Apr 10

2009 Fatal Dog Bite Statistics....prey drive strikes again

Each year, I am very sad when I read the stories of people being killed by dogs. The KC Dog Blog has recently posted 2009 stats. Although 32 people in the US were killed by dogs in 2009, the blogger makes a very good point.....considering there are 75 million dogs in the US, the numbers are relatively small.  But the number should be much, much smaller.  At least 95% of all fatal attacks could be prevented if people were more knowledgeable about dogs, and used that knowledge to be more responsible with their dogs.

The fact that toddlers and infants are killed each year is simply unacceptable.  No dog, no matter the breed, should EVER be left alone with a young child.  Period.  It doesn't matter if it has no past history of aggression. Studying the stats, the breeds involved can be surprising.  Siberian Huskies are actually one of the least aggressive breeds of dogs overall,  very lacking in watchdog or territorial tendencies. Yet they have very high prey drive, and are very efficient predators.  I have owned Siberians who could leap up and kill a bird out of the air.  Not all Siberians have high prey drive, but the ones who do are very efficient in dispatching with bunnies, cats, even deer if they run into their area.  When a dog of this breed kills an infant, it is likely that the dog did not even realize it was a human being.  When something perceived as prey whimpers or screams, it is a prime target for a predator.

Prey drive is common in many breeds of dogs--terriers of all types, German Shepherds of working lines, even some hounds such as Dachshunds.  Yes, it is true that over 1/3 of all fatal dog bite attacks on record are from Pit Bull type dogs. Yes, it is true that many Pitties have high prey drive, and they also possess "fight drive", that determination not to quit if they do attack.  But it is also true that every year the list includes at least one dog you would never expect, such as a Labrador Retriever.
The KC Dog Blog article includes a few sentences describing each attack that happened last year in the US. The author also makes some very good points about how the media is all over Pit Bull attacks, but gives very little attention to attacks by other breeds. Take a look:  http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/dog-attack-fatalities-2009/ When reading the stories, it is obvious that most of these tragedies could have been prevented.

How can we work together to prevent these needless deaths?


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