U.S. Army bans pit bulls & Rottweilers
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2009:
WASHINGTON D.C.–U.S. Army commanders at more than 40 bases
around the world are moving to implement a new “Pet Policy for
Privatized Housing Under the Army’s Residential Communities
Initiative Privatization Program,” which prohibits pit bull
terriers, Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, chows, and wolf
Issued as an order on January 5, 2009, the new Army policy
also limits personnel living in base housing to keeping no more than
two dogs or cats, forbids keeping exotic pets and farm animals,
requires all pets to be microchipped for identification, and forbids
keeping pets “tied or staked outside the home or any building.”
The order further prohibits keeping “Any other dog who
demonstrates a propensity for dominance or aggressive behavior,”
indicated by “Unprovoked barking, growling or snarling at people
approaching the animal, aggressively running along fence lines when
people are present, biting or scratching people,” or “escaping
confinement or restriction to chase people.”
Additional provisions of order stipulate that “Voice command
is not an acceptable means of control,” that “Pets are not allowed
in playgrounds or tot lots at any time,” and that pet keepers in
military housing must “Maintain appropriate, humane care of pets
(e.g. food, water, shelter from extreme weather, etc.).”
The Army became the first branch of the U.S. armed services
to adopt breed-specific legislation after at least six dog attack
fatalities in five years and one near-fatal mauling either occurred
in military housing or involved personnel who had lived in military
housing. Of the nine dogs involved, five were pit bulls, two were
Rotttweilers, and two were Siberian huskies, not included in the
Most recently, in May 2008, a visitor’s pit bull killed a
three-year-old boy at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The attack came
as the U.S. Marine Corps faced a $5 million lawsuit over a 2005
attack by a Rottweiler at Camp Lejeune that cost a child an ear.
On November 6, 2007 an 11-year-old boy who had been mauled
by a pit bull terrier died at the Carl Darnall Army Medical Center at
Fort Hood, near Killeen, Texas. Believed to have had the least
restrictive dog policy of any major Army installation, having only
prohibited possession of wolf hybrids, coyotes, and jackals, Fort
Hood banned pit bulls in November 2008, but allowed pit bulls who
were registered at the Fort Hood Veterinary Clinic before July 10,
2008 to remain on base.
Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lydon, then the Fort Hood provost
marshal, told Amanda Kim Stairrett of the Killeen Daily Herald that
over the preceding six years, 68% of the dogs who were declared
dangerous after biting someone on base had been pit bulls and 8% were
A July 2007 fatal attack on an 11-month-old boy by two
Siberian huskies in a home near Cookeville, Tennessee, involved two
families who met while living in U.S. Marine Corps housing. The
father of the victim was a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter, who was
still on active duty, but the attack appears to have occurred on
Two pit bulls in May 2007 killed a three-year-old boy in base
housing at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.
A Rottweiler in February 2006 fatally mauled the
four-year-old son of a woman who was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force
Base, near Ulm, Montana. The victim and his mother were staying
In May 2005 a pit bull terrier whose family acquired him
while living in military housing in Texas killed a two-year-old girl
in Huntington, West Virginia.
About 950,000 military personnel and more than two million
wives and children of military personnel occupy military housing.
The rate of fatal dog attacks among the children of military
personnel living on base appears to be approximately five times the
background level of fatal attacks for the U.S. as a whole.
Best Friends Animal Society attorney Ledy Van Kavage and
radio columnist Steve Dale of WGB radio in Chicago denounced the
breed-specific aspect of the new Army policy on the air on February
DogsBite.org founder Colleen Linn pointed out, however,
that the U.S. Army policy chiefly consolidates and makes uniform the
policies that were already in effect at many bases. “The U.S. Army
enacted the new policy to protect base housing citizens from serious
attacks and to prevent pet owners from encountering uneven policies
when moving between installations,” Linn said. “DogsBite.org
expresses great gratitude to the U.S. Army.”
Researching the Army order, Linn learned that all 10 bases
in the U.S. Air Force Space Command bar pit bulls and Rottweilers
from base housing.
Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Ellsworth Air Force Base
in South Dakota, Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, and McGuire
Air Force in New Jersey likewise prohibit pit bulls and Rottweilers.
Ellsworth and McGuire additionally name Dobermas, and Kirtland names
Pit bulls are also banned from housing at the U.S. Marine
Corps bases in Quantico, Virginia, and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
The ANIMAL PEOPLE log of dog attack fatalities and maimings
occurring in the U.S. and Canada since September 1982 shows that
breeds banned by the U.S. Army policy have committed 83% of the
incidents qualifying for listing through March 22, 2009, and have
caused 75% of the fatalities.
Pit bulls have been involved in 1,332 of the 2,560 incidents
and 133 of the 320 fatalities. Rottweilers have been involved in 435
incidents and 66 fatalities. Wolf hybrids have been involved in 80
incidents, producing 19 fatalities. Pit bull mixes, exclusive of
mixes with other fighting breeds, have been involved in 80
incidents, resulting in seven fatalities. Chows have been involved
in 52 incidents, resulting in seven fatalities.
Dobermans have been involved in only 12 incidents and four fatalities.