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Pit bulls and profiling

An absolute must-read, this piece by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker may be the best single piece on the pit bull problem I've ever read:

The kinds of dogs that kill people change over time, because the  popularity of certain breeds changes over time. The one thing that doesn't change is the total number of the people killed by dogs. When we have more problems with pit bulls, it's not necessarily a sign that pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs. It could just be a sign that pit bulls have become more numerous.


There is no shortage of more stable generalizations about dangerous dogs [...}. A 1991 study in Denver, for example, compared a hundred and seventy-eight dogs with a history of biting people with a random sample of a hundred and seventy-eight dogs with no history of biting. The breeds were scattered: German shepherds, Akitas, and Chow Chows were among those most heavily represented. (There were no pit bulls among the biting dogs in the study, because Denver banned pit bulls in 1989.) But a number of other, more stable factors stand out. The biters were 6.2 times as likely to be male than female, and 2.6 times as likely to be intact than neutered. The Denver study also found that biters were 2.8 times as likely to be chained as unchained.

Get the rest-- G. S.

January 31, 2006 in Current Affairs | Permalink


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I agree...they are talking about having a madatory spaying and neutering to certain dog breeds in my county. Including pitbulls and rotties. I have two rotties and they are fixed but I don't think that the county I live should tell what I should do with my pets. I think the dog owner's should be punished more for aggresive dogs. Expecially if they knew that there was a problem.
But certain breeds will always be profiled just as we do to people.

Posted by: KC | Feb 25, 2006 8:35:53 PM

If Denver banned stupid people there would be very few left.

A former Denverite.

Posted by: Sheryl | Feb 23, 2006 6:30:06 PM

I liked the article very much, especially the parallels made to the assumptions we make when profiling humans.

Posted by: Sheryl | Feb 23, 2006 6:26:53 PM

There are breeds more likely to bite, and Chows and Shepherds are among them. If one is a percentage player--and we all should be percentage players--one goes with the better percentages. Veterinarians, shelter adoption agents, etc, that aren't increasing owners' chances of being able to keep their dogs, whether for health or behavior reasons, just aren't doing their job.

Arlo, DVM

Posted by: arlo muttrie | Feb 18, 2006 6:27:09 PM

Denver should learn to ban stupid people, not dogs!

Posted by: Jo | Feb 18, 2006 12:16:59 PM

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