ArticlePDF Available


In Canada, public debates on dog attacks are dominated by studies from the United States. An electronic search of media reports in the Canadian Newsstand database, for the years 1990 to 2007, identified 28 fatalities from dog-bite injuries. Predominant factors in this case series were owned, known dogs; residential location; children's unsupervised access to area with dogs; and rural/remote areas, including aboriginal reserves in the prairies. A higher proportion of sled dogs and, possibly, mixed-breed dogs in Canada than in the United States caused fatalities, as did multiple dogs rather than single dogs. Free-roaming dog packs, reported only from rural communities, caused most on-reserve fatalities. Future studies are needed to assess if this rural/urban divide is observed in nonfatal attacks and if the breeds that bite in Canada are different from the breeds that killed. Breed representation in this paper and, perhaps, multiple-dog overrepresentation should be understood in the context of the overall Canadian dog population.
CVJ / VOL 49 / JUNE 2008 577
Fatal dog attacks in Canada, 1990–2007
Malathi Raghavan
Abstract — In Canada, public debates on dog attacks are dominated by studies from the United States. An elec-
tronic search of media reports in the Canadian Newsstand database, for the years 1990 to 2007, identified 28 fatali-
ties from dog-bite injuries. Predominant factors in this case series were owned, known dogs; residential location;
childrens unsupervised access to area with dogs; and rural/remote areas, including aboriginal reserves in the prairies.
A higher proportion of sled dogs and, possibly, mixed-breed dogs in Canada than in the United States caused
fatalities, as did multiple dogs rather than single dogs. Free-roaming dog packs, reported only from rural com-
munities, caused most on-reserve fatalities. Future studies are needed to assess if this rural/urban divide is observed
in nonfatal attacks and if the breeds that bite in Canada are different from the breeds that killed. Breed representa-
tion in this paper and, perhaps, multiple-dog overrepresentation should be understood in the context of the overall
Canadian dog population.
Résumé — Attaques mortelles de chiens au Canada, 1990–2007. Au Canada, le débat public sur les attaques
de chiens est dominé par les études en provenance des États-Unis. Une recherche électronique des articles parus
dans les médias a été réalisée à partir de la base de données du Canadian Newstand pour les années 1990–2007 et
a identifié 28 cas mortels reliés à des morsures de chien. Les facteurs prédominants associés à cette série de cas
étaient reliés à des chiens connus ayant un propriétaire, à une localisation résidentielle, à des enfants ayant un accès
non surveillés à un endroit où se trouvaient des chiens et à des localisations rurales ou éloignées dont les réserves
autochtones des prairies. Une plus forte proportion de chiens de traîneaux et possiblement de chiens de races
croisées étaient impliqués dans les cas mortels recensés au Canada par rapport à ceux recensés aux États-Unis et
les attaques par plusieurs chiens plutôt que par un seul étaient davantage associés aux cas mortels. Des meutes de
chiens en liberté, observées uniquement dans les communautés rurales, ont été responsables de la majorité des
attaques mortelles sur les réserves. D’autres études semblent nécessaires pour vérifier si cette division rurale/urbaine
est observée dans les attaques non mortelles et si au Canada les races qui mordent sont différentes des races qui
tuent. La représentation des races dans cet article et peut-être la surreprésentation des groupes de chiens doivent
être comprises dans le contexte de la population globale de chiens au Canada.
(Traduit par Docteur André Blouin)
Can Vet J 2008;49:577–581
n Canada, 1 to 2 human deaths a year, on average, can be
attributed to dog attacks (1,2), a statistic that is comparable
with the annual average of 15 deaths in the United States (1–3).
Further systematic information is lacking on dog attacks and
related fatalities in Canada. Public discussions on dog attacks are
predominantly influenced by studies conducted in the United
States (3–5). Consequently, any factors unique to Canada, such
as local dog legislation, landscapes and lifestyles, predominant
breeds and lineages, may be overlooked in concerted efforts to
prevent dog attacks.
In 1990, Winnipeg was the first major Canadian jurisdic-
tion among several to ban pit bull (terrier)-type dogs. Ontario
adopted a province-wide ban on pit bulls in 2005. Edmonton
requires that vicious dogs be muzzled in public and that the
American Staffordshire terrier and Staffordshire bull terrier
(breeds often included under pit bull-types) be automatically
considered vicious. The effectiveness of breed-specific legisla-
tion, however, has been questioned for several reasons, includ-
ing the lack of comprehensive Canada-based studies on dog
attacks (6).
Newspaper reports, although not suitable for surveillance or
reporting the rate of occurrence of dog-attack fatalities, contain
information on factors facilitating fatal attacks. Such accounts
were used in the United States to identify factors commonly
encountered in fatal dog attacks (3–5). The present retrospec-
tive, descriptive study was undertaken to summarize factors,
including breeds of dogs, encountered in print-media reports
of fatal dog attacks in Canada.
Office of the Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba,
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3E 3P5.
Address all correspondence to Dr. Raghavan; e-mail:
Reprints will not be available from the author.
578 CVJ / VOL 49 / JUNE 2008
Materials and methods
A systematic electronic search of English newspaper reports
in the Canadian Newsstand database through ProQuest Web
interface (7) was conducted for the period from January 1,
1990, to December 31, 2007. Keywords primarily used in the
search included ‘fatal dog attack,’ ‘fatal dog bite,’ and ‘dog maul-
ing.’ Additional searches combined words such as died,dead,’
death,’ with 1 or more words such as ‘dog,’ ‘pet,’ and ‘pack.’
