Thursday, August 15, 2013

Color Me Profiler

"I have mixed feelings. I wanted to pull stats to argue, but the stats have changed since I looked 9 years ago, and there is no doubt that the large aggressive breeds, mainly pitbulls, cause a disproportionate number of dog bite deaths.
One stat I did see said that 92% of bites are from male dogs and that 94% of those were unneutered." blogger  - name withheld by request

This is an intelligent, thoughtful, researched comment from an anonymous reader. 

It made even more sense when I start compiling numbers on our off the cuff, last minute, very questionable on accuracy survey.

Why did I add chihuahuas? Because I had a sneaking suspicion about them and their numbers. 

I don't know if everybody told the truth. I don't know that the numbers represented are 100% accurate. 

Guess what? I don't care. They are close enough.

What I found out this morning is this:

US Shelter Dogs in the Mugwump Survey     3033

Pit Bulls                                                          720
Chihuahuas                                                      528

44.1% of the dogs in our shelter survey come from two breeds.
Two, count them two, freaking breeds.
This is in spite of all of the herding dogs and herding mixes that appear to fill the shelters around here (I've got one).
In spite of the "mixed black dogs" that I still think are up there in the stats.

What the hell is going on here?
Are the animal rights campaigns to stop the breeding of purebred dogs succeeding in wiping out every breed of dog except Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas?
Are the people who are willing to throw these dogs away also too stupid to spay and neuter them?
Who is selling their puppies to these morons?
Who in the world is breeding these dogs at all?

I have read about how the Chihuahua craze got started in California. Paris Hilton is the person everybody wants to blame...

I just don't see it.

I am pretty old. I have watched the rise, fall -- and ruination of many dog breeds over the course of my life.

A quick look back brings Cocker Spaniels, Irish Setters, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers to mind. All of them good dogs, bred for a specific purpose, which then caught the public eye. Now, if you mention any of these breeds, these are the descriptions that come with them: dangerous, stupid, cancer ridden, crippled, neurotic, there are many more, but you get my drift.

There are many, many other breeds which have been damaged by a surge in popularity, personally, anything I see show up in our neighborhood wearing a bandanna and an extendo leash (complete with attached poop bags) tends to be the next breed on the short list for health and temperament issues. Heelers are the trendy dogs around here. They are also rapidly filling our shelters.

This popularity surge happens often, but usually fades again. Remember dalmatians and rottweilers? They seem to have survived 101 Dalmatians and The Omen. The Paris Puppy in a Purse craze faded more than a generation or two (in a dogs life) ago. Why are there still all of these flipping Chihuahuas?
Should we blame Cesar Milan for the continued Pit population? That doesn't seem fair and it doesn't add up.

What does it say about the people who want to own one of these breeds?

I am a big believer in adopting a dog. I like mutts just fine. The thing is, I also believe in getting the dog I need. Which means I will buy a purebred dog if that is what it takes to get what I want. If the shelters are going to be filled with only two breeds and their crosses, I'm going to be out of the adoption crowd.

Because I don't want a pit bull or a chihuahua. So sue me.

Here's the results, as they came in. Tell me what you see. As you can probably guess, I'm a little irritated.

Total of Shelter Dogs in Our Survey            4129

Pit Bulls                                                          942               22.8 % of these dogs are Pits
Chihuahuas                                                     534               12.9 % of these dogs are Chi's

