Victoria Stilwell cannot train genetics out of pit bulls & neither can anyone else
NEW YORK, N.Y.––If celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell tried to teach an old dog a new trick, specifically to ask to go outside to poop, with 67 failures in a row, would she conclude that she didn’t really know what she was doing, change her approach to dog training, determine that the dog was too stupid to learn, or clap a party hat on the dog’s head, hand the dog a treat, say “Good dog!”, and take a bow, hoping none of her television viewers noticed her stiletto heels slipping in the latest poop pile?
Of course Victoria Stilwell would not be a celebrity dog trainer if she failed 67 times in a row at teaching dogs to ask their owners to go outside to poop.
The Dog Bite Prevention Week old dogs never learn
But the story seems to be remarkably different when it comes to either teaching pit bulls and their many derivative maulers to behave, or teaching the Insurance Information Institute, American Humane Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and State Farm how to cut their losses from dog attacks, 67 years into annually promoting Dog Bite Prevention Week without ever once verifiably reducing dog attack payouts.
“U.S. insurers paid out more than $1 billion in dog-related injury claims in 2022, a double-digit percentage increase over 2021, even though the number of claims decreased within that time frame,” Insurance Information Institute flack Janet Ruiz cheerfully announced on April 6, 2023.
A 28% increase in payouts is “progress”?
“The 2.2 percent decrease in claims for dog bites and dog-related injury claims in 2022 underscores the progress of educating dog owners to take responsibility for their beloved pets,” Ruiz babbled on.
“Unfortunately, the total cost of these claims increased by 28% in 2022 to $1.13 billion,” Ruiz admitted, “with an average cost per claim rising by 32%, to $64,555.”
The object of Dog Bite Prevention Week is supposedly to reduce payouts by members of the 50-odd-company Insurance Information Institute and State Farm, the largest U.S. home insurer, with about 10% of the total market.
But if fire prevention campaigns achieved comparable results, one could suppose that the emperor Nero, who burned Rome, and Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, who burned Chicago, might fetch better results.
2.2% decrease in claims reflects 10% decrease in U.S. pit bull population
The 2.2 percent decrease in claims for dog bites and dog-related injury claims in 2022 cited by Ruiz might most closely reflect the 10% decrease in U.S. possession of pit bulls discovered by the 2022 ANIMALS 24-7 survey of dogs offered for sale or adoption at the early summer peak of “puppy season,” from 5.8% of the U.S. dog population to 5.2%.
(See What we discovered from counting 1,122,465 dogs over the weekend.)
The rapidly rising cost of payouts for fatal dog attacks parallels the rise in U.S. dog attack fatalities from 42 in 2018, to 49 in each of the next two years, 56 in 2021, and 63 in 2022.
Of these fatalities, 33 were by pit bulls in 2018 and 2019, 38 were by pit bulls in 2020, 45 were by pit bulls in 2021, and 42 were by pit bulls in 2022, with a record 12 deaths in unwitnessed attacks by dogs who might have been pit bulls.
The stupidest dog in the world
The stupidest dog in the world, the one Victoria Stilwell hypothetically could not teach to ask to go outdoors to poop, could probably recognize that trend.
Especially because it is not new.
“While the number of dog-related injury claims decreased 4.6% compared to the previous year,” falling to 16,991, the Insurance Information Institute noted in a Dog Bite Prevention Week 2021 media release, “the amount paid for these claims increased 7.1%—a record high.
“The average claim payment was $50,245 in 2020, up 12.3% from $44,760 in 2019,” the Insurance Information Institute added.
Altogether, as of 2021, U.S. insurance industry payouts for dog attacks had increased by 21% in just three years, a total of $179 million, despite declining numbers of claims.
Exponentially increasing mayhem
Currently, U.S. insurance industry payouts for dog attacks have doubled in only five years.
Which should be no surprise to anyone, especially the geeks who compile actuarial tables.
The estimated 611,000 dog bite victims per year in the U.S. as of 1960, according to early Dog Bite Prevention Week literature, gradually ballooned to 4.5 million by 2000, a figure which Dog Bite Prevention Week media releases now have not updated in 23 years.
U.S. dog attack fatalities over the same time have increased more than 30 times over, from an average of two per year reported from 1956 to 1960.
Pit bulls inflicted about one fatality per year back then, when pit bulls were well below 1% of the U.S. dog population, according to retrospective surveys of classified ads offering dogs for sale or adoption conducted by ANIMALS 24-7 using the resources of NewspaperArchive.com.
Pit bulls again not mentioned
Concluded Ruiz, “The Insurance Information Institute is marking National Dog Bite Prevention Week (April 9-15) again this year along with the American Humane Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, Positively Victoria Stillwell, and State Farm.”
But, as always, none of the hoopla dared mention that pit bulls, for at least the forty-first year in a row, apparently accounted for well over two-thirds of the dog attacks resulting in above-average payouts, those ANIMALS 24-7 has logged since 1982 as fatal and disfiguring.
The National Dog Bite Prevention Week literature offers seven tips “To reduce the likelihood of dog bites.”
Specifically, “dog owners are encouraged to: know your dog’s triggers of aggression; keep your dog secured at home if the dog consistently overreacts to visitors,” and “begin your dog’s training sessions early,” obviously impractical if the dog is adopted as an adult from a shelter or rescue.
Adds the National Dog Bite Prevention Week literature, “Pedestrians and others encountering dogs with whom they are unfamiliar should: Never approach a barking, growling, or scared dog; Ask the dog’s guardian for permission before petting their dog,” and “Avoid leaving children aged 10 and younger alone with a dog.”
All good advice, yet all of these tips combined, based on the ANIMALS 24-7 log of more than 12,000 dog attacks on more than 9,000 human victims since 1982, could not prevent as many fatal and disfiguring attacks as simply excising pit bulls and identifiable pit bull mixes from the dog population by sterilizing them out of existence.
Thanks for the excellent piece.
“The rapidly rising cost of payouts for fatal dog attacks parallels the rise in U.S. dog attack fatalities from 42 in 2018, to 49 in each of the next two years, 56 in 2021, and 63 in 2022.
Of these fatalities, 33 were by pit bulls in 2018 and 2019, 38 were by pit bulls in 2020, 45 were by pit bulls in 2021, and 42 were by pit bulls in 2022, with a record 12 deaths in unwitnessed attacks by dogs who might have been pit bulls.”
Surely, going by the above, pit bulls are not only a public health menace but an economic burden. Why allow this to continue?
On a lighter mood, don’t you worry pitbulls might get to start reading your posts (AI?), and then target both of you for revenge? Please stay safe
Jamaka Petzak says
I’m afraid you are more correct than you might think on the face of it, @Shamsuddeen. Pitbull fanatics do tend to be very vitriolic and vengeful. But that should never stop us from disseminating the facts, right, Merritt and Beth? As in some other hot-button issues of the day, our caring for our fellow living beings eclipses any uncertainty we may have as to what these angry and frequently unbalanced people might have in their minds.
Sharing with gratitude…and you know the rest.