The electronic search identified 28 dog-attack fatalities for
entry into the study: 2 in 1990; 1 in 1993; 2 in 1994; 3 in
1995; 1 in 1996; 1 in 1997; 5 in 1998; 3 in 1999; 2 in 2002;
2 in 2003; 1 in 2004; 3 in 2006; and 2 in 2007. That is, an
average of 1 to 2 dog-attack deaths a year was reported by the
Canadian press in those years. There was 1 death per attack in
26 incidents; 1 incident in 1998 resulted in 2 deaths. Reports
of injuries without follow-up confirmation of death were not
included in this case series. The death of an elderly man in 2002
was also not included in the above list, as the cause, initially
attributed to an attack by the victims pet dog, was retracted the
following day by the investigating authorities.
Full-text news reports were retrieved to extract and tabulate
information from each case. If more than 1 newspaper reported
an incident simultaneously, then all reports were retrieved,
filed, and read. Details of interest for the study included the
age, sex, and primary residence of victims of the attack; the
number, breed, sex, neuter status, ownership, primary residence,
husbandry, and degree of domestication of dogs implicated in
the attack; place and time of attack; circumstances leading to
the attack; and victims relationship to the implicated dogs and
their owners. When details were not available for some cases,
they were noted as missing.
Twenty-four (85.7%) of the 28 victims were children under 12 y
of age; 4 (14.3%) were adults over 21 y. The median age was
5 y. The youngest victim was aged 1 mo and the oldest 45 y.
Seventeen (60.7%) victims were males.
Twenty (71.4%) victims were found dead at the scene of the
attack. Eight (28.6%) victims that were still alive when found
at the scene of the attack were rushed to receive medical care.
Three among the 8 died at local nursing stations, 4 in hospitals,
and 1 on the way to the nearest hospital, about 75 km away.
In 22 incidents, the victims (19 children and 3 adults) were
alone with the dog(s) at the place and time of the attack. In
10 of these 22 incidents, adult caretakers were in another part
of the house or grounds during the attack. In the remaining
6 incidents, 4 child-victims were attacked in the presence of 1 or
more child-companions and 2 victims (1 adult and 1 child) were
attacked in plain view of the dogs adult-owners. The profiles
for 9 of the 28 victims indicated some familiarity or history
with dogs 5 children were described as dog-lovers,while
3 children and 1 adult had sustained dog-bites previously. In
separate incidents, 2 toddlers were last seen alive playing with
a puppy.
The American Staffordshire terrier, the most widely legislated
breed in Canada in the period under study, caused 1 fatality
(Table 1). The rottweiler, a target of breed-specific legislation
in fewer jurisdictions, and the husky, possibly an unlegislated
breed, caused more fatalities, as did the mixed-breed dogs. The
rottweilers, huskies, and the mixed-breed dogs were also repre-
sented in larger numbers.
Nineteen (67.9%) deaths were caused by multiple-dog
attacks; in 13 of these 19 attacks, all implicated dogs were
owned-dogs. Nine attacks by multiple owned-dogs occurred
during disruptions to the dogs’ husbandry and environment or
in a social group/pack. That is, owned-dogs were either tempo-
rarily moved to another household (with or without dogs of its
own) or were off-property roaming in packs. Free-roaming sled
dogs implicated in 3 deaths had been allowed to inhabit semi-
wild environments without human supervision. However, not
all sled dog attacks occurred when the dogs were freely roam-
ing; 3 attacks occurred when the dogs were penned in. Three
deaths were caused by free-roaming strays, while 3 more were
blamed on packs formed between loosely-owned yard dogs and
free-roaming strays.
In general, all 9 deaths caused by free-roaming dog-packs
were reported only from remote areas and they contributed
to 7 of 11 fatalities reported from aboriginal reserves in the
northern prairies (Table 2). The issue of possible starvation was
raised after several on-reserve attacks, and 3 attacks by sled dog
packs involved extensive soft tissue loss from victims’ bodies.
Sexually intact male dogs, separated from a bitch in estrus in
the household, were implicated in 1 single-dog and 1 multiple-
dog attack. Owned male and female dogs implicated in at least
7 deaths were described as breeding stock and were likely intact
when the incidents occurred. Although dogs’ gender and neuter
status were not routinely reported, it is assumed that several
implicated dogs, such as yard dogs, were likely intact.
Several predominant factors in this case series have been iden-
tified previously in dog-bite deaths in the United States and
Australia (2–4); namely, children; males; unrestrained dogs;
childrens unsupervised access to areas with restrained or unre-
strained dogs; owned, known dogs; and residential location. The
results also reflect the findings from Canadian hospital-based
reviews of non-fatal dog-bite injuries that children were more
likely to be bitten by known dogs, at home, in summer, between
4 and 8 pm (8,9), and suggest that dog attacks are influenced
by accessibility to and interaction with children, and, therefore,
up to a certain point, preventable.
Fatalities, however, were disproportionately high in rural/
remote Canada, including on reserves, although only 22% of
Canadas population lives in rural areas and an estimated 1.3%
on reserves (10,11). Approximately 3 out of every 4 reported
Canadian deaths were caused by multiple dogs, whereas fewer
than one-third of US fatalities from 1979 through 1994 were
caused by multiple dogs (3,4). A higher proportion of sled dogs
and, possibly, mixed-breed dogs caused fatalities in Canada than
in the United States (5). The frequency at which sled dogs and
CVJ / VOL 49 / JUNE 2008 579
mixed breed dogs are encountered in the larger Canadian dog
population is not known.
In the United States, pit bull-type dogs and rottweilers were
involved in more than half of 238 dog-attack deaths; they were
followed by German shepherds, husky-type dogs, and malamutes
in the number of deaths caused (5). However, as pit bull-type
dogs gradually, and almost singularly, came under legislation
in several Canadian jurisdictions, this breed-types ranking
in the present retrospective study cannot be compared easily
with the ranking from the earlier US-based study. In nonfatal
aggressive incidents, the pit bull did rank highest in 2000 and
2001 (2.84 bite incidents per 100 licensed dogs of this breed
type) in 1 Canadian municipality (Edmonton, Alberta) (12).
