As if any dog attack is not bad enough, attacks by pit bull type dogs are much worse. They are very unpredictable and are known to snap and attack without warning. They are also strong enough to escape their owners' grasp, break leashes, and plow through fences/ plate glass windows/ screen doors/ etc. More importantly, they attack more viciously than average dogs. Pitbulls do not just bite and leave. They go for the face or throat, and latch on. They then pull while scissoring their jaws which can actually cut bones. Many people have lost fingers and even arms and legs to them. They frequently tear off peoples' faces and scalps, and large chunks of arm or leg tissues. They also just do not stop, and usually have to be killed by a cop or someone else with a gun. To top this off, lots of pitbull owners let their dogs run loose, and they have been known to run in packs. Lots of them have even attacked horses, cows, and cars. Pretty scary stuff, isn't it? So what should a person do to be safe?
There are many articles about how to defend yourself from pit bull attacks, all inadequate. A reading of a multitude of them along with some common sense has culminated in this brief but no-nonsense post. Although they do attack cars sometimes, this is for pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists mainly. Only use these techniques to defend yourself or loved ones, including your pets, from an actively attacking dog/s. Before anyone tries to accuse me of cruelty, keep in mind this is only to defend yourself from an attacking pitbull or similar dog that is about to maim or kill you. Self defense isn't always pretty, but it is never cruelty...
Obviously, try to avoid it to start with. Walk or bike way around any of these dogs, crossing the street when possible. Never assume a leashed pit can be held back by its human owner. Do not make eye contact with the dog. If it chases you when on a bike, slow down and then when it gets near, speed up- this will cause it to miss. Many dogs can be outrun on foot, and most all can be on a bike. It is also a good idea to sprint for the nearest parked car and climb it. Dogs do not climb well. Climb a tree if necessary.
If these methods fail and you are certain you are going to be attacked, here is what you can do to save your life or prevent your arm, scalp, or face from literally being ripped off:
1. Some dogs are trained, so yell at them as loud as you can- “NO!”, “STOP!”, or even “GO HOME!”. If this makes it pause, you have the advantage. Lunge towards it and yell again, waving your arms. Most dogs will run at this point. But not all. If not, your arms are creating a shield in front of your face so this is still advantageous.
2. Next, if necessary to go further, kick it in the snout as hard as you can. It should run, but if not kick it again in the throat with all your weight behind it. Pits are not very large overall and it is possible to send one flying end over end this way. While trying to deal with its crushed windpipe you will have time to flee. They can also be kicked in the gut with the same flying effect.
If things are past kicking, too close in, or they just happen too fast and it is upon you, it becomes time to 'fight or flight'- and flight is impossible with a dog clamped onto you. Fight for your life, for your face, for your arm, for your scalp. It becomes kill or be killed at this point and nothing is gory or mean- it is self defense.
3. So at this point, you can try to choke it. Place thumb into its throat and squeeze as hard as you can until it lets go or goes limp. Use both hands if you can. If it has a collar on, grab it and twist to choke it.
4. Besides choking, you can also gouge its eyes. Remove them.
5. Lastly, and most seriously, you can hand it some justice. 'Hand it' means to form your hand into a cone shape with your fingers pointing straight out. Then thrust your coned hand into its throat, hard, all the way. It will cut off the dogs breathing and incapacitate its biting ability. Then if you remove your hand at that point, it will be even madder, so do not remove hand until dog is incapacitated. Accomplish this by spreading out your hand and fingers as wide as possible. If needed, re-close your hand and grab anything you can in there. Pull out forcefully. Hand-eviscerating a dog will indeed distract it long enough to get away. Do not worry- it is nicer than what the dog was going to do to you.(And if it makes anyone feel any better, I did not think this up myself- seen it in several places on the net before...)
6. You can also grab a dogs legs and yank them really hard, which will dislocate or even break them. Forcing them into right angle directions the opposite way the knee works is also effective.
7. Alternatively, if you are fairly young or strong, you can try to throw your weight on it, and use your forearm to hold it down by its throat. This is riskier but has been done successfully on occasion. This entails waiting for help to come though, which is a gamble in some cities.
All of these methods of self defense are if you do not have a weapon with you. It is better to have a weapon handy whenever you go for a walk or bike ride.
Guns are preferable, but do not carry one unless you have a state permit! You can get in really serious trouble if you do not have a permit. But if you get a permit, carry a large caliber gun such as a 9mm at least, preferably a .38, .40, .44, or .45. Gun shops sell special bullets that some cops use which have maximum knockdown energy and do maximum internal organ damage. Get some of those, or at least hollow points, which are available most anywhere bullets are sold. When shooting a dog, after the yelling, climbing, and kicking attempts fail- aim for its chest and shoot repeatedly until the dog stops moving. Head shots at very close range will do the job, but bullets can actually ricochet off of a pitbull's thick skull if the angle is too great.
If no gun permit is available to you for whatever reason, knives work as well. All states have different laws on how big and what types of knives you can carry. Check the link below to get an idea and then ask your sheriff to make sure! Some very wicked knives can be purchased which are also short enough to be legal in length, so check your local pawn shops and martial arts stores. When stabbing a dog, go for its neck first. You want to get its jugulars, its windpipe, and the muscles controlling its head and jaw. Another good target area is its rib cage, aiming for its heart and lungs. And of course, its underbelly can be slit to eviscerate it on the spot. Stabbing its eyes is also as good as gouging, and a straight-in stab to its ear can lead to its brain, but that is kind of a precise move that takes lots of force. Remember knives, especially cheap ones, can break. Buy a knife that is double edged- if legal in your state- and serrated if possible. It must be a fixed blade (if legal) or at least an easy open type. Some have thumb tabs so one-hand opening is facilitated. Serrated blades are also very good for ripping. The best combo of these features is possibly the Spyderco brand knives. Lots of cops carry them, which is kinda scary, but telling.
People frequently recommend baseball bats, but of course it is impractical to tote a bat around with you. They are also ineffective at close-in range. Several videos are on the net of people breaking a 2X4 over an attacking pitbull, which never even phases it. So would a bat do much? Questionable...
Some tools could be used as weapons as well, but their carrying may or may not be legal. This could include ice picks, ball peen hammers, fist mauls(mini sledgehammers), carpet knives or box cutters, and phillips screwdrivers.
All articles and posts about pepper spray and mace are conflicting. They frequently work, but apparently do not in every case. It wouldn't be worth the risk. The wind can also blow their chemicals back your way. If you do have some spray and wish to carry it, shoot it straight up its nose first and get its eyes at point blank range second. Stun guns also work in theory but are a close in weapon that may or may not affect a dog that can shut off its pain receptors. Tasers and stun batons give you more distance, but also may not always work.
For the average person who does not have weapons to use and does not care to buy one, they could simply tote a carving knife with them on walks, or even a phillips screwdriver. These could very well turn around an attack encounter and literally save your face.