You've heard it so many times before, it probably seems like a foregone conclusion. Pit bulls are mean. Someone sent you a link to prove it, and they insist that the statistics gathered show without a doubt that the only purpose of pit bulls is to maul, maim, and kill. They want you to believe there can be no other conclusion.

They're wrong. I'd like for you to come with me on an adventure through the twists and turns of fabricated statistics and cowardly community leaders. Let's start right up with the most obvious flaw in the SPBA (Scary Pit Bull Argument).

Pit Bull is not a breed

I mean, that seems like kind of a big deal right off the bat. How exactly do you fear and ban a breed that isn't actually a breed?

"Pit bull" is actually a term used to describe anywhere from 4-30+ breeds. At best, it could be called a breed grouping, at worst, a slang term to describe any dog with a blocky forehead. The four major breeds that get stuck with this label are the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Pit bull dogs are one of the very few that have been banned in some places, from local municipalities all the way up to the entire United Kingdom. In most of this legislation, also known as BSL (Breed-specific legislation), those four breeds are listed to describe the pit bull.

Knowing this should shed some immediate light on the statistics that have been gathered to show pit bulls as prone to attack. Other dogs are separated and statistics gathered based on their individual breed. Those breeds are then compared to the pit bull, which is multiple breeds. Seem fishy? That's because it is, and there's a whole lot more shady info where that came from.

Where do these stats come from?

When looking at a website like, it may seem like they're providing formal statistics in some sort of official capacity. The reality, however, is that much of it comes from media reports. That's not to say the media is purposefully targeting pit bulls; it's simply an acknowledgment that journalists are not often moonlighting as dog experts.

Most government entities don't list any breed specifics in official reports, so the statistics being cited are essentially coming from these media reports, which themselves are often just a recollection from eyewitnesses. And when someone says something about a pit bull attack, the fear-mongering begins and the headlines go crazy.

In September of 2016, the city of Montreal passed a pit bull ban that has been held up in courts ever since. The problem with this law is that it was a reactionary response to someone fatally attacked by what was described as a pit bull. Yet even as the bill was being passed, it still had not been determined if the dog was even a "pit bull," as it was registered with the Humane Society as a boxer and police said they were awaiting DNA results.

However, to gauge how well people are able to properly identify a dog in Montreal, it's worth noting that just a few weeks later a man had his dog attack his wife. The dog was, of course, labeled a pit bull. After DNA tests were conducted, it was found that the dog was a rottweiler, mastiff, and golden retriever mix.

BSL doesn't work

Here are some real statistics. In 2005, the province of Ontario banned pit bulls, allowing current owners to keep theirs with restrictions but preventing any new pit bull ownership. After 12 years of the ban, a long enough time that all living pit bulls in the province would either be very old or already passed, the number of dog bites has gone up.

The Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 was passed in the United Kingdom to ban pit bulls and get dog attacks under control.

In the past decade, hospitalizations for dog attacks have gone up 76%.

It seems plausible at this point to assume that pit bulls were not the original problem in these places, and passing a blanket ban on them did nothing but shift focus away from the real issues of dog ownership. None of this is new. There has always been some dog breed that we've blamed for our lack of understanding of dogs. As Cesar Milan once put it: "In the 70s they blamed Dobermans, in the 80s they blamed German Shepherds, in the 90s they blamed Rottweilers. Now they blame the Pit Bull. When will they blame the humans?"

The reality is that these dogs don't just decide to attack for absolutely no reason. They are historically some of the most abused dogs by humans, and the stigma surrounding them only makes their abusers feel more empowered.

The ASPCA, AVMA, CDC, and the Obama administration have all come out against breed-specific legislation in favor of community approaches that root out this abuse and put the focus back on responsible dog ownership.