This is a report that's been out for a month or so but my recent hiatus is causing me to "catch up" a little.
However, in late April, the Health and Social Care Information Center in the UK released a full report on dog bites in the UK.
It found that once again, dog bites are up 6% in the UK -- this is a part of a long-term trend in the number of hospitalizations due to dog bites in the UK that has been going on for years in spite of, or perhaps because of, the nation's insistance on targeting dangerous dogs based on breed instead of based on behavior.
However, maybe the most intereting point of the study is tht they noted that people who lived in the 10% most deprived areas of the nation entered the hospital due to dog bites at a rate of 24.1 persons per 100,000, compared to persons in the the 10% least deprived areas being hospitalized at a rate of 8.1 persons per 100,000.
So, persons living in the least deprived areas of the country were 3x more likely to be victims of dog attacks than people in the most affluent areas.
For several years I've been noting when coving dog attack fatalities in the US that a disproportionate number of incidents happen in areas that are afflicted with very high poverty -- so this mirrors data that we know in the United States as well.
But I think it's very relevant from the standpoint of understanding that there is very strong evidence to indicate that dog attacks are not a breed specific problem, or a problem with dogs in general, but that they're actually a symptom of a larger societal problem in impoverished areas.
The report does not make any conclusions as to why dog attacks are more common in impoverished areas, but based on the evidence I've seen, I have a few theories, some of which are likely working in tandem together to make the statistical difference:
-- Dogs potentially less likely to live in the home as a part of a family unit
-- Inability to afford proper fencing that may lead to dogs being more likely to escape or be chained as a primary form of containment
-- People living in resource deserts are less likely to have access to veterinary instruction or training resources to help identify and deal with problems
-- Dogs may be more likely to roam at large or in packs and these packs less likely to be reported to authorities
-- Higher incidents of dogs being used for guarding or protection purposes
-- Higher incidents of children (the most likely victim) being left unsupervised
Now, I mention all of this with some caution, because I in no means want to imply that low-income people are bad pet owners. That's simply not a true statement. Keep in mind that even in the areas with the highest likelihood of someone being attacked, only .02% of people were badly injured. Even in the toughest areas of the UK, people are VERY safe from dogs, which is a good testiment to the dogs and the people in low-income neighborhoods.
However, it does point that there does seem to be more likelihood that dogs and people are put in more risky situations in these neighborhoods. So given this, if the goal is to even further minimize dog bites (from an already very low level), figuring out which of the potential options above are the biggest causal factors and helping break down those challenges is the key to creating even safer areas.
It's interesting data -- and hopefully we can further use it to cut the .02% number even lower.