Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dog bite incidents increase: BSL has no effect

courtesy of fairdog.dk
The number of dog bite incidents have increased, one year after the implementation of Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) in Denmark. A new report - published a few days ago by the Danish association "Fair Dog" - reveals BSL has no effect and Denmark is well on it's way of becoming another example of failed BSL.

According to the report the number of dog bite incidents measured before and after the BSL was implemented, increased by 26%. The number of bite incidents where one of the 13 banned breeds are involved, have decreased. Before BSL was in effect the banned breeds accounted for just 6,5% of all dog bites, and this decreased to 4,7%.

Do breeds bite?

The report is based on research of official records from the police and veterinarian's, and additional resources like the Internet and reports from individual owners. The association "Fair Dog" emphasizes that this is NOT a statistic. But a compilation of the facts at hand.

There are still no reliable statistics available in Denmark about what breeds are involved in bite incidents. Neither was that the case before BSL was implemented. How politicians plan to measure the effect of their law, remains therefore a mystery.

The conclusion we can take from the report, is the lack of a causal relationship between dog breeds and dog bites. As many countries already researched and concluded before Denmark. Denmark now has it's own first indication, laid out in a well-prepared report, it merely has been repeating the mistakes of others.

Media

The report also mentions a couple of news reports that were brought by the media during last year, as examples of their flawed reporting on dog bite incidents. The media seems to take any dog bite incident up as a claim that dogs belonging to the banned breeds still bite. Here are some headlines:

"Banned dog behind bars" 
Reading further will reveal it actually is about a German Shepherd that was spurred to attack by its owner.

"Hunting dog killed by banned dog"
Autopsy later revealed the dog was run over by a car, not bitten

"Two attacks by banned dogs running loose"
Which turned out to be Great Danes.

The media have not reported on the research of "Fair Dog", although the report was send to relevant politicians and the media by the association. The media is still focused towards sensational stories, despite them claiming the opposite in their answer to the open letter I wrote. They play a doubtful role in the Danish BSL story at the least.

Rottweilers

I am worried for the Rottweiler. The Rottweiler is listed in the report in the top 10 of dog bite incidents - next to breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds, German Shepherd, etc. I am afraid pro-BSL politicians misuse that element from the report - while ignoring the obvious conclusion that breeds don't bite - and continue with banning them too. They already put the Rottweiler on the observation list. How convenient.

There are 16.000 registered Rottweilers in Denmark. I suggest to their owners to make their voices heard. While they still can.

Fair Dog

The association "Fair Dog" was erected at the start of this year as a response to the BSL in Denmark. Their goal is to create fair conditions for all dogs in Denmark, based on a sound and scientific basis. Fair Dog acts as a network for experts and interestgroups, that all work together to abolish BSL in Denmark by 2013, the official date politicians have planned to re-evaluate the BSL laws.

You can find the complete report here: http://www.fairdog.dk/pdf/undersoegelse-juni-2011.pdf, copyright Fair Dog. It is in Danish unfortunately, although the breeds and numbers will need little translation.


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6 comments:

  1. Stopping by on the blog hop today - check out my video about the tornadoes that hit the south. I volunteer at the Etowah Valley Humane Society and we have 5 dogs that were left homeless - Hoss, Heidi, Dozer and Goldie & Marley. They all need homes...

    www.Pet-peeves.org

    Thanks for sharing this info about dog bites - it's critical to know.

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  2. Woof! Woof! One town close to us implemented a very strict rule in regards to dog owners. Golden Thanks for sharing this information. Happy BLOG HOP Weekend. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

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  3. sensational news headlines of any kind are the pits. i don't suppose any of them made retractions after discovering the truth. unfortunately, bad news sells news.

    the BSL doesn't look like it's going away any time soon in Denmark. i wonder what the same people who are calling for it would think about a BSL for humans...when did the world become so black and white? :(

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  4. It's very hard to campaign for the ending of something. Especially when it's easy fodder for the press.

    Marketing guru, Seth Godin, says it's nearly impossible to get people to change their minds about something. But if you can find a way to shape what they already believe into a new form, you'll be more successful.

    I wonder if the most successful message for FairDog.dk might be "yes, dogs can bite. Let's show you how to be truly safe by learning basic dog bite prevention that really works!"

    When you acknowledge people's fears and suggest ways to address them, you might find the "BSL doesn't work" line gets more of an audience. And an event or campaign to prevent dog bites in general could get some very positive press for FairDog.dk.

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  5. @Cherie and @Sugar
    Thanks for passing by through the blog hop :)

    @Georgia
    There is an opportunity with the upcoming elections in a couple of months. Lets hope that will bring change. And you guess right about humans ... Denmark is not very "open" to foreigners. You see the same pattern repeat itself. Yet I think a lot of Danes are not that way, and the remainder have been made afraid by populists in the ruling parties.

    @Pamela
    Thanks for your comment, always seeing what others don't and giving some real food for thought!

    FairDog.dk has a whole range of messages, and taking up how to prevent dog bites is one of them. They take a lot of initiatives and IMHO they seem very PR-savy. They are translating their website into English as well, I will send you the link when it is there. They read my blog too, maybe they would like to comment themselves as well?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Remember the blog post I wrote about getting blog traffic? It's all about the headline and nobody wants to read the story "Girl Kisses Puppy" because that isn't interesting. Sensational headlines sell newspapers and it's not like reporters are going to go a whole lot of fact checking on an animal case.

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