The fundamental research question being addressed in this thesis is whether breed specific regulation is a flawed approach to reducing dog bite injury.
The overall research question was to be addressed through consideration of a set of more specific research questions.
1. Is there any evidence that current breed specific regulation is effective?
2. If not, why?
i) Can breed be reliably identified?
ii) Is breed a strong predictor of risk?
iii) Are there other important risk factors?
Instead of focusing on a particular breed, or responding to single events as they occur, and reacting emotively, we need to systematically examine all of the circumstances surrounding dog bite incidents.
If you cannot reliably identify a dog’s breed background (and cross breed dogs add a further dimension), laws targeting breeds will never work, regardless of whether you think the original justification is valid.
We need better data and reporting, and better education for parents, dog owners and the general public on how best to avoid a dog bite incident. Knee-jerk reactions by governments do not tend to create good public policy.
We do not need any more laws or restrictions that are doomed to failure from the onset. We need a strategy based on the best research evidence that we have to hand. Breed bans simply do not address other recurrent patterns associated with dog attacks such as irresponsible or uneducated dog ownership.
Measures taken need to address human ownership practices, as dogs of many breeds and crosses feature in dog attacks. No single, or even group of breeds, have been shown to account for the majority of dog attacks in Australia.
The best way to prevent children being injured is to have approach that considers all possible factors, as is the case with almost every other injury issue.
This approach should include strategies targeted towards the general public, dog owners, parents and dogs. Enforcement of existing control and leash laws and education and knowledge will help.
It is important children are supervised with dogs. These essential measures will enhance responsible ownership of any breed or cross breed.