Recent attack raises question: Just how dangerous are pit bulls?

A tragic dog attack in California recently has led people nationwide to question how safe it is to keep pit bulls as pets. Last week, a woman was attacked by her own pit bull. The 32-year-old woman, who was pregnant, was killed in the dog attack.

Her dog, a 2-year-old male, was shot dead. The woman’s family also apparently owned a young female pit bull, which is being held until police figure out what to do with her. It’s still not clear what caused the dog, which was not neutered, to turn on his owner so viciously.

Incidents like this leave pet owners shaken. The recent attack has left some to wonder: is it safe to own a pit bull? Some cities, such as Miami and Denver, ban or restrict owning dogs of that breed.

Experts note that people who do own pit bulls should train them and get them fixed. And, generally, if the dogs are prone to attack, it typically is because of a negligent owner.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, pit bulls were originally bred from bull-dogs and terriers. The dogs were apparently bred for what was known as “bull-baiting,” or ganging up on agitated bulls. They were also instructed to fight each other.

Some wonder whether anyone should own a pet with a propensity toward violence, but others point out that pit bulls are actually protective of humans and were once used as “nanny” dogs to children.

One thing is for certain: pit bulls, as any dogs are, need to be properly handled by the owners. If the dogs attack an innocent bystander, the owner can be held liable.

Source: San Francisco Examiner, “Fatal Pacifica dog attack dredges up questions over pit bulls,” Dan Schreiber, Aug. 14, 2011