Rodricks perpetuates prejudice against pit bulls

May 01, 2012

It is disheartening to read Dan Rodricks prejudiced column ("Pit bulls: Own them at your own risk," May 1). Mr. Rodricks' shoddy research helps perpetuate the misinformation that slanders this dog breed, leading to bad legislation that responsible dog owners must contend with. I hardly think that a person who is scared to be within four feet of an animal is qualified to pass any judgement on the temperament of that animal. Clearly Mr. Rodricks' opinions consist of the litany of oft cited myths about the dangers of pit bulls. Please allow me to correct some of the inaccuracies with Mr. Rodricks' article.

According to test run by National Geographic, a pit bull had a bite force of 127 P.S.I., with 320 P.S.I. being the average for domestic dogs. The pit bull also had lower jaw strength than both a German Shepard and a Rottweiler. The myth of the pit bull's superior jaw strength is probably based more on their tenacity than their actual jaw strength.

Another fabrication in Mr Rodricks' column is that pit bull "attacks are disproportionate to the number of pit bulls in society." According to the Centers for Disease Control, "identification of a dog's breed may be subjective," and as a result they found that there is little dog breed specific population data. Given that the only data available is the number of bites, but not the total number dogs, it is impossible to conclude that pit bulls are responsible for a disproportionate number of attacks relative to their numbers. Calculating proportions require two numbers, a numerator and a denominator, without a denominator, one cannot formulate a proportion.

In Canada, according to the Canadian Veterinary Journal, from 1990-2007 pit bulls were responsible for one fatality while huskies and other "sled dogs" killed seven people. Perhaps it is because "sled dogs" are inherently dangerous and should be banned, or maybe there are just more of them in Canada. For the record I have a Husky and a pit bull mix, and both are wonderful loving dogs. I have no problem with taking responsibility for my dogs' actions, but my husky and pit bull should be held to the same standard.

Ignorance and fear have long been the basis of many flawed and discriminatory laws in this country, and the fact that the court agrees with Mr. Rodricks' personal prejudices in this case means very little. In the future I ask that Mr Rodricks do some research before passing blanket judgement based on ignorance and personal fears and not spread factual innaccuarcies about a loving and misunderstood dog breed.

Wally Pinkard, Baltimore

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