I Guess I’m A Socially Deviant Criminal Too

Based on the idiocy of this article, I’m a socially deviant criminal.

WASHINGTON – People who own vicious dogs such as pit bulls have significantly more criminal convictions — including crimes against children — than owners of licensed, gentler dogs such as beagles, researchers reported on Thursday.

A study of 355 dog owners in Ohio showed that every owner of a high-risk breed known for aggression had at least one brush with the law, from traffic citations to serious criminal convictions.

And 30 percent of people who owned an aggressive breed of dog and who also had been cited at least once for failure to register it had at least five criminal convictions or traffic citations. This compared to 1 percent of owners of low-risk, licensed dogs such as poodles, beagles or collies, the researchers reported in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Can we say “Biased Sample”, sure we can. If we look at two different sub-populations of dog owners should we be surprised that we get two different results? That is, would it be asking too much for the researchers to compare people who own and register their American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Staffordshire Terriers to people who have registered poodles, beagles and collies?

They used agreed definitions of vicious dogs used in writing local ordinances. “A ‘vicious dog” means a dog that, without provocation, has killed or caused serious injury to any person, has killed another dog, or belongs to a breed that is commonly known as a pit bull dog,” they wrote in their report.

Talk about assuming that which you are trying to prove. A paper like this submitted to a statistic journal (I hope) would be rejected.

The definition excludes dogs used in law enforcement or dogs protecting an owner or property.

I have a neighbor who is a complete and utter moron. He has a dog that he used for protecting his property. He’d put the dog out front of his home at night, all night, and it was trained to attack people–by definition vicious. It was not a “pit bull”1 So, we have measurement error as well that can bias the results as well.

The most frequent low-risk breeds seen in the study included terriers, beagles, collies and poodles.

Let me see, looking at the American Temperment Test Society statistics, we see that collies, beagle and many terrier breeds (save for the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Stafford Bull Terrier) pass at a lower rate thant the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, and the Stafford Bull Terrier.

“One can argue that choosing to own a vicious dog is a marker of social deviance because a vicious dog is, by definition, a socially deviant animal,” said Barbara Boat, director of The Childhood Trust at the University of Cincinnati, who worked on the study.

Yep, a marker of social deviance. Oh and more social deviance here…and involving kids too.

And here we see that a broken clock is indeed right twice a day…well in the case of these researchers once a day,

“We suggest, regardless of dog breed, that failure to license a dog is a potential warning sign of other deviant behavior,” they wrote.

You know, if local communities actually made more effort to make sure that dogs were licensed we’d probably have fewer issues with dogs.

For an amusing take on this study, check out this video. The gentleman in the video owns Wallace the Pit Bull who is quite an accomplished agility dog (video of Wallace in action). Note that Wallace was on the verge of being euthanized because he is a dog with a high energy drive. However, that doesn’t have to mean a dangerous dog. Look at Wallace, or K9 X-Dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier, who is working for the Washington State Police as an explosives detection dog. And K9 X-Dog is not the only pit bull working for the Washington State Police.
_____
1American Pit Bull Terriers usually make lousy guard dogs since they are typically so human friendly/submissive.

FILED UNDER: Media, , , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Tlaloc says:

    But if we license dogs then only criminals will have unliscensed dogs! Or something…

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    Please explain how improved licensing would lower “issues” with dogs. All I’ve ever seen licensing do is fill the coffers of the county.

    I’m a firm believer it’s the owner not the dog. That said I also thinks it’s important to recognize that certain dogs are more dangerous simply because they are more powerful. It’s also important to recognize that many unsavory characters like the big dogs as an intimidation tool. Again, it’s the owner not the dog but it does create a perception where these dogs are associated with criminal behavior. Not fair but reality.

    Articles like this are junk. It follows the standard pattern of alarmist journalism meant to scare mothers across the country. Journalism is in a sad state.

  3. legion says:

    I’m a firm believer it’s the owner not the dog. That said I also thinks it’s important to recognize that certain dogs are more dangerous simply because they are more powerful.

