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Attacking dogs weren’t pit bulls, after all


After its news reports blamed two pit bulls for the mauling Saturday of a 7-year-old girl, ABC2 News in Baltimore took steps to correct the error.

But take a look at the news report (above) and see if you agree with me – that they only compounded it in this story touted as “the real truth about dangerous dogs.”

Rather than clear the name of pit bulls, they besmirch that of American bulldogs, lumping them in with pit bulls and saying they share the same “aggressive” traits and legendary jaw power – or “muscles of mastication” as one vet calls it.

“They have muscles of mastication. They have muscles in their jaws that are so strong they have 500 pounds of pressure. They can snap a broom just like that,” Dr. Kim Hammond, of Falls Road Animal Hospital, says in the report. “They’re a predator if you’re lower on the food chain and they’re good at their job, and they’re going to win.”

Those remarks – inaccurate and irresponsible as they might be in reference to pit bulls or American bulldogs – were apparently being made about pit bulls, which he also compared to “a loaded gun.”

My guess is that ABC2 sent a reporter out to do the knee-jerk, misconception-spreading, how dangerous-pit-bulls-are story, then learned it was two American bulldogs that were actually involved in the attack on Amanda Mitchell, who remains hospitalized with severe facial injuries.

For the sake of expediency, it appears, the report portrays pit bulls and Ameridcan bulldogs as peas in a pod, which wouldn’t be so bad if the pod wasn’t 99 percent wrongful stereotype and 1 percent fact.

Mitchell was playing outside when the dogs escaped from a neighbor’s yard in Dundalk Saturday. Both dogs were later seized by Baltimore County Animal Control and, with the consent of their owner, euthanized.

On Monday, the Baltimore County Health Department issued a correction – identifying the dogs involved as American bulldogs – and, after more than a few complaints from vigilant Internet commenters, ABC2 corrected the story, pointing out that police had provided the misinformation.

In all fairness, the breed of the dogs was also misreported by other media outlets, including the Baltimore Sun.

Even though most news outlets have corrected their reports, the misinformation remains – not just in the public consciousness, but on Google, where search result summaries of news reports since corrected still describe the dogs as pit bulls.

Tragic as it is, the story goes a long way in helping to understand how pit bulls have gotten, and continue to get, a bad rap – based largely on police mistakenly identifying dogs, “experts” who may not know what they’re talking about and the news media’s dutiful reporting of such misinformation.

What gets lost amid all the assumptions and jumping to conclusions is this: Any breed or type of dog has members who can turn violent or aggressive – be it pit bull, bulldog or Chihuahua.


Comment from Cygnet
Time March 15, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Breed specific legislation is necessary to control the pit bull problem in Baltimore. But any breed specific legislation should include American Bulldogs in the definition of “pit bulls,” both because ABs are disproportionately dangerous in their own right, and because failure to do so will mean that pit bull breeders who want to go on breeding pit bulls will suddenly decide their dogs are, uh, American Bulldogs.

Mandatory microchipping of all pit bulls and pit bull mixes (to include American Bulldogs) and mandatory spay/neuter of all pit bulls and pit bull mixes (including ABs) except AKC and UKC-PR registered show dogs will begin to address the pit bull (AND American Bulldog) problem in Baltimore and won’t hurt a single responsible pit bull owner.

I assume everybody here is in favor of such a breed specific law?

Comment from jwoestendiek
Time March 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I think you’re assuming wrong, but we’ll see.

Comment from baltimoregal
Time March 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Well it’s nice that “Dr.” Kim Hammond has outed himself to the public as the REALLY, REALLY BAD vet most of us know him to be. His statements are patently false and completely inaccurate.
Dr. Brady Barr of National Geographic (Dangerous Encounters: Bite Force, 8pm est 8/18/2005) – Dr. Barr measured bite forces of many different creatures. Domestic dogs were included in the test.

Here are the results of all of the animals tested:

Humans: 120 pounds of bite pressure
Domestic dogs: 320 LBS of pressure on avg. A German Shepard, American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT) and Rottweiler were tested using a bite sleeve equipped with a specialized computer instrument. The APBT had the least amount of pressure of the 3 dogs tested.
Wild dogs: 310 lbs
Lions: 600 lbs
White sharks: 600 lbs
Hyenas: 1000 lbs
Snapping turtles: 1000 lbs
Crocodiles: 2500 lbs

Where did he get his information from? Don’t let this man or any of his colleagues treat YOUR animal.

Comment from Jen
Time March 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I think you’ll find that most owners of pit bulls and similar types of dogs are supportive of good dangerous dog legislation that does NOT include breed specific legislation. I would certainly love to see more pits spayed/neutered, but I would never support any legislation that singles out one or a few types or breeds of animals.

