• 1. Marusinec LE. More on breed-specific legislation (lett). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2018;252:163164.

  • 2. Partridge P. More on the dangerous dog debate (lett). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2018;252:164.

  • 3. Villalbí JR, Cleries M, Bouis S, et al. Decline in hospitalisations due to dog bite injuries in Catalonia, 1997–2008. An effect of government regulation? Inj Prev 2010;16:408410.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4. Rosado B, García-Belenguer S, León M, et al. Spanish dangerous animals act: effect on the epidemiology of dog bites. J Vet Behav Clin Appl Res 2007;2:166174.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5. Klaassen B, Buckley JR, Esmail A. Does the dangerous dogs act protect against animal attacks: a prospective study of mammalian bites in the accident and emergency department. Injury 1996;27:8991.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6. Voith VL, Trevejo R, Dowling-Guyer S, et al. Comparison of visual and DNA breed identification of dogs and inter-observer reliability. Am J Sociol Res 2013;3:1729.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7. Bykowski MR, Shakir S, Naran S, et al. Pediatric dog bite prevention: are we barking up the wrong tree or just not barking loud enough? [published online ahead of print Apr 11, 2017] Pediatr Emer Care. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001132.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8. De Keuster T, Overall KL. Preventing dog bite injuries: the need for a collaborative approach. Vet Rec 2011;169:341342.

  • 9. De Keuster T. Safe relationships between children and dogs: a one health approach, in Proceedings. 42nd Annu World Small Anim Vet Assoc Cong 2017;2829.

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    • Export Citation

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Letters to the Editor

Focus on context, not breed, to prevent dog bites

We were distressed to see the recent letters to the editor1,2 endorsing breed-specific legislation as a solution to dog bites. Although we fully appreciate the damage any dog bite can do and have devoted no small part of our lives to preventing dog bites, we argue that breed bans will continue to put children at risk and that the focus should be on dog bite contexts, not breed.

To date, breed bans and other types of breed-specific legislation have not produced the intended results. Although hospitals in Catalonia, Spain, saw a significant decrease in hospitalizations from dog bites following changes in legal regulations on dog ownership, including breed-specific regulations,3 these results were not attributable to breed changes. As has been shown elsewhere, a study4 from Aragon, Spain, found that implementation of so-called dangerous animals legislation did not alter the epidemiology of dog bites in the region, and a study5 from the United Kingdom found that implementation of the Dangerous Dog Act had little effect on the rate of hospital visits for dog bite injuries. Combining these mixed results with findings that visual identifications of breed are frequently erroneous6 and that breed is frequently not reported following dog-related injuries7 suggests that the focus on breed in discussions of dog-bite injuries is misplaced.

Quite simply, we believe the role humans play—whether in the continuous oversight of small children or the development of dogs expressing socially acceptable behaviors—is the fulcrum around which dog bites pivot. We have previously8,9 recommended an interdisciplinary, one-health approach to dog bite prevention that incorporates ongoing reliable data collection and analysis, evidence-based risk mitigation strategies, and ongoing education for children, pediatricians, and veterinary staff that respects the needs, range of normal behaviors, and developmental stages of each species. We must go beyond handouts, lectures, and one-stop prevention programs and instead bring the scientific method to bear on understanding how we live with dogs, how dogs and humans can best meet each other's needs, and how these needs change with time, culture, and situation. Only this approach can result in humane, valid solutions.

Karen L. Overall, vmd, phd

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa

Tiny de Keuster, dvm

Laboratory for Ethology, Department of Nutrition, Genetics and Ethology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine Gent University, Merelbeke, Belgium

  • 1. Marusinec LE. More on breed-specific legislation (lett). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2018;252:163164.

  • 2. Partridge P. More on the dangerous dog debate (lett). J Am Vet Med Assoc 2018;252:164.

  • 3. Villalbí JR, Cleries M, Bouis S, et al. Decline in hospitalisations due to dog bite injuries in Catalonia, 1997–2008. An effect of government regulation? Inj Prev 2010;16:408410.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4. Rosado B, García-Belenguer S, León M, et al. Spanish dangerous animals act: effect on the epidemiology of dog bites. J Vet Behav Clin Appl Res 2007;2:166174.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5. Klaassen B, Buckley JR, Esmail A. Does the dangerous dogs act protect against animal attacks: a prospective study of mammalian bites in the accident and emergency department. Injury 1996;27:8991.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6. Voith VL, Trevejo R, Dowling-Guyer S, et al. Comparison of visual and DNA breed identification of dogs and inter-observer reliability. Am J Sociol Res 2013;3:1729.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7. Bykowski MR, Shakir S, Naran S, et al. Pediatric dog bite prevention: are we barking up the wrong tree or just not barking loud enough? [published online ahead of print Apr 11, 2017] Pediatr Emer Care. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001132.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8. De Keuster T, Overall KL. Preventing dog bite injuries: the need for a collaborative approach. Vet Rec 2011;169:341342.

  • 9. De Keuster T. Safe relationships between children and dogs: a one health approach, in Proceedings. 42nd Annu World Small Anim Vet Assoc Cong 2017;2829.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation