Pit Bull Statistics

A proposed ban on pit bulls within the city limits of Springfield was not approved by voters. The outcome of the vote does not affect the existing pit bull registration ordinance, in effect since 2006, which places heightened ownership requirements, including registration, on individuals who own pit bull and pit bull mix dogs. For more details about these requirements, click here.

Pit Bulls in the Shelter

In the years leading up to the enactment of our current pit bull registration ordinance, our animal control program saw a significant increase in the number of pit bull and pit mix dogs entering our shelter. The most common reason for a dog to enter our shelter is because it is found running at-large. In 2005, the year prior to the pit bull registration ordinance taking effect, we impounded 502 pit bulls and pit mix dogs. That comprised 22% of our total shelter population and created significant management issues at our small facility, as many of those dogs could not be housed in group kennel settings. 

Adoption and Euthanasia

In 2015, City Council allowed pit bull and pit mix dogs to be sent to rescue parters, provided the dogs pass a temperament test.

Dogs are only euthanized if they are too sick to be cared for or if an outside expert deems them unsafe for adoption.

Breed-specific stats prior to June of 2010 are estimates based on the 25% return-to-owner rate that Animal Control experienced during those years.

Dog Bites

Surveillance of animal bites is not a perfect science. Healthcare providers must report any animal bite requiring medical attention to the Health Department epidemiology staff. Animal Control only tracks bites in which the victim requests a report and then the biting animal is quarantined. The numbers listed reflect only those bites investigated by Animal Control.

Bite Severity

Our Animal Control Officers use a nationally recognized metric called the Dunbar Scale to rate the severity of dog situations. The scale ranges from least severe, but without a bite, at a 1 to fatality at a rating of 6. Each rating has a general outline:

•  Level 1: Dog growls, lunges, snarls—no teeth touch skin. Mostly intimidation behavior.

•  Level 2: Teeth touch skin but no puncture. May have red mark/minor bruise from dog’s head or snout, may have minor scratches from paws/nails. Minor surface abrasions acceptable.

•  Level 3: Punctures 1⁄2 the length of a canine tooth, one to four holes, single bite. No tearing or slashes. Victim not shaken side to side. Bruising.

•  Level 4: One to four holes from a single bite, one hole deeper than 1⁄2 the length of a canine tooth, typically contact/punctures from more than canines only. Black bruising, tears and/or slashing wounds. Dog clamped down and shook or slashed victim.

•  Level 5: Multiple bites at Level 4 or above. A concerted, repeated attack.

•  Level 6: Any bite resulting in death of a human.

To the right is a chart showing the severity of bites from 2015 through 2017 for commonly compared breeds.