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The Pit Bull Debate, Part 2

Should Pit Bulls face breed specific regulations and legislation? In our first report we heard two very different viewpoints on Pit bulls from those who love them and those who hate them. Some communities have taken action against Pit Bulls.

Following the fatal attack by a Pit Bull on a three-year-old boy at Camp Lejeune in 2008, the base enacted a ban on Pit Bulls and other dogs that may be considered dangerous.

Pit Bull bans have been proposed in Kinston and Roanoke Rapids, but never passed.

The town of Edenton in Chowan County did put a ban in place in 2004, but recently amended that to allow what it terms any potentially vicious dog as long as the owner registers it with the town. The city manager says the change was made based on concerns that the ordinance was potentially unconstitutional.

Pit bull advocates like Southern Belle Pit Bull Rescue founder Amanda Boykin couldn't agree more. Boykin says, "You can't ban a breed for something one dog does."

Pitt County Animal Control director Michele Whaley does not support banning breeds, saying all dogs bite, not just Pit Bulls. Whaley says, "We have everything from your Labs to your German Shepherds to your Chows to mixes to puppies. Really it's all sorts of dogs."

But the question is do Pit Bulls bite more? The Centers for Disease Control and Humane Society say there's no central agency compiling that information and they don't collect it. But local animal control offices and health departments do, so WITN dug into the local numbers to see what they show.

In 2011 in Pitt County there were around 250 dog bites. Pit Bulls had the most with 41. In Onslow County there were 334 dog bites. Pit Bulls lead the way with with 55. Craven County had 211 dog bites. Pit Bulls had the most with 37. Lenoir County reported 69 dog bites involving people. Leading the way was Pit Bulls with 14. And Beaufort County had 85 dog bites. Pit Bulls accounted for 22, right behind Labs and Lab mixes with 24.

While Pit Bulls were at or near the top in all of the counties we checked, Pit Bull advocates, and even those who collect the data, say it doesn't provide an accurate picture because the population of any of the breeds is unknown. But they say they do believe there is a very large Pit Bull population.

Pitt County has chosen to enact a dangerous dog ordinance addressing all dogs, not any particular breed. Whaley says, "I think no matter what the breed dog it goes down to how that dog is raised, how it's being kept."

Even so, Beaufort County Animal Control director Sandy Woolard says she gets plenty of complaints about Pit Bulls. Woolard says, "We see a lot of people say we don't want em in our neighborhood. If someone sees them roaming the neighborhood they're automatically afraid because it is a pit bull."

While Woolard doesn't see Beaufort County proposing a Pit Bull ban, changes are coming to the county dog ordinance. Woolard says, "We do have an ordinance committee together right now and we're redrafting and making a new ordinance and it may put something in there for Pit Bulls."

Ultimately, Woolard says their goal is to keep the public, and all dogs safe. One way they do that with Pit Bulls now is by not allowing same day adoptions and to temperament test them before allowing them to be adopted so they can find a good home for them.

Whaley believes part of the solution is to not allow chaining of dogs. She says research shows it makes them more aggressive.

Boykin favors mandatory spay and neuter for all dogs and a breeder's license for people who want to breed dogs as a way to reduce all dog bites.


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