Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shelter Dog Aggression Study

Just this morning I saw a new study conducted by the University of British Columbia's Animal Welfare Program on aggression, both perceived and observed, by dogs adopted from a shelter.  The survey, which was not publicized as having anything to do with breed, separated Pit type dogs of varying genetics into test and control groups.

The study produced some dramatic results.  Were Pit Bull type dog adopters significantly different from adopters of other dogs?

Further investigation showed that these pit bull adopters provided the same home life for their dogs as the other breed adopters. Dogs were acquired for companionship, lived indoors, were alone less than four hours a day, and had regular playtime and exercise with their families. Pit bull guardians were slightly more likely to take their dogs to the dog park (p<0.10).

Other interesting characteristics of the PB type adopters:

"The pit bull adopters have characteristics associated with strong attachments to pets. They were younger (under 30), tending to rent (rather than own) and adopting the first dog of their own (aside from family dogs). Strong bonds have been attributed to young adults (Roll et al., 1997) without children that live singly (Albert and Bulcroft, 1987, 1988, and Turner, 2001), and have previous experience with dogs (Serpell, 1996)."

So what was the difference then between Pit Bull type dogs and other breeds?  How bad was the tendency toward aggression, biting, and other evils often attributed to Pit type dogs-those "characteristics" that cause them to be classified as "restricted" in the UK and banned across areas of the US?  How evil were these horrid dogs?

"A new profile of pit bulls emerged from the study: They were not more aggressive than the other breeds. Pit bulls were more likely to sleep on the bed [62% vs. 16%, p<0.05], more likely to cuddle with their owners (p<0.05), and less likely to show aggression to their owners (p<0.10) – three things associated with strong human-animal bonds. Pit bulls were more likely to pull on the leash (p<0.05).
There was no difference in the number of dogs euthanized at the shelter due to aggression. Likewise, there was no significant difference between groups for aggression to strangers, other dogs, cats, children under 12, skateboarders/cyclists, joggers, over food, when stepped over, or when moved while sleeping.
There was, however, a trend for the other breeds group to be returned for aggression (p<0.02). For those still in the home, there was a slight trend for the other breeds group to show aggression to their guardians (p<0.10)."


So the "evil dogs" are...more likely to sleep on the bed, more likely to cuddle, and less likely to be returned to the shelter for aggression issues.  Hmm.  No difference between Pit Bull types and other breed types to exhibit stranger aggression, dog-dog aggression, chasing, or startle aggression.   Hmmm.

Looks like these dogs didn't read the material that says they should be banned and killed.

Happy Pit Bull Awareness Day.

The article on the study is HERE:  http://stubbydog.org/2012/03/a-new-pit-bull-study/