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« Dog Attack Fatalities 2011 Final Report | Main | Two year old toddler dies from dog attack (2 weeks ago) »

January 26, 2012



For those looking for good resources for kid/dog safety education, this one has some good info:


This is a topic I never fail to find intriguing. Dog bites were somewhat rare when I was a kid. What with all dogs being intact and all that criminal tethering going on (not to mention no leash laws) it's a miracle any of us survived childhood, but I just don't remember very many dog bites - if any. If you were unfortunate enough to get bitten chances were good you were going to get spanked, because you had to have done SOMETHING to provoke the dog! And neither my husband or me recall anyone being "mauled" or "attacked". Getting kicked by horses was a more common occurrence.

That said, I recognize this is a complex topic, but I have to wonder if there really are more dog bites/attacks today simply because there are more pets, more people, and certainly more interest in reporting dog bites. A kid being bitten by a dog would never have been on the evening news in the 1960s or 1970s. That would have been a non-item.



I don't think bites were really all that rare back in the 70s -- not based on numbers I've seen. I just think everyone expected them so they were no big deal. I just think dog bites were really different.

Back then, dogs were allowed mostly to roam free. As such, they were highly socialized compared to our current home bodies. But, they were also free-roaming, so people did get bitten (and yes, you usually deserved it if you did get bitten).

Now, things are very different. More people own dogs than ever before, but instead of being free roaming, well socialized dogs, they tend to be less socialized but live in our homes where they have greater access to biting the people that own them -- so it's a VERY different situation. Bite numbers do seem to have gone up over the past decade or so --but seemingly at rate that mirrors the increase in human and canine population.

Yvette Veen

New research is out showing that prevention programs do not translate into safer behaviour from children. Full studay states, "all children in the study, no matter which condition they were assigned to tended to display MORE dangerous behavor with the live dog post-intervention than they did pre-intervention..."This is the second evaluation Blue Dog did after a successful first test in 2009. I have a tremendous amount of respect that they are working very hard to quantify results. Abstract available at:


Thanks Yvette -- there are certainly competing studies in this regard with some of them signalling that better educated children = safer children -- but there are a couple of others that state the opposite. This report does note that with citations from several different studies on each side of the equation.


Well then, I guess we can say "reporting dog bites on the news was rare in the 70s (and 60s)". Perhaps even non-existent. In general dogs were not viewed as dangerous creatures during my childhood. I am old and actually lived through the transition of dogs from loving creatures to killers in the entertainment media, although my early recollections of dogs being dangerous are sketchy...

"Old Yeller" - the dog got rabies defending somebody from a wolf (?) so they had to shoot him. This was considered good, clean family entertainment in the 60s, LOL. My dad is still mad because my mom got to take us to see "Old Yeller, and that movie about the dame with the umbrella" and he got stuck with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Now THAT'S a grudge. But I digress...

There was a movie in the early 70s called "The Doberman Gang" where some guys trained some Dobes to rob a bank. Very campy movie, in retrospect. I saw it at the old Ruskin theatre in south Kansas City about 40 years ago (when did I get so old?????). As I recall the dogs were clever rather than dangerous. I'd love to watch that one again.

There was a made for TV movie called "Trapped", I think, in the early to mid-70s where James Brolin was mugged in a department store bathroom and got trapped in the store at closing time. Then the store turned a team of Dobermans loose as security - Because dogs that eat, poop, pee, and leave a lot of blood when they attack people are less trouble than a burglar alarm, LOL. Not sure why he didn't just keep his *** in the bathroom until morning. He had to outsmart the Dobes and kill the dogs one at a time.

Then there was the movie "The Omen" (1976 or so?), which featured a very scary breed unknown to most Americans at the time - the Rottweiler. I knew what they were because I lived in Germany as a kid and the East Germans used them at the border. I remember Russ' brother coming home from Europe in the early 80s (he nearly got trapped in East Germany, but that's another story) talking about those dogs that looked like 'huge scary Labs'.

Then, suddenly, from out of the clear blue sky, for no apparent reason at all, in the late 70s/early 80s a breed that my husband's great aunt and uncle owned when his mother was a child started attacking and killing people nationwide - the "pit bull". My mother in law is 84 and still has all her fingers and toes, even though she used to go to the kennels with her uncle and help feed the dogs. Suddenly dog fighters were stealing your pets to train these dogs to fight, feeding them gunpowder and ground glass, and forcing them to fight. And all of this was making the dogs attack people at unprecedented rates. I remember that ridiculous episode of the TV show Lou Grant about dog fighting - at least they didn't portray the dogs as people aggressive. And then we know how the rest of the 80s went!

Thanks, Brent, for making me feel old!

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