    Agreed on both counts. I see a distinct parallel between banning certain breeds of dogs because they _could be made dangerous_ and banning SUVs because they’re more dangerous to other cars in crashes. Both efforts seem to violate the concept of personal responsibility…

  4. C.Wagener says:

    I agree the study is nonsense, but I’d be careful to dismiss the danger level of pit bulls. My wife is a vet, and while pit bulls are 3rd or 4th on the list of risky dogs she sees, they still pose considerable risk. Even if they are well behaved, she has known several owners who have suffered sever bite wounds simply because the dog was “mouthy”. The dogs weren’t attacking, but their jaw strength is tremendous and what would result in a scrape from another breed, ends up as significant tissue damage.

  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    But then the liberals will fight for their criminal rights too, save the pit bulls they have as much right to be free and live their lives as any of us and its your fault if they bite you cause its natural for a pit bull who is hungry to bite you its the evaluational way of things, or something like that…….

  6. Steph says:

    Guys a bichon frise can be vicious if he has the wrong owner. Would cause less damage if he attacks but he can be made vicious.

  7. Dave Schuler says:

    Over the last 20 years although an extremely high proportion of deaths due to dog bites in this country were caused by bully breeds the number of fatalities was actually quite small. If our objective were to minimize fatalities there are lots better candidates than trying to reduce the number of dog bite fatalities. Dog bites aren’t even in the top 10 causes of preventable death in the U. S. (Source: Mokdad, Ali H., Marks, James S. and Stroup Donna F. et. al. Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA. 2004;291:1238-1245.)

    The leading causes are:

    1) Tobacco use
    2) Poor diet and physical inactivity
    3) Alcohol consumption
    4) Microbial agents
    5) Toxic agents
    6) Motor vehicle crashes
    7) Accident involving firearms
    8) Sexual behaviors
    9) Illicit use of drugs

    There were 43,000 people killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2000, 29,000 by accidents involving firearms. This compares to something like 100 caused by dog bite. The reaction is disproportionate to the reality.

    I don’t believe in breed-specific legislation—I don’t think it would be effective. It seems to that such proposals are a classic case of a tyranny of a minority (pit bull owners) by the majority (non-pit bull owners) to very little effect.

    The sad reality is that not all breeds of dog are suitable for every owner and some owners that aren’t suitable for any breed.

    Is there such a thing as a bad breed of dog? If so, it’s certainly not pit pulls. Some of the nicest dogs I’ve ever known have been pitbulls. Same with Rottweilers—120 lb. lap dogs.

    On the other hand every single Cane Corso I’ve ever known (about a half dozen) has been nutty as a fruitcake. I’m sure there are lovely Cane Corsos as well but IMO it’s a very difficult dog.

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    As to whether you’re a socially deviant criminal, Steve, perhaps we should take a vote. 😉 And what does it have to do with what kind of dog you own?

  9. Christopher says:

    But legion, you are a liberal, and liberals don’t believe in personal responsibility.

  10. Steve Verdon says:

    C. Wegner,

    I’m sorry, but the idea that pit bulls are “more dangerous” than other breeds isn’t really supported by the evidence. Sure there are reports of pit bull attacks. Before that it was Rottweilers, German Shephards, Dobermans, and even the St. Bernard. All went through their fad phase and all of which are viewed as being good family dogs. For well over a century that was the position the American Pit Bull Terrier occupied in this country–the American family dog.

    Mouthiness is a function of dominance issues as well as age. An older dog who knows his place in the household/pack heirarchy will no be mouthy. Still an APBT is less likely, IMO, to be mouthy from a dominance stand point since they have such a strong tendency to be submissive towards humans.

    The notion that APBTs have “tremendous jaw strength” is a myth. The musculature and structure of the APBTs jaw is no different from another dog. What few tests have been done on bite strength shows them to be typical for dogs in their weight range.

    Dave,

    Thanks for the support there. You are absolutely right in that there are much better ways to reduce such avoidable fatalities there are many, many better places to start. And Rottweilers have a special place in my heart too…mine is as you describe a 120 lbs. lap dog.

    As for being a socially deviant criminal well, I do have a bit of a lead foot. As for the dog that I own, I don’t know we’d have to ask Barbara Boat.

  11. laura says:

    Socially deviant people get dogs that they think are inherently vicious and then make them vicious. A while back the social deviants liked Dobermans. There was a big fad for Rottweilers for a while, too. The problem isn’t the pits, dobies and rotts. It’s the insecure jerks who think they can make themselves more macho by making their dog mean.
    This hasn’t go anything to do with liberals or conservatives.