Other breeds that followed in this municipality included the
rottweiler (1.60 bite incidents per 100 licensed), Akita (1.52),
mastiff (1.47), Dalmatian (1.40), and Great Dane (1.21) (12).
The rottweiler, by causing 21 of the 72 non-fatal injuries attrib-
uted to dogs from known breeds, ranked 1st in a hospital-based
summary of dog bites in children (9).
Irrespective of breed, inadvertently creating the circumstance
for multiple dogs, whether owned or stray, to form packs with-
out human supervision may have been a major dog-related
factor underlying the pattern of the fatalities identified in this
study. Kneafsey and Condon (13) have reported that in a pack
situation, once an aggressive act is initiated, whether as a playful
nip or a serious bite, individually benign dogs may join in and
the pack instinct escalates the attack until the victim is killed
or the dogs are driven off. Other factors thought to facilitate
Table 1. Dogs implicated in the 28 newspaper reports on fatal attacks in Canada,
(%) of
28 fatalities
Number of dogs implicated in victims death
1 9 (32.1)
2–3 6 (21.4)
4–6 8 (28.6)
8 4 (14.3)
Multiple dogs; number not reported 1 (3.6)
Domestication, socialization of dogs
Owned 25 (89.3)
Pet, farm, or yard dogs 19 (67.9)
Guard dogs 1 (3.6)
Sled dogs 7 (25.0)
Wild or stray dogs roaming in packs 6 (21.4)
Owned dogs’ familiarity with victims
Belonged to or temporarily housed with victims family 10 (35.7)
Belonged to relative, friend, or neighbor of victims family 8 (28.6)
Unrelated 8 (28.6)
Unknown/not reported 1 (3.6)
Owned dogs’ access to victim
on property; unsupervised victim in dogs’ area 8 (28.6)
Unrestrained on property 7 (25.0)
off property; unsupervised victim in dogs’ area 2 (7.1)
Unrestrained off property; wandering in packs 6 (21.4)
Unknown/not reported 3 (10.7)
Owned dogs’ history of aggression
Towards people 5 (17.9)
Towards animals 2 (7.1)
No history 4 (14.3)
Unknown/not reported 14 (50.0)
Breeds (total numbers) of dogs implicated
Reports quoting dog owner or knowledgeable authority (n = 48) 16 (57.1)
American Staffordshire terrier (2) 1 (3.6)
Husky, Labrador (8); husky, Siberian (2) 3 (10.7)
Rottweiler (7) 3 (10.7)
“Sled dog” (22) 4 (14.3)
Rottweiler-German shepherd crossbreed (1) 1 (3.6)
(6) 6 (21.4)
Reports not quoting dog owner or knowledgeable authority
7 (25.0)
Mixed breed/breed not specified (. 34) 7 (25.0)
Number may add up to greater than a total of 28 (or respective subtotal) because dogs from more than
1 category were implicated in some attacks
Total number of dogs per category has not been tabulated
Based on a subtotal of 25 owned dogs
Includes any method used to separate dogs from people including tethering, fencing in, etc
Represents 1 dog each from the following breeds: Border collie; bull mastiff; chow chow; Labrador cross;
malamute; Maremma
Public perception of dangerous breeds may influence breed-reporting by layperson
Includes 1 or more dogs from the following breeds or their crossbreeds: chow chow, German shepherd,
husky, rottweiler, pit bull-type
580 CVJ / VOL 49 / JUNE 2008
the initiation of attacks on humans by dogs include a possible
genetic predisposition toward aggressiveness; male gender; intact
reproductive status; poor health; late, inadequate training and
socialization; lack of supervision; defense of territory or puppies;
hunger; predatory experience; pack-dog experience; assertion of
social dominance; age, size and behavior of victims; and absence
of other people in the vicinity (1,5,13,14). It may be that chil-
dren, while being curious about dogs, are less experienced in
reading signals when dogs are alarmed, provoked, or plainly
aggressive, and when attacked, are unable to defend themselves.
Discussions on why children are more often the victims of dog
attacks and what can be done to prevent such attacks have been
published (13–15).
The year 1990 was chosen as the start of the study period, as
all Canadian regions came to be represented in the news data-
base by this year. Some deaths from infections, complications,
or hospitalizations following non-newsworthy dog-bite injuries
may not have been reported by newspapers. For this reason,
newspaper reports are not usually suitable for reporting the
rate of occurrence of dog-attack fatalities. The number under-
reported or missed in this news search, however, is expected to
be minimal, as the reported deaths were found to agree with
mortality data from traditional sources. The validation was
done in a piecemeal fashion for 12 of the 17 y studied, as no
known national surveillance on dog attacks exists. Canadian
vital statistics available for the years 2000 to 2004 attributed a
total of 6 deaths nationwide to the cause ‘Bitten or struck by
dog (W54)’; specifically, 3, 2, and 1 deaths, respectively, were
recorded for 2002, 2003, and 2004 (16). Six fatalities had previ-
ously been recorded nationwide between 1994 and 1996, using
data from Statistics Canada (1). An average of 1 fatality a year
between 1991 and 1994 had also been reported, using data from
Statistics Canada (8). Press-reported details surrounding 2 deaths
in 1998 and 1 death in 1999 were confirmed in scholarly pub-
lications based on these deaths (1,9). Localized data available
from emergency departments and hospitals in Canada indicated
a very low case-fatality rate (0.07% and 0, respectively, annually)
for dog-bite related injuries (8,9), but patients from the catch-
ment areas who died before they could be seen at either facility
were not counted. Only 4 of the 28 victims in the present study
were seen in hospitals. Together, these facts suggest that rely-
ing on hospital data alone could lead to an underestimation of
dog-bite-related fatalities and provide further justification for
the use of press-reports as the basis for this study.
