Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Photos of Concord Dogs: Not Exactly Pit Bulls

I submitted a public information request to Contra Costa County Animal Services for photos of the dogs confiscated from Steven Hayashi that were reported to have fatally mauled Mr. Hayashi's 2-year old grandson.

In response to that public information request, I received the following photos that show questionable breed heritage and mixed breed dogs of undetermined origin. The photos clearly demonstrate the issues with breed identification.

The reason Chako is posting these photos is in response to debate about whether the dogs were, in fact, Pit Bulls. Apparently a cousin of Hayashi's has been on forums claiming the dogs were all mixes, not Pit Bulls. While I believe breed is irrelevant, I think it makes absolutely no sense to even comment on breed without photos.

I don't think it does any good one way or the other to distort the truth. If the dogs are purebred Pit Bulls, then denying that they are simply reduces one's credibility. If the dogs are not Pit Bulls, then labelling them as such is just another way of perpetrating a falsehood.

Unfortunately, the angle of the photos makes it difficult to tell for sure. One dog is only visible from the side, with its head turned away from the camera. At least one of the dogs is very noticeably un-Pit Bull like in its appearance and appears to be a labrador or possibly mastiff mix.

So, take a look at the photos, and if you think you can tell what breeds these dogs are, speak up in the comments section.

From my perspective (and having only the photos to go on), these dogs are mostly mixed breed dogs. One looks nothing like a Pit Bull. If I met the first dog on the street, I'd swear it had no Pit Bull in it whatsoever.

People have said that even the owner calls the dogs Pit Bulls. The owner procured his original dog from a shelter. The shelter apparently released the dog unsterilized, which is a huge "NO" in California. Anyone who has worked in rescue understands that shelters are not often accurate on identifying breed, and they tend to call anything that looks remotely like it could have some bull or terrier breeds in it a "Pit Bull" mix.

A shelter that releases a dog unsterilized is already suspect in its reputability to begin with. Therefore, it matters not what Hayashi thinks his dog may be. In actuality, he just doesn't know. He didn't see the parents, and he got his dog from a shelter that apparently called it a "Pit Bull mix." That's a designation applied to almost any dog of mixed breed origin with shorter hair in many shelter systems. It's come to mean nothing.

What is undeniable is that the media has labelled these dogs--all of them--as Pit Bulls. The San Francisco Chronicle reported, "The toddler was fatally mauled when he entered the home garage where the family kept...pit bulls."

I don't know about you, but I don't see Pit Bulls in the photos below.




One final point, just because I have to comment on it. Very few, if any, of these dogs would match San Francisco's breed checklist for a Pit Bull.

As an example, the second dog has a narrow muzzle, a narrow chest, and absolutely nothing that is well-muscled. San Francisco's checklist calls for a broad skull, strong underjaw, a heavy and muscular neck attached to muscular shoulders, a deep broad chest and wide front and muscular hindquarters. There's nothing broad, deep, wide or muscular on that dog. It matches almost nothing of San Francisco's checklist.

(NOTE THERE WERE FIVE Dogs in the household, two were outside at the time of the attack, and the photos submitted were not all high quality. One dog had its head completely turned away from the camera, on a side shot. The other dog was in poor condition and the photo was somewhat graphic so we opted not to publish it).


  1. Dawn,
    Please email me privately at:


    karen delise

  2. Recent studies by Dr. Victoria Voith have proven that visual identifications of mixed breed dogs is unreliable.

    In light of Dr. Voith's findings, and with the admission of the owner that he obtained the female dog from a shelter, and that he does not know the sire of her two offspring, it is clear these are dogs of unknown genetics and origins.

    To speculate about the possible breed (with or without photos) is not useful for the dogs or for humans.

    The National Canine Research Council has classified the dogs involved in the 2010 Concord fatal attack as:

    "Dogs of unknown genetics and origin"

    Karen Delise

  3. Wow, those dogs all look very mixy and I see some lab in them. I would never look at any of those three and assume that they were majority pit bull. The mix is very questionable for sure and it is outrageously irresponsible for a rescued dog of unknown breed or it's offspring to be labeled as pit bulls by anyone, much less the main stream media when it involves the death of a child.

  4. It's so utterly obvious that dogs 1 and 3 are PB mixes -- I guess y'all here aren't really breed fans or you'd see that.

    Bet dog 2 didn't really participate in the attack, but only sort of jumped around -- just as the two non-pits, non-pit-mixes did in the famous video of a pit/pit mix attacking that police car.

    Come on, you guys need to do something about your credibility.

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