  12. C.Wagener says:

    Steve,

    Just so I’m sure we’re using the same terms, I’m referring to the American Staffordshire Terrier. If you are seriously asserting that their jaw strength is a “myth”, I suggest you check out the AKC website, or really anything containing actual facts.

    The original breading (non-American) was to hold onto bull’s noses. Later (including the American breed) they were used as fighting dogs.

    You can also look at the dog’s obvious jaw muscles, and if that’s doesn’t convince you, call your vet. Just don’t tell them it’s a myth, they’ll assume it’s a crank call. You might also want to research the “greyhounds are fast” myth.

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    The American Staffordshire Terrier is the AKC’s designation for the American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT), many APBTs are dual registered with both the AKC and the UKC as both American Staffordshire Terrier and American Pit Bull Terrier respectively. Here is the AKC breed standard for the AST and there is nothing about bite/jaw strength.

    Here is one article on the bite/jaw strength of the pit bull.

    There is no accurate way to determine the pressure of a dog’s bite. Although there have been studies to attempt to answer this question, the PSI (pounds per square inch) tends to vary greatly depending on who you talk to. In many cases the number seems to have been completely made up, or pulled from a source (i.e. newspaper) that has invented some ridiculously high number. I have heard: 1000 PSI, 1800 PSI, 2000 PSI, and “10 times the strength of Rottweiler jaws”. None of this is based in reality.

    In real life a dog’s bite strength is determined by a wide variety of factors. While these include the dog’s size and individual jaw strength, the severity of a bite is primarily determined by the dog’s intent (i.e. aggression, fear, warning snap, playful nip), the victim’s behavior (twisting or yanking the body part being bitten can increase the damage), the dog’s training, and so on. Scientific experiments indicate that trained bite dogs (including pits) can bite at a little over 300 PSI maximum.

    Interestingly, recent attempts to measure a dog’s jaw strength have indicated that pit bulls have much lower bite pressure than some other breeds, putting lie to the idea that pit bulls have more bite power than any other breed. For more details, check out http://www.understand-a-bull.com/PitbullInformation/Urbanlegends.htm

    I know pit bulls were bred to hold onto bulls, but it wasn’t bite strength but sheer tenacity or gameness (to use the term for APBT fanciers).

    laura,

    I absolutely agree, the problem is that these “researchers” went from your view of the issue to concluding that if you have such a dog then you are a socially deviant criminal.

  14. graywolf says:

    Insurance agent recently told me they wouldn’t insure a home with a:
    Pitbull, Rottweiler or Akita.

    Said: “Sooner or later the dog will bite somebody and then they want the company to pay.”

  15. Steve Verdon says:

    Said: “Sooner or later the dog will bite somebody and then they want the company to pay.”

    The person is an idiot.

    Car Insurance:

    Said: “Sooner or later they will crash their car and then they want the company to pay.”

    Health insurance:

    Said: “Sooner or later they will get sick and then they want the company to pay.”

    Home owners insurance:

    Said: “Sooner or later the house will burn down, flood, or any number of other issues and then they want the company to pay.”

    If insurance companies don’t want to pay for medical bills, car accidents, house fires, etc. I suggest they close up shop and go into another line of work.

  16. C.Wagener says:

    OK, final post on this subject.

    “There is no accurate way to determine the pressure of a dog’s bite.’

    … ‘Scientific experiments indicate that trained bite dogs (including pits) can bite at a little over 300 PSI maximum.”

    Can’t these guys edit their propaganda a bit better.

    I’m by no means a pit bull hater, but they are what they are. Certainly the vast majority of the problems occur because of the owners, but they are extremely strong. If you look at an NFL players arms, can’t you reasonably say he has above normal strength without discussing his “bone structure”.

    My wife’s been practicing since ’89 in such urban settings as AMC (NYC), St. Mark’s (NYC – east village), and Mission Pet Hospital (San Francisco). She’s seen a lot of pit bulls (and yes the owners were idiots) and she seen a lot of humans who’ve been injured (one killed). There are many sweet pit bulls and many sweet chihuahuas (although a smaller %), but a chihuahua can’t kill you.

