The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have never issued a report or press release naming the types of dogs most likely to bite. Therefore it seems breed bans are a “knee-jerk reaction” to what experts say is not the cause of the problem. The AVMA report published from the research collected by the AVMA Task Force on Canine Aggression states:
“There are several reasons why it is not possible to calculate a bite rate for a breed or to compare rates between breeds. First, the breed of the biting dog may not be accurately recorded, and mixed-breed dogs are commonly described as if they were purebreds. Second, the actual number of bites that occur in a community is not known, especially if they did not result in serious injury. Third, the number of dogs of a particular breed or combination of breeds in a community is not known, because it is rare for all dogs in a community to be licensed, and existing licensing data is then incomplete.”
A Miniature Poodle bites a child and the media coverage is non-existent. A Pit Bull bites a child and the media sensationalizes the incident to a nearly hysterical level intensifying fear completely out of proportion!
Breed specific legislation (BSL) quickly followed and in some places banning ownership of the breed entirely. “Breed bans” unjustly discriminate against every member of the breed while ignoring the actual problem, which is the lack of responsible ownership! The majority of pit bulls and other “banned breeds” are much loved members of families – playful and well-behaved companions.
Any dog can become dangerous when owned by an irresponsible owner. In California a two-month-old baby was killed by a 5lb Pomeranian! It is always the parents duty to keep their child(ren) safe and to educate their child(ren) how to behave around dogs. Yet 70% of reported dog bites happen to children 12 and under, and the dog is blamed!
Since the implementation of “breed bans” many countries have repealed the legislation after realizing that it did not lower the incidents of dog bites or attacks. In the United Kingdom, one of the first adopters of BSL in 1991 with the strictest rules reported that in 2008 dog attacks had increased by 50% in the previous decade!
After repealing their BSL many countries now implement responsible pet ownership models. Education is the answer; pet owners must be required to prove their ability to provide the necessary training and control for dogs with aggressive tendencies.
Never leave a small child alone with any pet. Teaching children proper ways to approach and behave around dogs is the most effective way to lower dog bite incidents.