In 1991, the United Kingdom issued its Dangerous Dogs Act which essentially banned four different breeds of dogs that they, at the time, considered more dangerous than other types of dogs: Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Japanese Tosa and American Pit Bull Terrier.
However, statistics contine to show that the legislation has not only been ineffective in promoting pubic safety, it may also have been counter-productive in its efforts.
According to a recent article in The Guardian, there were roughly 1,150 dog bites that led to hospitalization in 1990 -- the year before the DDA was enacted. By 2012, the number had risen steadily to 6,447 -- a whopping 460% increase in major bites. You can get an interactive chart at the link.
Last week, a 14 year old UK girl , Jade Anderson, was tragically killed by 4 dogs in a home where she was alone and visiting. By most accounts in the report, the girl was carrying a meat pie that the dogs were interested in, she tried to keep them away from the food and in the commotion, ended up attacked and killed by the dogs.
Based on the reports, there were three different breeds of dogs involved in the attack.
However, instead of focusing on the circumstances that led up to the attack, and caused it (pack mentality, victim potentially not well known to the dogs, the dogs being very large and too numberous and would not have been able to be handled by a young girl, potential food aggression), the authorities seem to be more focused on determining that none of the dogs involved were unlawful breeds.
Because they seem so focused on what type of dog is involved, they are completely missing the causal factors that may be leading up to the attack. And THUS, many residents of the UK are being misled into thinking they are 'safe' because they have dogs that are not of the restricted breeds instead of making appropriate procautions or being aware of warning signs. While most dogs ARE safe, dog owners certainly need to be aware of what warning signs to look for.
But they don't. And for 20 years people have been led down the path of faulty, misleading information, and the ignorance is causing more and more people to be injured.
Dog attacks are not a breed-specific issue, and when it comes to dogs, there are dozens upon dozens of breeds that are large, strong, and capable of causing harm if they are poorly handled or raised, and have beahvioral issues that are left uncorrected -- especially when the largest number of the severe bite victims (nearly 20%) are under the age of 9 and thus, more vulnerable to bites (and less aware of warning signs given by the canine).
The UK breed ban has been a huge failure -- not only failing to protect the public from severe bites, but actually, through focusing on the wrong issues, having the opposite impact that was intended.
The failure has caused the majority of the professional organizations in the UK to be very vocal in speaking out against the breed ban -- including The British Veterinary Association, Blue Cross, Dogs Trust, the Kennel Club and the RSPCA.
The UK continues to be a glaring example of the failure of focusing on the look of the dog instead of on responsible bet ownership issues and the behavior of the dogs.