Expert: Pit Bull attacks are quite rare

Lindsey Morone

Expert: Pit Bull attacks are quite rare

By Lindsey Morone. CREATED Nov 22, 2011 - UPDATED: Nov 22, 2011

MILWAUKEE- There is a pit bull problem in Milwaukee. Cities across the country are banning pit bulls after numerous vicious attacks. It is a controversial issue. Some say pit bulls are misunderstood and get a bad rap. TODAY'S TMJ4 set out to find the truth about pit bulls.

In a Waukesha neighborhood, there is hope that good fences make good dogs, especially after what happened six months ago.

"I just remember yelling and screaming and jumping over the fence," says Chris Bartosz.

Bartosz now has scars on his arms and legs. Though his wounds have healed, he has not forgotten the pain of being bit. He was attacked when he helped save his neighbor from two angry pit bulls.

"There was blood all over the floor and all over her," remembers Bartosz.

Sergeant Gerald Habanek with the Waukesha Police Department remembers the attack too. He remembers how a woman was almost killed by a family pet named Prince.

"The dog nearly chewed apart a 52-year-old woman," says Sergeant Habanek.

Police say Prince continued to be aggressive long after the woman was taken to the hospital. They say Prince lunged at the fence. They feared the fence would not hold. Newly released dash cam video shows an officer climbing up on top of his squad car, shooting, and killing Prince.

"In this case, it was a threat from a vicious animal that had already mauled a human being. You absolutely have to put the dog down," explains Habanek.

Waukesha is not alone. In Sheboygan, a 9-year-old was attacked when walking his Chihuahua. There was another pit bull attack in Racine. Most recently, there was another attack in Sheboygan. A 2 year-old was attacked by the family pit bull.

"They just get a lot of press, a lot of media attention," explains Officer John McDowell with Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control (MADAC).

There are a lot of opinions about pit bulls. TODAY'S TMJ4 looks at the facts. Since 2008, the top three breeds that bit the most, that were taken in to MADAC are as followed: Labs, with 40 bites, then, German Shephards with 68 bites, and coming out on top, Pit Bulls, with 302 bites.

However, there are a lot of pit bulls at MADAC. In fact, there are more pit bulls than any other breed. They make up 40% of the population at MADAC. But of all the 302 pit bulls that were brought to MADAC, only 4% of them came to the facility because they hurt someone. What the numbers actually show is that pit bulls bite just about as often as any other dog. 3% of the Labs taken in were because they bit someone. German Shephards came out on top at 5%.

Via Skype, Colleen Lyn, who created Dogsbite.org, says a pit bull's bite is worse than other dogs." She was attacked by a pit bull 4 years-ago.

"They are born with a dangerous toolset," explains Lyn. "They have a very unique bite style: lock, and hold, and shake. That is what causes extreme damage to victims," says Lyn.

It is true. Pit bulls are terriers and terriers are known to be maulers.

"That means they grab a hold of someone or something and they don't let go. They start to shake," says Officer McDowell.

That was the case of the pit bull attack in Waukesha six months ago.

"Officers when they responded said that they saw blood and muscles, fatty tissue on the ground in the kitchen after the attack," says Sergeant Habanek.

Without question, the attack in Waukesha was brutal. However, Officer McDowell says what happened was extremely rare.

"If we were to look at the records right now we would find out that the average pit bull bite is no better or no worse than the average German Shepherd bite or Rottweiler bite. In other words they bite and they let go like most other dogs," says McDowell.

The numbers do reveal that there is a pit bull problem in Milwaukee. Though, it is not because of how often the breeds bite. It is because they are so popular and owners are over-breeding them. Experts say when the over-breeding occurs at this magnitude, that is when you can really start to see problems with the breed.