Comment from Michelle
Time March 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Cygnet – That has got to be the most insane thought process I have ever heard. Breed specific legislation does nothing to control pit bull problems or any other dog for that matter. If you have people fighting dogs in your neighborhoods then report them. If you see dangerous behavior then report it and force your police and animal control officers to do their jobs. It is not the dog it is the owner. You can put any legislation you want out there and if you do not punish the owners then it is useless and thousands of dogs are killed needlessly. BSL doesn’t work period. You cannot continue to take away the rights of responsible owners. By the way all dogs are dangerous in their own right, so maybe you just need a little education on dogs in general.

Comment from Jack
Time March 15, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Happens all of the time. More than half of the dogs that are labeled in the news as pit bulls have no pit bull in them, and only a tiny percent are actually pure breed pit bulls. Lucky if 5-10% of the time they are purebred pits, and 4 different breeds are pit bull. BSL pit bulls and the problem lives. Simple as that. BSL is a waste of money, and no way will it solve the problem, because people would register their dogs or just register them as something else. Stupid!!

Comment from Jack
Time March 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Anyone that wants BSL deserves to get attacked in the face by a lab. Get messed up by a lab and see if BSL for pits solves the lab problem. Anyone that wants BSL is a communist that enjoys the gov sticking in their u know what!

Comment from Trish B.
Time March 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I am against BSL in any form. Breeds should not be targeted. All dogs are individuals and have different personalities. The only thing that BSL does is punish the responsible owners whose dogs are licensed and taken care of. Criminals do not take their dogs to the vet and have them licensed. There should be a law for dangerous dogs, no matter what the breed. Trust me, as a vet tech, little dogs like Chihuahuas and the like are way more vicious than most dogs. I have been bitten by a Chihuahua when I was in middle school by people (they watched one of my sisters until I got out of school to get her) who did not think he could inflict much damage because he was so small. After he ripped my pants and bit me, I let them know that they had better keep him locked up when I came to get my sister or there would be a serious issue. I love all dogs and would never dream of hurting one but I would have gotten my Mom to call animal control on them.
I rescued a horribly abused Pit Bull when she was about four months old. Someone had hacked her ears off with scissors and then left her to die in the middle of the summer tied to the steering wheel of an abandoned car. Essie was absolutely an angel and an awesome breed ambassador. She loved everyone and everything. She bravely fought lymphoma for 18 months until we had to help her gently to the Bridge. We miss her horribly. I will rescue another Pit Bull one day as I think they are awesome companions.
IMO, mandatory microchipping and spay/neuter should be done to all dogs (except for show dogs) not just certain breeds.
Good article here: http://doglaw.hugpug.com/doglaw_090.html
I agree with most of the terms of the dangerous dog laws except for the killing of fighting dogs. The Vick dogs have proved that they can be rehabilitated and be loving companions.

Comment from Doug
Time March 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm

They only seem “disproportionately dangerous” because they are disproportionately targeted for abuse.
These dogs temperaments are rated second to labs; they are a top-rated nanny-dog, and they are a top-rated dog to be around the elderly. But, when their exceptional loyalty and eagerness to please are combined with their strength, they become an abuser’s top-rated target.

Comment from smoketoomuch
Time March 15, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Most assuredly an incorrect assumption!
Please see this page: http://www.thetruthaboutpitbulls.org/

How about some “Breed Specific Legislation” to control the Human problem? It’s the owners, not the dogs, or the breed.

Comment from dawn
Time March 15, 2011 at 3:54 pm

cygnet, did ever hear the expression when you assume you make an ass out of you, because you certainly have. Breed specific legislation is outrageous and should be banned. You are forgetting one important fact. The jerks who are breeding/training their dogs to fight are not going to adhere to the provisions of any breed specific legislation. So the only ones who will be affected are the responsible pit bull owners, such as myself. There is not a “pit bull problem” as you call it but an idiot problem of irresponsible owners and a-holes who train their dogs to fight. It is not the dogs fault and punishing the dogs and the responsible owners is not the solution. There needs to be stricter dog fighting laws and penalties and more dilligence on shutting down dog fighting rings and trainers/breeders of fighting dogs. All breed specific legislation does is punish responsible dog owners and the good dogs. Next time stop and think before you make any more assumptions.

Comment from jonathan gilbert
Time March 15, 2011 at 4:05 pm

@Cygnet–Have you done any research into whether BSL has worked? I have and in every study done, it has had no impact in terms of dog population and attacks..Ignorance comes easy, getting the facts require work.