In conclusion, the multidimensional public health issue
of fatal dog attacks appears to disproportionately affect rural
and remote sections of the Canadian population. Larger, well-
designed studies should assess if nonfatal dog-bite injury rates
are higher in rural than urban Canada and if the breeds that
bite in Canada are different from the breeds that kill. Breed
representation in this study, along with the overrepresentation
of multiple-dog households/situations, should be understood in
the context of the make-up of the larger Canadian dog popula-
tion. The frequency at which different breeds and multiple-dog
households are encountered in Canada was not addressed in this
study. The study did not evaluate the effectiveness of legislation
targeting dogs, dog breeds, and dog-owner practices that have
been adopted by various municipalities across Canada over time.
Future studies should be designed to appropriately evaluate the
effectiveness of dog-bite awareness campaigns and dog-control
legislation, whether directed at the level of breeds, individual
dogs, or dog-owner practices, in Canada.
1. Avis SP. Dog pack attack: Hunting humans. Am J Forensic Med Pathol
2. Ozanne-Smith J, Ashby K, Stathakis VZ. Dog bite and injury preven-
tion — analysis, critical review, and research agenda. Inj Prev 2001;7:
3. Sacks JJ, Sattin RW, Bonzo SE. Dog bite-related fatalities from 1979
through 1988. JAMA 1989;262:1489–1492.
4. Sacks JJ, Lockwood R, Hornreich J, Sattin W. Fatal dog attacks,
1989–1994. Pediatrics 1996;97:891–895.
5. Sacks JJ, Sinclair L, Gilchrist J, Golab GC, Lockwood R. Breeds of dogs
involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and
1998. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:836–840.
6. Ledger RA, Orihel JS, Clarke N, Murphy S, Sedlbauer M. Breed specific
legislation: considerations for evaluating its effectiveness and recom-
mendations for alternatives. Can Vet J 2005;46:735–743.
7. Canadian Newsstand [database on the Internet]. Ann Arbor (MI):
ProQuest LLC. Available from Last
accessed 2/22/2008.
8. Flores J, Brown J, Mackenzie SG, Maurice P. Innovative CHIRPP
project focuses on dog bites. CHIRPP News 1997;11:3–7.
9. Lang ME, Klassen T. Dog bites in Canadian children: a five-year review
of severity and emergency department management. Can J Emerg Med
Table 2. Place and time of attack in the 28 newspaper-reported
fatal dog attacks in Canada, 1990–2007
Number (%) of
28 fatalities
Region (Provinces or Territories)
Atlantic (Newfoundland, New Brunswick) 3 (10.7)
Central (Quebec, Ontario) 8 (28.6)
Prairie (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta) 13 (46.4)
Western (British Columbia) 1 (3.6)
Northern (Northwest Territories, Nunavut) 3 (10.7)
Urban, metropolitan 1 (3.6)
Suburban 3 (10.7)
Small, rural, or remote community 24 (85.7)
Aboriginal reserves 11 (39.3)
Rural, remote municipality 11 (39.3)
Uninhabited island 2 (7.1)
Private property 17 (60.7)
Victims residence 9 (32.1)
Other residence 8 (28.6)
In home 3 (10.7)
Yard 13 (46.4)
No information 1 (3.6)
Public space 11 (39.3)
Street, road, highway 7 (25.0)
Sea ice/outdoors 2 (7.1)
Uninhabited island 2 (7.1)
Season (months)
Winter (Dec–Feb) 7 (25.0)
Spring (Mar–May) 6 (21.4)
Summer (Jun–Aug) 11 (39.3)
Fall (Sep–Nov) 4 (14.3)
Time of day
Morning (0800–1200) 6 (21.4)
Afternoon (1200–1600) 2 (7.1)
Evening/night (1600–2400) 8 (28.6)
Unknown/not reported 12 (42.9)
CVJ / VOL 49 / JUNE 2008 581
10. Rural and Remote Canada Online [homepage on the Internet]. FAQ.
What is the population of rural Canada? [updated 2008 February 28].
Available from
5&faq_id=61&lang=eng. Last accessed 2/28/2008.
11. Statistics Canada [homepage on the Internet] Census, 2001 census,
Data products, Analysis series, Aboriginal Peoples of Canada: A demo-
graphic profile, Canada. Available at:
census01/Products/Analytic/companion/abor/canada.cfm. Last accessed
12. City of Edmonton. Planning and Development Department,
Community Services Committee. Animal licensing and control bylaw
provisions related to restricted breeds. Written by Leeb D (May 30,
2003). Agenda item no.: F.4.b. Available from the Office of the
City Clerk.
13. Kneafsey B, Condon KC. Severe dog-bite injuries, introducing the
concept of pack attack: A literature review and seven case reports. Injury
14. Borchelt PL, Lockwood R, Beck AM, Voith VL. Attacks by packs of
dogs involving predation on human beings. Public Health Rep 1983;
15. Love MM. How anticipating relationships between dogs and children
can help prevent disasters. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:446–453.
16. Statistics Canada [homepage on the Internet] CANSIM. Canadian Vital
Statistics, Death Database [database on the Internet]. External causes
of morbidity and mortality. [updated 2008 January 30]. Available at:
CII_1_E.HTM&RootDir=CII/&LANG=E. Last accessed 2/21/2008.
... An even worse condition was seen regarding practice, with only 19.4% following good practices. Studies conducted in other areas of Pakistan also showed similar poor knowledge and [13][14][15] practice. ...
... These results are in 19 accordance with a study conducted in India. 13 Similarly, researches conducted in Pakistan. 11 20 Nigeria and Iran showed that illiterate people had poor knowledge and practices. ...
