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Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh Dear God

posted by on May 19 at 10:32 AM

Pit bulls kill 7-year-old on rural Texas road.

To the folks who scream that “banning the breed” is fascism and claim that all bad dog behavior should be blamed on the owners: Let’s look at this from a materialistic point of view. If there were, say, a blender on the market that worked super-great most of the time, but had the capacity to rip off people’s faces if improperly operated, it would be taken off the shelves.

Yes, comparing a dog to a blender is problematic, but still: If it requires fine-tuned magic training to keep pit bulls from accidentally becoming killing machines, perhaps the purchase of such dogs should be restricted.

RSS icon Comments


I am all for breed bans. Breed bans are good!!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | May 19, 2008 10:35 AM

the problem with that argument is that it would require banning ALL dogs. ALL breeds of dogs work well most of the time, but every once in a while will seriously hurt of kill someone. poodles, labs, and golden retrievers are fairly violent too.

of course, i don't see anyone talking about banning labs.

Posted by konstantconsumer | May 19, 2008 10:42 AM

Ever heard of a Rotating Saw, David? When used improperly that could take your face off too... hold your breath for the recall.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | May 19, 2008 10:45 AM

Oh for fuck's sake. Let's ban rural Texas roads.

Posted by Carollani | May 19, 2008 10:46 AM

I'm pretty sure you could rip your face off with just about any blender on the market if you operated it improperly.

A better comparison is the rate of accident and death from S&M play. If it requires fine-tuned magic training to keep a piece of rope from accidentally becoming a killing machine, perhaps the purchase of such rope should be restricted. Or we should make S&M a crime.

Posted by elenchos | May 19, 2008 10:48 AM

I am against banning this dreadful breed. I am sorry; it is the libertarian in me. I am totally in favor of holding owners responsible for knowingly choosing a breed that is known to be deadly. This should be made clear upon licensing.

Yes, any breed can go out of control with the goal of killing. But at least I know that if my whippet goes rabid on me, I stand a good chance of coming out on top. Yes, the whippet will die at my hands if need be. With a pit bull the advantage is distinctly in the dog’s corner. They latch onto their pray and bite their way up to the neck, their instinct knowing this is the way to kill. So, if you want a pit bull, beware that you are taking on a big liability risk.

Posted by Jeff | May 19, 2008 11:00 AM

I'm thinking out loud here, but what about a dramatic increase in the liability and legal penalties for owners of dogs involved in attacks on people?

In this story, for example, I think the neighbor should be thrown in jail because he let his dogs run loose and they killed a child. It's fucking manslaughter, and it should be treated as such in a court of law.

Posted by Hernandez | May 19, 2008 11:06 AM

@6: Don't be sorry; you're letting reason rear its head instead of taking the knee-jerk approach. Schmader's "blender" analogy is worthless, and in typical SLOG fashion spends more time trying to draw attention away from the matter at hand than to make any real sense of it.

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | May 19, 2008 11:07 AM

This may seem like a lame guess, but I would imagine that all of those in favor of owning (and breeding) dangerous power tools and appliances would have a different view if these same power tools and appliances gored their own oxen.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | May 19, 2008 11:08 AM

I'm all for stricter licensing or restrictions on who can purchase certain breeds (assuming they could be practically implemented/enforced).

As someone who adopted a "dangerous" breed, I know that it's all about how you train and treat them, and someone who isn't willing to or doesn't know how to do that properly shouldn't own a pit bull.

Posted by Julie | May 19, 2008 11:08 AM

if your property kills someone ... be it a dog or a car or a nail-gun ... then you should be tried for manslaughter.

... or throw the owner into a pit of hungry abused pitbulls and see what happens.

Posted by Gordon Werner | May 19, 2008 11:09 AM

it requires training to turn any dog INTO a killing machine, not to keep them from becoming one. and thats what this dog had been exposed to. and, like any dog, if given love and attention and is properly socialized early, again, like ANY dog, they are affectionate and loyal.

these dogs OWNERS should be "taken off the shelves".

