Companion Connection

Articles of Interest

The news media, with all its good intentions, has tarnished the good name of dogs with its sensational reporting of dog attacks. Yes, dogs do occasionally bite people and I am sure it is very unpleasant when it happens. However, the seriousness of the bite is generally mild. In fact, 99% of dog bites treated in emergency rooms are rated as a level one, which is the least serious of six levels on the accepted injury severity scale. (A level one injury is one in which the patient recovers quickly with no lasting impairment; a level six injury is one likely to be fatal.) By comparison, treatment of injuries from falls average at a level 4 rating and are six times more likely to result in hospitalization than dog bite injuries.


Although the most serious dog bites can cause death, dog bite deaths occur at roughly half of the rate of lightening deaths and a person is about as likely to be killed by a forklift or a cow as a dog bite. A child, under ten years of age, is three times more likely to drown in a five gallon bucket of water than from a dog bite.


Between 2000 and 2009, there were 256 dog-related deaths nationwide. A study of these incidents identified seven dog-guardian controllable factors that co-occurred with the attacks. In the vast majority of the events, at least two of the factors listed were present. These factors are:


No able-bodied person was in the vicinity to intervene (87.1% of the time);

The victim had no familiar relationship with the dog(s) (84.4%);

The dog’s guardian failed to neuter/spay the dog(s) (84.4 %);

The victim’s compromised ability, whether based on age or physical condition, to manage interactions with the dog(s) (77.4 %);

The dog’s guardian kept the dog as a resident animal instead of a family pet (76.2%)

Prior mismanagement of the dog(s) (37.5 %);

Abuse or neglect of the dog(s) (21.1%)


The breed of the dog was not listed as one of the causative factors. Other studies have confirmed that no breed is more likely to attack than any other. Most studies have stated that to determine if a dog is aggressive, look first at the dog’s guardian. Aggressive dogs aren’t born that way, they are made that way.


One of the breeds most frequently vilified is the Pit Bull, because this breed is known to be used in organized dogfights. There are two AKC recognized breeds that fall into the Pit Bull rubric: the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier. In addition, there are many mixed breed dogs that receive that tag, because of the big, blocky head.


There are a couple of points in defense of Pit Bulls. 1) Yes, the dogs are bred and trained to fight other dogs. However, concurrently, the dogs are bred and trained to work well with, and be submissive to, the human handler. Without that trait, the dog would be useless to their owner. 2) Unfortunately, the reputation of the breed, regardless of how misguided, may attract the wrong kind of guardian. These guardians want to own dogs that are as dangerous as they perceive themselves. These guardians will not properly socialize or train the animals, nor will they have them spayed or neutered. As noted above, leaving the dog intact, abusing or mismanaging the dog, are contributing factors to the dogs becoming dangerous, but with proper guardianship, the dogs are no more apt to attack a human than any other breed.


After the Michael Vick dog fighting business was closed, his dogs were ordered by the court to be destroyed because the court believed and was advised that the dogs were too damaged and could not be salvaged. The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, along with other rescue organizations, argued that they could be rehabilitated. Best Friends received 22 of the most traumatized dogs. Most of these dogs have been not only rehabilitated, but also adopted and living happily in their forever homes.



Note: A resident animal is one in which the dog’s guardian keeps the dog isolated from regular, positive contact with humans. Guard dog, etc.

What You Should Know About Dog Aggression

              Tip of the Week by Jerry Vinyard

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated...

I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." -Mahatma Gandhi-

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