Update: I-Team10 Investigation: Cop reports show pit bulls bite the most

Posted at: 10/30/2012 10:19 AM
Updated at: 10/30/2012 5:59 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

It's no secret. There's a problem with pit bull dogs in our community.

We have the police reports that prove it.

But the reports that we obtained tell a different story too, that's it's not just the city where pit bulls attack people and other dogs.
This story started in June after sheriff's deputies shot and killed a pit bull that they said was charging after them at the dog's home in Perinton. The next day we heard from pit bull owners accusing us of breed bias. In other words -- the only bad dog stories we do are the ones that involve pit bulls.

So we decided to find out what the police reports on dog bites actually show.

There have been high profile pit bull attacks this year.

"So I'm pounding away and pounding away and my right knee was on the chest of the one," School bus driver David Bliss said describing how he stopped two pit bulls from attacking another dog.

Jayden Forrester was bitten on her face by her aunt's pit bull. "What I saw when I got there was he had her whole face in his mouth," Jayden's father said.

I-Team10 obtained police reports from all of the major police departments in Monroe County over the course of one year. They show pit bulls bite people and attack other dogs more than any other breed.

Click here to see our spreadsheet of dog bites based on the police reports

"Are you surprised that pit bulls are the majority?" I asked.

"I guess I'm not surprised because it's something you hear a lot," said Rebecca Lohnes, animal behavior expert at Lollypop Farm.

Lohnes says it's not a pit bull breed issue. It's an individual dog and dog owner issue.

"Every dog has an aggression threshold, so every dog could be pushed to be aggressive in the right situation," Lohnes said.

But right now most of the dog bites in our area involve pit bulls. When we look at the numbers from the the police reports we obtained, we found that pit bulls bite the most and it's true in the suburbs as well as the city.

The numbers...

...in the city

Of the 436 police calls for dogs in the city, 242 of them were for pit bulls.

...in the towns

Of the 35 dog bites in Greece -- 9 were pit bulls.
Of the four in Irondequoit -- half (2) were pit bulls.
There were two in Henrietta and one each in Perinton, Hamlin, Parma and Mendon.

Overall, 28 percent of dog bites in the suburbs are by pit bulls, more than any other breed.

"If we banned pit bulls it wouldn't solve any problem because the people who aren't socializing, aren't training, aren't managing their dogs well are going to get different breeds of dogs who they are also not going to socialize, train or manage," Lohnes said.

The takeaway

So what do we take away from this report? It's clear through our investigation that pit bulls live up to their reputation. Is it the breed, or is it how the dog is handled? The cause is debated especially with the owners and experts. But there is no question - our investigation shows that pit bulls are a breed that you should be aware of.

But it's not the only one.

In the towns at least -- 17 percent of dog bites came from german shepherds or some shepherd mix. But it was equalled by a kind of dog that the average person might feel inclined to feel safe around.

Wednesday on News10NBC at 6...

Watch out for the small dogs.

Passionate response

This one has struck a nerve. We are getting emails, Facebook posts and tweets from dog owners who are critical of the story (even though it hasn't aired yet).

Here are some of the responses we've received:

I'm am fed up and tired of news agencies saying horrible things about pit bulls. As a responsible pit bull owner I am mad as hell about the "investigation" about pit bulls that you are airing tonight. It is irresponsible to air something like this. Owners and not the dogs should be punished. I'm very upset. Hope you enjoy killing dogs because you will have by running this story.
Kim DiMattia

Pitbulls are not the number one aggressive dogs nor are they the number 1 killer for dogs. Any person I know who has a pit knows how lovable they are. All dogs can be aggressive when their owners beat them or try to get them to fight! This segment needs to be canceled. Or you should change it to a story about how loveable they are!
Jen Gancasz

I had a negative view of pit bulls too - BEFORE I was educated.  I didn't want to get a "pit bull" (which isn't a breed by the way) and my husband did.  Well, 6 years later, I have owned 2 pit bulls and 1 pit bull mix.  They are amazing dogs, when you are a responsible pet owner and they are raised the right way.  All 3 of my dogs have been extremely loving, best friends to my family and I, and I wouldn't ever be able to live without one now.

I am disgusted by the report you are planning to run tonight about how pit bulls attack more than any other dog breed, among other issues. You do NOT have all the facts. Pit bull attacks are simply reported more than other dog attacks. But, ANY breed of dog can be vicious and prone to attacking. I am a professional and a responsible owner of two pit bulls. I am the majority. And,  I find your story offensive and defamatory.
Melissa Lorentzen

@whec_bbrean do not discriminate against pit bulls and do me a favor and tweet me back so I can give you info to clarify your BS story

@whec_bbrean hope your report is fair in that 99.9% of the time it's the OWNER not the DOG. Please do not shed negative light on the breed.