Posted by patti | May 19, 2008 11:09 AM

How about some fine-tuned magic training that keeps pit bulls out of the possession of morons who have no idea how to control them? These dogs have proven over and over again that they have the potential to be killing machines. However, since I am in favor of lots of types of legal potential killing machines, like guns, cars, and the like, maybe anyone who owns a pit bull should be licensed as well, with NO Criminal record. That way you can keep them out of the hands of criminals. Just like gun laws are supposed to do.

Posted by P to the J | May 19, 2008 11:10 AM

Why not ban all breeds of dogs, and pets in general? They are filthy, and it's disturbing how much money is spent on their health and upkeep versus actual human beings. It's basically the same thing to let kids starve to death or die without healthcare while you lavish organ transplants and chemotherapy on a fucking animal.

Posted by Just Sayin' | May 19, 2008 11:10 AM

This may seem like a lame guess, but I would imagine that all of those in favor of owning (and breeding) dangerous power tools and appliances would have a different view if these same power tools and appliances gored their own oxen.

I'd guess those power tool owners would then have to take a hard look at themselves and wonder why they hadn't been keeping a close enough eye on their oxen in the first place.

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | May 19, 2008 11:11 AM

I'm cool with banning pit bulls, but just to even things out and to make the pit bulls feel a little less stigmatized we can ban Jack Russell terriers, too.

Posted by Smade | May 19, 2008 11:12 AM

after the pit bulls, I say let's ban ponies. one of the fuckers almost trampled my daughter friend over the weekend - that should be cause enough. right?

Posted by ho' know | May 19, 2008 11:18 AM

Pit bulls are to the dog world what the Cornballer is to the appliance world.

Posted by sleestak | May 19, 2008 11:23 AM

@5: You've got the right idea.

Posted by kat | May 19, 2008 11:25 AM

I don't disagree that restricting the ownership of a breed like pit bulls to certified experts who know how to train and raise dogs would probably reduce injuries and deaths from dog attacks--a good policy so long as you can legally define what a "pit bull" is. Given that most "pit bulls" are actually mixes, if not outright mutts, I'm not sure legally how you achieve that aim. However, the profile of the typical pit bull owner is a lower income male without a university degree who has little to zero understanding of modern, humane techniques to raising, socializing, and training dogs. If pit bulls are banned, won't that same owner simply raise an aggressive, nonsocialized mutt (or German shepherd, or mastiff, or boxer, or...or...) instead?

I have never been attacked, bitten, or otherwise harmed by any larger breed, never by a pit bull, German shepherd, rottweiler, etc., but I HAVE been bitten on numerous occasions by Jack Russel terriers, a shih-tzu, a Scottie, a Westie, and a chihuahua. With small dogs like these, the injuries are also smaller--but in my experience it's the badly socialized and untrained small dogs that are the source of more dog-related injuries.

I wonder if it wouldn't make more sense to set rules on dog ownership per se. For instance, you could require all dog owners to complete a dog training course before a dog adoption is allowed or the dog can be licensed, and you could aggressively prosecute people who fail to do either of these things.

I just don't think that social policy on dogs and dog ownership should be made by hysterical pepole who don't really have any technical understanding of dog behavior, owner behavior, or who don't apparently even like dogs. Hysterical overreactions don't solve problems, and they don't reduce injuries and death.

Posted by Simac | May 19, 2008 11:28 AM

But Richard Simmons endorses the Cornballer!

Posted by George Bluth | May 19, 2008 11:28 AM

Gotta agree with Carolanni.

Rural Texas roads are no place for a seven year old.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | May 19, 2008 11:35 AM

#2: Comparing pit bulls to labs is a bit specious.

1. Labs don't have the sheer jaw power that a pit bull has, and thus cannot so quickly and easily kill a person.

2. Labs (and other non-bred-to-fight dogs) stop attacking when the attackee assumes submissive position. This is natural behavior for most dogs (often called "wolf behavior"). Fighting dogs by contrast were trained for generations to rip out the neck or disembowel the other dog when it submits.

3. Look at the stats. (There's a handy table on page 2)

Posted by Free Lunch | May 19, 2008 11:44 AM

Do we really want the only pit bulls in this country to be feral or black market?

This is somewhat analogous to the drug war, where banning substances doesn't stop their use, makes them less safe overall, and limits the ability to ethically provide educational information.