                                                              Total Dogs              Pits           Chi's       % P  % C  
Small Town, USA                                        4                          2                2          50.    50.
Cullman County, AL                                 141                          7                5           4.9    3.5
Little Rock, AR                                         118                          4               6            3.3    5.
Fulton County, CA                                    278                       119               4          41.7    1.4
Los Angeles, CA                                      1030                      279            280          27.    27.
Obispo County, CA                                    65                        15               23          23.7  35.3
Orange County, CA                                    79                          8              32           10.1  40.5
San Diego, CA                                          159                       36               46           23.    29.
Colorado Springs, CO                                  52                       12                 8          23.    15.
Denver, CO (Pit Ban)                                  52                         1               17            1.9  32.
Larimer County, CO                                    21                         2                 3            9.5  14.2
Longmont, CO                                            31                        19                2           61.2   6.4
Alachua County, FL                                    36                        15                0           41.6   0.
Central, FL                                                 52                        22                6           42.3   6.
Atlanta, GA                                               111                        22                8          19.8    7.2
Lexington, KY                                           106                        27               11         25.4   10.3
Various Shelters, MD                                   84                        27                 3          32.1    3.5
Bangor, ME                                                11                          1                 0            9        0
Portland, ME                                               7                           3                  0          42.       0
Trenton, ME                                                6                          0                  0            0        0
Ingham County, MI                                     38                          7                 4          18.4   10.5
Lansing, MI                                                37                         13                  4          35.1   10.8
Livingston County, MI                                 22                           5                 0          22.        0
Randolph County, NC                                 12                           3                  0          25.        0
Omaha, NE                                                40                           4                  1          10.        4.
Madison, NJ                                               48                           9                  1          18.7      2.
Reno, NV                                                   78                         18                21          23.     26.9
Portland, OR                                              27                        13                 2            48.       7.2
Giles County, TN                                        57                          3                 6          10.5     14.
Lampasas, TX                                              5                          1                 0          20.         0
Various Shelters, Vermont                            16                          6                0           37.5      0.
Southwest WA                                            34                        20                3           58.8       8.
Longview, WA                                            15                          6                2           40.      13.3
Lynwood, WA                                            38                          5                7            13.1    18.1
Madison, WI                                               15                          3                3           20.       20.
Portage, WI                                                13                          3                0           23.         0.

Tasmania                                                     66                      22                  0        33.3     0

Grande Prairie, Alberta                                  37                        1                 0           2.7    0
Somewhere, Alberta                                      15                        3                 0          20.     0
Ontario                                                          9                        0                 0
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan                          20                        5                 0          25.     0
Somewhere, Saskatchewan                            32                        0                 0            0      0

Germany                                                      77                      28                  0          36.     0

Genesee County                                           38                      11                  6          28.9  15.7
The Dogs Trust                                          742                    120                  0          16.      0.

Malta                                                         100                        2                 0            2.       0.

All Shelter Dogs in Survey                            4129

Pit Bulls                                                         942               22.8 % of these dogs are Pits

Chihuahuas                                                    534               12.9 % of these dogs are Chi's



  1. This doesn't count the pit mixes that are labeled anything other than a pit mix. Can there really be so many boxer mixes? When I look at the websites of the shelters here in the Cleveland area, most of the mixed breed dogs look like pit mixes, though they aren't labed as such.

    In the poorer areas of the city, there are a lot of irresponsible people who don't spay or neuter.

    I adopted a Border Collie mix--turns out she is a designer dog--a Sprollie. I got her in late fall. She never acted like a Border Collie--but in the spring--when the migrating ducks came through--she went crazy about them.

    She couldn't leave her spaniel heritage behind. They are what they are.

    I would never choose a pit or pit mix, because they are what they are, too.

  2. Judi, I think poor people are blamed for enough without adding pit bulls and chihuahuas to their plate.
    If you have no money, you end up with the dogs that are accessible.

  3. I did the LA estimate, and as they seemed to lump all the shelters in one site, yes that is what I came up with. As for who is breeding these dogs, here in So California, it is the CL people. Our tax dollars pay to house and euth these dogs, and the CL is full of puppy litters every day.

  4. Anon. - That makes sense. We're heading back to puppy mill stuff, which seems a logical direction.

  5. Pits are predominant in a lot of areas due to the "tough factor". The look big and bad and mean. And a certain faction of society wants big and bad and mean. That same faction also doesn't alter the dogs. That way they can breed them and produce more of the same. Between that, and the pro pit folks having their head in the sand, the pit issue has become totally unmanageable.

    The chi thing is the cutesy factor at work. Itty bitty pocket pet, won't take up much room, doesn't eat much. And they are biting little monsters for the most part.

    Truly responsible breeders have a take back clause in their ownership contract. They also health test, require references and home checks, and will always be just a phone call away if needed. Breeders are not evil demon spawn as portrayed by PETA. Some care very deeply for the breed that they have chosen to steward.

  6. I have to admit, this kind of shocked me.

    Fifteen years ago my favorite past time was looking at dogs in the shelter in Orange County.

    There were always a LOT of labs and lab mixes.

    I'm honestly really shocked not to see more of them on here - that was the biggest shock for me from this list, what with their propensity for escape and hyperactivity.

