So in the context of providing real information, instead of just data, I did a little digging. What factors are involved in causing dogs to be aggressive? We all know the statistics. Chained dogs, unaltered dogs, untrained dogs, etc. But how does this translate into other data that might be useful for us in combatting dog bites.
Given this, I rounded up some information for all 45 zip codes in Kansas City, MO. I got crime statistics, dog bite stats, animal control stats, and demographic information for all 45 counties. Based on the difficulty in obtaining the info from the police and animal control departments, I can say with 99.9% certainty that I'm the only one looking this deeply into the data.
So what did I find?
1) Of the top 5 zip codes in terms of total dog bites, all five of them rank in the top seven in number of animal neglect and cruelty calls and total number of animal control calls. All are also in the top 10 in terms of number of stray dogs lassoed in by Animal Control.
2) All 5 of thes zip codes are also in the top 8 in total number of both violent and non-violent criminal activity.
3) All 5 have more than twice the city-wide average in number of people living below the poverty level.
4) With the exception of 2 outliers that have a disproportionate number of dog bites in those areas compared to other data points, these numbers translate almost perfectly through the top 15 -- with 12 of the top 15 zip codes in total number of dog bites falling in the top 15 in number of strays, cruelty/neglect charges, total animal control calls and total violent and non-violent crimes.
5) As one would suspect, the bottom 15 on the list reflect these same trends...the middle 15 is much more garbled.
6) These correlations remain consistant when you take out population differences and compare them based on bites/crimes/strays per 1000 people in the population -- as long as you remove the very small population zip codes that easily skew way up or way down due to too small of a sample size.
I'll get into the nitty gritty of this information from time to time -- but you find some interesting information when you take "breed" out of the equation and focus on gaining information vs just a couple of small data points that don't really tell you anything. I will also note that I suspect that Kansas City's numbers are pretty reflective of every other US city and that most cities will find these same things to be true in their cities. Thoughts?
1) If you can control the number of stray dogs and control animal cruelty and neglect, dog bite rates go down. As these issues become more of a problem, bite rates go up.
2) Areas with higher instances of unemployment, have low household incomes or high incidences of poverty tend to have higher crime rates.
3) Bite rates are up in areas with increased crime...presumably because people in high-crime areas will likely encourage their dog to be a "watchdog" that will likely not be able to tell the difference between friend of foe. Dogs often provide the function of low-cost alarm systems in many of these neighborhoods.
So the moral of the story?
1) Enforce current ordinances on cruelty and strays and the "dog-bite problem" goes down.
2) If police can control crime issues, the need for "guard dogs" will go down, causing the "dog bite problem" to decrease.
Tomorrow, why should we all care when city councils focus on the "pit bull problem"?