... This also gave them a chance to inspect their feet. Similar 13 finding was reported in studies done at Lahore 15 and Karachi where 89% and 87.5% of respondents said that they washed their feet regularly. Environmental factors were also found to be playing a part in affecting practices, e.g., about two-thirds of patients did not wear socks regularly, and most of them reported the extremely hot temperature to be the cause of non-adherence to this healthy practice. ...
... There is a substantial worldwide amount of evidence (e.g., [31,[34][35][36][37][38][39]) indicating that the following breeds are most commonly involved in biting incidents targeting humans: Dachshunds, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Bull-type breeds such as Pit Bull Terriers. Small dogs, such as the Jack Russell Terrier group (consisting of the Jack Russell Terrier [40] and Parson Russell Terrier [41] as recognised by CMKU, the Czech branch of Fédération cynologique internationale (FCI)), are excitable and more prone to respond aggressively towards humans (including household members [35]) or other dogs than are some larger breeds [32,35,42,43]. ...
... Additionally, cross-breeds or unregistered dogs are responsible for a large percentage of human-directed biting incidents [5,8,31,36,38]. Records show that Jack Russell Terriers and Pit Bull Terriers frequently display aggressive behaviour towards strangers and other dogs [35]. Studies from many countries indicate that the majority of child victims of biting incidents are bitten by dogs of their own household or dogs familiar to their family members [5,8,31,36,38,47]. ...
... Records show that Jack Russell Terriers and Pit Bull Terriers frequently display aggressive behaviour towards strangers and other dogs [35]. Studies from many countries indicate that the majority of child victims of biting incidents are bitten by dogs of their own household or dogs familiar to their family members [5,8,31,36,38,47]. ...
Full-text available
Dog attacks on children are a widespread problem, which can occur when parents fail to realize a potentially dangerous interaction between a dog and a child. The aim of the study was to evaluate the ability of parents to identify dangerous situations from several everyday child–dog interactions and to determine whether the participants connected these situations to a particular breed of dog. Five sets of photographs depicting potentially dangerous interactions from everyday situations between children and three dogs (one of each breed) were presented via an online survey to parents of children no more than 6 years old. Data from 207 respondents were analysed using proc GLIMMIX in SAS program, version 9.3. The probability of risk assessment varied according to dog breed (p < 0.001) as well as to the depicted situation (p < 0.001). Results indicated that Labrador Retriever was considered the least likely of the three dogs to be involved in a dangerous dog-child interaction (with 49% predicting a dangerous interaction), followed by Parson Russell Terrier (63.2%) and American Pit Bull Terrier (65%). Participants considered one particular dog-child interaction named ‘touching a bowl’ a dangerous interaction at a high rate (77.9%) when compared with the other presented situations, which were assessed as dangerous at rates of 48.4% to 56.5%. The breed of dog seems to be an influential factor when assessing a potentially dangerous outcome from a dog-child interaction. Contrary to our hypothesis, interactions involving the small dog (Russell Terrier) were rated more critically, similarly to those of the Pit Bull Terrier. These results suggest that even popular family dog breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, should be treated with more caution.
... Victims are suddenly bitten by dogs they own or know, and the child's behavior (running and yelling) triggers predatory behavior in the dog [13]. Additionally, children are often not able to read the warning body language displayed by dogs prior to an attack [14] Their height would explain the predominant location of head and neck injuries. It is important to consider that leaving a dog with a child unsupervised can facilitate the presentation of the attack, leading to the aforementioned injuries. ...
... Other authors mentioned that the heritability of aggressiveness is low in the canine population in general, but that despite this low heritability, it may be higher in some individuals [16]; thus, through selective breeding, we could reduce aggressive and fearful behaviors in these cases [17]. Additionally, other factors that stand out are pain, fear due to late and inappropriate socialization, defense of territory or defense of their puppies, lack of social interaction with humans, predatory behavior [16], age, size and behavior of the victims and absence of other people in the surroundings [14]. Another factor that is generally included as an influence on the presentation of aggressiveness in dogs is the reproductive status of the animal (neutered or entire); however, there is still an important discussion in this regard, with multiple results found in the scientific literature, such as no effect on this behavior [18], decreased aggressiveness [19][20][21][22][23][24] or increased aggressiveness [25][26][27]. ...
... In 57.6% (19/33) of the articles, the sex of the victim was identified as male. Examples of these investigations are those carried out in the US [7,12,19,29], Canada [14] and Spain [30,31]. These results are consistent with those found in Europe by Sarenbo and Svensson [11], where fatal attacks occur more frequently in men of all age groups, with the exception of those over 80 years of age [11]. ...
Full-text available
Canine bites are an important public health problem, with consequences such as physical injuries, psychological trauma, transmission of zoonoses, infections and they can even cause death. To avoid deaths caused by this type of bite, multiple factors related to this issue must be considered. The objective of this review was to search and analyze the indexed scientific literature on canine bites resulting in death, published during the period 2013–2017. A search was carried out in various databases of indexed literature, in Spanish and English. After selecting and excluding items using PRISMA, they were classified according to SIGN guidelines to filter out the level of evidence and potential biases. Thirty-three scientific articles were retrieved and analyzed. In most of these, victims between 50 and 64 years of age (28.6%, 8/28) were registered. Additionally, in most of the articles, only one animal participated (80%, 16/20). The highest number of events occurred in public spaces (58.5%, 7/12). In conclusion, most of the scientific articles that report incidents of dog bites resulting in death, provide details about the victims, their injuries and the treatment received; however, few articles provide background information on the context of the attack and the biting animal.
... However, they also pose various threats to human health. The most significant is physical injury due to dog attacks and bites, which can vary in severity (Mills & Westgarth, 2017), potentially be fatal (Raghavan, 2008), and cause psychological sequelae (Dhillon et al., 2019). Dogs can also transmit several zoonotic agents to humans (Macpherson et al., 2013), notably rabies (Fooks et al., 2014). ...
