Are pit bulls as dangerous as their reputation suggests?
One group talks about the rehab and adoption process for local pit bulls. Video by 620wtmj.comvideo
WALWORTH - So just how dangerous is the pit bull? As we've seen, they can be deadly. But there's more to the breed than the stereotype.
There's no question that pit bulls can be violent, but pits are popular in the Milwaukee area. Animal experts advise the public to be cautious, but keep sweeping judgments at bay.
The pit bull is a breed that commands respect. Tough, but lovable dogs that have the potential to be dangerous. But that's not necessarily a common problem.
“I think the first tendency of most people is to lay the blame on a given breed of dog," said John McDowell.
McDowell is in charge of field officers at the Milwaukee-area domestic animal control commission. Inside the kennel, you'll find a veritable pit row. Nearly half of all dogs MADACC takes in are pit bulls.
"Probably, the majority of them are from warrant searches of houses, and maybe people get arrested and we get the animals down here," he said.
Pit bulls do account for most of the bite reports coming in. Those bites can be dangerous, and sometimes deadly.
"That's in their breeding, going back to when they're first bred,” said McDowell. “Right, they grip and they hang on, and they don't let go, sometimes until they're forced to let go."
But a big factor in a dog's behavior is its training.
Ten-month old Noah is energetic, playful and he looks to be of little danger. His upbringing makes a difference.
"Socialize them early, get them out with people and other dogs," McDowell said.
As a precaution, McDowell advises common sense above all else.
"No matter what breed of dog you have, if you've got children in the house, that dog can never be alone with those young children," he said.
MADACC took in 182 dogs for bites last year. Of those, nearly half were pit bulls. Still, humane societies around our state do adopt many pit bulls to many families.