EDUCATION: Education is the key to preventing dog attacks and promoting safer interactions between humans and dogs. Research shows that just 1 hour of dog safety training in grades 2 and 3 can reduce these attacks by 80%. The city of Calgary, Canada, which has by far the most effective animal control ordinance (with the statistics to prove it), spends a considerable amount of money, time and effort on dog safety public awareness and education campaigns.
LEASH LAWS. Enact, strengthen and enforce leash laws. Owners are responsible for containing their animals, and far too many times, existing leash laws are simply ignored. Quite frankly, if a community cannot enforce the simplest of laws such as a leash law (where there is no question as to whether a dog is or is not on a leash), how can they possibly expect to enforce a breed ban, wherein animal control officers will be forced to question what breed a dog may or many not be?
HOLD OWNERS ACCOUNTABLE: Strengthen and enforce penalties for irresponsible dog owners. Rather than create dangerous dog laws, we should instead focus on “dangerous owner” laws. Problem dogs are the result of irresponsible, negligent and careless owners, and greater focus on the cause of the problem will result in a community that experiences less issues with both “dangerous owners” and their dogs.
Generic dangerous dog laws which address the underlying cause of most dog-related deaths and injuries – irresponsible dog ownership – are a key point in preventing dog related incidents in the community. Good dangerous dog laws place the owner in the position of ensuring that their dog(s) comply with all state and local requirements. Fines for violations can vary, but the leading principle is that dog ownership should be more costly to the irresponsible individuals. Experience has taught us that most bite incidents are examples of irresponsible ownership, not the specific dog breed involved. In other words, we need stricter regulations on dog ownership, no matter what the breed.
Non-breed specific legislation is cost effective in comparison to outright breed ban and is more readily accepted for the most part. More importantly, a well-thought non-breed specific legislation addresses the root cause of most, if not all, dog related injures and deaths, which is the irresponsible dog owner.
Strengthen animal abuse and dog fighting laws. Dogs can become aggressive as the result of cruelty, abuse, neglect and/or otherwise improper care, and proper attention needs to be focused on the owners who inflict these living conditions on their dogs.
Regulate Dog Breeders. Breeders play an important role in the temperament of the dogs they produce and sell. Irresponsible breeding plays a very important role as the mating of two dogs with poor and/or unacceptable temperaments will no doubt result in puppies with unstable temperaments. Moreover, if irresponsible breeders do not screen the individuals they sell their dogs to, you have the potential combination of ill-breed dogs in the hands of irresponsible owners. A disaster in the making.
Provide low cost spay/neuter options for communities. Unneutered dogs, particularly males, are far more likely to attack a human than either neutered males or spayed females. In analyzing over 448 dog attack cases, Karen Delise, author of Fatal Dog Attacks, determined that overwhelmingly, most dogs involved in the attacks were unneutered male dogs that were maintained for reasons other than to be household companions (i.e., yard dogs). Providing lost cost options for the healthcare of dogs, including spay and neuter services, is an excellent way to help dog owners better care for dogs and take more interest in their dog’s healthcare and well-being.