  7. Becky - I think lab mixes are right up there. They have been one of the most popular dogs in country for years.
    I know there are plenty of poor quality Labs in the world, but it appears you can still find the intelligent, kind, hard working family dog they are meant to be, if you look hard enough. How did they escape?

  8. Blame - Hollywood &
    Taco Bell - “Yo quiero Taco Bell!”

  9. The Taco Bell Chihuahua was dropped in 2009. That's what, five generations of chihuahuas?
    There has to be more to it than that.

  10. Becky, I'm with you on the shock at the lack of labs in shelters. I also used to "browse" years ago, before I had 3 dogs. Most shelter dogs were lab mixes. We still have one.

    A good friend of mine "confiscated" a small dog from a relative of hers who wasn't taking care of it. She told me the dog was a rat terrier and had come from a puppy mill. It was spotted, but I immediately knew it was part chihuahua, it even shakes like one. She swears it's purebred and has the papers to prove it.

  11. Beverly Hills Chihuahua is up to movie (3). Never saw this must be a kido movie. But seems no matter what the animal (finding Nemo) Clown Fish put it a kid movie and BAM we gotta get us one of those! After the Nemo movie our local pet stores added tags to the saltwater tanks stating as such "these are saltwater fish" require special care. Too many animals are completely disposable. Just get “it” and kill it, do the research about “it” after the fact. Or with dogs take the poorly bred and neurotic mess you have turned them into to the local shelter.

  12. Too many *PEOPLE*

  13. I don't know about chi's but pits have huge litters. Like 8 to 12 pups at a time is normal. And in some circles they're status symbols. In those same circles they're less likely to spay/neuter. So lots and lots of pits reproducing like bunnies.

    And lots of other dogs can throw in that "pit" look. Some lab or boxer mixes get labeled pit mix because of the squattier face and ears. So some of the numbers may be off.

  14. Don't know where you get your 'descriptions' from but none of them fit my two golden retrievers. Both rescues, both highly intelligent, athletic and loyal; no health issues. I guess anyone can generalize about anything...

  15. Didn't Paris Hilton add to the chi problem by using them as fashion accessories? Carrying them in her purse, etc.

    I think the Dalmation rescues cringed when 101 Dalmations was released because a lot of people wanted them without being aware of breed characteristics

  16. I've also noticed that a lot of the men who get pits as status symbols are exceptionally hung up on leaving the males intact. Kind of a canine version of a big truck as penis surrogate.

  17. IIRC, it took several years for the Dalmation craze to die down after the live version of "101 Dalmations" came out.

  18. There's another factor that I've been wondering about: there's an increasing number of privately run rescues that specialize in pulling dogs out of bad situations and finding them homes. In many cases, they actually _buy_ the dogs from backyard breeders and puppy mills.

    Some of them are just well-meaning idiots who've forgotten that buying the animals rewards the behavior that they're trying to stop. I suspect others are responding to the new market for "rescued" dogs and are actually in cahoots with the puppy mills.

  19. Last thought and I'm out: I'm in the Seattle area, and there are quite a few breed-specific rescues in the area that pull dogs from the shelters. In many cases, the dogs go straight to them and never hit the shelter system at all (my elderly Weim is one example - from first mom to breed club rescue to me.)

    That likely skews that stats on purebreds and near purebreds for a lot of breeds. I'd hate to have the task of trying to figure out how that affects breed distribution in shelters.

  20. Have to agree about the breed rescue. Our club (Irish Wolfhounds) has a 800 number for anyone in the US who can't keep their IW can call and we will go get the hound. No questions asked, it's all about the dog. We have a waiting list of approved homes. Now when you go to Pet Finder and search IW you will pull up a list, but the majority will be terrier mixes they are calling IW mixes because that is easier to rehome. Other breeds are the same, I'm sure.

    As for Maryland, I missed the post to pull stats, but I know there are far more PBT in shelters in our area than were listed. It's a joke around here that you don't go to the shelters for a dog if you don't want a PBT mix, because they ALL are. They will call it a Lab mix, or hound mix, but it's street Pit. And the shelters will say anything to get the dogs out the door. :-(

  21. anon - whose descriptions are you fretting about?