Posted by w7ngman | May 19, 2008 11:46 AM

@ 18 & 21 -- The Cornballer is endorsed by everyone! :-)

As for the dog/blender thing, if that fucking pitbull can make a decent frozen dacquiri, I say let it live.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | May 19, 2008 11:47 AM

In the case of any dog that kills someone; the owner should be guilty of that murder (or maybe you can look at manslaughter) I mean we want to hold the owner responsible right? I mean I would think the dog would be destoryed as well but some animal activist will scream save the dog but fuck the victim. Apparently a dog's rights outwiegh the rights of a person.

Posted by Kill the Dog AND the Owner!! | May 19, 2008 11:55 AM

@20, I agree with you (and also, in fact, have only been bitten by smaller breeds), but... for the most part, a yorkshire terrier is not going to kill you if it attacks. A pit bull can kill. It's not as much of a public safety issue if an idiot owner has a Yorkie. It is, if they have a pit.

I have a big dog, and though he is extremely well-behaved/docile, I do worry about the hypothetical situation where some kid runs up to him and starts poking him in the eyes or something before I could stop him/her. I don't know whether my dog would run away (I strongly suspect that he would) or whether he would defend himself.

I do know that if he fought back, the kid would be in trouble, which is why, even though my dog is totally docile and well-trained, I'm much more careful with him than I would be a small dog, because he has the physical ability to actually hurt someone.

In the end, I think we completely agree -- I would be in favor of training/licensing for all dogs, if only because it makes the practicality of addressing the more physically dangerous breeds easier.

Posted by Julie | May 19, 2008 11:58 AM


The French woman who had the first face transplant a few years after being mauled by her dog while unconscious: that dog was a Labrador retriever.

The argument is not specious at all. It's true that Labs are generally a human- and kid-friendly breed and a delight to own and train. But ANY dog can be weaponized intentionally or through neglect or ignorance. Even a Lab. To ignore this reality is, again, not a good basis for rational public policy on dog ownership.

Posted by Simac | May 19, 2008 12:06 PM

#24: Except that, unlike the drug war, breed-specific legislation works. After all, it's a lot easier to hide your ounce of weed or gram of coke than it is to hide your pit bull.

If you did buy a pit bull on this dog black market, you wouldn't be able to walk it, or bring it to a park, let it stick its head out your car window, or even let it out in your back yard unless you lived on a compound. Anyone sees it, it's taken away.

Example of a ban's effectiveness in reducing injuries:

In 2004 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, pit bulls accounted for 23% of all dog bites. Two years after pit bulls were banned there, they accounted for 2% of all bites.

You see the same pattern occur wherever they are banned.

Posted by Free Lunch | May 19, 2008 12:07 PM

I blame Arrgh Grongle for domesticating wolves as "dogs" in the first place.

Dang ancestral cavemen and their lax attention to details!

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 19, 2008 12:13 PM


All dog breeds bite. All cars kill. But a car that kills more than its share due to a specific, dangerous property is recalled. By your reasoning, all cars should be recalled.

Again, look at the numbers. The "ban all dogs" argument doesn't hold up.

Posted by Free Lunch | May 19, 2008 12:13 PM

I would take the people who think that breed banning would lead to all sorts of facsism seriously IF they could demonstate on a regular basis NEW cases of other breeds that kill people and attack on the same level as Pit Bulls.

Let's see links people: and to catch up you need a lot of links to the stories of out of control poodles or vicious labador retrievers. Back up your claims with news stories or shut up.

Posted by Andrew | May 19, 2008 12:22 PM

That's utter bullshit. No pit bull has every accidentally been turned into a killing machine. It requires very deliberate systematic abuse. Pit bulls are naturally very people friendly dogs.

Posted by Trouble | May 19, 2008 12:37 PM

33: I wish that were true, but at least one of the past year's pit-bull-attack stories involved a woman who'd raised a pit bull from puppyhood, and was shocked when one day her sweet loving dog turned into an insta-killing machine. I'd track down the story, but it's Monday and I'm busy. Still, the woman's story was chilling. She was as shocked as anyone, if not much more....

Posted by David Schmader | May 19, 2008 12:42 PM

@34: Who did it attack? Why should we believe her?

Posted by Trouble | May 19, 2008 12:54 PM

#29, thanks for your reply.

