By Gaby Dufresne-Cyr, CBT/FLE
I normally don't write two articles in the same week, but this week is special. I decided to disregard my own rule and write a second piece. What follows is a huge summary of my very elaborate research file.
Seems people need to see graphs and data in order to believe what a columnist writes; therefore, I decided to give you an eye full and present some very interesting science behind the dog bite statistics the media and pro-kill people try to push down our throats.
I’m telling you, this information doesn’t come from a dog bite web site, nor does it come from newspaper columnists quoting or referring to other columnists as data. I won’t do that because we ALL know the media only writes about what sells papers.
Contrary to popular belief there’s quite a significant amount of research done on dog behaviour. I’ve mentioned a few in the past, but today I decided to go full out and waste half a day taking screen shots for you to look at. I might sound irritated, but don't get me wrong, I love going through papers; I'm just annoyed I have to knock some common sense into senseless people. What is obvious to the vast majority of us seems invisible to a few others.
I’m only providing you with this information so we, as a society, can make the right choices for the rest of us. So, before you write me hate mail or post foul language in the comment section, please know I’m a safety advocate. Anyone who actually knows me can attest to that, so keep in mind I’m not advocating pro-pitbull propaganda, I’m simply concerned with overall safety for both dogs and humans.
What the Research Says
I first met Dr. James Serpell in a conference at Guelph University in 1999 (might be 2000). He had newly designed the C-BARQ, a dog evaluation test made specifically for his clients.
A colleague and I saw the usefulness of this document and asked if we could use it. He was kind and gracious enough to say yes. Seventeen years later he has the largest data base known on dog behavioural characteristics grouped into thirteen categories.
M. Serpell’s career revolves around understanding dog behaviour and scientifically prove, or disprove, if certain breeds are more likely to bite than others, and if so, why. His conclusion, most bites are occasioned by dogs less than twenty pounds. I'm repeating myself here, I know, but it seems necessary to do so over, and over, and over again.
Scientist Duffy et al (2008) concluded their paper on dog bites with The substantial within-breed variation…suggests that it is inappropriate to make predictions about a given dog’s propensity for aggressive behavior based solely on its breed.
Last year the American Veterinary Medical Association concluded Breed is a poor sole predictor of dog bites. Controlled studies reveal no increased risk for the group blamed most often for dog bites, ‘pit bull-type’ dogs. Even the Quebec Veterinary Order recommends dangerous dog laws instead of breed specific regulations.
If I told you the sky is pink and showed you proof it is, you would have to believe me. But, we all know the sky isn’t pink. Well, I can tell you this picture wasn’t photoshopped because I took it. A friend of mine took a similar picture in a different part of Montreal. We are now two people with proof the sky is pink.
Now imagine what would happen if our pictures went viral and reporters or columnists wrote about it? What would happen if all reporters referred to the same two pictures and kept telling you the sky is pink… I’ll tell you what would happen; the entire world would believe the sky is indeed pink. Now here’s what you don’t know. The sky was indeed pink on that day, but it only occurs when the conditions are favourable for pink skies to manifest themselves. Does it mean the sky is pink ALL the time? Of course not!
This is what's occurring with media. Columnists only report one side of the story and then quote or refer to each other as proof their claims are indeed real. I’m not here to tell you Staffordshire and Bull Terriers don’t bite. I’m here to tell you the sky isn’t pink; I’m here to tell you ALL dogs bite and to ban one breed is equivalent to saying the sky is always pink because I saw it once. We should all advocate dangerous dog laws and education because that is what will ultimately save lives.
On a last note, the following table was taken from the AVMA paper and clearly shows the breed responsible for serious dog bites in 2015 was the German Shepherd, and dogs under 20 lbs. Get it...?!
- American Veterinary Medical Association (2015). The Role of Breed in Dog Bite Risk and Prevention.
- Maksymowicz, K., Janeczek, A., Szotek, S., Qukomski, R. and Dawidowicz, J. (2015). Dog bites in humans in a large urban agglomeration in the southwest of Poland, an analysis of forensic medical records. Journal of Veterinary Behavior.
- Serpell, J.A. and Duffy, D.L. (2014). Dog Breeds and Their Behavior. A. Horowitz (ed.), Domestic Dog Cognition and Behavior, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-53994-7_2,