Comment from Marie
Time March 15, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Dr. Hammond is a bit of a jack ass. How people still trust and go to him is beyond me.

Comment from Pat DeWald
Time March 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I think in most communities a “Dangerous Owner” legislation is more appropriate. No breed of dog is genetically vicious. They are molded into that behavior by irresponsible breeding, abuse and aggression training or lack of any training. It is also easy to see why the media is repeatedly labeling many dogs as pitbulls. Even in the world of rescue it is a common practice to use the term “pitbull” as a category of dog that encompasses more than ten distinct bully breeds, American Bulldog being one of these breeds.

Comment from Adam
Time March 15, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Wow. That was just the *dumbest* newscast I’ve ever seen (seriously… where do they find these “expert” sources?)

Either that, or it was a brilliant satire of news worthy of the Daily Show or The Onion

Comment from MorganJust
Time March 15, 2011 at 6:36 pm

“More than half of the dogs that are labeled in the news as pit bulls have no pit bull in them, and only a tiny percent are actually pure breed pit bulls.” Unless you show the source and citation for that, it’s just wishful thinking.

The attacking dogs WERE pit bulls. American bulldogs were recreated in the 50s using apbt – and very heavily in the scott type dogs which are described as large, rough pit bulls on long legs by AB breeders. The painter line was bred in the 70s specifically to pit fight. American bulldogs are just a large variation of the pit bull.

I don’t thing Cygnet believed anyone here would actually be in favor of legislation that would benefit the dogs, because everyone knows pit bull owners advocate for absolute freedom of pit bull ownership and breeding even if that means that they have to march a lot of pit bulls off to death everyday.

Comment from Tom Berger
Time March 15, 2011 at 7:52 pm

I parent an American Bulldog. She is strong, but gentle. She loves to chew up sticks but if your hand gets too close to her mouth she’ll back away in fear that she would accidentally hurt you.

I’ve taught Chai, whom you can visit at Pretentious Pooch, that teeth to skin is not acceptable from an early age. If I say ‘outch’ she cowards toward me apologetically and kisses my face until I tell her it’s ok. She also knows the word, ‘Gentle’ for taking treats, interacting with smaller creatures, or when her energy is too high for people or animals around her.

She can be seen sleeping with the store cat, Schnutzer in our window at 1017 Cathedral Street. I’m not plugging the store but if you want to see how an American Bulldog who is raised with care and responsibility behaves stop in or walk past our window.

This is a parenting problem, not a breed problem. I’m surprised at the comments made by Falls Road Animal Hospital, the clinic who spade Chai. I guess they lived through the encounter with such a vicious beast.

Comment from Lisa
Time March 15, 2011 at 8:00 pm

It’s funny how people like MorganJust here who have irrational biases against categories of dogs so often have the same type of bias against categories of people. It always seems to come down to that, doesn’t it? THOSE types of people have THOSE types of dogs, don’t they?

One thing that’s stood out for me in the time I’ve been involved in the animal welfare community is that dog advocates almost always either start out or come to a special affection for ‘pit bull’ type dogs. This includes all kinds of people, from conscientious breeders and breed enthusiasts to no kill advocates to shelter volunteers and advocates. If you spend enough time working toward a more humane environment for dogs, you meet a lot of charming square-jawed dogs, and you probably fall in love with at least one or two along the way.

So you’re not just sort of wrong in your assessment. You’re almost comically wrong. If you were capable of seeing things without being blinded by your irrational biases, you’d find that many of the most dedicated and responsible people involved in animal welfare out there are pit bull owners and advocates. They’re not OK with the killing. They’re the ones working to stop it.

Comment from Emily
Time March 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm

@MorganJust “…everyone knows pit bull owners advocate for absolute freedom of pit bull ownership and breeding even if that means that they have to march a lot of pit bulls off to death everyday.”

I work with pit bulls that have been rescued from Animal Control and other horrible situations at a no-kill rescue. I love pit bulls, and the reason they find themselves “marching to death” is because people breed the dogs for fighting etc. and don’t spay and neuter them. I am a pit bull advocate, and I in no way advocate breeding them. And I believe in responsible ownership, not “absolute freedom of ownership and breeding”. I have no idea why you would think any responsible pit bull owner/advocate would believe that. Apparently you are talking to the wrong people. Perhaps you’ve had run-ins with irresponsible owners, and unfortunately those people have shaped your way of thinking.

Comment from debra
Time March 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm


Thank you for posting this story. Everyone who wants to educate themselves about American Pit Bull Terriers and aggressive dog behavior should read “Pitbull Placebo” It is a great book that dispels many of the myths associated with the breed.

