Pit bulls unfairly maligned [Letter]

November 18, 2013

While I sympathize with Tony Solesky's experience of witnessing his son get attacked by a pit bull, the fact is he is no more a "dog expert" than the shelter volunteers and pit bull advocates he dismisses ("An unnatural selection," Nov. 15).

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of valid and conclusive evidence on which dogs have the highest propensity to bite and attack, which is frustrating to a public health researcher like me. As the American Veterinary Medical Association points out, there are numerous factors that contribute to a dog's disposition, and studies about pit bulls (which itself is a misnomer because there is no true "pit bull" breed) are not reliable because they fail to account for multiple bites by the same dog, and the comparison population of dogs varies by the demographic characteristics of a particular area and trends in the popularity of certain breeds over time.

There is no unbiased, peer-reviewed research that has been able to overcome these limitations. If we are thus limited to anecdotes, I can offer dozens of positive stories about pit bulls for every horror story Mr. Solesky puts forth. Dangerous dogs definitely ought to be kept from the public, but to single out a particular type of dog is not just unfair, it is unscientific.

Erin Colligan, Baltimore

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