Local News

More than 300 local dogs deemed dangerous are being monitored by area counties

Pit bulls or pit mixes account for more than a third of the dogs on watch lists in five area counties.

Posted Updated

Ali Ingersoll
, WRAL data journalist
RALEIGH, N.C. — Over the last several months, WRAL News has collected information regarding dangerous dogs in central North Carolina.
The inquiries began after two young girls – 7-year-old Jayden Henderson in Garner and 10-month-old Malia Winberry in Angier – were both killed in dog attacks. Most recently, two rottweilers attacked four people in Raleigh over the weekend.

According to WRAL's analysis, there are at least four other rottweilers in the area that have been deemed dangerous.

Some of the dogs' names, like Princess and Nugget, Peanut and Miss Daisy, make the animals seem harmless. But county officials have determined that they're dangerous, and they've landed on watch lists, along with more than 300 other dogs in Wake, Durham, Johnston, Franklin and Orange counties.

Cumberland County tracks information like names and addresses for 96 dogs, but officials there said they don't note the breed, saying visual assessment is unreliable. Those dogs weren't included in WRAL's analysis.

"Breed, by itself, really doesn't tell us that much about a dog's behavior," said Dr. Margaret Gruen, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

When looking at the number of dogs being monitored by breed, pit bulls or pit mixes top the list, at 113, or 36 percent of the total in the five counties. Labrador retrievers, Lab mixes, German shepherds and shepherd mixes also land high on the list.

But just because the breeds more prevalent on the watch lists doesn't mean they're more aggressive. An international study shows collies, poodles and miniature schnauzers display the most aggressive behavior. Chihuahuas and German shepherds also were high in that study, while Labs and golden retrievers were less likely to be aggressive.

Only two collies and two poodles are included in the dangerous dog lists from area counties, according to WRAL's analysis, and no schnauzers are on any of the county lists.

"Smaller dogs may have more bites or growls, but they're less likely to be reported, and they're less likely to cause damage," Gruen said. "We know that, as a dog breed gets bigger, as their jaw strength increases, they may be more likely to cause damage if they do have an aggressive incident. So, there are breed differences in dog fatalities."

Veterinarians all over have been reporting an increase in the number of dog bites this year, she said, and it’s likely linked to the pandemic and lack of socialization.

"Just like us, there's a lot of things – interactions – that we didn't have a chance to practice," she said. "Now that we're getting back out there, we just have to cut everybody some slack – ourselves, our friends and our dogs."


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