Naked Science Forum

General Science => General Science => Topic started by: tkadm30 on 10/06/2016 11:24:29

Title: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: tkadm30 on 10/06/2016 11:24:29
A woman has been killed yesterday following a pit bull attack in Montreal. Should this dog breed be banned ? I believe a dog is the responsability of its owner and should be properly trained to not attack peoples, however is the pit bull too dangerous for living in society ?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/police-say-pitbull-owner-found-fatal-attack-1.3623763
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: chris on 11/06/2016 09:29:38
This is a difficult area to legislate in. Snakes kill people too, but many people keep them responsibly as pets.

Personally I am not in favour of heavy-handed sledgehammer legislation that punishes the majority for the crimes of the few. I should emphasise though that I do not mean to disrespect, in any way, the victims, including in the case to which you refer.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: Tim the Plumber on 11/06/2016 10:01:01
My limited experience with such types of dog is that they seem to be simply the most trainable, and probably the least bothered about pain, dogs around.

I was in a house where the pit bull had the job of teaching the toddler to walk. The child would hold onto the dog and thus be able to walk around with it's support. No amount of encoragement to the child would perswade it to hold the collar, she had to get a good grip of the poor dog's ear.

The dog was clearly not impressed with this and was putting up with it galantly. The looks it would exchnge with everybody were extremely communicative and the family did appreciate it's work.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: chris on 12/06/2016 10:05:08
My wife pulled my mother's dog (a black labrador) out of a river in Norfolk by the ears. The dog was not the brightest and had tried to jump ashore off a boat, but forgot he was tied up. The collar snapped mid-air and mid-way to the riverbank, arresting the dog's flight and dropping him in the drink between the moving boat hull and the towpath. Without the ears to grab onto and use for the purposes of lifting to safety, the dog would have been pulped... He didn't look too impressed after that. Then again, he didn't try to jump ashore again either...
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: Bored chemist on 12/06/2016 10:13:38
Should we train the pit bulls, or should we train those people who think that keeping a pit bull is a good idea?
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: tkadm30 on 12/06/2016 10:55:48
Should we train the pit bulls, or should we train those people who think that keeping a pit bull is a good idea?


I have a beauceron and she's lovely. Never bitten anyone or being agressive towards peoples. I think peoples who insist in owning a pit bull are playing with fire. It is a guard and attack dog after all. Perhaps the genetics of the pit bull are making this dog naturally aggressive, which might appeal to aggressive and dominant peoples looking for a dog matching their own personality. Educating the peoples about how violence and dominance is not wise in society is probably a better option than banning pit bulls...
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: tkadm30 on 15/04/2017 22:18:37
Quebec province has enacted a new law forbidding anyone to own a "dangerous dog" without being carefully registered and trained.  Declaring that the pit bull is a dangerous animal is a bit unfair for the majority of responsible pit bull owners.

To make matters worse, peoples who refuse to register their pit bull may be condamned to lose their pet, as the animal may risk euthanasia.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: SquarishTriangle on 16/04/2017 09:13:02
Today's 'pit bull' dog is no particular breed. It can be any mix of a number of stocky, bull-type breeds which include the Staffordshire bull terrier and its American descendants, which gives the dog an overall stocky appearance and head shape. There is no set genetic definition for what makes up a 'pit bull'. While there are commercially-available DNA test to determine what breed(s) your dog is, the results cannot stand up in court because there are no specific markers or genes that make a dog a certain breed. For example, it is not uncommon that a result that a small dog that looks like a poodle mix breed will indicate a completely different breed (eg. a rottweiler) as a descendant. So, at least for now, those test are mostly for fun, if someone has a little extra cash they want to spend.

Sometimes, experienced vets get called into court to give an opinion on whether or not a certain dog LOOKS like a pit bull. But even with experience, you can't really tell for sure who the parents of a mixed-breed dog were. It's an educated guess. A lot of stocky, big headed dogs could conceivably be a Labrador retriever mix, or something completely different. All you have are the physical features of the dog in front of you. That could be due to pedigree from similar parents, or it could be due to the chance expression of different genes from completely different looking parents. I once got very excited about seeing a patient who was the offspring of a dachshund and dalmatian...it turns out it looked exactly like a normal dachshund. Physical appearance is just not a reliably indicator of breed.