I did consider your points in your second paragraph, and I surmised that this would merely create an even more dangerous situation in the case of an attack.

The Council Bluffs numbers are promising, however, given that any remaining illegal pit bulls are going to be severely under-socialized, I wonder if the ban has increased the severity of the remaining attacks.

Even so, I find those stats to be pretty persuasive.

Posted by w7ngman | May 19, 2008 12:54 PM

#33: Cool! Tell that to the 7 year old's parents and the hundreds of other people every year (mostly kids) who are attacked by other people's pit bulls.

Every type of pet animal is abused. Pit bulls are the ones that go out and murder other people's kids.

Posted by poppy | May 19, 2008 12:55 PM

At this point, the pit bull defenders need to start throwing up some actual research numbers.

'no pit bull ever...killing machine...without deliberate systematic abuse'...It's a bs statement. Where's the studies? There are NOT good studies that split nature v. nurture (genetic vs environment) for anything but the most simplistic of biological traits. Complex behavior of dog cannot be easily placed into black and white statements. good or what can we do?

Look at the numbers we do have...pit bulls do by far the largest proportion of the serious dog attacks in this country (deaths, major injuries)...see link below.

The bans work, but they are draconian on a lot of levels.

Posted by cw | May 19, 2008 12:56 PM

For those who claim that it is a matter of training, either to make a pit bull violent, or to keep them from becoming so, it is more complicated then that. When I was a kid on a hot muggy "dog day" in August, a friend of mine put his face close to my dog and petted its head. That was all, he petted and talked baby talk to our dog, and all of a sudden, the dog growled and bit the kid. It was embarrassing because my mom was babysitting the kid. Our dog was a friendly dog and this was so out of character for her, but the weather just made her temperamental. The little terrier’s action required the kid to have a few stitches. If this had been a pit bull, who knows where this could have ended.

One needs to ask themselves this question: Is having a pit bull or similar breed so important to you that you are willing to risk losing every material thing that you have now and ever will have due to a successful law suit on the part of the injured party, in the event that your dog attack someone? I for one am not.

Posted by jeff | May 19, 2008 12:57 PM

@37: How about I just tell them that a douchebag wanted a tough looking dog, but failed to socialize it or care for it properly.

And pit bulls aren't the only dogs that kill people. Rottweilers, Dobermans, Akitas and German Shepherds (just to name a few) are all capable of killing a person. Pit bulls just have a higher number of irresponsible owners.

Posted by Trouble | May 19, 2008 1:06 PM

A few dead 7-year olds is a small price to pay to uphold my right to own a dog that makes me look tough. My poorly-socialized fighting dog protects my property from intruders of any age, as does my practice of opening fire without warning on anybody who wanders onto my property.

It's all about freedom.

Posted by proud pit owner | May 19, 2008 1:13 PM


Average temperment for all breeds: 81.5%

Pit Bulls: 84.1%

Wikipedia has an excellent entry which cuts through the BS:

Posted by Trouble | May 19, 2008 1:16 PM

Actually, the blender analogy is a perfectly fair one - if you had a model of blender that worked perfectly most of the time, but in 1% of the cases, suddenly went haywire and started shooting sparks out of its base and electrocuting people, I can guarantee you that model blender would be off the market before you could say "tortious liability." As would any other product that suddenly turned lethal. Products which are inherently lethal or lethal when misused are not at all the same thing.

I'm all for requiring a special license to own an unneutered male or unspayed female of many dog breeds, and limiting breeding of larger dogs to only reputable breeders. What constitutes a reputable breeder could be defined legally. Stop letting dickheads run around with unneutered, unsocialized dogs that they think are the equivalent of carrying a .38 tucked into their belt.

Posted by Geni | May 19, 2008 1:16 PM

A blender. Gosh. I feel enlightened.

The linked article gives no worthwhile information for one to decide whether or not it was the fault of the breed or the owners.

I could give two shits what a journalist, a sloggist or a slogommenter has to say about Pit Bulls. This is where you rely on experts, e.g. scientists, etc.

This sort of reporting is irresponsible and just plain ignorant.

