NCRC Updates Bite Stats+Fatals

What About Dog Bite “Statistics” or Dog Bite Numbers?

Do they give an accurate picture of which dogs bite,  why dogs  dogs bite, or the frequency of “canine aggression” ?

From the NCRC:

The CDC has published a statement that the single-vector approach in  “Breeds of Dogs” does not  “identify specific breeds that are most likely to bite or kill, and thus is not appropriate for policy-making decisions related to the topic.” The AVMA has published and distributed a comparable statement.

The AVMA Task Force went further: “An often-asked question is what breed or breeds of dogs are ‘most dangerous’? This inquiry can be prompted by a serious attack by a specific dog, or it may be the result of media-driven portrayals of a specific breed as ‘dangerous.’ . .  Singling out 1 or 2 breeds for control . . . ignores the true scope of the problem and will not result in a responsible approach to protecting a community’s citizens.”

Dr. Randall Lockwood, one of the authors of the CDC’s “Breeds of Dogs,” as well as a member of the AVMA Task Force, submitted an affidavit in 2007 in opposition to the breed ban currently in effect in Denver, Colorado.  He stated, in part: “Focusing on a single breed as the ‘source’ of the dog bite problem reflects a 19th century epidemiological mindset that attempts to identify the vector of a public health problem and eliminate that vector. . . The dog bite problem is not a disease problem with a single vector, it is a complex societal issue that must address a wide range of human behaviors in ways that deal with irresponsible behavior that puts people and animals at risk.” [Petdefense: It should be noted however, that back in the 1980’s, Lockwood was not of the same opinion re pitbull dogs, and there is documented written material by Lockwood which shows this.]

In fact, all of the professionals involved in these earlier studies have come to the same conclusion:  breed attributions yield no useful understanding of fatal attacks that have occurred, and do not offer a way to reduce such incidents in the future.

 Dog-human fatalities drop 33%  in 2008 Referencing the National Canine Research council Perspective Report re Pitbull dogs

“The fantastically rare incident of a dog killing a human being was even rarer in 2008 than it was the year before,” Delise said. The Council has identified 23 canine-caused fatalities for 2008, as compared with 34 the prior year. Officials investigating the 2008 incidents claim to have identified 10 different breeds or types of dogs in connection with these 23 fatalities, though experts caution that breed attributions are usually made on the basis of physical impression, and should not be considered reliable.

Delise points out that, while annual tallies fluctuate dramatically in percentage terms, the raw numbers have remained within well-defined limits. “Because there are so few incidents, relative to the human and canine populations,” Delise notes, “a rise or drop in the number of cases exerts a misleading effect on the percentages.”

For example, there were more incidents in 1990, 25, than there were in 2008. In 1998, there were 10. In 1999, there were 27. In 2000, there were 19. Delise, who, over the past 20 years, has investigated fatal attacks extending back into the 19th century, does not consider these fluctuations significant. “Based upon my research, the number of these incidents is not trending one way or the other, Delise said.”

 Below is a list of 15 victims of dog attacks, table 1, along with descriptions of the fatal wounds listed on the autopsy reports. Each victim was attacked and killed by a single dog. There are 15 different breeds represented in these incidents, table 2

Not only is it impossible to match the incidents listed in table 1 with the breeds of dogs listed in table 2, it is impossible to determine which breed of dog is responsible for any injury based solely upon examination of injuries, autopsy reports or photos.

