PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The pit bull attack in Ross Township that left a man injured, and Chihuahua barely alive, has sparked debate about the pit bull breed.
Is it simply a dangerous breed? Or do pit bulls get a bad rap?
After a two-hour surgery, Gidget the Chihuahua, is able to peek at her owner, Tony Laspada.
The little dog lost a kidney, had two crushed ribs and skin ripped from her body.
Her owner, Laspada, had bites to his hands and nose after two pit bulls attacked them during their daily walk.
Gretchen Fieser from the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society says as sad as the case is, all pit bulls should not be judged by what some do.
“No. A pit bull is not an inherently dangerous breed,” said Fieser as she held her pit bull named Joey.
“Any dog can get into a fight with another one. Any dog can bite somebody.”
But she does say some dogs inherit more of something called “prey drive.”
“If you’ve ever seen a dog chase a frisbee or chase a cat, that is prey drive,” said Fieser.
“Pit bulls have a high degree of prey drive generally speaking. I’m talking in stereotypes. But that’s something that a responsible owner is going to work with.”
She says dogs should be socialized with people and other dogs, training is available and there’s something else: “Usually when you hear about dog bites, the vast majority are animals that are not spayed or neutered.”
Fieser says also says there are many misconceptions about pit bulls, perhaps the biggest being that they can lock their jaws. She says that’s simply not true.
After two pit bull attacks made the news last fall, we interviewed the supervisor of Pittsburgh Animal Control, Gerald Akrie.
“The majority of the time, it wasn’t really the dog’s fault,” said Akrie.
He told KDKA’s Ross Guidotti at the time that out of 133 animal bites so far in the year, pit bulls were being blamed for 40 percent of them.
“The next breed that comes in line after pit bulls is Labrador retrievers,” said Akrie.
It’s difficult to find reliable national numbers on dog bites broken down by breed.
Fieser says many times people mistakenly identify short-haired, muscular dogs as pit bulls.
With Joey at her side, Fieser explained that she brings her dog to speeches to dispel some of the myths about pit bulls.