Posted by Sam Hill | May 19, 2008 1:30 PM


The sentence that stands out for me in the link you provide is this:

This is the real problem. These dogs are very strong. They use them for dog fights, instead of poodles, for example, because they win fights. I am no expert, but if I was given the choice of being on the defensive with a lab vs a pit bull, I'd take my chances with the lab. I'd have better chance of surviving, and this is the point. Again are you willing to lose everything to own one of these dogs, because that is a real possability? I would be interested in finding out what the settlement amount will be in the case of the 7 year old that was killed. I'll bet when the settlement is read, the owner will be saying to himself "maybe I could have been happy with a colie".

Posted by jeff | May 19, 2008 1:31 PM


Averages can be informative, but in this case, it may not be. The standard deviations are more informative.

The distribution of severe attacks is heavily skewed toward larger breeds of course. Controlling for number of animals of each breed and severity of attacks are required before you have a leg to stand on defending pit bulls. Based on the numbers I have seen the frequency+severity of attacks implicates pit bulls as the most dangerous breed.

You can argue that pit bulls attract shitty owners, but you need to provide data to control for this as well.

All of this gets to be a pain in the ass. People just want to be able to play in their yards and walk their pets without having to go on high alert status because large dog is on the loose.

Here's the solution: what does the reptile part of your brain tell you? Can this animal kill me (regardless of breed)? Then I as an owner and a stranger need to respond accordingly. I get on edge every time I see a pit bull (personal experience...and for the record, I'm a biologist who studies vertebrate animals).

Posted by cw | May 19, 2008 1:34 PM

the only reason pitbulls should be allowed as pets is so they can serve to root out the assholes in society; the people that defend them like they are timid dear turned into panzer tanks, and those that own them because they are like panzers on a leash.

other than that, I'd dont see a problem here. make insurance mandatory.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 19, 2008 1:51 PM

People who want to ban a breed of dog may have better luck trying to sell abstinance only education or "fixing" the Spears children.

Get over yourself people. It's not some puppy mill that makes these dogs its one dumb ass owner with an unfixed dog humps another dumb ass owner with an unfixed dog in heat ... a low and behold more pitbulls!

Pitbulls aren't manufactured like a blender (or perhaps the cornballer in arrested development), hell ... there aren't really even puppy mills for pitbulls and scantly few legit breeders because the breed is so demonized.

Banning pitbulls is so moronic and impractical ... and yet people are so self rightious and adamant to do so.

Posted by OR Matt | May 19, 2008 2:07 PM

People who want aggressive dogs buy pitbulls, because that's the kind of dog everyone gets who wants an aggressive dog. And then they train them to be aggressive (or neglect them like the inbred retards they are, leading to the dogs being aggressive).

There's no special training required to keep a dog from being aggressive. It's called knowing how to take care of a pet and not being an inbred careless fucktard.

Posted by K | May 19, 2008 2:56 PM
Is having a pit bull or similar breed so important to you that you are willing to risk losing every material thing that you have now and ever will have due to a successful law suit on the part of the injured party

The problem is that you're assuming that all pit bull owners have personal property to lose. Civil penalties likely mean nothing to lower income pit owners, which is why we also need severe criminal penalties against irresponsible dog owners. If your dog mauls someone, you go to jail. If your dog kills someone, you go to prison.

Posted by keshmeshi | May 19, 2008 3:58 PM

I think its time to start fighting back. Parents should train their children how to fight pit bulls. For practice, they could build a fighting ring, and let the kids fight baby pit bulls, and slowly work up to the big dogs. Solution!

Posted by jestr707 | May 19, 2008 4:08 PM

Thank you @ 12, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Posted by Jocie | May 19, 2008 9:19 PM

This is one of the more circular arguments on Slog. Let's review, shall we?

1) A Stranger staffer throws up a post on Slog about a pit bull attacking someone, and suggests they be licensed/banned/boiled.

2) People respond by posting comments about how pit bulls aren't naturally violent and it's the owners that are responsible for raising the dogs poorly.

3) Another Stranger Staffer responds by posting another story about a pit bull attacking someone, as if restating your argument somehow proves your point.

At the core of this argument is whether temperment is the result of breeding. As you consider that argument, remember this, humans and animals are essentially the same.

If you can say that pit bulls are naturally violent because they attack more people, does that mean I can say that black people are naturally violent because they commit more crimes?

Posted by Brandon J. | May 20, 2008 2:05 AM

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