Originally Posted by Dingo
I think that last response is a tad disingenuous. I believe that bad owners make bad dogs as well, but I also believe that there are other factors.
In the case of Pit Bulls there are two problems. Pit Bulls and their relatives were created as fighting dogs, so understandably they're often dog aggressive. They're often described as "dominant," "suspicious of strangers," "natural guard dogs" and other euphemisms designed to distract from their general tendency towards aggression. Breeders are partly to blame for not paying enough attention to temperament, or for encouraging this type of "dominance" and "suspicion."
Of course, well cared for, well trained dogs belonging to responsible owners are rarely a problem, but the image of pit bulls as scary and aggressive is unfortunately what draws some irresponsible people to them. Unfortunately, some people choose Pit Bulls (and Preso Canarios, and Rottweilers and similar breeds) precisely because of their scary image.
On the other hand, training can only go so far. Good luck training a Border Collie not to herd or a retriever not to fetch, for example.
My personal experience with Pit Bulls has been different from your own. Several years ago, two Pit Bulls who lived on my street escaped their yard and mauled a young girl, nearly killing her and tearing off most of her face in the process. Last month, a friend's dog was nearly killed, and her husband was attacked, by a Pit Bull belonging to their neighbour that got off its leash. I've also frequently seen Pit Bulls behaving aggressively towards other dogs, including my own, at dog parks and in other public areas.
Of course, everyone's experience will be different. That's why I provided statistics that show that Pit Bull breeds and mixes are disproportionately represented in serious attacks on human children and adults: more than 1100 of 2209 recorded attacks in the US and Canada between 1982 and 2006, according to one study. Compare that to just over 400 for Rottweilers and mixes, fewer than 100 for German Shepards and mixes, 11 for Dobermans, 1 for Poodles.
So while I have problems with vague breed-specific legislation, I also think it's foolish to take a head in the sand approach as well. Perhaps the legislation should be addressing issues like breeding, muzzling, leashing, containing and training requirements for breeds known to be problematic, and for their owners, rather than outright bans. Or maybe they're right, and certain breeds with a documented propensity to human aggression should not be propagated, at least not according to the current standard. Clearly one serious attack by a Poodle over 24 years can be seen as an anomaly; more than 1100 attacks by Pit Bulls in the same period, representing over 50% of recorded attacks, seems more like a trend.