Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Musings on dog bite related fatalities

This month, we've had five US fatalities and one in New South Wales...all a variety of different breeds.

Chained mixed breed dog kills girl left alone in backyard with dogs.
Husky drags infant off bed and bites multiple times, killing child.
3-yr-old climbs into the pen of a 17-yr-old Rottweiler and is tragically killed.
Child alone with three dogs in backyard is killed by one Rottweiler (all three dogs are killed).
A New South Wales girl is mauled to death by four large mixed-breed dogs.
A girl left alone with three resident pit bulls (normally chained) is mauled to death

So here we have six deaths and in every single case we have children who are left alone with dogs. With the exception of the Husky, all of these dogs were resident, backyard dogs. They were not house pets nor were they treated as such.

You can't draw any conclusions from these deaths, so far as dog breeds are concerned. And, to be frightfully honest, five deaths in the United States from dog bites pales in comparison to a far more deadly recreational device - the swimming pool. There are only 8 million swimming pools in this country, yet 4,000 people drown every year in them. Six people a day drown in swimming pools.

Yet there are 80 million dogs, maybe 8 million bites (most not requiring hospitalization) and a piddly 12-30 deaths. We interact with dogs on a daily basis, yet most of us will never be seriously harmed by one.

This is not meant to diminish the tragedy of these violent deaths, especially considering the victims are children (no one ever wants to see that child-sized coffin lowered into a grave). But being killed by a dog is exceedingly unlikely, extremely rare, and legislating based on dog bite related fatalities is like trying to stop the levee from breaking with a finger in a hole. There's too many holes, too many spouts of water jettisoning forth for such a band-aid "solution".

Yes, we should continue to educate, educate, educate. We should advocate on behalf of the chained, neglected, and isolated dogs. We should encourage dogs as companions, not as yard ornaments. But we should not buy into the fear that there is a problem that needs fixing. Dogs have done notoriously well around us humans, so much so that for 10,000-100,000 years, they have been by our sides. They have teeth and claws, we have nothing, yet for all that we do to them, they seem staunch in their support of and devotion to us. It's amazing, really, that more people in this country aren't killed or harmed by dogs. But we aren't. And we should not legislate like we are.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

- Dog bites up in Lucas County, pit bull seizures down

Lucas County is home to Tom Skeldon, dog killer extraordinaire. New information available states that pit bull seizures were down 33% in 2008 than in 2007. Dog bites are up, though from 329 to 403 in 2008. I don't know what Lucas County's dog bite stats are for the past 10 years or so and with a population of 445,000, having 403 reported dog bites is hardly newsworthy.

What *is* newsworthy is this: Dog bites have not decreased because pit bulls have been banned or severely regulated. Overall euthanasia rates in Lucas County has NOT decreased significantly - in 30 years, the euthanasia rate has only decreased 11% Eleven percent!
Compare that with Bay County Animal Control in Florida which in one year reduced euthanasia rates from 76% to 58%.

So nobody is "safer" from dogs in Lucas County because of a pit bull restriction/ban and dogs are certainly not any safer.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

El Paso Times: A little schizophrenic reporting

There were a couple of high profile dog attacks in the El Paso, TX area involving two dogs. The dogs attacked two women on separate occasions, critically injuring one victim (an elderly female). The dogs had dug out of the backyard.

Now, the El Paso Times has been covering the news. Their recent editorial is certainly positive (though I would argue that the animals aren't the only victims - a poor woman is in the hospital and another injured, they're victims too).

I have to temper the positive with the fact that the El Paso Times also ran the following articles Vicious pit bulls killed for rabies test; Woman's trip to buy milk ended in terror; Dog attacks send 2 women to Thomason Hospital; Investigation continues in Fabens dog attacks; Fabens woman says she feared for her life as she fought off two .......so, five separate articles about the dogs being dangerous and vicious and mauling people and one about that the dogs were also victims. Still...it's something. Right?

Dog attacks this week on two women in Fabens underlines some serious and basic problems -- with people.
The two pit bulls involved in the attacks have been killed for rabies testing by Animal Services -- a high price to pay for what was essentially a human problem.
A total of six misdemeanor citations were issued to the dogs' owner, two each for not having the dogs vaccinated, registered or confined. It appeared that the dogs had dug their way out of the owner's yard.
The clear fault in this incident belongs with the dogs' owner. He or she failed to obey the law in relation to owning animals.
But the animals ended up paying the price.
There has been little indication that the county is more than mildly interested in pursuing such cases through the courts. That needs to change.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Husky Attack Titles v. Pit Bull Attack Titles

In Alberta, Canada, a loose dog attacked two children who were sledding. The dog attacked the sister first and when the brother tried to help his sister, the dog redirected on to the boy.

Titles of articles:
Boy praised for saving sister from savage dog
Youngsters injured in dog attack
Two children injured in Red Deer dog attack

In California, USA, a loose dog attacks a small dog being walked by a girl. The girl interferes in the dog fight and the attacking dog redirects onto her. A friend of the victim jumped on the dog and put the dog in a choke hold, ending the attack.

Titles of articles:
Boy stops pit bull attack with jujitsu choke hold
9-yr-old boy hero in pit bull attack
And the only article w/o pit bull in the title is from Texas: Young Hero Saves Girl From Dog Attack

Seems pit bull is a little more sexy than husky.