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Oklahoma Dog Bites – A Continued Discussion on Breeds

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I recently posted a blog entitled “Dangerous Dogs – Does Breed Matter.” The blog elicited quite a response from what appear to be “pit-bull” enthusiasts to those who would prefer dangerous breeds be closely regulated by law enforcement officials. The majority of the comments seemed focused on what I deem an overly zealous defense of these dogs.

While I do believe many if not most dog bite occurrences are the result of poor owners, we can’t discount that there may be a predisposition for certain breeds to have an overly aggressive nature. I think it only logical that some breeds were originally selectively bred for fighting. We can name several breeds that have characteristics, often bred into them, that make them have a greater tendency for aggression and have certain qualities such as a strong jaw. These characteristics make them more dangerous to humans should they display aggression toward people.

Nonetheless, any breed of dog can bite but there are certain breeds that simply cause greater harm and possibly death. I’m a parent of three lovely girls. I will go to the ends of the earth to protect them from harm. Whether dog enthusiasts like it or not, the reality is if I see a “pit-bull” or “Shar Pei” or any dogs of similar stature loose and around my kids, I am more fearful for their safety than if I see a stray Poodle. With that in mind, I will deal with these breeds that have a more aggressive nature coupled with their size differently than I will deal with a 10 lb dog. In summation, the reality is these aggressive breeds pose a more dangerous risk to people regardless of environmental factors by pure virtue of their strength.

Whether we like it or not, the breed of dog involved in a bite case will impact the way that I handle it. From a logical standpoint, the more aggressive and stronger breeds typically cause more extensive damage. However, as stated in previous blogs, those injured by dog attacks in Oklahoma, regardless of breeds should hire legal representation. Contrary to what insurance would like you to think, a dog in Oklahoma does not have to have a dangerous propensity or to have bitten someone before. In fact, Oklahoma is a strict liability state in most circumstances when it comes to dog bites. Essentially this means that just the fact that you are the owner of the dog that bit someone is enough to hold you responsible for the dog bite and allow the injured to recover the full amount of his damages from you.

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  1. Facebook User says:
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    Dogs and Aggression
    Last year I used Google Alert to get some insight on dog bites and attacks. For those of you that don’t know about this service, you give Google a topic and it e-mails you news releases on that topic.
    So, for the last year I have been getting on average of, lets say, four alerts a day, and at least one report every day. Now, if I disregard the reports that are non relevant (articles that happen to have the words dog and bite or dog and attack in the story) then disregard the articles that are multiples of the same stories, I am still left with a staggering amount of violent incidences between humans and K-9’s.
    Reading through every word of every article is not my cup of tea. My research skills are not great. However, I have trained myself to at least skim through all the articles to find the age of the human victim and the breed of the dog involved. Many of the attack releases are horrifying. Most involve young or small children, the dogs are (usually) known to the victim and of course “Pit Bull” is the news popular breed.
    I am not writing this article to bash Pit Bulls. I would never own one, because I am not a Pit Bull “type”. Nor am I a Poodle or German Shepard “type”. I think for the most part this breed is getting its reputation because of irresponsible humans that have no idea how to manage a dog that has been bred to be a killer. Do Jack Russell Terriers not bite? We breed them to kill. No one wants to take the time to read a story about a ferocious JRT. But we do pay attention to the dangerous breed attacks. As well, we have to take into consideration the severity of a Pit Bull attack.
    Part of my dog related business involves dog attack training for utility companies. These are the people that go to your house to read meters or to service equipment and it’s usually in the same place where many people STORE their dogs. I have labeled these dogs “backyard lawn ornaments”. The utility workers tell me their biggest fear is going into a fenced yard and seeing a dog on the end of a chain. They also tell me that some people will actually chain the dog to the meter, or build the dog run around the services to the house. The meter still needs to be read so there is usually some type of confrontation between the worker and the dog or the worker and the dog’s owner when asked to remove the animal from the area. It is easy to see that people that keep dogs this way did not get a dog for companionship. This dog is nothing more than a tool and eventually grows to be a social misfit. If it escapes or a child wanders into the yard the outcome is usually grim.
    Dogs, like humans, are social animals. They need interaction with other living beings to be mentally stable. A dog that grows up on the end of a chain will not develop the social skills needed to suppress the attack or bite reflexes when confronted by another dog or human. Understanding pack mentality is crucial to raising a dangerous breed pup.
    There are many other reasons why dogs develop aggression problems. Dogs are naturally aggressive. It is a survival instinct they are born with. The aggressive pup in the litter gets the most nutrition, warmth and affection. Once humans are in charge of the nutrition, warmth, and affection, care must be taken to insure that the pup knows its place in the human pack. The pup must be raised as a dog, not a human. Humanizing a dog will cause aggressive behavior. Issues can come from something as trivial as letting your dog on the furniture. Height is status in the pack. A dominant dog will stand over the submissive dog to show dominance. So letting your dog sit or sleep with the human pack members can give the dog a sense of authority that needs to be protected by aggression.
    Not controlling the entrance to the house can cause aggression issues. If your dog charges the door at the sound of a knock or a doorbell, it is a dominant response to protect the pack. A stable dog will know to alert the pack by barking once or twice and let the pack leader deal with the intruder. When you take your dog for a walk, the dog should be the last one through the door. In fact the dog should sit at an open door until it is allowed to go out. These may seem like small details to humans, but in a dogs mind Alpha Status is everything.
    If your dog is showing signs of aggression look for the triggers. What causes this dog to react violently? It may be something as subtle as a food dish by a door, or just being frustrated from lack of exercise.

    Bill Allen
    Outwest Canine Consulting

  2. Jane Akre says:
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    Great comments Bill-

    You remind me of the “Dog Whisperer” aka Cesar Milan who has his own show on National Geographic.
    Watching the debate about pit bulls has been fascinating, but a lot of their nature is explained by Milan who has a number of pit bulls. When Milan goes to do work on a misbehaving dog, as the theme of the show, he frequently takes a dog named “Daddy” who happens to be a pit bull, as an example of a calm, leader.