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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Report on Fatal Dog Attacks...

 

Overwhelmingly this report is used by the media, council members and legislators in an attempt to prove a case for passing breed specific legislation.  So I feel in necessary to set the record straight on this report for all to see.
 

Here are some quotes from the CDC and Doctors involved in the studies explaining how the report is INACCURATE:

  • Procedure: We collected data from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and media accounts related to dog bite attacks and fatalities, using methods from previous studies (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000).

  • Ideally, breed-specific bite rates would be calculated to compare breeds and quantify the relative dangerousness of each breed. For example, 10 fatal attacks by Breed X relative to a population of 10,000 X’s (1/1,000) implies a greater risk than 100 attacks by Breed Y relative
    to a population of 1,000,000 Y’s (0.1/1,000). Without consideration of the population sizes, Breed Y would be perceived to be the more dangerous breed on the basis of the number of fatalities.   (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000).   NOTE:  The CDC study does NOT use population as a factor.

  • Considering only bites that resulted in fatalities, because they are more easily ascertained than nonfatal bites, the numerator of a dog breed-specific human DBRF rate requires a complete accounting of human DBRF as well as an accurate determination of the breeds involved. Numerator data may be biased for 4 reasons. First, the human DBRF reported here are likely underestimated; prior work suggests the approach we used identifies only 74% of actual cases.1,2 Second, to the extent that attacks by 1 breed are more newsworthy
    than those by other breeds, our methods may have resulted in differential ascertainment of fatalities by breed. Third, because identification of a dog’s breed may be subjective (even experts may disagree on the breed of a particular dog), DBRF may be differentially ascribed to breeds with a reputation for aggression.  Fourth, it is not clear how to count attacks by crossbred dogs. Ignoring these data underestimates breed involvement (29% of attacking dogs were crossbred dogs), whereas including them permits a single dog to be counted more than once. 
     (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000)

  • Finally, it is imperative to keep in mind that even if breed-specific bite rates could be accurately calculated, they do not factor in owner related issues. For example, less responsible owners or owners who want to foster aggression in their dogs may be drawn differentially to certain breeds. (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000)

  • (after 1998, the CDC stopped tracking which breeds of dogs are involved in fatal attacks; according to a CDC spokesperson, that information is no longer considered to be of discernable value)  (Pit Bulls in the City, Indy Tails July 2005)

  • "There are enormous difficulties in collecting dog bite data," Dr. Gilchrist said.  She explained that no centralized reporting system for dog bites exists, and incidents are typically relayed to a number of entities, such as the police, veterinarians, animal control, and emergency rooms, making meaningful analysis nearly impossible.  (CDC releases epidemiologic survey of dog bites in 2001, September 2003) 

  • When multiple dogs of the same breed were involved in the same fatal episode, that breed was counted only once (eg, if 10 Akitas attacked and killed a person, that breed was counted once rather than 10 times). When crossbred dogs were involved in a fatality, each suspected breed in the dog’s lineage was counted once for that episode. Second, we tallied data by dog. When multiple dogs of the same breed were involved in a single incident, each
    dog was counted individually. We allocated crossbred dogs into separate breeds and counted them similarly (eg, if 3 Great Dane-Rottweiler crossbreeds attacked a person, Great Dane was counted 3 times under crossbred, and Rottweiler was counted 3 times under crossbred). Data are presented separately for dogs identified as pure- and crossbred. 
     (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000) 

Here are some quotes from the CDC and Doctors involved in the studies concerning Breed Specific Legislation:

  • When a specific breed of dog has been selected for stringent control, 2 constitutional questions concerning dog owners’ fourteenth amendment rights have been raised: first, because all types of dogs may inflict injury to people and property, ordinances addressing only 1 breed of dog are argued to be underinclusive and, therefore, violate owners’ equal protection rights; and second, because identification of a dog’s breed with the certainty necessary to impose sanctions on the dog’s owner is prohibitively difficult, such ordinances have been argued as unconstitutionally vague, and, therefore, violate due process.

  • Another concern is that a ban on a specific breed might cause people who want a dangerous dog to simply turn to another breed for the same qualities they sought in the original dog (eg, large size, aggression easily fostered). Breed-specific legislation does not
    address the fact that a dog of any breed can become
    dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive.

  • Other risk factors included dogs who roamed the neighborhood or dogs who were tethered. In other words, it appeared that the negligence of human guardians was a higher risk factor than the breed of the dog. learned breed-specific legislation is not the way to tackle the issue of dog bites,” said Dr. Julie Gilchrist of the CDC Injury Center in Atlanta, Georgia. “Instead, we should look at the people with those dogs responsible for the bites.”  (Pit Bulls in the City, Indy Tails July 2005)
     

A couple of my personal comments on the CDC report and others like it on why they are fictional at best!

  • On the CDC report they have broken it down into a couple of sections, Purebred and Crossbred.   Under Purebred they list  "Pit bull-type" dog, this is NOT a Purebred dog? They use that very same header under Crossbred which invalidates this report. 

  • Using a term like "pit bull-type"  would indicate that any number of breeds (as there are 20+ that are mistaken as pit bulls) and mixed breeds could have been grouped under these counts.

  • As for Crossbred or mixed breed dogs it is my opinion that they need to all be grouped under "mixed breed".  When it comes to mixed breed dogs, it's virtually impossible to determine the breeds.   If in fact you do know specificly what breeds the dog is (which is rare) how would one know which "breed" did the biting?

  •  In the first bullet point they admit to using, "media accounts".  That alone tells us this report is nothing more than a waste of paper.  The media is certainly NOT a place to gather information for a statistical study.  There are many incidents that are reported as X then turn out to be Y.  Many cases of mistaken breed identity or out right lies.  Here are a few: http://www.understand-a-bull.com/BSL/MistakenIdentity/WrongId.htm

  • Furthmore,  this report was a collaboration of the CDC and the AVMA both of which are against breed specific legislation!

 

 

 

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