Videos of vicious pit bulls attacks on people demonstrate the danger some dogs of the pit bull type present to public safety. Another avoidable incident was captured on video on January 2022 inside the San Francisco Public Library.
According to the news story, the pit bull was brought into the library, supposedly by the owner of the dog under the pretense of being a “service animal”. Sometime later, the owner fell asleep, the dog started to wander and bark and then viciously attacked a security guard.
It is uncertain what triggered the incident. That is, prior to the start of the attack did the security guard direct any action to the dog? This may have happened given that unleashed dogs running through the library was likely prohibited
Unfortunately this is bad press for pit bull type dogs. These type of incidences involving pit bull type dogs are over-reported in the media.
On the contrary, most pit bull type dogs, particularly of the female gender, can reliably serve as service animals – provided they are properly trained, socialized and derive from good breeding stock.
There are genetic deviant pit bulls, usually produced by poor breeding, lack of meaningful training and inadequate upbringings. This population pit bulls, which I estimate to be about 30% of the pit bulls in the United States, obviously presents a serious danger to public safety.
Was this incident preventable? Probably yes if the San Francisco library had procedures in place to properly screen dogs brought into the library. Caution is needed when any large sized dog is brought into public facility. However, the dilemma facing both public and private enterprises is that service dogs by law cannot be denied entrance. Given the law, documentation proving that the dog is a service animal should be required. In the particular incident, I speculate that this person may have been homeless or perhaps a suffering from a mental disorder, therefore it’s possible that he did not have documentation proving that the pit bull was a bona fide service animal.
Richard Polsky Ph.D. is an animal behavior specialist located in Los Angeles. He provides expert witness services for attorneys handling dog bite cases.