ANIMAL WATCH - “The rising popularity of pit bulls is partly responsible for a recent record increase in serious dog bites,” the Los Angeles Times announced on January 26, 2024, in an, article with a photo showing an adult pit bull available for adoption at a California humane society.
Information originally produced by KFF Health News, according to the Times, acknowledged that pandemic puppies are “growing up to be a public health concern, and cited that, in 2022, the 48,596 Emergency Room visits for dog bites in California was the highest in at least 18 years.”
The report also provided estimates by the American Veterinary Medical Association that “households nationwide owned about 86 million dogs in 2020, up from about 62 million in 2001, and that is likely the result of the trend during the pandemic for millions of people to adopt puppies for companionship during a period of social isolation.
Most behavioral experts agree that isolated people were also forced to keep their new puppies under conditions where they were deprived of the early socialization needed to develop a comfort level with strangers and interact socially and physically with other animals and humans, the report found.
According to the Times, Dr. Elizabeth Stelow, of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital confirmed that the experiences from three weeks to four months of age are vital in teaching acceptable social behavior and the lack of these opportunities during COVID led many professionals in the field of animal behavior to believe this “is the source of anti-social or fearful behavior of many of those puppies, which are now dogs.”
Dr. Stelow believes this is also a reason ER visits increased 12%, reaching “the highest annual total in California’s history,” according to the Times report.
While the data in this report is important for examining local increases, it does not take into consideration the shocking rise in reports about Pit Bull attacks worldwide—especially on women and small children—such as those reaching such fearsome levels that England and Wales recently introduced a ban on XXL Bullies, also scheduled to become effective in Scotland on February 1, 2024—with many of the dogs involved in bite incidents being an age where their early training would have preceded COVID or the dog being born in the post-COVID era.
IS AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR “NATURE” OR “NURTURE?”
While animal behaviorists may differ in opinion on the degree to which a dog’s behavior is influenced by nature and nurture, certainly breeders count on nature producing generational similarities to continue to breed purposeful dogs with predictable patterns of behavior. And, anyone who has been around a purebred dog; such as a herding breed, may find the dog nipping at the heels of a group of children to try to keep them together.
Although it may be difficult to trace brain patterns in a litter of puppies, a study of twins and the influence of genetics led to some interesting findings, which might transfer to non-human animals.
A fascinating article, “Genetics has a Higher Influence on Brain Development than the Environment,” posted on November 17, 2021, cites a finding in a study of human fraternal and identical twins that, “Brain development can be influenced by both genetics and the environment—like nature and nurture.”
A study led by Ross Luo, MS, and published in Brain Structure and Function found that some microstructural characteristics of the brain, in particular axons—the part of the nervous system that carries nerve signals from your brain to skeletal (voluntary) muscles so that you can move—are highly heritable, being shaped more by genetics than by the environment.” (Emph. added.)
The Times stated that another potential explanation is the popularity of breeds some people say are aggressive. Kenneth Phillips, one of the nation’s most prominent lawyers specializing in dog bite litigation, pinned much of the blame on Pit Bulls, which have become one of the most popular breeds in America. “Every study always comes up with the same conclusions, which is that this is the dog that does the most damage,” he said.
Stelow said a socialized and trained Pit Bull is not more dangerous than dogs of other breeds. “Why is the No. 1 dog demographic for dog bites pit bulls? Because they’re a huge percentage of the canine population in California,” she said.
Phillips also said animal shelters are increasingly under pressure to euthanize fewer dogs, meaning people wind up adopting more aggressive dogs without knowing it. The number of “no-kill” animal shelters has increased sharply in the last several years, according to Best Friends Animal Society. However, even no-kill shelters may euthanize aggressive dogs that cannot safely be adopted, the non-profit organization states.
A 2019 California law requires animal shelters and rescue groups to disclose a dog’s bite history to anyone adopting. While the data in this report is important for examining local increases, it does not take into consideration the shocking rise in reports about Pit Bull attacks worldwide, such as those reaching such fearsome levels that England and Wales recently introduced a ban on XXL Bullies —and many of the dogs being an age where their early training would have preceded COVID or the dog being born in the post-COVID era—after 2021.
PIT BULL ATTACKS ARE A NATIONAL AND WORLDWIDE EPIDEMIC
On Sunday, January 28, 2022, the Daily Mail reports a Florida disabled man was knocked out of his wheelchair and mauled by “two huge pit bull-type dogs in Miami-Dade County, Florida, while neighbors watched helplessly.
The two dogs reportedly escaped from a nearby yard where neighbors had been keeping and caring for them since their owner was arrested and jailed.
The names of the two Pit Bulls are Jumpedy and Boo Boo, and they reportedly ripped chunks of flesh from the man’s body while “dozens of appalled neighbors were powerless to stop them,” according to the report.
A car horn proved useless as the dogs tore into their helpless victim, the report states.
A Neighbor Trying to Scare Them Off
The report states 20 to 30 people gathered around the horrific event, throwing things and trying to scare the dogs away from the victim, they told local10.
“But then they just kept going. Chopped man and you know his face was red,” one stated.
First responders finally got to the victim, and he was eventually airlifted to a hospital.
Although at least one of the dogs had attacked before, neighbors thought the other, Boo-Boo, was “peaceful,” according to the Daily Mail. However, he was found with blood covering his face, the report stated.
Boo-Boo Was Stained with The Blood Of His Victim When He Was Seized By Animal Welfare.
The dogs were taken by animal welfare to determine if they pose a public safety concern, in which case, the department would humanely euthanize them in accordance with Miami-Dade County code,' a spokesman said.
Mother, 37, NEEDED DOUBLE AMPUTATION AFTER ATTACK BY 3 PIT BULLS
In January, Brittany Skoland, 37, a mother in Fort Dodge, Iowa, was savagely attacked in the street by three Pit Bulls and so severely mauled that she was left needing a double amputation. A police officer finally arrived and shot the dogs.
She had merely gone to visit a friend near her home in Fort Dodge when the dogs escaped the house and attacked her. Police arrived and shot the dogs after a neighbor reported “screaming in the street,” according to the report.
Utah Woman, 63, Dies After Attack by Son’s 7 Pit Bulls
On November 8, 2023, a 63-year-old Utah woman was reported dead, one week after she was mauled by her 38-year-old son’s seven Pit Bulls in her backyard. There were a male and female and six puppies of unreported age, according to the report.
None of the dogs was licensed.
She managed to call the Taylorsville Police Department for help. When officials arrived at the scene, the victim was still surrounded by the pack of dogs.
Doctors had reportedly amputated one of her legs, but were unable to save her life.
“About 800,000 people receive hospital treatment for dog bites in the US each year according to the American Veterinary Association, and Pit Bulls are responsible for more attacks than any other,” the Daily Mail stated.
Pit bulls are both more likely to be involved in bite incidents and more likely to cause serious injury or death when a bite does occur, according to the Forbes Advisor.
And, Forbes Advisor reports that total dog attack claims have increased from 7,359 in 2013 to 17,597 in 2022, with payments increasing from a total of $483,700 to $1,135,000 for the same period.
POSITIONS ON PIT BULLS BY MAJOR U.S. HUMANE GROUPS\
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)