Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thoughts to contemplate on this day

"Approximately one person in 18 million dies as a result of a dogbite in this country [US] in an average year.2,3,4 One in 167,000 deaths overall is attributable to this cause.5 Most mortality modalities this rare are not regularly counted; however, a few other rare fatalities are studied occasionally. 
Statistics show that dog-bite deaths occur at approximately one-fifth the rate of lightning fatalities [ed. - even lower in Canada: one-sixteenth the rate in 2007], one-third the rate of forklift fatalities, and one-third the rate of cattle-related fatalities. (The cattle figure is probably low, since the only counts available are for work-related injuries).6,7,8,9 
Children under 10 are twice as likely to drown in a five-gallon bucket and 1.5 times more likely to die on playground equipment than from a dog bite.10,11,12 
This is not to say that these deaths are unimportant, but in considering allocating public resources [and presumably, legislation] to prevent such deaths, one must first establish that the same resources could not be used to save more lives at risk from other causes. For
example, an intervention that reduced automobile-accident mortality by 0.009 percent would save twice as many lives as one that eliminated dog-bite fatalities."
. . .
Many dangerous dog laws try not only to control dogs who have already injured people, but to predict which ones will do so in the future and attempt to prevent this. Typical legal descriptions of “dangerous” dog behavior include “approaches in a vicious or terrorizing manner,” “in a menacing fashion,” having “a known disposition, tendency, or propensity to attack,” or “engages in any behavior that requires a defensive action by any person to prevent bodily injury.” 36,37 Aside from the subjectivity of these descriptions, the main difficulty with such an approach is that
the best research to date indicates the likelihood that a majority of dogs engage in such behavior without necessarily hurting anyone. One groundbreaking study found that 41 percent of the dogs studied had growled, snarled or snapped at a familiar person at some time, but that only 15 percent had actually bitten, and only 10 percent of the 15 percent of the bites had injured.38 This means that a hypothetical net cast to identify the 1.5 percent of dogs who will injure based on whether they had behaved aggressively would actually capture at least 41 percent of the dog population. 
And since this study only included behavior toward family members and other people well known to the dog, and only included guardians responsible and caring enough to provide veterinary care for their companions, the percentage of potential problems within the entire dog population must certainly be considerably higher."
p. 5 and 17-18 respectively, from: "Dog Bites: Problems and Solutions," policy paper, Animals and Society Institute, by Janis Bradley, 2006
AT THE VERY LEAST, one line that should be alarming to everybody who loves dogs is the one that says
a hypothetical net cast to identify the 1.5 percent of dogs who will injure based on whether they had behaved aggressively would actually capture at least 41 percent of the dog population.”

The “hypothetical net” being the kind of dangerous dog laws mentioned, which happen to closely resemble the definition in A300. Based on this study, one might assume that 41% of the dogs in HRM would be deemed dangerous if the law were applied consistently. And what good is a law if it isn't applied consistently?
More thoughts:
"The supposed epidemic numbers of dog bites splashed across the media are absurdly inflated by dubious research and by counting bites that don’t actually hurt anyone. Even when dogs do injure people, the vast majority of injuries are at the Band-Aid level.

Dogs enhance the lives of millions more people than even the most inflated estimates of dog-bite victims. Infants who live with dogs have fewer allergies. People with dogs have less cardiovascular disease, better heart attack survival, and fewer backaches, headaches, and flu symptoms. Petting your dog lowers stress and people who live with dogs just plain feel better than people who don’t.

Yet lawmakers, litigators and insurers press for less dog ownership. This must stop. We must maintain perspective. Yes, dogs bite. But even party balloons and bedroom slippers are more dangerous."
from Dogs Bite (But Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous)  by Janis Bradley, 2005

(for a brief review of this book:
click here)