The Problem with the AKC and the Problem with Pit Bulls
The authors' second paragraph brings up two points.
The first: the authors base their population of dogs on AKC registration numbers. This sets their entire premise for failure. Faulty statistics only lead to faulty conclusions.
- There are no accurate dog breed populations. None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. There are estimates, perhaps based on extrapolated data or best guesses.
- Between 1-2 million dogs are adopted from shelters. They cannot all be registered with the AKC.
- The AKC is not the end-all on dog breed populations. For example, the Labrador Retriever, often has registration numbers of 130,000- 150,000 each year. This is one of the most popular dog breeds. It is unfathomable that there are only 140,000 Labrador Retriever.
The second point is also easy. The American Pit Bull Terrier is not recognized by the AKC and is arguably far more popular - in terms of numbers - than the AKC's version, the American Staffordshire Terrier. And while the authors do include the Staffordshire Bull Terrier in their definition of a Pit Bull, I would argue the breed's numbers are statistically insignificant in the United States and do not skew the data.
The AKC is not an accurate source of dog breed data for the American Pit Bull Terrier.
The authors claim Pit Bulls are 33 times more likely to kill someone than a German Shepherd based on AKC American Staffordshire registrations. That is absurd. The American Pit Bull Terrier is not recognized by the AKC and is more common than the AST. To use AST numbers from an already skewed data source to make any claims about a similar but more populous breed (the APBT) is fallacious and unsound.
Pit Bulls are not 33 times more likely to kill someone than a German Shepherd based on AKC litter registrations. Period. They just aren't. We know there are not 929 Pit Bulls (defined as American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier) born annually. That would put the Pit Bulls as one of the least populous breeds...and that just flies in the face of reality.
The final point on the introduction is the something you might not like to hear. The fact is that Pit Bull type dogs account for a disproportionate number of dog bite related fatalities. They just do.
Is this because there are more Pit Bulls and, unlike the faulty premise of the authors, the kill rate for Pit Bulls isn't statistically significant from other equally popular breeds? Is this because people who have the propensity to be more irresponsible choose Pit Bulls?
I honestly don't know. And I don't think I have the space or time to enter in a discussion (which you are welcome to in the comments, though). That is not the scope of the article or of this post.
What is so frustrating about this type of study is that we already know it's based on faulty premises, on incorrect data. Which makes it all the more difficult to extrapolate.
Still, there is the information available from the database the authors looked at to create this study, and that will be the subject of my next post.