So, I think that the difficulty in determining the exact breed of a dog makes banning them nearly impossible, legally, unless you are also happy to destroy a whole lot of dogs that were never of any bull-type descent.

As for whether they are dangerous: physically, that build of dog makes it potentially dangerous if they decide to attack. But behaviourally, the unsocialised, untrained ones are no worse than your unsocialised, untrained chihuahua, Jack Russell terrier or Labrador. In fact, Labradors are rated as one of the most likely breeds to bite you, and little dogs are often ill-tempered and bitey - they just don't have the 'machinery' to kill you.

The media has a tendency to call every dog involved in a dog attack a 'pit bull' (when it is clearly a completely type of dog), so it's likely that the number of pit bull attacks you see in the news is greatly over-represented by this over-simplification. Just like how every shark is "5.5m long"... (how they can accurately measure the length of a shark, moving, in water, in the wave zone, from hundreds of metres away is beyond me).

Some 'pit bulls' are nice, some are not nice; just like any other breed. I think it's dangerous to imply that a breed is 100% safe, as much as it is silly to imply that it is 100% dangerous. The truth is somewhere in between and is different for every individual dog, different for every individual situation that the dog is in.

A few too many people seem to think that their dog is 100% safe when no animal is such. When people do silly things like placing their newborn baby on their dog's face...or leave their child of a poking, tail-pulling, ear-grabbing, face-hugging age, alone with their dog, disaster is not far away. Sometimes the parents are unaware of the dog's body language when the dog is communicating its discomfort, and children cannot be expected to understand dog body language and boundaries when unsupervised.

So going back to breed question, when the dog that is pushed beyond its tolerance threshold is a chihuahua, the child gets a few bites that heal into scars. When the dog is a pit bull -type, then much more damage is possible. So that's why you tend to hear about pit bull attack, rather than chihuahua attacks.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: chris on 16/04/2017 12:27:12
@SquarishTriangle - Thanks for the thorough answer.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: Bored chemist on 16/04/2017 13:29:04
Given this
"A few too many people seem to think that their dog is 100% safe when no animal is such. When people do silly things like placing their newborn baby on their dog's face...or leave their child of a poking, tail-pulling, ear-grabbing, face-hugging age, alone with their dog, disaster is not far away. Sometimes the parents are unaware of the dog's body language when the dog is communicating its discomfort, and children cannot be expected to understand dog body language and boundaries when unsupervised."
 it seems we are not able to convince people to act sensibly.

Since we can't ban stupidity the only way to  reduce the  damage is to reduce the intrinsic hazard of the dog.
It's essentially impossible to know from its breed if any given dog will be aggressive in much the same way that some people are aggressive and others aren't.
However you can tell from its breed that (if it loses it's temper) a dog bred for bull baiting is going to do more damage to a human than a dog bred to hide in baggy sleeves.

So, why do we tolerate the increased risk from-at best- obsolete breeds?
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: SquarishTriangle on 16/04/2017 14:42:36
Hmm. But we can't get rid of everything that is a hazard just because some people are foolish enough to hurt themselves. Just like we can't ban all knives and chainsaws because some people cut themselves, or ban all cars because some people crash. Cows and horses are pretty dangerous due to size alone, but people accept the risks of ownership and working with them. People will always find other ways to hurt themselves.

Where I live, we actually have laws relating to "restricted breed dogs", which includes "pure or cross bred American Pit Bull Terriers (or Pit Bull Terriers), Perro de Presa Canarios (or Presa Canario), Dogo Argentinos, Japanese Tosas, or Fila Brasileiros". Of those breeds, pit bulls are probably, in general, the nicest in temperament. They are not strictly banned but are controlled and would, in theory, be phased out by desexing (or lack of breeding). People who breed them face jail time. The rules are that the dogs must:
- be desexed
- be kept on a leash and muzzled at all times when in public
- be securely confined to their owners back yard
- wear a red and yellow striped collar at all times

And if they (or any other breed) does something dangerous, such as a non-fatal bite or displaying concerning behaviour, those dogs become "declared dangerous dogs" and have further restrictions. Dogs that kill people are euthanised.

