ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Even the experts can't tell by looking. You probably don`t know what a pit bull is. You might think you do, but we're about to prove you wrong. Investigative reporter Chris Hayes shows you first hand, with a test you can take yourself and how it`s leading to changes in laws across the country.
When dogs attack, people often say "it's a Pit Bull!"
Fear sometimes leads to politicians banning the breed. Now there`s a wave to reverse those bans, because people are finding out they`re wrong.
Former veteran police officer Jim Crosby now exclusively investigates dog bites. He said, "I've evaluated 34 dogs that have killed human beings after the attacks."
We Skyped with Crosby, who operates out of Jacksonville, FL.
People have, make assumptions based on what a dog looks like and they have an idea in their head that pit bulls have this huge bite strength and these locking jaws and for instance. (He shows us a skull and adds) This is actually the skull of a pit bull type dog that killed a human being. People talk about pit bulls having locking jaws. I`m sorry, I've got the evidence right here. This jaw... does not lock. There`s no locking mechanism."
Crosby's investigations compare a dog`s bite to a victim`s wounds. He`s proven many people wrong.
There are dozens of breeds people picture in their minds when someone says 'pit bull.' We found a list of them, along with a pure bred pit bull, compiled by Missouri Pit Bull Rescue. Here`s what happened when we took the test to the street.
I asked Tom Schmidt, "Do think you know what a Pit Bull is?"
Schmidt responded, "Yes, it`s this guy right there. Oh, wrong"
His fiancé picked a Leopard Dog and then told us, "I thought they looked distinctive, that you could tell."
But it doesn't matter who you ask. Even people work in dog shelters every day -- they don`t know.
So we went to the top, "It looks like the make up of my shelter."
If anybody would know, you might think it would be Randy Grim of Stray Rescue. He said, "That`s why we call all the dogs terrier mixes and not Pit Bulls."
He took the tests. "I`m going to go with #22. Wow, I`ve never heard of it." Then he said, "I`ll tell you another one that looks like a pit to me would be #25. OK, I`m wrong." Then Grim added, "This is why we shouldn't have breed bans and we shouldn't be so judgmental of the dogs and judge each one individually like we do each other."
The tide's turning against `Breed Specific Legislation,' also known as BSL. When we reported on a `Pit Bull roundup` in Sikeston, MO this past December, thousands of people responded from around the world. Cities like Chesterfield and Wentzville have overturned Pit Bull bans. And it`s not just animal rights groups speaking out. The American Bar Association urges against breed specific laws.
While our Fox2 test contained 10 dogs to chose from, the test we gave Grim and others in our report included more than 30. We used this test for our TV report - Missouri Pit Bull Rescue
Only a DNA test can tell you for sure. Randy Grim said they`ve taken DNA from several dogs they thought to be pit bulls. He says they`ve rarely guessed correctly. So imagine an animal control officer trying to enforce a breed ban. Many governments are now changing laws to look at dangerous dogs in general, irrespective of breed.
Contact Investigative Reporter Chris Hayes: