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« Adoption Event TOMORROW, September 13 | Main | Big Week Ahead »

September 14, 2008



No one mentions that 50%+ of fatalities are caused by rehomed,rescue/shelter dog category,even though they comprise only 18-19% of dogs.Are you keeping track of the "where" dog was obtained? this isn't focusing on breed,this is looking at the astronomical chance that 50%+ could have come from this category, in addition to tethering, which allegedly is less than 24% of the cases?



A couple of different thoughts.

#1 I don't buy where you're going with the shelter vs bred dogs. I think no doubt if a dog starts off its life in a good home and is properly trained over its entire life, it is less likely to cause a problem than if it is kept in subpar homes.

#2 I've never seen any numbers on the "dog origin" that I think are remotely reliable

#3 Your whole notion of the bred vs shelter dogs is problematic (at best) because all dogs orginated from a breeder somehwere. So if they started with a breeder, and were then re-homed, it becomes an ownership issue, not a breeding issue, which is my point all along.

#4 I think for a whole host of reasons we're better off promoting shelter dogs. This doesn't mean that we should regulate breeding or anything like that, but I do think there are a whole hose of reasonsto start off with shelter dogs.

#5 I've been very consistent on this in that the "fatality" numbers are so tiny compared to the overall bite numbers that I wouldn't use the numbers for much of anything because I do see them as being statistically relevant.

I think your fighting against MSN in California has caused you to really want to see numbers that don't really exist. I agree with you that MSN is horrible policy, but not for the reasons you create.


I agree about fatalities. The numbers are so small that it's impossible to spot any kind of meaningful trend if it's the dogs you are examining. Just as breed is a red herring that distracts people from the real problem, I feel that anything else to do with the dog, rather than owner behaviour and how the dog is kept will lead down a garden path rather than get to the observed common factors in fatalities and more importantly in terms of numbers, serious bites/attacks.

On reviewing reasonably reputable sources, it seems to come down to unsupervised kids, unsocialized dogs, naive owners with unrealistic expectations and negligent, antisocial people who don't care.

I usually tell novices to go to their local shelter a few times and check out the dogs there. Talk to the people who work there about financial implications, grooming, time requirements, etc in order to have a good dog. Meet a few of the dogs. Take one or two for a walk. Get a feeling of what it's like to interact with an adult dog - a better choice for first-timers in my opinion for many reasons. Then imagine doing it every day for the next 10 years or more, or making arrangements for when you can't. Every single day.

I encourage them to worry less about size, colour, perceived breed, haircoat, etc and to focus on the dog's personality. Is he shy and sharp? Timid? Pushy? Does he react when you speak to him or ignore you? Is he physically insensitive or the opposite? Blah blah.

While personalities change significantly, usually after six months or so, you have to think about your setup. Busy house, lots of people coming and going, kids around, etc? Then you don't want a super alert dog with quick reactions and a sensitive nature. Are you lazy, like to lie around and read the paper, have coffee, go for short walks in good weather only, lead a quiet life? Stay away from goofy, energetic, boisterous dogs because they will drive you nuts when they get bored, which is often.

And so on.


I have seen this allot. When a non-"pit bull" attacks a child the media talks about socialization and the failures of the owner...but when a "pit bull" attacks a child it is because [and only because] the dog is vicious.

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