  22. I think pit is the only thing my dog hasn't got!
    Here in New Zealand pit's are on the banned from importation list, and theoretically they should be neutered. There are a lot of awful mixes out there, and they are often called 'staffy x' or 'american staffy's'. They do show up as often the most confiscated dog by dog control, and the dog control place near here doesn't rehome them (lack of competent owners). Our local dog control also works to re-home some of the dogs that come through and have good temperaments.
    My rescue obtained dog appears to have all the down sides of the main breeds he is thought to have in him (rottie, ridgeback and lab) and despite working with a trainer, I'm really starting to feel that I'm not good enough (he's my first dog) or experienced enough to sort him out. At 80lb's and still growing, I an staring down the barrel of a very difficult decision.

  23. These shelter figures make me so sad. As per usual - stupid humans lead to animals suffering.

    [Full disclosure - until a year ago when she was put down due to the ravages of Cushing's - my best bud of fourteen years was a lab/pit mix. Besides a brief period of dog aggression following us getting attacked by a loose neighborhood dog, which lasted until I got my act together (thanks to Cesar Millan), she was a model canine citizen.]

    After reading your posts (and the comments) yesterday Mugs, I went searching for facts. There was plenty of questionable data, but I figured that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) would be fairly credible. Here's some of what they said:

    There are 78.2 million dogs in the U.S.

    There are 4.7 million people bitten by dogs every year.

    There were approximately 238 dog bite-related fatalities over the past 20 years.

    Approximately 25 breeds of dogs were involved in theses deaths; pit bulls and rottweilers were involved in over half of the reported deaths.

    Nearly a quarter (24%) of the deaths involved unrestrained dogs off their owners’ property.

    Over half (58%) of the deaths involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property.

    Approximately 17% of the deaths involved restrained dogs on their owners’ property.

    Less than one percent involved a restrained dog off its owner’s property.

  24. Most reputable breeders cringe when their breed hits a popularity surge. Too many NON reputable breeders get into the game and exacerbate faults or problems within the breed by poor breeding.

    BTW, I'm from Saskatchewan. Where is "somewhere" SK supposed to be? Regina & Saskatoon are the two biggest cities here so they would be the most helpful in your stats I'd think.
    PA (Prince Albert) is further north and tends to get a LOT of dogs from the northern reserves. Just a little FYI :)

  25. cdncowgirl - I can only post the information given. If I had known where "somewhere" was I would have posted it.

  26. Calm, Forward and Straight - I've used the CDC for my work at the paper. The pro-pretty-pittie-puppy folk regularly try to say those stats are government driven propaganda.
    Of course,now that I only blog and write food columns, I can rely on bloggers here at the Chronicles to help with my research....

  27. BTW - Go Cesar! Just don't tell HMT.

  28. Mugs -
    I thought the CDC was pretty even handed actually - compared to the dog bite lawyer site, and the repeal the vicious dog laws site. ;D

    I hoped that sharing raw data would leave room for people to draw their own conclusions.

    BTW - I am a pit bull (no cutsie names or costumes) loving person... there - I said it. And Cesar saved us. Truly.

  29. You would think facts would be facts. But I have been really slammed for using them. These posts have been a good example.
    My post was about a young girl who lost a dog she loved and adored because she believed the hype surrounding his breed.
    She didn't have the skills to read him and lost him. He was a nice dog and she is a good kid.
    My point was about taking on dogs we aren't capable of handling.
    The commentators turned it into a pit bull debate, not me.
    Then, when I started thinking about how this all came about, well, there you have it.


  30. I think its really a disservice to the breed not to embrace what the dogs nature really is so the right people own them. Same goes for any breed of any animal.

  31. Ten plus years ago when I was practicing veterinary medicine, I had one size muzzle. It fits Chihuahuas and Min Pins.

    It appears to me that many of these dogs were carried everywhere to defend the "mother's" chest, often perched upon a generous bosom. Both the dog and the woman were unhappy if you needed to change this setup (like to perform a physical exam, for example.)

    Many of the owners couldn't believe that their precious babies would bite--but many of them did. Evidently the small size meant that they didn't need discipline? One more reason I'm glad I switched careers.

  32. I would like to point out that Canada seems to be doing something different, or they have more judgement with their breeding programs.
    How could you not fall in love with pitbulls if you watched C.Milan's show? Daddy and Junior (my fav) were adorable.
    I had to laugh at the vet's description of chihuahuas. My aunt had one, and he was HORRID. Totally fit his profile, but she knew he would bite. He bit us nieces and nephews with impunity. I will never trust one.
    But how do you know you can't handle a particular dog? You fall in love with warm brown eyes and a wagging tail, and you adopt it. It is easier to make excuses than do the work, and even doing the work sometimes does not guarantee a good outcome. And breed profiles change, the pit bull is a good example. How do you know, before you take a dog home, that you cannot handle it?

