Setters, Newfies, Dalmatians & greyhounds continue 35-year record as the safest big dogs
Preliminary “final” 2017 dog attack data from the U.S. and Canada suggests some good news, in that “only” 989 dogs participated in killing or disfiguring humans, down from the 2016 record 1,075.
But the bad news is that those 989 dogs killed 57 people, 11 more than the previous record of 46 who were killed in 2015.
Pit bulls killed 40 people in 2017, 39 in the U.S. and one in Canada, a total of 12 more people than were killed by pit bulls in 2016 and five more than the previous record of 34 killed in 2015.
(See Akita rescuer Carol Harris is record 5th fatality of 2017 by shelter dogs, Virginia pit bull fancier, 22, sets new record for pit bull deaths in one year, Emily Mae Colvin, 24, is record 35th U.S. pit bull fatality of 2017 and Mixed pack including pit bull, Doberman, GSD killed Deborah Onsurez)
Pit bulls accounted for “only” 88% of disfigurements
The 989 dogs who killed or disfigured people in 2017 accounted for 645 total disfigurements, 14 more than the previous record of 631 who were disfigured in 2016.
Of the disfigurements, 570––four fewer than in 2016––were disfigured by pit bulls, meaning that pit bulls accounted for “only” 88% of the dog attack disfigurements reported in 2017, down from 91% in 2016. But the 2017 disfigurement toll may well rise in the coming weeks.
Some attacks may be reported late
That the 2017 dog attack data reported here and now is “final” must be qualified, in quotes, because law enforcement did not identify by breed type 77 dogs who killed or disfigured people in 2017, four more than the then-record 69 who were not identified by breed type in 2016. However, some of these dogs of unknown breed type may be identified by breed type in legal proceedings in 2018.
Dogs of unknown breed type accounted for five fatalities and 50 disfigurements in 2017, injuring 23 children and 39 adults. Twelve victims of dogs of unknown breed type escaped more serious harm in incidents in which someone else was killed or disfigured.
Also to be noted is that dog attacks are occasionally not reported in accessible media until some time after they occur; victims attacked and hospitalized in one year sometimes succumb in the next year, thereby raising the total of fatal attacks for the preceding year; and ANIMALS 24-7 sometimes reclassifies the breed types of dogs when new or better photos became available, with the net effect that we now list one fewer pit bull disfigurement for 2016 than we did at the end of 2016.
Three late-reported pit bull fatalities in 2016
But we also list three more pit bull fatalities for 2016 than we did at the end of that year because, of the four dog attack fatalities logged in 2016 in which law enforcement agencies did not immediately identify the killer dogs by breed, three were later attributed to pit bulls.
Two of those victims, Valente Lopez Aguirre, 58, and Robert Lee Simonian, 74, both of Fresno, California, were revealed by mid-2017 court proceedings to have been killed by the same pit bulls, who were impounded after killing Aguirre in April 2016, but were released before killing Simonian in July.
More children and more adults injured
Even if new records for dog attack mayhem were not established in every category of data tracked by breed type since 1982 by ANIMALS 24-7 editor Merritt Clifton [see description of methodology below], the most dangerous dogs of 2017 did more total damage, and more damage per capita, than the most dangerous dogs of any previous year.
For example, 385 children were injured in 2017 in attacks in which at least one person was killed or disfigured, 31 more than in any previous year. Of those 385 children, 298 were injured by pit bulls (77%).
Also in 2017, 457 adults were injured in 2017 in attacks in which at least one person was killed or disfigured. While this was 30 fewer adults injured than the record 487 adults who were injured in 2016 in attacks in which at least one person was killed or disfigured, 356 of those adults were injured by pit bulls (78%), two more than the 2015 record.
The safest big dogs
At the opposite end of the safety scale, setters of all types combined, Newfoundlands, Dalmatians, and greyhounds continued their history of having killed no one since 1982, though together their percentage of the total U.S. and Canadian dog population nearly matches that of pit bulls and their identifiable mixes (5% to 5.3%), and all are in the pit bull size range. (See data tables below.)
Like pit bulls, Dalmatians and greyhounds are also known for needing a great deal of exercise. Dalmatians by reputation can be snappish, while greyhounds are induced to race by exploiting their intense “prey drive.”
Yet neither Dalmatians nor greyhounds have any demonstrable history of killing anyone, while the sum total of all humans who have been disfigured by setters, Newfoundlands, Dalmatians, and greyhounds since 1982 comes to just seven, four fewer in 35 years than pit bulls disfigured per week in 2016 and 2017.
Please donate to support our work: