A News Center 7 investigation found that Pit Bull dogs bite hundreds of people in the Miami Valley, but experts say the dogs are victims, too. For decades, they have been abandoned, overbred or inbred. We learned that in Montgomery County, Pit Bulls bite four times more than any other bred.
"The number one thing we hear is, 'I didn't know my dog would do that. My dog would never do that.' Yes, your dog can do that," said Julie Holmes-Taylor, Director of Greene County Animal Control.
Pit Bull dogs and pit mixes make up about 70% of the dogs at the shelter in Greene County and the director said these dogs are more difficult to adopt. We found that if you look at the dogs listed in most local shelters, you will see mostly Pit Bulls.
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Holmes-Taylor has two of her own.
"People always say it's how they're trained. That's false," Holmes-Taylor said. "Most of the time, it's either their heredity or how they're socialized."
Blake Jordan agrees. He runs the "Miami Valley Pit Crew," a local rescue.
"The standard breed rescues won't even touch dogs like these," said Jordan, who showed us a 10-week old Pit Bull puppy found covered in paint and suffering from a broken leg. "Our vet bills average about $4,000 dollars a month."
According to our experts, part of the problem is that Pit Bull owners often fail to spay or neuter the dogs. A female can have two litters of a dozen puppies every year. Owners sell the males and either give the females away or turn them loose. Then those females have two litters of 12 puppies every year.
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In the course of a year, "You are talking several hundred puppies," said Jordan.
"In my mind, this is an epidemic," said Dr. Robert Lober, a Pediatric Neurosurgeon. "I generally see the worst of the worst."
Dr. Lober works on skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries from dog bites on children like Lila Linn. This four year old had two surgeries and spent 10 days in the hospital after a babysitter's Pit Bull tore her face in September.
"She just had blood everywhere on her face," said Whitney Linn, Lila's mother. "I mean, a part of her cheek was missing."
Police had to rescue the child from a window because the dog would not let them inside the door.
"If the sitter hadn't saved her, I don't believe Lila would be here right now," said Linn.
Dayton Children's Hospital told us 241 children came there last year to be treated for dog bites. Dr. Lober said he has a research team now looking at where dog attacks happen and who is most at risk.
"What we want to do here is study the problem and make an injury prevention initiative to help keep our children safe," Lober said.
MD/Phd student Phillip Walker is working with Lober on the research project.
"We're going to look at a psychological component, we're going to look at a clinical component, and we're also going to look at more of an epidemiological component," Walker said.
Walker also said the multidisciplinary team will study where those attacks happen, which factors put children most at risk and where Dayton laws regarding dog breeds really make a difference.