Serial & rampage dog attack data

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2002:

Pit bull terriers and Rottweilers together appear to commit
about two-thirds of the reported serial attacks on humans (65%), and
more than three-fourths of the rampage attacks (79%), ANIMAL PEOPLE
has learned, in a review of files on approximately 1,500 dog attacks
in cases in which a person was killed or maimed, or police shot the
Serial attacks are defined as instances of a dog injuring
someone after having injured a person or an animal on a previous
occasion. ANIMAL PEOPLE found that about 5% of the dogs involved in
life-threatening or fatal attacks on humans, or shot by police while
attacking, had attacked a person or killed a pet on an earlier

Among the 59 dogs who flunked a second chance after biting a
person or killing a pet were 28 pit bulls (48%), 10 Rottweilers
(17%), and 21 dogs of 10 other breeds.
The lopsided risk associated with giving pit bulls a second
or third chance would be even greater if pit bull advocates are
correct in asserting that pit bulls are more likely than other breeds
to be killed after their first violent incident–which would mean
that relatively few pit bulls get further chances, and that those
who do are among the dogs considered least likely to be genuinely
However, the rates of flunking second and third chances
among pit bulls, Rottweilers, and other breeds were all closely
comparable to their overall rates of involvement in life-threatening
incidents, fatalities, and police shootings of dogs. This suggests
that neither pit bulls nor Rottweilers are subject to statistically
quantifiable discrimination in deciding which dogs get extra chances.
Rampage attacks are defined as instances of a dog attacking
multiple people or animals during a single incident. About 10% of
the dog attack cases in the ANIMAL PEOPLE files involve rampages in
which a person is killed or maimed, and/or the dog is shot by
police. Of the 153 dogs who rampaged, 89 (58%) were pit bulls; 32
(21%) were Rottweilers; and 32 (21%) were representatives of 14
other large breeds.
No dog smaller than a boxer was involved in a rampage attack,
possibly because small dogs are more easily restrained after
attacking their first victim.
The serial and rampage attack case accounts were extracted
from the ANIMAL PEOPLE archives by volunteer Chrissy Deliyandis, of
Freeland, Washington. ANIMAL PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton did the
data analysis.
ANIMAL PEOPLE was asked for data on serial and rampage dog
attacks at the 2001 No-Kill Conference in Hartford, Connecticut,
after presenting an abstract of information from a breed-specific log
of life-threatening and fatal dog attacks committed since September
1982 within the U.S. and Canada by dogs who were kept as pets.
Attacks by guard dogs, fighting dogs, and police dogs are
excluded from that log, but attacks by eight trained Rottweiler
guard dogs were included in the analysis of rampage attacks because
six of the dogs were specifically trained to guard family homes, in
which they were also household pets, and two were trained to work at
places of business in constant contact with the public.

Log totals

Through January 20, 2002, the log of life-threatening and
fatal attacks showed that pit bulls had committed 592 (45%) of the
1,301 total attacks qualifying for inclusion, including 280 (21%) of
the attacks on children, 222 (60%) of the attacks on adults, 51
(34%) of the fatal attacks, and 321 (45%) of the maimings and
Rottweilers had committed 291 (22%) of the attacks,
including 24% of the attacks on children, 63 (17%) of the attacks on
adults, 36 (24%) of the fatalities, and 159 (22%) of the maimings
and disfigurements.
Combined, pit bulls and Rottweilers had committed 72% of all
the attacks, 45% of the attacks on children, 77% of the attacks on
adults, 58% of the fatalities, and 67% of the maimings and
In theory, more closely regulating pit bulls and Rottweilers
could markedly reduce dog attacks. In practice, breed-specific
legislation has rarely succeeded. In Reading, Pennsylvania,
however, the city council in early January 2002 renewed an ordinance
which requires a special permit to keep any breed of dog which
accounted for 40% or more of the dog attacks in the city during the
previous year. Pit bulls accounted for 48% of the attacks in 1998,
the year the ordinance was first adopted, and accounted for 41% in
2001–but the total number of attacks has fallen from 113 to 56, and
the number of pit bull attacks has declined from 54 to 23.

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