I came across the website of Karen Delise, The National Canine Research Council. Delise offers a much needed clear eyed look at our fears, the facts, and much more.
When I was 14, we adopted an Afghan hound. A few months later, for reasons never fully understood, this dog I loved so much slashed my sister’s face open and nearly severed one of her ears. Having held my sister’s face together for the hour it took for my parents to get home, having heard her 9 year old anguished screams echoing down the halls of the ER, I do not take biting dogs lightly. I’ve seen (and felt!) firsthand how much damage can be inflicted in a few brief, awful seconds.
But I also keep a balanced perspective. I’m well aware that most of what is labeled “aggression” is a deliberately inhibited, meaningful communication from a dog. I keep a Google alert for “dog bite” and “animal attack” and so every day, from all around the world, I get daily reminders of the potential for serious, even fatal injury by dogs. I don’t have the heart or time to do a comparative Google alert for “child abuse” or “pedophiles” or “parental abuse.” Too many posts would show up in my mailbox.
Because I see media reports of the worst cases involving dogs, I always seek out more facts when hype and hysteria are present. There’s a lot to be said about the lack of mandatory history taking, so that circumstances around a biting incident may or may not be part of the record. A dog who had a toddler and table fall on him and in fear inflicted one shallow puncture may be counted in the same category as a dog who leaped a fence to attach children playing in a school yard. But the problems inherent in our tracking of dog bites is the subject for another day.
Today, I’d like to encourage people to visit and look around The National Canine Research Council website. In particular, I found this page informative when it comes to discussing the realities of biting dogs. Puts things into perspective.
The NCRC also offers year end reports. Here is the 2007 year end report. Well worth reading for those interested in an informed and enlightened approach to what the media unfortunately terms the “dog bite epidemic.”
“Pits, Bites – Facts & Fears” by Suzanne Clothier