Media Driven Fear

Not saying that Pit Bulls are not in the middle of dog attacks, but they are not the only breed who have been known to attack people or other animals. Unfortunately, Pit Bulls and mixes are more often to be reported than the other incidents, and because of the media reported events, society is more likely to be afraid of Pit Bulls and “pit bull” mixes than other dog breeds.

Over a 20 year period, 25 different dog breeds were involved in fatal dog attacks, but pit bulls were most often reported. In some cases, the headline read “Pit bull attack,” even though the details of the article may explain that the dog was a Lab or mix-breed dog. The headline is enough to catch the attention of readers, but reading that another pit bull attacked a person, is enough not to read the actual article.

In some cases, when other breeds attack, the media doesn’t even report it. In other cases, local media may report the attack, but the incident will not reach major media stations, much less national news.

For example, 71-year old Jimmie May McConnell was working in her yard on July 27, 2006, when her neighbor’s two “pit bulls” or “pit bull mixes” jumped the fence and attacked her. The story reached 50 news stations across the country. McConnell did not die of any dog bite from the attack, but of cardiac arrhythmia brought on by the dog attack. On the same day in Manitoba, Canada, a two-year old wandered away from the babysitter and was attacked and killed by a Husky-mix; this story did not reach any major news station, and few people outside the family unit knew about the death.

On the same note, over a four-day period (August 18-21, 2007), there were four dog attacks that made the news, but only one made national interest.

  • August 18, 2007: A Lab-mix attacked a 70-year old man, sending the man to the hospital in a critical condition. The dog was shot after charging after police that arrived at the scene. The incident was only reported in one article and only in the local paper.
  • August 18, 2007: A mix-breed dog attacked a 16-month old baby, who received fatal head and neck injuries. The attack was only reported twice in the local paper.
  • August 20, 2007: A medium-sized, mix-breed dog attacked a 6-year old boy. The boy was hospitalized after having his ear torn off and having had his head bitten several times by the dog. The incident was reported on one article in the local paper.
  • August 21, 2007: Two pit bulls broke off their chains and followed a 89-year old woman into her home, chasing after her Jack Russell Terrier. The woman tried to break up the dog fight between the three dogs, and was hospitalized with severe injuries. This attack was reported in over 230 articles across national and international newspapers, as well as major television stations, such as CNN, MSNBC, and Fox.

Politicians and self-proclaimed experts use the data reported by the media to worsen the fear of dog attacks and pit bulls. If all the attacks for every breed was reported across the board, both nation-wide and locally, all dogs would be feared to some extent.

In reality, the odds of dying by a dog attack is considered to be less likely to occur than being killed by a motor vehicle accident or a natural disaster.

One Response

  1. jack russells and finches October 5, 2015