Comment from Tamara
Time March 15, 2011 at 10:20 pm

@ Cygnet ur are an asshat. What ridiculous statements to make and you know what they say about assuming congrats you just made that saying very true. You are exactly what is wrong with society concerning this breed. But thank you for letting everyone know ignorance is still alive and well.

Comment from Dannielle
Time March 16, 2011 at 12:47 am

first they came for the pit bulls, but I did not speak because I did not own a pit bull.
then they came for the rottweillers, but I did not speak because I did not own a rottweiller.
then they came for the labradors, but I did not speak because I did not have a labrador.
then they came for the spaniels, but I did not speak because I did not have a spaniel.
when they came for the small, mixed breed dog I adopted from a down on their luck family, who was responsibly contained, well cared for and loved more than I could say, there was no one willing to speak for him.

there is a movement to push our best friends into extinction. will you be silent?

Comment from Amber
Time March 16, 2011 at 7:09 am

BSL is absurd… For the most part, people that are in favor of this are those uneducated about the breed. People watch the news and all of a sudden they have an enemy. If the news has said pit bulls attack then OMG kill um all…. News says 911 attackers were from the middle east then people start looking at everyone from the middle east as a terrorist… See the pattern??? Get an original thought of your own. Educate yourself on the tests done annually on(aggression,listening,etc.) all dog breeds where you will see the pit bull pass with flying colors putting many other breeds to shame or maybe get to know a pit bull yourself. I mean I don’t go around and assume that because you happen to be ignorant in this subject that you are generally a stupid person.
Not to mention, the government already takes too many liberties with our freedoms and rights do you really want to give them another? It starts with pit bulls, but don’t be naive or ignorant enough to think that it ends with pit bulls.

Comment from jmcc
Time March 16, 2011 at 9:17 am

What a joke! BSL is useless, in Ontario canada there. Has been a “pit bull ban” for the last 5 yrs, recent stats indicate that dog bites have not decreased and in fact have risen in the last year. You cannot blame these bites on pit bulls because our Bully population is aged. Then how do you explain this? Simple, bad owners are still there in record numbers. Stop blaming the dogs. It’s the deed not the breed.
And for the record my american staffordshire terrier died at the age of 14 having never bitten anyone, and I have 2 young children!

Comment from Fay
Time March 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

WOW! Lets see there are already three different breeds of dogs labeled pit bulls never mind the 28 other registered breeds commonly mistaken for them let alone all THEIR mixes and this joker wants to add more? Boxers? Bull Mastiffs? Dogos? When will the madness stop? Italy was UP to 98 different breeds and types of dogs until it recinded it’s ban two years ago based on documented evidence that no matter how many types or breeds of dogs added it made NO difference and did NOT decrease bites. THEY like other enlightened counties NOW hold individual owners accountable and look to strong leash laws and education.

These bans are mostly media driven based on misinformation and ignorance. Shameful, simply shameful.

Comment from Jen
Time March 16, 2011 at 11:16 am

Its good to see so many people posting who truly understand and have taken the time to educate themselves about these types of dogs. I would suggest that people contact the tv station regarding Kim Hammond – I stopped watching their news coverage years ago when I realized he was doing their weekend vet segments. There are SO many other wonderful vets in the area – it’s a shame – with his awful reputation that they continue to give him air time. Contact the station and their sponsors if you’d like to see him off the air.

Comment from Bullybob
Time March 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm

I wished people would keep typing pit bull breed… it is a type of dog. There are about 20 different breeds of dogs that people will call a pit bull…There is a breed called American Pit Bull Terrier but a pur breed dog is actually very difficult to find. If someone buys a pit bull off the corner “dog dealer” or off Craiglist.. you are buying a mutt.. the add might say pit bull.. but its not an American Pit Bull Terrier I can almost guarantee that.
As far as the squared jawed, muscular dogs people call pit bulls.. I have owned this type of dog for years all from shelters. They are great dogs but I beleive in training, have a good fence and when I am gone they stay inside.

Comment from jmcc
Time March 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Bullybob, u ar correct, as for myself I use the term pit bull to include all breeds that r being targeted as pit bulls. As I think many do. In ontario, according to our BSL, 4 types of breeds are considered “pit bull” type breeds. Now here is where BSL
has truly failed, our law states anydog with pit bull characteristic, almond shaped eyes, muscular build, blah blah.. Can b confiscated, so we’ve fought on behalf of boxers, mutts, bull dogs, so on. As well as staffs, apbt etc.