But going back to my previous point about defining the breed, there are some additional complex laws about how an owner of a similarly-looking dog goes about proving that their dog is NOT a pit bull. And there are some far more dangerous, unpredictable breeds that are not banned, which makes the point of the whole thing questionable.

From a dog health perspective, medium-sized, mixed breed dogs tend to be more robust and have better hybrid vigour than those tiny handbag dog breeds. Many of those tiny breeds come with a plethora of genetic abnormalities due to extreme inbreeding (or 'line breeding'), such as an incompletely fused skull, eyes too big for eye sockets, teeth too big for mouth, brain too big for skull, airway too narrow to breathe, epiglottis too long to breathe, severe joint and bone deformities, spinal defects, heart defects, etc. etc. etc. So I really cannot advocate for everyone to keep tiny dogs in order to keep silly people safe.

Encouraging early socialisation of dogs under controlled conditions (so that they learn appropriate behaviour around humans and dogs), teaching people how to safely interact with dogs, and managing individual dogs that actually display dangerous behavioural tendencies seems to work ok.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: alancalverd on 16/04/2017 17:05:06
Definition of a dog: an animal that can bite your arm off, but generally choses not to.

I'm all in favour of the reintroduction of dog licenses, which were compulsory in the UK in my youth. An irresponsible owner could have his licence revoked, and with the advent of compulsory chipping, any dog not chipped or whose chip was not traceable to a licensed owner would be eligible for adoption or destruction.

No compunction about destruction of any demonstrably dangerous dog, regardless of breed, unless its licensed owner was  a police or military unit and the animal was under control until deployed as a legitimate weapon. Anyone else attempting to buy a potentially lethal dog or gun must declare on his licence application who he intends to kill with it. Ban the intentional breeding of deformed or unstable animals.

I've always had dogs around as companions, or as a puppy walker for a guide dog, but always dog-shaped (long nose, deep chest, long legs) mongrels or "working" gundogs. Anything else is surely a sad statement of the owner's psychological  problems. And despite selecting calm pups and socialising them according to the guide dog and gun dog training manuals, I've never left a dog of any age or size alone with a child under 10 years old.     
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: dustand on 16/04/2017 18:25:12
I have a Shepard that I walk daily.  Only one dog in the neighborhood has ever bothered it - a young pit bull.  The pit bull was off leash in the owners front yard and ran two blocks to "greet" my dog.  The pit bull's owner started panicked  screeching apparently in an effort to get their dog to come back but that merely alarmed their dog and a 5 second dog fight ensued that left my dog with a thumb sized hole in her hide.
I'm not anti-pit bull, but wow - I have no doubt that some people shouldn't have pets. 
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: SquarishTriangle on 17/04/2017 06:26:48
Dog licences (or pet licences) would be fantastic. I didn't realise that they previously existed in the UK, alancalverd!
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: SeanB on 17/04/2017 07:50:02
They used to exist here, but it was finally realised that so few actually paid for them, plus the number of council employees that were there to enforce it, was costing many thousands of times more than the money coming in, plus it did not serve a purpose at all, so it was finally removed. There only exists a raft of laws about dog and cat inoculations and kerb laws, most of which typically are never enforced.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: Bored chemist on 18/04/2017 13:04:06

... Dogs that kill people are euthanised...

That's just a wee bit late.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: NatalieBoucher on 20/04/2017 06:21:22
yes it bull should be banned.
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: tkadm30 on 20/04/2017 09:57:57
yes it bull should be banned.

Are we going to ban the chihuahua's next?
Title: Re: Should we ban pit bulls?
Post by: SeanB on 20/04/2017 17:06:04
how about the most dangerous UK dog breed, the Corgi?