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Expert Recommendations (AVMA)
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Task Force on Canine Aggression
produced “A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention”:
- Co-ordinate and centralize dog bite reporting.
- Control unrestrained animals.
- Thoroughly investigate all dog bite incidents.
- Properly identify and regulate dangerous dogs.
- Educate using public officials, professionals, veterinarians, dog trainers
and behaviourists, physicians and nurses, animal control personnel, shelter
- Educate the public, children, adults, seniors, animal owners, victims,
- Use the media (news releases, interviews, talk shows, public affairs
programs, editorials, PSA’s) to educate.
Click here to read the recommendations (PDF)
Inquest Recommendations (Courtney Trempe)
In Stouffville Ontario in 1998, eight-year-old Courtney was killed by a
neighbour's bullmastiff while playing in the backyard. The resulting jury
inquest produced 35 recommendations (very few have been implemented in any
- 13 were related to education, including through elementary schools,
children's television programming, media information articles,
veterinarians, municipal Education Officers, breeders, and web sites. Also
suggested was a required course for dog owners.
- 8 were related to enforcement, including significant changes to the
Dog Owners Liability Act including increases in fines, tighter control of
dogs while court cases are pending, and prohibition of dog ownership for
owners whose dogs bite.
- 7 were related to data reporting, including a centralized
provincial bite reporting database, a centralized dog licensing database,
the tracking of dog owners as they move, and behavioural and physical
testing of dogs that have bitten.
- 4 were related to regulation of breeders and shelters, including a
certification process, elimination of puppy mills, and mandatory spay/neuter
of adopted dogs.
- 1 was related to provincial financial support for programs.
- 2 were related to federal involvement in analysis of data from
Canada and from other countries.
Courtney's mother, Donna, testified at the Ontario committee hearings on Bill
132, pointing out that banning "pit bulls" would not have saved her
daughter from being killed.
Click here to read the inquest recommendations.
Inquest Recommendations (James Waddell)
In New Brunswick in 2003, four-year-old James was killed by three Rottweilers in
his father's backyard. The number of potential risks ignored by his father and
by authorities leading up to his death is staggering. The coroner's
inquest, headed by Dr. Norma Guy, produced 26 recommendations:
- 5 were to parents (education), including teaching of children about
behaviour around dogs, socializing of dogs, supervision of children and
dogs, and positive methods of dog training.
- 6 were to municipalities (regulation and enforcement), including
increasing licence fees, mandatory microchipping of loose dogs, restricting
ownership of dogs by irresponsible owners, and managing dogs whose previous
behaviour indicates that they could be a bigger problem in the future.
- 7 were to health professionals such as physicians, pediatricians,
and public health nurses (education and data reporting), including the
recognition that dog bites a largely preventable event, rather than an
accident, education of children and parents especially those with dogs, and
proper documentation and reporting of dog bites.
- 8 were to veterinarians (education), including education of dog
owners, neutering, euthanasia for aggression, data reporting, and opposing
breeding that ignores temperament issues.
Click here to read the inquest recommendations.
- Many existing “dangerous dog” laws provide significant repercussions
for irresponsible ownership
- Toronto has $255 fine for running dogs off leash – very rarely enforced
due to staffing issues and, when it is enforced, judges reduce the fine
- Toronto has $5,000 fine for biting dogs – don’t know of any case where
that has been applied
- Ontario Dog Owner’s Liability Act makes dog owner financially liable
unless dog was provoked or protecting owner against a criminal act
- Negligence (e.g., repeated biting offences or repeated disregard for human
safety) could be prosecuted under existing criminal laws
- If enforced, all of these could provide deterrent for irresponsible owners
Education - Children
- Schools are the most logical place to educate children on dog bite
- Example: we teach children to “stop, drop, and roll”. How many
children will ever use that advice? 50% of all children will be bitten
before their 12th birthday. 90% of those are from dogs they own or know.
- More than half of the deaths in Canada were from children approaching
confined dogs without supervision.
- Teachers can teach children as part of other programmes.
- Special visitors (such as police, veterinarians, dog trainers, dog bite
specialists) can hold bite awareness “seminars”.
- Videos can be distributed throughout schools.
- Children’s television programming can discuss dog bites.
Education – Parents
- NUMBER ONE: VETERINARIANS – where better for a parent with a dog and a
child to learn about dog/child safety?
- Family doctors
- Hospital emergency rooms
- Dog trainers
- Breeders, rescue organizations, pet stores
- Pamphlets at cash registers in pet stores and children’s stores (Toys
- Web sites
Education - Public
- Television and radio – public service announcements
- Newspapers – dog bite safety tips, especially after a dog bite report
- Magazine articles (such as Today’s Parent)
- City sponsored events such as “Dog Bite Awareness Week”
- Dog owners should be required to take a course in pet ownership and
- Dog trainers and breeders should discuss dog ownership responsibility with
new dog owners