Absent late reports, such as the belated discovery of a 2014 dog attack victim in early 2015, the dog attack body count for the U.S. and Canada in 2014 is complete, with new record tolls in every category involving pit bulls except fatalities actually inflicted by pit bulls’ teeth, where the toll fell one short of the record 32 in 2012.
The totals of all fatal and disfiguring dog attacks since 1982, by breed, appear in the tables below.
If other deaths resulting from pit bulls are included, 2014 brought new records for numbers of pit bulls involved in fatal or disfiguring on humans, numbers of human victims, numbers of children killed or disfigured, numbers of adults killed or disfigured, total number of fatalities, and total number of disfigurements.
Steep rises in all categories of attack
The number of pit bulls involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks has risen since 2007 from 78 to 603; the number of child victims has increased from 30 to 264; the number of adult victims has increased from 23 to 279; the number of deaths directly inflicted by pit bulls is up from 13 to 31, one short of the high of 32 reached in 2012; and the number of disfigurements has soared from 37 to 451.
Another 120 people were injured by pit bulls in 2014 but not killed or disfigured in attacks in which someone else was killed or disfigured.
Best Friends, ASPCA, HSUS
2007 was the year that the Best Friends Animal Society, American SPCA, and the Humane Society of the U.S. ramped up pit bull advocacy in response to the arrest and conviction of Michael Vick on dogfighting-related charges.
Even before 2007 the frequency of fatal and disfiguring pit bull attacks had risen explosively for 25 years. In the entire decade from 1982 to 1992, 104 pit bulls attacked 44 children and 60 adults, killing 18 of the victims, disfiguring 36. Fifty victims escaped without fatal or disfiguring injuries in attacks in which others were killed or disfigured.
The only significance to 1982 in pit bull attack history is that this was the year in which I began logging fatal and disfiguring dog attacks throughout the U.S. and Canada as they happened.
Half or more of all dog attack fatalities since 1844
Retrospective data collection has established that pit bulls have accounted for half or more of all fatal dog attacks in every 10-year time frame since 1844.
However, fatal dog attacks––even when rabies remained uncontrolled––were until recently an extreme rarity. Only 15 fatal dog attacks are known to have occurred in the entire span from 1930 through 1960, including nine by pit bulls, two by Dobermans, and four by unidentified mutts.
Year of Unidentified Killer Dog
Speaking of unidentified mutts, 2014 appears to have been the Year of the Unidentified Killer Dog. Of the 81 dogs involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks since 1982, 36 attacked in 2014 alone. Of the eight fatalities attributed to dogs of unidentified breed since 1982, four occurred in 2014 alone.
Most of these dogs, however, were not really unidentified. Most were apprehended by animal control officers at the scene of the attacks. Many, and probably most of those “unidentified” dogs, were in truth pit bulls or pit mixes, but the animal control officers involved in investigating the cases have shied away from making positive breed identifications. Some are apparently from fear of the influence of organized pit bull advocacy on their employers. Other animal control officers attributing attacks to “unidentified” breeds have themselves had histories of pit bull advocacy.
Year of Shelter/Rescue Dog Attacks
Not surprisingly, 2014 was also the Year of the Shelter/Rescue Dog Attacks. At least 37 dogs in custody of shelters or rescues, or rehomed by shelters or rescues, killed or disfigured someone in 2014. Thirty of those dogs were pit bulls. Only two of the attacks by dogs from shelters or rescues killed someone in 2014, down from the high of five in 2012, but that was a matter of luck, as the number of fatal and disfiguring attacks by shelter and rescue dogs has more than doubled since 2012.
By comparison, there were no fatalities involving shelter or rescue dogs from 1858 through 1987. The first two, both involving wolf hybrids, occurred in 1988 and in 1989. No more occurred for another decade.
24% of shelter/rescue attacks in 2014 alone
There were three fatalities involving shelter or rescue dogs from 1990 through 2009, involving a pit bull, a Doberman, and a Presa Canario.
But there have been 36 fatalities involving shelter dogs from 2010 to present, involving 28 pit bulls, seven bull mastiffs, two Rottweilers, a Lab mix who may have been part pit bull, and a husky.
Also of note, there were 32 disfiguring maulings by shelter dogs from 1858 through 2009, 19 of them involving pit bulls.
From 2010 to present, there have been 122 disfiguring maulings by shelter dogs, 80 of them involving pit bulls.
In other words, 24% of all the disfiguring maulings on record by shelter and rescue dogs came in 2014 alone.
[The 2014 final totals of dog attacks on other animals, by breed, will be posted here when complete, a few days from now.]
See also: “32 years of logging fatal & disfiguring dog attacks,” http://www.animals24-7.org/2014/09/27/32-years-of-logging-fatal-disfiguring-dog-attacks/ and “How many other animals did pit bulls kill last year?”, http://www.animals24-7.org/2014/03/22/how-many-other-animals-did-pit-bulls-kill-last-year/.