Comment from baltimoregal
Time March 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Oh, did I not mention that Falls Road failed to diagnose a stray dog with PREGNANCY? My friend found a thin, stray pit bull mix and brought her in. They didn’t somehow notice that she was pregnant with EIGHT PUPPIES and had them less than two weeks later! BAD VET. REALLY BAD VET.

Comment from Tina T.
Time March 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Cygnet, nobody in their right mind supports BSL. There’s a good reason it’s called bull sh*t legislation.

Dr. Hammond’s comments make me gag. I can’t believe he said that garbage.

omidog, it saddens me to see you advertise HSUS on your page. Especially with their history of Pit Bull treatment & current support of Vick.

Comment from Meaghan Edwards
Time March 16, 2011 at 5:16 pm

I just have to shakie my head when I hear people go on about how wonderful BSL is especially when i tcomes from a so called dog lover. IMO, there’s no such a thing as a dog lover if they support legislation against a dog based on the way it looks. Cygnet, go check up Calgary’s law. Ontario’s law was deemed a failure, and Calgary’s a sucess – read up on WHY.

Also, any vet who supports BSL is a vet who doesn’t deserve business.

Comment from Sharay Samuel
Time March 16, 2011 at 7:15 pm

i own a female pit bull for 4 years now and i have a 8 year old and 10 year old so they were 4 and 6 when we got her and i tell you this we have had 3 shiz tzus in that same time and those are the dogs to worry about around children we could not find one that would not bite.. my pit bull loves my kids i also run a inhome daycare and my kids love my pit. they play with her ruff and she just lays there. my dog only barks for 2 reasons someones at the door or coming in our yard or we are in the house play fighting or having to much fun then she wants order she likes to have it calm around her pits are what you teach them to be but there are more dogs you cant get them to do what you want but bc they cant break a broom with their teeth you say they are not danger to our kids.. i will always own a pit bull as long as i live and if you want a great family dog that will do anything to protect you and love you at the same time go for a pit bull. we own a red nose dog name aggression and her name is that bc we thought something should live up to pits bad rep… so the names wins be she is the sweetest pit in the world unless you cross my family or my daycare kids.. then she will show you that a pit does live in her and i wouldn’t change that for the world.

Comment from Kim
Time March 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm

This vet should lose his license! How irresponsible – you would think that of all people, a veterinarian should know the difference between what is fact and what is myth when it comes to dog breeds. This is shameful.

Comment from Jessica
Time March 17, 2011 at 8:37 pm

If this treatment were towards a human it would be considered RACISM!! Anyone who labels or judges a dog by it’s breed or anything as a whole is ignorant!

Can you even find the pit bull on the first try?? Take this quiz…


Comment from baltimoregal
Time March 18, 2011 at 10:16 am

John, any response from this “Dr.”?

Comment from pittbullmom
Time April 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm

I swear they will do every thing they can to bash a pit bull even when it wasnt a pit bull that attacked. American bull dogs and pit bull terriers are not the same american bull dogs are a mastiff type dog breed and are a guardian breed. they are to different breeds. and pit bulls are not aggressive a american bull dog is way more protective and has way more aggression then a pit bull terrier would ever have. i have owned american bulldogs and i have a pit bull right now and they are not the same thing. this vet is really stupid and sounds like to me he is anti pit bull and pro bsl. and the one pit bull owner i mean come on it wont be aggressive if its tired? so to me its sounding like she is saying that pit bulls are aggressive if there not tired which isnt true. they may be happier tired and les rambunctious but aggressive? unless you want them to be. most pit bulls i have ever met were not aggressive and not even really that protective but american bull dogs on the other hand will be. mine were really protective of are home but outside the home they were fine but if you tried to get in the yard or house they would stand there ground. my pit bull really doesnt care who comes around. He likes strangers and especially ones that will pet and scratch him i love both breeds though and yes they do need a lot of work but so do german shepherds and Rottweilers and great danes and most working breeds.. even small dogs need a lot of work and training. it’s just not pit bulls..

Comment from Dog Lover
Time December 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I just want to add to the breed specific legislation…the bad apples, the owners that are raising badly behaved dogs and fighting dogs are usually criminals. that said do you think criminals are going to stop doing what they are doing because you pass a law saying they can’t? Uh no! they are going to continue to be criminals and break an additional law. then when they get caught, we the taxpayers and idiots that keep creating laws and more laws are going to be paying for these criminals to be jailed, tried, imprisoned, etc. what ever happened to making the problem better by doing somthing other than creating more and more laws? we are lazy, lazy people that use our voting power for the stupidest things. let’s get our priorities straight fellow Americans.