Pit bull type dogs are a banned breed in the UK with the Dangerous Dog legilsation specifically naming them and preventing their onwership and breeding.
Dogs bred for fighting.
(1) This section applies to—
(a) any dog of the type known as the pit bull terrier;
(b) any dog of the type known as the Japanese tosa; and
(c) any dog of any type designated for the purposes of this section by an order of the Secretary of State, being a type appearing to him to be bred for fighting or to have the characteristics of a type bred for that purpose.
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 section 1
There are a growing number of dog lovers who do not believe that breed specific legislation is appropriate. There are arguments that it wrongly focuses on specific breeds and further that the term "Pit bull type" is too ambiguous and too subjective. As discussed elsewhere on this site. Under UK legislation there is no such dog as a "Pit Bull". If a local authority or the police decide a dog meets a certain set of requirements in terms of physical appearance it will be deemed a "Pit bull type" and it will be for the owner to prove otherwise.
But why are such Pit Bull types deemed dangerous?
A recent study by an Arkansas doctor has shed light on the danger of such dogs in a country where there ownership is not subject to the same restrictions in the UK.
Dr Michael Golinko is a plastic surgeon at Arkansas Children's hospital and specialises in pediatric dog bites. Currently he is treating on average one child a night he told the website www.katv.com :
The vast majority like I said will be just a simple laceration, but the sectrum of things you could see is cranial penetration, in one case hands bitten off.
Dr Golinko has look at over 1,500 bites as part of his study and concluded that:
Any dog can bite bottom line.
However his study found that pit bulls were involved in half of surgeries performed and ar 2.5 times as likely to bite in multiple anatomic locations as compared to other breeds.
In other words if you have a Chihuahua or a Labrador they would just bite in one location and then let go on the leg for example, but a Pit Bull would bite the leg, head and neck and hands.
One Wisconsin resident Jeff Borchardt's who's 14 month old son son Dax was attacked by his two pitbulls (who he describeds as "great dogs until the day they weren't") describes his sons injuries as :
His whole body was mangled. It looked like a hand grenade went off underneath him.
Some US Dog handlers take a view that the dogs are usually a result of their environment and that they can make great family pets but Dr Golinko takes a view that while adults can make a decision about their safety children can't.
We get lulled into a false sense of security because it;s the family dog or the neighbourhood dog, oh well, they would never do this or that, when the opposite is true. And we never want to take that risk.
In the US Pit bulls are a common breed and it is argued this may be a reason for the high statistics as might be the fact that the breed involved is often "guessed" at by the way it looks.
Labradors were responsible for 8% of bites in Dr Golinko's study.
Dog bite solicitor and Personal Injury specialist James McNally says:
Dr Golinko's study highlights the reason why these dogs are deemed dangerous. It also highlights what we have always stressed that any dog can attack and owner's shouldn't be surprised when their dog bites. Dr Golinko very wisely stresses the need for any family thinking of getting a dog to think twice and ensure the breed is suitable and also talking to neighbours to ensure their dogs are properly secured. There are many many factors that affect a dog's likelihood to attack including heredity, early experience, socialisation and training, quality of ownership and victim behaviour. We perhaps can't prevent dog attacks completely but applying knowledge and thought they could be reduced greatly.
If you or a family member have been injured as a result of a dog-bote or dog attack then contact us on 0808 1391601 or email [email protected] for a free case assessment.