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Pit-Bull Terriers and Rottweilers should be treated like a loaded gun.

On New Year’s Day, a 5- year-old Ellie Lawrenson was mauled to death by her uncle’s Pit-Bull Terrier while staying with her grandmother.

Tragic and frightening as this death was, what’s scarier is that the girl’s uncle was warned by authorities about his dog’s dangerous behavior six months earlier. Had he heeded that warning, a young child’s life would have been saved.

Over 70% of the dog attack cases we have handled have involved Pit-Bull Terriers and Rottweilers. When the number of attacks by Pit-Bull Terriers and Rottweilers are

compared to the small percentage of dogs that these two breeds make up in America, you get an idea of how really dangerous these two breeds are. About 18% of our dog attack cases involve Huskies and the Alaskan breeds.

With these statistics in mind I believe every Pit-Bull Terrier and Rottweiler should be considered extremely dangerous and treated appropriately, like a loaded gun. That includes landlords being held responsible for the harm these animals cause when they are kept on the landlord’s property, just like the maintenance of any other dangerous condition. If you are a landlord and your tenant keeps a Pit-Bull Terrier or a Rottwieler on your premises and that dog bites or attacks one of my clients, you’ll suffer the same fate a few other landlords have that thought they were insulated.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, about 800,000 people are bitten by dogs each year. Half of these are children. The issue hits even closer to home when we see that California is ranked first in the nation in fatal dog attacks. Insurers nationwide pay out more than $1 billion in claims related to dog bites annually. One-third of the money paid out through homeowners’ liability claims are related to dog attacks.

Of those injured, 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department and about a dozen die. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and the rate decreases as children age. Almost two thirds of injuries among children ages four years and younger are to the head or neck region. Injury rates in children are significantly higher for boys than for girls.

The CDC gives important suggestions for prospective dog owners:

· Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn about suitable breeds of dogs for your household. Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children.
· Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into the home of an infant or toddler.
· Spay/neuter virtually all dogs (this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies).
· Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog.
· Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household and seek immediate professional advice if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

For more information about dog bites, visit the or the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Web site at

For prevention ideas and model policies for control of dangerous dogs, please see the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Task Force on Canine Aggression and Human-Canine Interactions: A community approach to dog bite prevention.

If you are a dog owner please remember your responsibilities to yourself, your family and your community. If you are a landlord, do not allow dangerous dogs to reside on your property. If you or a loved one is a victim of a dog attack, call me to determine your rights, and your options. We can help you with identifying skilled and available plastic surgeons as well as paying for medical expenses and the collection and preservation of evidence.

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