No Bad Dogs, Just Bad Laws: 55 Million Dogs Registered in the United States

Topics: Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Breed-specific legislation, American Pit Bull Terrier Pages: 9 (2973 words) Published: December 23, 2012
Running head: NO BAD DOGS 1

No Bad Dogs, Just Bad Laws
Shelley Richards
Kaplan University

Unit 9 Final Project
Professor Keller
December 10, 2010

No Bad Dogs, Just Bad Laws
. Rottweilers, Pit bull terriers, Doberman pinchers, German shepherds, Poodles, and Spaniels are just a few of the breeds that make up the 55 million dogs registered in the United States and they all have something in common; the ability to inflict harm by biting. When dogs are not properly trained, socialized, and controlled, they all have the potential to be dangerous and this potential is on the rise. Acting on the behalf of public safety, state and local legislators are mounting an attack on man’s best friend and singling out certain breeds as targets of their vendettas. Law makers are attempting to enact breed specific bans based on skewed and inconclusive statistics and prejudices fueled by biased reports created in the news media, while at the same time they are failing to address what is causing this problem; irresponsible dog owners. A more comprehensive review of the statistics might give legislators a clearer picture of the problem and how to deal with it. There is no question that dog-bites and related injuries are a problem in many areas of the country. Statistics indicate that every year in the United States, approximately 4.7 million people suffer dog bites, of which, 800,000 seek medical attention, 386,000 require emergency medical treatment, and 12 result in death (Weise, 2005). In addition, according to the Center for Disease Control, reports of people being attacked by vicious dogs is on the rise (One Bite and Fido’s Out, 2006). Pressure from the private sector and the media pushed legislators to make hasty decisions. Proposed breed specific bans and restrictions were made by law makers in frenzied attempts to protect the public from the threat of vicious dog attack. These proposals have failed to take into account evidence from studies have shown “breed specific approaches to the control of dog bites do not address the issue that many breeds are involved in the problem.” (Sacks & Lockwood, 1996). While there are claims that a majority of cases are contributed by certain breeds, the total figure is made up of 37 different pure breeds and cross-breeds of canines. In an analysis of data from the Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Disease Control found that to make a conclusive determination whether certain breeds were represented accurately, breed specific fatalities would have to be calculated (Dog-Bite-Related-Fatalities, 1997). To make this evaluation it would require extensive data involving complete death records for cases of dog bite fatalities, correct documentation of breed involvement along with breed population for the given area. Much of the required data is unavailable because many reporting agencies fail to make proper documentation of breed involvement and an inability to gather an accurate accounting of the dog population due to owners who do not license their dogs (Dog-Bite-Related Fatalities, 1997). With the enactments of these breed bans and strict regulations, owners of “high risk” dogs are less willing to register and license their pets than ever before. There is also a problem with the method of statistical analysis some legislators have used to gain public support for their breed restrictive proposals. The way certain data is presented demonstrates how statistics can and are misrepresented to support certain claims. The following statement shows how simple omissions can affect the overall picture. In a report of dog-bite related injuries for a given area, the report states there were 15 injuries in a 6 month period. Five of the cases involved Cocker spaniels and ten were contributed to Pit bulls. When given only these facts, it leads to the assumption...
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