breed has been mis-selected so long, it’s understandable for a stranger to assume your pit bull is capable of injurious violence; the data backs up his or her suspicions.
If we’re banning anything, I’d like to see a ban on selection for violent tempers in dogs—regardless of breed. And I recognize it’s about as likely to succeed as a pit bull ban.