  33. Latest Anon,

    You are totally right about that, and it goes for horses too, and children. People have weird ideas based on fantasy (how things should be in a perfect world), not facts.

  34. Lets hope there never become the new fad.

  35. foffmom - you grow up and take responsibility for the warm brown eyes and wagging tail you have fallen for, that's how.
    You do the research before you bring the dog home. You be honest when evaluating your abilities as a dog trainer. That's how.
    This animal needs a home for up to 20 years.
    Recent studies have shown the attachment a dog makes to its owner is approx. as strong as that of a three-year-old child.
    This tells me I am not taking on a dog without unless I know I can handle his exercise and training needs.
    I want him to spend his life here, with me. I don't want to rip his heart out by giving him up.
    I can fall for ANY dog. If you look at who lives in our house, you will understand that.They ALL have goo goo eyes and wiggly butts.
    But, I will learn about the breed coming into my house and make sure I am able to handle it ( or at least have a good shot at it)for the next 20 years before I bring him home.
    Because, here's the prickly part. I, personally, will not keep a dog that is a danger to himself, my family, or the world at large. I won't make myself, my family or my neighbors miserable with a dog that can't fit into the life I put him in.
    I will put down a dangerous dog and I will rehome a dog who can't fit in, even if it's my fault the situation came about.
    I don't want to do this, and to be honest,so far, have managed to duck both decisions. When I was young, it's because I was lucky,now, it's because I'm smart about the choices I make and devoted to giving my dogs what they need.

  36. Somewhere, Alberta, is the town of "Red Deer". I know, stupid name, I should have been more clear. The SPCA there also handles the outlying rural area.

    I will say if it appears that Canada is doing something different, well, they're not.

    Part of the reason for the lack of chis is that our shelters very, very rarely get small dogs as strays. There are six months a year where a small dog will only last a few days on the lam before they succumb to the elements, and during our -20 spells, they will only last hours. Large dogs do a bit better, much, much better if they have good, fluffy coats.

    I theorize that this also increases the cost of running a puppy mill in Alberta. Heating costs drastically increase the overhead. In many cases, it's just more profitable to ship the puppies in.

    Lack of pit bulls? For years many communities in Alberta have run what I term "A Separation of Church and State". SPCAs function both as animal control and shelters, but many municipalities, including our capital city, Edmonton have two entities: the entirely tax-funded Animal Control & the not-for-profit Humane Society.

    Animal Control processes stray animals, holds them for mandatory wait periods, and if they are not claimed, then they are offered to rescue agencies. If there is no one able to take them, they are euthanized. Animal Control is not open to the public, and does not allow adoptions.

    The Humane Society gets first pick of the animals at Animal control, if they have room. I am suspicious that obviously aggressive dogs, pitbulls, & feral cats need not apply - the humane society does not euthanize unless due to unforeseeable health issues or safety issues, so I imagine they are forced to be quite choosy.

    As per the City of Edmonton:
    How many animals go through the Animal Care & Control Centre each year?
    On average, the Animal Service Facility sees over 8,000 animals per year.
    In 2008, we reunited 2081 dogs with their owners and sent 691 to the Edmonton Humane Society and other rescue groups for adoption.
    We also reunited 537 cats with their owners and sent 2116 to the Edmonton Humane Society and other rescue groups for adoption.

    I apologize for the age of the data, but apparently, these are the statistics that are approved for public consumption. I am assuming that if the statistics were any better today, they would have been likewise published for the public. That's not to say that the situation could not be much worse today.

    So back to the math, 8000 - 2081 - 691 - 537 -2116 = 2575

    That is over 2,575 cats & dogs who are quietly killed each year without being made available for adoption.

    And of course, that is not the whole story. Reporters at the Edmonton Journal were able to get better figures, although they included all animals the Humane Society euthanized as well:

    The actual total in 2008 was 3,348 cats and about 1,051 dogs killed at both the animal services facility and the Edmonton Humane Society.

    That could be a lot of pibbles.


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