... Determinants were found at each of the model's levels, both the micro levelchild, family, and social situation (dog variables)and the macro-level. Some of the determinants identified in this study have been documented previously, such as children's insufficient knowledge about safe interactions with dogs; children's insufficient knowledge about dog needs, care, and training; insufficient adult supervision during dog-child interactions; and insufficient dog training, care, and feeding (Abraham & Czerwinski, 2018;Lakestani & Donaldson, 2015;Patronek et al., 2013;Raghavan, 2008;Shen et al., 2016). Other determinants would seem to be less well documented and may be context specific, notably the various values attributed to dogs in the village and children's sensation seeking and boredom. ...
Full-text available
While dogs can have a positive impact on physical and mental health, they also represent a public health risk in terms of bites and zoonotic diseases. In the specific context of Inuit villages, the role, care, and value of dogs are culturally different than in southern Canada. Furthermore, rabies is endemic to the region. Dogs are frequently kept outside, and the risk of bites and deadly attacks is higher than in southern Canada, particularly in children. Thus, reducing at-risk interactions between children and dogs through prevention programs requires a strong understanding of the unique dog–child relationship in this particular setting. This study used quantitative and qualitative research methods to examine the characteristics of interactions that put children at risk in Kuujjuaq, an Inuit village in Quebec, Canada. Data were collected using 40 observational walks, 34 semi-structured interviews, and 31 conversational interviews. Seven types of at-risk child–dog interactions were identified: showing affection to the dog, ignoring the dog, playing with the dog, running away from the dog, intervening during a dog fight, attacking the dog, and untying the dog. According to interviewees, the last four types of interaction put children’s health directly at risk. All interactions were directly observed, though rarely, except for the untying of dogs. The interview analysis identified several determinants for these at-risk interactions at the child, family, socio-situational, and macro levels. As some of these determinants are modifiable, these findings advocate for a multifaceted educational intervention that targets children, parents, dog owners, and the whole community, while respecting the particular context of Kuujjuaq. This study offers specific insights that could guide the development of a socio-culturally sensitive education program aimed at improving the relationship between children and dogs in Inuit villages and thereby reducing the incidence of dog bites.
... Unprovoked bites can sometimes relate to predation. Predation bites are more likely to happen with packs of loose dogs, and generally cause more severe wounds (57,58). The reviewed papers also discussed the role of factors more specifically related to Indigenous northern communities, including sociocultural characteristics, ethnicity and some structural and environmental factors. ...
Full-text available
The relationship between northern Indigenous people and dogs has evolved over the past years alongside events such as colonization, settlement, proliferation of snowmobiling and other socio-cultural and environmental changes. These changes have had negative impacts on this relationship, and with the endemic presence of arctic fox rabies, dog bites have become an important public health burden. The objective of this study was to synthesize the state of knowledge regarding the occurrence of dog bites and associated risk factors in the specific context of northern Indigenous communities. A scoping review was conducted in seven bibliographic databases, from June 2018 to May 2020. From this search, 257 original studies were identified and eight papers were included for final analysis. Annual occurrence of dog bites in northern Indigenous communities ranged from 0.61 to 59.6/10,000 inhabitants. Dog bites affected 27–62.9% of the population in those regions during their lifetime. Very few studies compared the occurrence of dog bites between people living in northern communities with other populations or settings, but available evidence suggests that Indigenous people living in northern communities are at higher risk of dog bites than the rest of the population. Several individual and environmental risk factors were identified in the selected studies, although the strength of evidence varied significantly. Age (children) and gender (male) were well documented individual risk factors. Other factors, such as organizational barriers to dog management and lack of access to veterinary services, were identified and discussed by several authors. The results of this study support concerns about the higher risk of bites in northern Indigenous communities, and underscore the urgent need for more research into the contextual and environmental factors that impact the mitigation of these risks.
... Open access admitted, 7% needed operations and 0.3% resulted in fatalities. 9 Children are over-represented in fatal dog attacks; in the USA, 55.6% of victims were less than 10 years old, 10 in Canada 86% were under 12 years old, 11 while in Europe 16% were less than 10, with 3% less than a year old. 12 UK fatality numbers are unknown. ...
Full-text available
Background Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic include strict public health measures, such as national lockdowns. During these measures, paediatric emergency department attendances have declined and the prevalence of presenting complaints has changed. This study sought to identify whether dog bite attendance and victim demographics changed during COVID-19 public health measures. Methods An audit was conducted of emergency department attendance data from a UK tertiary paediatric hospital between January 2016 and September 2020. Dog bite attendance and victim demographics were explored using χ ² tests and multivariable Poisson regression. The mean monthly percentage of attendance due to dog bites in 2020 was compared against predicted percentages based on previous years’ data. Results Dog bite attendance rose in conjunction with the introduction of COVID-19 public health measures and reached a peak in July 2020 (44 dog bites, 1.3% of all attendances were due to dog bites). This was a threefold increase in dog bite attendance. By September 2020, attendance had returned to normal. The demographic profile of child dog bite victims remained the same. Boys had the highest attendance rates in 7–12 year-olds, girls in 4–6 year-olds. Girls showed higher attendance rates in the summer, while boys’ attendance rates were constant throughout the year. COVID-19 public health measures were associated with a 78% increase in attendance for boys and a 66% increase in girls. Conclusions COVID-19 national public health measures were associated with an increase in paediatric emergency department dog bite attendance, and may be due to increased child exposure to dogs via ‘stay at home’ orders and school closures. National lockdowns are likely to continue globally throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; this is likely to result in more dog bites. Urgent public health communication and injury prevention strategies are needed to help prevent these avoidable injuries.
... We chose content analysis because we aimed to objectively describe and analyse attitudes within the southern African media (Nandy & Sarvela, 1997). The approach is common in environment and wildlife studies with similar aims to those here (Houston et al., 2010;Jacobson, Langin, Carlton, & Kaid, 2012;Raghavan, 2008). Following a scoping literature review, we chose 29 keywords pertaining to HEC mitigation (see Supplementary Table 1). ...
