Jul 13, 2010 11:34 PM by Jeannette Hynes

Pit bull bite sparks heated discussion

Monday afternoon, a six-year-old girl in Colorado Springs was seriously hurt when a dog bit her face.  That dog was a pit bull, and the story sparked a huge discussion with our viewers and online readers about the breed.

We talked to people on differing sides of the issue to round out the discussion.

Two years ago, Julie Daly was walking her basset hound, Max, when they saw a pit bull alone on the bike path. 

"My first instinct was just to turn around and start walking slowly back the opposite way, and the next thing I knew he had Max, got him on his back," says Daly.

It took Max a month to recover from the wounds to his neck.

"Emotionally he has not been the same.  We can't go to the dog park," says Daly.

Kristine Helgeson breeds and owns pit bulls.

"I definitely think they have a bad wrap.  Is it deserved?  No, I don't believe so," says Helgeson.

She says socialization and training are key when owning pit bulls or any dog.

"There's nothing worse than an unruly, unmannered dog.  I believe we have leash laws for a reason, and if people are going to break them, their dogs are going to get in trouble. They're going to make the rest of us look bad," says Helgeson.

These two women have very different pit bull experiences and opinions, but they agree the owner needs to be responsible for his dog.

"Ban the deed, not the breed, and I feel any dog can be a problem if not well socialized and well trained," says Helgeson.

"Do I blame the owner [for the attack]?  Yeah, I really do, because that dog shouldn't have been loose," says Daly.

Recent national dog bite statistics are hard to come by, but one study by Animal People Editor Merritt Clifton looks at dog bites in the U.S. and Canada from 1982 to 2006.  What it found was when it came to dogs biting humans, many breeds make the top of the list. When it came to fatal dog bites, pit bulls and rottweilers and their mixes account for 69 percent of those deaths.

Read the entire study here.



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