Should you change your behavior if you encounter a neighborhood dog that makes the “bully breed” lists, or are there other indicators that you could be at risk of a dog bite incident?
Learning More About Breed-Specific Laws
What are breed-specific laws, and how do they work? In short, breed-specific laws “ban or restrict ownership of dog breeds believed to be responsible for the most serious attacks on people.” Most frequently, “pit bulls” make the top of the list of dogs that are banned through breed-specific laws, but other breeds often are included, as well. For instance, these laws tend to apply to large breeds such as Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers. According to the American Kennel Club, using the term “pit bull” is problematic in itself because it usually refers to dogs of mixed breeds. In other words, a “pit bull” is not a recognized, registered breed. More problematically, the news release suggests, breed-specific laws do not always work to identify dog bite risks.
Breed restrictions began largely in the 1980s in response to increased news about the dangers posed by pit bulls and other specific dog breeds. Florida was the first state to enact a breed-specific law, and others soon followed. California law prohibits cities or municipalities from enacting breed-specific laws. As the news release explains, however, even states like California in which breed-specific laws are not permitted, some types of regulations pertaining to certain breeds have been “grandfathered in or are part of a home-rule exemption.”
While DogsBite.org alleges that a majority of dog bites in the country can be attributed to pit bulls and other so-called “bully breeds,” numerous groups have disputed these findings. At the same time, some data suggests that locations with breed-specific legislation have lower incidents of dog attacks. Even if we cannot know for certain if breed-specific legislation works, what are some of the key facts that Vista residents should know about dog bite injuries?
Dog Bite Injury Facts
The following facts and figures come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help people prevent dog bite injuries:
- Around 4.5 million people sustain dog bites each year;
- Approximately 20% of all dog bite injuries get infected;
- Children are at highest risk of a dog bite injury, especially kids between the ages of 5 and 9;
- More than 50% of dog bite injuries occur at home with family dogs;
- When an unfamiliar dog approaches you, it is best to stay still, curl into a ball if the dog knocks you over, and immediately report strange behavior to the dog’s owner; and
- If you are bitten, you should immediately seek medical care for deep wounds and properly clean minor wounds.
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(image courtesy of Duffy Brook)