African elephant populations are under substantial anthropogenic pressure but these are not spatially homogenous. Elephant densities are high in parts of southern Africa, leading to conflict with human populations. Conservationists working to mitigate impacts of human-elephant conflict (HEC) will turn to mechanisms or incentives to achieve this, mostly financial (such as compensation, or income generation through tourism). Little is known about the attitudes of stakeholders' (such as farmers) toward financial incentives used to mitigate conflict. Here we carried out a content analysis of stakeholder evaluative expression, or valence, using reports from the southern African news media. We sourced 428 separate news articles over the past ten years, and quantitatively assessed stakeholder valence on the financial mechanisms used to mitigate human-elephant conflict. We found that stakeholder attitudes or valence differed across countries and that stakeholders were generally positive, even with regard to controversial mechanisms such as trophy hunting. Our work has some implication for conservation policy.
Dog bites are a public health problem worldwide, and Portugal is not an exception. Thus, it is fundamental to develop effective prevention programs and interventions strategies using evidence-based information. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated single dog bite incidents in Portugal retrospectively through an online survey. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study analyzing dog bite consequences for both people and dogs at a national level in Portugal. A total of 729 valid responses of bite incidents were received. The characteristics of the people, dogs, and consequences of the incidents for both were analyzed. The mean age of the people was 28.2 years (range: 9 months - 89 years), and 78.1% of the people were female. The majority of dogs involved were male (71.1%), and were familiar to the person (78.7%). More than half of the bites were on the upper extremities (58.1%). In 78.3% of the incidents, the bites did not require medical intervention. Among the incidents requiring medical care, 18.6% of the incidents required surgical intervention. Single bites were more frequent (87.2%). While 75% of the single bite incidents resulted in minor injury, this number was reduced to 61% for multiple bite incidents. Children who are under 12 years old had a relatively higher number of head injuries (22.3%) than the other age groups. While in 58.3% of the incidents, nothing happened to the dog as a consequence, eleven dogs (1.9%) were euthanized. The odds of major injuries leading to the dog´s euthanasia were 4.3 times higher than that of the minor injuries (95% confidence intervals (CI95), 1.3 - 14.2). Biting is a natural and preventable behavior, that deserves better mitigation strategies with a deeper understanding of the risk and protective factors. The results of this study contribute to creating a scientific basis for the investigation of dog bites in Portugal.
Background The prevention of dog bites is an increasingly important public health topic, as the incidence of serious injury continues to rise. Objectives To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to prevent dog bites and aggression. Methods Online databases were searched (PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase and Google Scholar), using the search terms: dog/s, canine, canis, kuri, bite/s, bitten, aggression, attack, death, fatal, mortality, injury/ies, prevention, intervention , for studies between 1960 and 2021. All study designs were considered. Outcomes of interest were the incidence of dog bites or dog aggression. Non-English studies, and those without full-text access were excluded. Results Forty-three studies met the review criteria, including 15 observational and 27 interventional studies. Fifteen studies investigating dog-control legislation, including leash laws, stray dog control and infringements indicated this can reduce dog bite rates. Breed-specific legislation had less of an effect. Six studies investigating sterilisation, showed while this may reduce dog bites through a reduction in the dog population, the effect on dog aggression was unclear. An alcohol reduction programme showed a significant reduction in dog bite rates in one study. Seven studies assessing educational approaches found that intensive adult-directed education may be effective, with one study showing child-directed education was not effective. Eight studies on dog training (two police-dog related), and six evaluating dog medication or diet were generally low quality and inconclusive. Conclusions Multiple strategies including effective engagement with indigenous communities and organisations will be required to reduce dog-bites and other incidents involving dog aggression. This review provides some evidence that legislated dog control strategies reduce dog bite rates. Available evidence suggests greater restrictions should be made for all dogs, rather than based on breed alone. Due to a burden of child injury, protection of children should be a focus of legislation and further investigations. Prevention strategies in children require redirection away from a focus on child-directed education and future research should investigate the effectiveness of engineering barriers and reporting strategies.
Technical Report
Advice of the French Food Safety Agency on the risk of dog bites and the relevance of breed specific laws made by a subgroup of the Animal Health and Welfare Committee. An evaluation of risk process : identification of the hazard, evaluation of risk i.e emission X expostion and consequences. Advice given on demand of Department of Agriculture related to Laws of 1999, 2007 and 2008 concerning dangerous dogs. Relevance of categorization of dog breeds is discussed as well as the methods of behavioural evaluation.
Full-text available
Dog bites are a medical problem for millions of people, children being the most common victims. Human deaths attributable to dog bite injury (not rabies) are relatively infrequent. There have been some epidemiologic reviews, but this study is the first attempt to arrive at an understanding of bites involving predation on human beings by conducting behavioral examinations under controlled conditions of the dogs involved, and by interviewing victims, witnesses, and people familiar with the animals.The three cases studied involved two fatalities and an attack that was nearly fatal. The victims were 11, 14, and 81. In each case, owned pet dogs consumed some human tissue. The severity of the victims' injuries was not the consequence of a single dog bite, but the result of repeated attacks by dogs behaving as a social group. Factors that might contribute to a dog's regarding human beings as potential prey were examined, including hunger, prior predation, group behaviors, defense of territory, previous interactions with people, the presence of estrous female dogs, and environmental stimuli. In two of the cases, it was possible, by using similar stimuli, to duplicate the circumstances at the time of the attack.The results of the observations showed the value of behavioral analysis and simulations methods in evaluating possible factors in dog attacks.Among the many factors probably involved in severe dog attacks are the size, number, and nutritional status of the dogs; the dogs' previous aggressive contacts with people; the victim's age, size, health, and behavior; and the absence of other human beings in the vicinity.