Table 1, fatal wound descriptions

Victim 1: Multiple penetrating wounds to the abdomen 

Victim 2: Collapsed lungs, multiple wounds to the chest, partial devourment

Victim 3: Massive head and neck injuries

Victim 4: Multiple bite wounds, dismemberment

Victim 5: Extensive scalp and neck injuries

Victim 6: Multiple lacerations of scalp and neck, depressed skull fracture

Victim 7: Exsanguination from multiple bite wounds

Victim 8: Skull fracture and severe bites to upper back and face

Victim 9: Multiple penetrating wounds to back and chest

Victim 10: Severe bite wounds to the head

Victim 11: Severe bites, massive bleeding, broken facial & neck bones

Victim 12: Massive head injuries

Victim 13: Severe, multiple penetrating injuries to head and neck

Victim 14: Massive bite injuries to lower extremities, dismemberment

Victim 15: Severe scalp, facial wounds, laceration of jugular

Table 2, breeds of dogs

 Siberian husky, Coonhound 

Dachshund,Chow chow

Sheepdog-type dog, German Shepherd dog

Labrador Retriever, Malamute

Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Rottweiler

St. Bernard, Pitbull

Golden Retriever,Wolfdog

Mixed breed (no discernable breed visible)

 Note: Breeds were chosen for this sample only if dogs of that breed have been involved in more than one human fatality (i.e., Airedale Terrier, Pomeranian, Jack Russell Terrier, , were not used as only one human fatality has been attributed to each of these breeds in the United States).

Pet Defense note:  The only thing we didn’t see, was the mention that the rehomed,shelter or rescued (which are all in category of “rehomed”) were involved in very substantially high percentages of attacks. It was mentioned in the Fatal Attacks book generally, pg.22 #E “Newly Acquired Dogs”, and on pg. 30–“This case is only one of dozens where dogs were left to their own devices in new and stressful environments with no effort made by humans to minimize risks.”

However, in general, the “newly acquired” dogs were rehomed dogs, not newly purchased from a petstore or known dog breeder.  From 1965-2001, 76% of fatalities were on the owner’s property. A recent update of 82% were not chained, according to Tamara Follett (Dogs of Fury)…  Perhaps  instead of focusing on only “dangerous” dogs, the focus was instead aimed at what to DO rather than what NOT to do, the people that didn’t KNOW what to DO, could DO that very thing?

 Such as grandparents watching their grandchildren, owners trying to be nice to dogs they don’t know which are put in their yard by relatives, parents with kids that think it’s safe to let the dog and baby be alone in same room, owner that believes 5 untrained dogs running in a pack is safe?  We don’t think it’s so much always “irresponsible” as not “informed”–but with potentially hazardous results. Most of these incidents were not purposely done to get anyone killed. 

By having watched novice parents+kids try to interact with dogs/puppies in dog rescue for years, it is VERY evident that the parents in many instances DO NOT KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT DOG SAFETY.

Hundreds of people are killed yearly by improper use of electrical equipment and tools. If we were to pretend all dogs–and especially ‘rehomed’ dogs—- were—- –let’s say,  an electric handsaw  perhaps–we can just ask one question in different scenarios: 

Would you leave out a tool like this plugged in around kids, and especially if you were not there? Would you hand this tool to your grandmother while it was operable, and tell your grandmother to leave it next to the baby or child? Would you take 5 of these tools outside where children are playing and leave them so that the kids could touch them? 

This is just dog safety folks.  Not necessarily irresponsibility, but safety rules around dogs.  For the most part, many parents DO NOT KNOW DOG SAFETY RULES THEMSELVES, and they don’t teach dog safety on “Animal Planet.”

In fact, they show dogs cavorting into a 2nd grade class while teacher ignores the kids as they all reach out and try and touch the dog over its head–a big no-no for children—even with their own dogs.

How can we expect uneducated people to know dog safety? In reality, we can’t.  That’s why dog dangers/dog safety is something that’s like teaching kids about strangers?  They—meaning owners/parents/others—need to be taught the perils, and then to have them teach their own kids. In particular, the lower economic income areas are a target area where this should be done. What is really amazing, is when safety class is offered “free” to shelters for their patrons, the shelters have not expressed interest. That could be because many shelters are run by Animal Rights that are usually people-haters, and they don’t think it’s their job to do that.  Sometimes schools will allow non profit groups to teach kids dog safety, but the parents need to be taught as well. 


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