    I realize pit bull owners would naturally be defensive based on a lot of the myths that do exist. I’m also sure it can’t be fun being in a peer group with gang bangers. But you shouldn’t kid yourselves that pit bulls aren’t physically superior to adult male humans in a fight.

  17. Steve Verdon says:

    “There is no accurate way to determine the pressure of a dog’s bite.’

    … ‘Scientific experiments indicate that trained bite dogs (including pits) can bite at a little over 300 PSI maximum.”

    Can’t these guys edit their propaganda a bit better.

    For somebody who is married to a vet you don’t know much about dogs. The “strength” of a dogs bite is in part determined by the dogs “power train” basically their hips and hind quarters. If a dog really drives in hard the bite will feel really really bad than if the dog simple bites down.

    Pit bulls often will do the “death shake” where they will shake their head from side to side. Given their strong necks it can have a devastating impact on whatever is bitten.

    All of this can make determination of biting strength difficult/subjective in terms of measurement. Also, you left off the part that the comment about 300 PSI are for dogs that are trained to bite–i.e. schutzhund. For a dog with no such training…who knows, there are lots of factors.

    I’m by no means a pit bull hater, but they are what they are.

    Yes, they are a dog, and while there are differences that require different ways of dealing with them, they aren’t anymore dangerous than any dog of similar size.

    My wife’s been practicing since ’89 in such urban settings as AMC (NYC), St. Mark’s (NYC – east village), and Mission Pet Hospital (San Francisco). She’s seen a lot of pit bulls (and yes the owners were idiots) and she seen a lot of humans who’ve been injured (one killed). There are many sweet pit bulls and many sweet chihuahuas (although a smaller %), but a chihuahua can’t kill you.

    Probably not, but a cane corso, a presa canario, a dogo argentino, a St. Bernard, german shepherd, bull mastif, or a boxe probably could kill a person. There are lots of large breed dogs that have had some history of fighting/guarding work. The evidence that they are less dangerous than “pit bulls” is andecdotal at best and at worst completely non-existent.

    I realize pit bull owners would naturally be defensive based on a lot of the myths that do exist. I’m also sure it can’t be fun being in a peer group with gang bangers. But you shouldn’t kid yourselves that pit bulls aren’t physically superior to adult male humans in a fight.

    Yeah myths like the jaw/bite strength. The only myth that is worse is the locking jaw myth. And most the comment about gang bangers highlights your own biases. Lots of dogs would be more than a match for an adult human male…a male bull mastiff can weigh as much as 130 pounds. These dogs did not have the human aggression bread out of them like the pit bull. Ban the pit bull and the idiots might gravitate towards this breed.

  18. laura says:

    Oh, I see what you mean, Steve. I didn’t intend to express agreement with the researchers. Their research only makes sense if pit bulls are inherently vicious–socially deviant annimals, as one researcher says. That premise is wrong. Not surprising that the conclusion would be wrong to!

  19. laura says:

    “to” should be “too”

  20. C.Wagener says:

    Steve,

    Yes, yes I obviously am a bigoted no-nothing. Your fact-less assertions are awfully persuasive. You Google something, posted it as authoritative, and didn’t realize it was self contradictory. I then conveniently isolated two sentences, still no luck on a breakthrough.

    Analyze the following:

    It is impossible to measure the distance between A and B. The distance is 4 inches.

    Not exactly peer review material. If it’s impossible, you can’t then claim you know what it is.

    As for my suggestion that pit bulls are a often used by gang bangers for protection and intimidation, I was clearly wrong. The fine young men walking into the clinic with a pit bull and a tear drop tattoo on their face are probably in the performing arts or something. The Crips and Bloods also shun guns and work out any disagreement they have over tea and cookies.

    (Sarcasm break) Regarding anecdotal evidence, sure people get all kinds of misimpressions on a few isolated events hyped by the media. But the impressions garnered by vets over many years can’t just be dismissed. No one is going to pay for certain studies that don’t have actionable data as a conclusion. What are you going to fund, a cancer study or a violent acts by certain dog breeds in urban areas study?

    Injury by bite strength or “death shake”. Why do I care? Death by bullet size or bullet velocity. Whatever, its death.

