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The debate over pit bulls: dangerous or docile?

The debate over pit bulls: dangerous or docile?

By Katie Crowther. CREATED Mar 1, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The breed has the reputation of being aggressive and mean. But many argue that pit bulls are being unfairly targeted.

During the past few months, we've brought you stories from people attacked by pit bulls. Both children and adults that have been left traumatized. Many of their dogs were also victims in the attacks.

"She's my four-legged kid," says Sarah Chatley, referring to her labrador, Mango. "She's my baby."

Chatley and Mango were on a walk when they were approached by two pit bulls. The pit bulls were not on a leash or with anyone.

"They went from tails wagging, to jaws clamping, in a split second," Chatley says. "I was watching it unfold. I was down on the ground trying to protect my dog, and they were just ripping her apart. It was just so violent."

Chatley was bitten and Mango had to undergo extensive surgery after the attack. She almost didn't survive.

"I still get nervous when I go on walks," Chatley says.

Chatley and Mango live in Southern Highlands, just blocks from Robin Samaniego. Samaniego and her dogs were also attacked by a pit bull roaming the neighborhood.

"It was terrifying," Samaniego says. "The owners must be responsible for keeping them in the backyard, in the house, or on a leash at all times."

Clark County confirms in both Chatley and Samaniego's case, the pit bulls were euthanized after a 10-day quarantine. The county says the decision to put the dogs down was made by their owners, who Action News tried to get in touch with.

The Action News Facebook page and phone lines have since been flooded with messages in support of pit bulls.

"My dog has never, ever shown any signs of aggression or anything like that," says mother of two, Melissa Davis.

Davis got her pit bull, Daisy, from Lied Animal Shelter nearly five years ago. At the time, Daisy was just days from being euthanized.

"I'm not worried about Daisy being around my kids at all," Davis says. "I just think it's unfair that pit bulls are classified as these bad, aggressive, mean dogs."

Melissa, like many other pit bull owners, says it's not the breed to blame. "There are bad Chihuahuas when I'm out for a walk that owners can't control. I think it has to do with the owners, not the dog."

So is it a myth that pit bulls attack more than other dogs? Here are the numbers: last year in the city of Las Vegas, there were 364 reports of bites by pit bulls. That was the most of any breed. Next on the list were Chihuahuas with 122 bite reports.

Many people who were attacked by pit bulls say they don't believe it's the entire breed to blame. They agree most responsibility falls on owners and how they raise their pets.

Even so, after being through an attack, they do want more rules in place for pit bulls and their owners.