Online Program

Breed Specific Legislation: How policy may not lead to the prevention of dog bites

Monday, November 2, 2015

Vanessa Wheeler Kehr, MPH, Institute for Public Health Research & Innovation, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA
Steven Godin, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Studies, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA
Alberto J.F. Cardelle, PhD, MPH, College of the Health Sciences, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA
To reduce the over four million Americans bitten by dogs annually, policy-makers enacted “Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)” which bans, restricts and regulates ownership of specific dog breeds.    Examples of BSL include mandatory muzzling in public, mandatory spay/neuter, special liability insurance, to name a few.  Petronek, et al., (2013) suggests fatal dog bites are less related to dog breed and more related to the victim’s interaction with the dog, being a stranger,  and/or a history of owner mismanagement.  This study examined 673 participants’ experiences with dogs, history with dog bites and perceptions regarding the BSL regulations.    Of the participants, 41% (n=275) reported having been personally bitten by a dog.  Of those reporting the breed of dog that bit them, only 35% were by dogs listed on the ‘dangerous breed list’.  No difference was found when comparing those bitten vs. those not with attitudes towards restricting owners’ rights and banning certain breeds (ChiSq=.22;NS).  There were significant gender differences in history of dog bites, with 49% of males vs. 39% of females reporting yes (ChiSq= 3.4;p<.05).  The majority of participants (95%) reported no specific breeds should be banned to prevent dog bites.  Yet, more males (9%), compared to females (3%) agreed certain dog breeds should be banned (ChiSq= 6.8;p<.02).  Most participants reported the most effective way to prevent dog bites was to improve owners’ daily management (91%), and educating children on proper interactions with dogs (83%).  The study findings will be discussed in relationship to the needed change in Breed Specific Legislation.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate between the risk factors associated with dog bites in humans. Discuss the limitations of the Breed Specific Legislation in preventing dog bites. Compare gender differences in attitudes towards Breed Specific Legislation.

Keyword(s): Policy/Policy Development, Veterinary Public Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have legislative experience regarding public health policy as it relates to the prevention of dog bites. I am the principal investigator of the research submitted for presentaton.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.