    I’m sure you love your dog and are a good owner, but if you don’t acknowledge downsides, people are more likely dismiss the good aspects of the breed.

  21. graywolf says:

    Insurance companies are in the business of MANAGING risk.
    Of course, there are accidents and fires.
    But why look for the accident?
    No business wants to part with money

    Steve Verdon is an economic illiterate.

  22. Christopher says:

    Steve –

    Your counter “research” is specious at best and laughable on its face. You quote the “American Temperment (sic) Test Society” as evidence that Pitt Bulls aren’t as aggressive as “collies, beagle and many terrier breeds” because their pass rate is marginally higher.

    You fail to realize or mention that there are 10 elements to the test and only a few of them deal with aggression. Without a detailed break down of what dogs failed for what reason, the ATTS test is meaningless for or against your argument.

    The results SAY NOTHING about attacks or aggression. If you want to assert that pit bulls aren’t as aggressive or vicious than breed-X, find an actual test and statistic that actually shows that.

    For instance, I imagine that the Bearded Collies which have a low pass rate on the ATTS test are more likely to fail the “gun shot,” “rocks in a metal can,” “walk on wire mesh,” or “umbrella opening in the face” part of the test than they are to show dangerous aggression during those elements of the test.

    For all we know, the 65% of the “NEAPOLITAN MASTIFFS” that fail could be nasty biters or they could all have sensitive feet and don’t like to walk on plastic sheeting.

    Test Details

    It seems to me that the ATTS test is half “does your dog get scared” and half “is your dog scary.” And as far as public safety goes, dogs that fail because they are wimpy are far superior to dogs that fail because they bite. I doubt you’d find that more collies, beagles, or true terriers fail because they are aggressive than bully breeds fail because they are aggressive. Likewise, you’ll probably find that a much higher percent of collies and beagles fail because of the noise and footing elements than bully breeds that fail during those elements.

    Looking at what % of dog bites, maulings, and deaths are caused by what breed would be a much better metric. I’d suspect that you might find that there’s a large group of dogs that bite, fewer that maul, and even fewer that cause death.

    We’ve probably all seen a four pound toy dog that is snap-happy and vicious, even if it can’t do a lot of damage.

    And at Steph, who seems to be minimizing the issue by claiming that dog maulings don’t KILL as many people as some other causes, I’d point out that death is perhaps the best outcome for some people who have been mauled, and she is seemingly ignoring all the victims who didn’t die. Even the argument “but tobacco is worse!” isn’t very convincing nor relevant. Being raped and then murdered is probably worse than just being murdered. It doesn’t mean society shouldn’t address murder without rape.

    For that matter, should we ignore numbers 2 through 10 on that list simply because there is a number 1??

    As for Home Owners Insurance not covering homes with certain breeds, it’s not a moral choice by insurance companies, it’s a financial one. As someone who has worked as an actuary, the decision is simply a matter of probability of an incident, the expected cost of restitution, vs. how much more money the company can charge for covering those dogs. For some companies, their risk profile makes it a poor financial risk to cover those dogs, so they don’t.

    To graywolf who said, “Sooner or later the house will burn down, flood, or any number of other issues and then they want the company to pay.”

    The VAST majority of home owners policies DON’T COVER FLOOD DAMAGE. You have to buy separate flood insurance if you want that kind of coverage. Why? Because flooding is the single MOST likely cause of damage and the average cost of restitution is GIGANTIC. In truth, a total loss of a home due to fire is much less expensive to restore than the total loss of a home due to a flood.

    For one, a fire is usually contained to one house. Flooding usually takes out many square miles of homes and infrastructure like roads, power, and even plumbing. Also, fire doesn’t typically poison the ground water, ruin the foundation, and create toxic mold.

    So, when Insurance companies try to give you a big basket of coverage for a competitive price, the vast majority leave out flood coverage because it could easily double or triple the premiums you have to pay.

    What the insurance company not covering your dog breed with a generic policy really says is, the rest of us don’t want to pay the higher premiums to cover your dogs. That’s it. The market won’t bear the cost of your dogs. I’d even go so far as to say that any of those companies that won’t cover you with their cookie-cutter policy would be happy to cover you with a custom policy. But since you’d be in a smaller risk pool, you’d pay a lot more for the coverage… just like people who build houses in flood plains.