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Do pit bulls deserve bad reputations?

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MUSKEGO (WITI) -- Pit bulls are back in the news this week after two of them attacked and killed a toddler in Walworth County. Because of attacks like this, the breed received a bad rap, and some worry they're too aggressive, and maybe shouldn't be adopted. But the owner of the Milwaukee Animal Rescue Center says they do not deserve the bad press. Two pit bulls were euthanized after they attacked a toddler. But Amy Rowell, who owns the center, says pit bulls are often misunderstood.

"He goes from zero to 60 in a very short period of time he requires a lot of constant attention as you can see," said Rowell, and she shows Fox 6 her dog "Boone," who was adopted seven years ago from an animal shelter. She describes her pit bull as calm and collected.

"Pitbulls are not different more other breeds in terms of when you're a stranger to that dog you have to be very careful in how you approach the dog and how you interact with a dog," said Rowell.

She said pit bulls were bred to be protectors.

"They've got a strong military background sometimes people call them the nanny dogs they're very, very protective and very loyal," said Rowell, but she adds, sometimes loyal to a fault. "They will do whatever it is that they believe is pleasing to you whether that be good or bad."

Rowell says it's tough to hear about the incident in Walworth County, but she said don't be quick to judge.

"There's so many circumstances we just don't know about what happened it's really unfortunate it breaks my heart," said Rowell.

She said with pit bulls, or any dogs, a family must be on the same page with how to interact with their pet.

"We're very careful how we do it so we make sure we're respectful to him  and that should be for any dog," said Rowell.

And dogs are like people, in the respect, they are products of their environment. Rowell said you often hear about pit bulls attacking people in the news because they tend to bite people outside of their family, but also because their bite is more severe than smaller dogs. She said there are other breeds of dogs who bite or attack people, but since they happen within the family, they go unreported.

MADACC, the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission has complied numbers regarding dog attacks in the Milwaukee area from 2012. This, after a toddler was attacked and killed by two pit bulls in Walworth County on Wednesday, March 6th.

Here are the numbers:

Number of Dogs Taken In Classified as “Bite Dogs”: 182

Total Number of Dogs Taken in By MADACC in 2012: 5,329

Percent of Dogs Taken in That Were Classified as “Bite Dogs”: 3.42%

Pit Bulls Taken in As Bite Dogs: 88

Other Breeds of Dogs Taken in As Bite Dogs: 94

Percent of “Bite Dogs” That Were Pit Bulls: 48.35%

Percent of Other Dogs Taken in Classified as “Bite Dogs”: 51.65%

Percent of Overall Dogs Taken in That Were Pit Bulls: 42.76%

Percent of Overall Dogs Taken In That Were Other Breeds: 57.24%

A MADACC spokesperson told FOX6 News people are more likely to bring in a pit bull if they are the owner and it bites them as opposed to a dog like a chihuahua.

MADACC does categorize the attacks based on severity, but it’s on paper and not readily available through a database.

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