Full-text available
To update data on fatal dog bites and see if past trends have continued. To merge data from vital records, the Humane Society of the United States, and searches of electronic news files. United States. U.S. residents dying in the U.S. from 1989 through 1994 from dog bites. We identified 109 dog bite-related fatalities, of which 57% were less than 10 years of age. The death rate for neonates was two orders of magnitude higher than for adults and the rate for children one order of magnitude higher. Of classifiable deaths, 22% involved an unrestrained dog off the owner's property, 18% involved a restrained dog on the owner's property, and 59% involved an unrestrained dog on the owner's property. Eleven attacks involved a sleeping infant; 19 dogs involved in fatal attacks had a prior history of aggression; and 19 of 20 classifiable deaths involved an unneutered dog. Pit bulls, the most commonly reported breed, were involved in 24 deaths; the next most commonly reported breeds were rottweilers (16) and German shepherds (10). The dog bite problem should be reconceptualized as a largely preventable epidemic. Breed-specific approaches to the control of dog bites do not address the issue that many breeds are involved in the problem and that most of the factors contributing to dog bites are related to the level of responsibility exercised by dog owners. To prevent dog bite-related deaths and injuries, we recommend public education about responsible dog ownership and dog bite prevention, stronger animal control laws, better resources for enforcement of these laws, and better reporting of bites. Anticipatory guidance by pediatric health care providers should address dog bite prevention.
Full-text available
To summarize breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks during a 20-year period and to assess policy implications. Dogs for which breed was reported involved in attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 that resulted in human dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF). Data for human DBRF identified previously for the period of 1979 through 1996 were combined with human DBRF newly identified for 1997 and 1998. Human DBRF were identified by searching news accounts and by use of The Humane Society of the United States' registry databank. During 1997 and 1998, at least 27 people died of dog bite attacks (18 in 1997 and 9 in 1998). At least 25 breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 human DBRF during the past 20 years. Pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers were involved in more than half of these deaths. Of 227 reports with relevant data, 55 (24%) human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off their owners' property, 133 (58%) involved unrestrained dogs on their owners' property, 38 (17%) involved restrained dogs on their owners' property, and 1 (< 1%) involved a restrained dog off its owner's property. Although fatal attacks on humans appear to be a breed-specific problem (pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers), other breeds may bite and cause fatalities at higher rates. Because of difficulties inherent in determining a dog's breed with certainty, enforcement of breed-specific ordinances raises constitutional and practical issues. Fatal attacks represent a small proportion of dog bite injuries to humans and, therefore, should not be the primary factor driving public policy concerning dangerous dogs. Many practical alternatives to breed-specific ordinances exist and hold promise for prevention of dog bites.
Full-text available
To analyze Australian dog bite injury data and make international comparisons; to review risk and protective factors relating to the dog, injured person, and environment; and to recommend action for prevention and research. Australian dog bite injury data, complemented by detailed Victorian and regional data from routine health records and vital statistics, were analyzed to determine incidence, severity, nature, circumstances, and trends. International comparison data were extracted from published reports. Risk and protective factor studies were selected for review from electronic and bibliographic searches where data were recent, sample sizes substantial, and bias limited. The Australian dog bite death rate (0.004/100,000) is lower than both the United States (0.05-0.07/100,000) and Canadian rates (0.007/100,000). Victorian hospitalized trend rates were stable between 1987 and 1998, but there was a decline for children <5 years (p=0.019) corresponding with a reduction in dog ownership. Children 0-4 years have the highest rate of serious injury, particularly facial. Adults have longer hospitalizations, most frequently for upper extremity injury. Risk factors include: child, males, households with dogs, certain breeds, male dogs, home location, and leashed dog. Dog bite rates are high and it may therefore be assumed that current preventative interventions are inadequate. Responsible dog ownership, including separating young children from dogs, avoiding high risk dogs, neutering, regulatory enforcement, and standardized monitoring of bite rates are required. Controlled investigations of further risk and protective factors, and validated methods of breed identification, are needed.
By combining data from the National Center for Health Statistics and computerized searching of news stories, we identified 157 dog bite-related fatalities that occurred in the United States from 1979 through 1988. Of the 157 deaths, 70% occurred among children who were less than 10 years of age. The death rate for neonates was almost 370 times that of adults who were 30 to 49 years of age. Pit bull breeds were involved in 42 (41.6%) of 101 deaths where dog breed was reported, almost three times more than German shepherds, the next most commonly reported breed. The proportion of deaths attributable to pit bulls increased from 20% in 1979 and 1980 to 62% in 1987 and 1988. Pit bull attacks were almost twice as likely to be caused by strays as attacks by other breeds. Extrapolated estimates suggest 183 to 204 dog bite-related fatalities from 1979 through 1988. To prevent such deaths, we recommend stronger animal control laws, public education regarding dog bites, and more responsible dog ownership. Parents and physicians should be aware that infants left alone with a dog may be at risk of death.
Attacks on humans by dogs acting as a pack, though uncommon, result in severe, sometimes fatal, injuries. We report seven cases of attacks by packs of dogs (five on children and two on elderly women) including one fatal case. The dangers of dogs acting as a pack are highlighted, particularly when confronted with an unaccompanied child or elderly female. The pattern of injuries and principles of treatment are discussed.
Dog bite-related fatalities, although unusual, accounted for 304 deaths in the United States between 1979 and 1996 and 6 fatalities in Canada between 1994 and 1996. Fatal dog pack attacks and attacks involving human predation are less common. The following describes a dog pack attack on a family of four involving 2 fatalities with predation of the victims. Factors previously identified that contribute to pack attacks and predation, including prior group hunting, social feeding, territorial defense, lack of human interaction, and prey stimuli, are discussed.