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AVMA & Breed Bans


The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) & Breed Bans

“Pit bull” regulation not a basis for dog bite prevention, AVMA experts report

An American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) exhaustive review of dog bite studies con­ducted in North America and elsewhere has concluded that separate regulation of “pit bull” dogs is not a basis for dog bite prevention. The AVMA authors cite dozens of peer-reviewed studies that report a variety of breeds and types of dogs in connection with injuries to people.i

The authors pored over a body of literature covering 40 years. These published reports and controlled studies came from all across the United States, as well as from Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. These varying reports also confirmed the ineffectiveness of breed-specific regu­lation. According to the AVMA experts, “( . . . ) it has not been demonstrated that breed-specific bans affect the rate or severity of bite injuries occurring in the commu­nity.”

Jurisdictions in Europe and North America were responding to the failure of breed-specific regulation to reduce the incidence of injury even before the AVMA published this new report. The Nether­lands repealed its “pit bull” ban in 2008. The UK’s House of Commons is currently developing alternatives to the breed ban contained in the Dangerous Dogs Act. Animal experts in the UK have loudly and unambiguously declared the breed ban a failure.

In 2010, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Associa­tion (JAVMA) published an analysis developed from established best-practices in human medicine, which reached a similar con­clusion.

The authors of the 2010 JAVMA analysis, two veterinary epidemiologists and a veterinary behaviorist, developed their model based upon dog bite reports from various localities across the United States, as well as dog bite-related injury data obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They calculated that the available data could not establish differences in breed-specific bite rates that would make it possible to substitute dogs of average danger for dogs esti­mated to be of elevated danger, in order to reduce the number of serious injuries.ii

The AVMA authors of the new report do not consider any one factor responsible for serious dog bite injuries. “Serious bites occur due to a range of factors,” conclude these authors. Animal experts worldwide concur.

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  1. AVMA Animal Welfare Division. “The Welfare Implications of the Role of Breed in Dog Bite Risk and Prevention.” 17 April 2012 <http://www.avma.org/reference/backgrounders/dogbiteriskandpreventionbgnd.asp>. (Accessed 8 May 2012).
  2. Patronek, G., Slater, and M., Marder, A. “Use of a number-need-to-ban calculation to illustrate limitations of breed-specific legislation in decreasing the risk of dog bite-related injury.” Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) 237.7 (1 October 2010): 788-792.

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