by: David Ham Updated:
KIRO 7 obtained dog bite statistics in Western Washington and found out that pit bulls are 8.5 times more likely to attack than other breeds.
Some say there's no such thing as dangerous dog breeds, but Mike and Stephanie Bright say that's not true.
Their daughter, Stephanie, was 13 months old when they say she was bitten by a pit bull at a birthday party in Tacoma.
"All of a sudden I was sitting at one table and she was at another, and the children were all having a good time, too, and the dog started to come close to her and I got up to make sure that no situation happens. And what do you know, the dog bit her in the face -- grabbed her in the face made a loud barking noise at the same time while it did it," said Mike Bright.
"Imagine her face -- the dog grabbing her by the head literally from cheek to the top of her skull," said Stephanie Bright.
Almost a year later, the Brights say they are still reeling.
"In that split second it could go from being a good dog to a monster," said Mike Bright.
The dog that the Bright's say bit Sylvia is a pit bull named "Lazy.”
Mike Bright said Lazy's owner told him he wouldn't hurt a fly.
"Pit bulls are most definitely dangerous," said Mike Bright.
KIRO 7 wanted to find out if the perception of pit bulls being more dangerous than other breeds is a reality, so we pulled dog bite data from King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County and the city of Tacoma:
King County -- 178 overall dog bites in 2013
Pierce County -- 143 overall dog bites in 2013
Snohomish County -- 260 overall dog bites in 2013
City of Tacoma -- 184 overall dog bites in 2013
Out of the numbers pulled, King County was the only area that kept dog bite data by breed.
Pit bulls were the breed with the most bites last year, with 36 bites on people.
Labradors had the second most bites on file with 28 bites.
That may seem like a lot of Labrador bites, but not when you see this figure:
There are 16,651 labs and only 2,520 pit bulls, which means pit bulls in King County are 8 and a half times more likely to bite than labs.
Brian Bowman of Pierce County Animal Control disagrees that pit bulls are more dangerous.
"When we see a pit bull bite, most of the time it happens from a fight as opposed to a pit bull just trying to attack a person," said Bowman. "The stereotype unfortunately exists -- regardless of the education or regardless of what you do -- they're always going to have that stereotype."
"Given my long career in animal welfare, public safety has always been a key issue of focus for my work. Additionally, I am also a mother and my son's safety is a top priority. I share my home with three pit bull-type dogs and have never felt anything but satisfaction with their behaviors with my son, our friends and family. My husband, a police officer, and myself understand that dogs are individuals and therefore cannot be judged with blanket statements about breed, color or sex just as humans cannot be profiled by the ethnicity, sex or any other physical attribute," said Lorrie Kalmbach-Ehlers, president and co-founder of BullsEye Dog Rescue.
When KIRO 7 tried to talk to Lazy's owner about the bite, he said he couldn't talk about what happened, and said that his dog was not dangerous.
The Brights are suing Lazy's owner for Sylvia's medical bills.
"(Dog bites) are very common and we're seeing municipalities banning the breed all together," said Kevin Hastings, who is representing the Bright family in the lawsuit.
Cities like Auburn, Buckley, Enumclaw, Everett, SeaTac and Sumas have banned pit bulls all together.
"If the victim is on private property, is lawfully on private property, then the owner of any dog is strictly liable for any bite," said Hastings.
The Brights are asking Lazy's owner to euthanize the dog.
They are going to trial for Sylvia's medical bills in February.
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