The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Report on Fatal Dog Attacks...
Overwhelmingly this report is used by the media, council members and legislators in an attempt to prove a case
for passing breed specific legislation. So I feel in necessary to set the record straight on this report for all to
Here are some quotes from the CDC and Doctors involved in the studies explaining how the report is INACCURATE:
Procedure: We collected data from The Humane
Society of the United States (HSUS) and media accounts related to dog bite attacks and fatalities, using methods from
previous studies (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998,
Ideally, breed-specific bite rates would be calculated to compare breeds and quantify the relative
dangerousness of each breed. For example, 10 fatal attacks by Breed X relative to a population of 10,000 X’s (1/1,000)
implies a greater risk than 100 attacks by Breed Y relative
to a population of 1,000,000 Y’s (0.1/1,000). Without
consideration of the population sizes, Breed Y would be perceived to be the more dangerous breed on the basis of the number
of fatalities. (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between
1979 and 1998, September 2000). NOTE: The CDC study does NOT use population as a factor.
only bites that resulted in fatalities, because they are more easily ascertained than nonfatal bites, the numerator of a dog
breed-specific human DBRF rate requires a complete accounting of human DBRF as well as an accurate determination of the breeds
involved. Numerator data may be biased for 4 reasons. First, the human DBRF reported here are likely underestimated; prior
work suggests the approach we used identifies only 74% of actual cases.1,2 Second, to the extent that attacks by 1 breed are
than those by other breeds, our methods may have resulted in differential ascertainment of fatalities by
breed. Third, because identification of a dog’s breed may be subjective (even experts may disagree on the breed of a
particular dog), DBRF may be differentially ascribed to breeds with a reputation for aggression. Fourth, it is not clear
how to count attacks by crossbred dogs. Ignoring these data underestimates breed involvement (29% of attacking dogs were crossbred
dogs), whereas including them permits a single dog to be counted more than once. (CDC Special Report on breeds
involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000)
Finally, it is imperative
to keep in mind that even if breed-specific bite rates could be accurately calculated, they do not factor in owner related
issues. For example, less responsible owners or owners who want to foster aggression in their dogs may be drawn differentially
to certain breeds. (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998,
1998, the CDC stopped tracking which breeds of dogs are involved in fatal attacks; according to a CDC spokesperson, that information
is no longer considered to be of discernable value) (Pit Bulls in the City, Indy Tails July 2005)
are enormous difficulties in collecting dog bite data," Dr. Gilchrist said. She explained that no centralized reporting
system for dog bites exists, and incidents are typically relayed to a number of entities, such as the police, veterinarians,
animal control, and emergency rooms, making meaningful analysis nearly impossible. (CDC releases epidemiologic survey
of dog bites in 2001, September 2003)
When multiple dogs of the same breed were involved in the same fatal
episode, that breed was counted only once (eg, if 10 Akitas attacked and killed a person, that breed was counted once rather
than 10 times). When crossbred dogs were involved in a fatality, each suspected breed in the dog’s lineage was counted
once for that episode. Second, we tallied data by dog. When multiple dogs of the same breed were involved in a single incident,
dog was counted individually. We allocated crossbred dogs into separate breeds and counted them similarly (eg, if
3 Great Dane-Rottweiler crossbreeds attacked a person, Great Dane was counted 3 times under crossbred, and Rottweiler was
counted 3 times under crossbred). Data are presented separately for dogs identified as pure- and crossbred. (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal
human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000)
Here are some quotes from the CDC and Doctors involved in the studies concerning
Breed Specific Legislation:
a specific breed of dog has been selected for stringent control, 2 constitutional questions concerning dog owners’ fourteenth
amendment rights have been raised: first, because all types of dogs may inflict injury to people and property, ordinances
addressing only 1 breed of dog are argued to be underinclusive and, therefore, violate owners’ equal protection rights;
and second, because identification of a dog’s breed with the certainty necessary to impose sanctions on the dog’s
owner is prohibitively difficult, such ordinances have been argued as unconstitutionally vague, and, therefore, violate due
Another concern is that a ban on a specific breed might cause people who want a dangerous dog to simply
turn to another breed for the same qualities they sought in the original dog (eg, large size, aggression easily fostered).
Breed-specific legislation does not
address the fact that a dog of any breed can become
dangerous when bred or trained
to be aggressive.
risk factors included dogs who roamed the neighborhood or dogs who were tethered. In other words, it appeared that the negligence
of human guardians was a higher risk factor than the breed of the dog. learned breed-specific legislation is not the way to
tackle the issue of dog bites,” said Dr. Julie Gilchrist of the CDC Injury Center in Atlanta, Georgia. “Instead,
we should look at the people with those dogs responsible for the bites.” (Pit Bulls in the City, Indy Tails July
A couple of my personal comments on the CDC report
and others like it on why they are fictional at best!
On the CDC report they have broken it down into a couple
of sections, Purebred and Crossbred. Under Purebred they list "Pit bull-type" dog, this is NOT a Purebred
dog? They use that very same header under Crossbred which invalidates this report.
Using a term like "pit
bull-type" would indicate that any number of breeds (as there are 20+ that are mistaken as pit bulls) and mixed breeds
could have been grouped under these counts.
As for Crossbred or mixed breed dogs it is my opinion that they need
to all be grouped under "mixed breed". When it comes to mixed breed dogs, it's virtually impossible to determine the
breeds. If in fact you do know specificly what breeds the dog is (which is rare) how would one know which "breed"
did the biting?
In the first bullet point they admit to using, "media accounts". That alone tells
us this report is nothing more than a waste of paper. The media is certainly NOT a place to gather information for a
statistical study. There are many incidents that are reported as X then turn out to be Y. Many cases of mistaken
breed identity or out right lies. Here are a few: http://www.understand-a-bull.com/BSL/MistakenIdentity/WrongId.htm
Furthmore, this report
was a collaboration of the CDC and the AVMA both of which are against breed specific legislation!