Roughly one-third of deaths are caused by pit bull types

July 27, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

When dogs bite and kill, the victims usually are children, according to a study of attacks nationwide.

The killing breeds of dog, however, can't be pinpointed as easily.

According to a study published in the "Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association" in September 2000, dog attacks resulted in at least 325 fatalities in the United States from 1979 to 1998.

The study indicated that the dogs responsible for 238 of those deaths could be identified.

Roughly one-third of those dogs - 76 - were purebred pit bull types or mixed-breed pit bulls.

Second on the list was Rottweiler purebreds and mixes, with 44. Next were German shepherd purebreds and mixes, with 27, and husky purebreds and mixes, with 21.

Stephanie Shain of the Humane Society of the United States said it's essential to see how the ratio of bites attributed to a breed in an area compares to the overall makeup of dog breeds.


The Washington County Humane Society put together a chart of dog bites by breed over an eight-month period. Of the 95 dog bites, nine were by pit bulls and nine were by unknown breeds, tying for the most.

Labrador retrievers bit eight times, followed by chows with six and shepherds, Rottweilers and border collies with five apiece.

Attempts to reach Dana Moylan, president of the Humane Society's board of directors, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to check the time period for the bite statistics and to get a breakdown of overall breeds in Washington County were unsuccessful.

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