National Canine Research Council Summary and Analysis:
Raghavan (2008) examined DBRFs in Canada from 1990-2007. Because canine populations and dog-related legislation may differ between the United States and Canada, Raghavan decided to expand the literature on DBRFs to consider such events in the context of Canada’s dog population. The author’s stated goal was to capture any differences in DBRFs that might present due to differences in lifestyle, dog populations, legislation, or landscape. The authors note that “pit bulls” are restricted in many jurisdictions, but the effectiveness of such breed-specific legislation had not been adequately examined.
Like many of its predecessors, this study was retrospective and relied on newspaper reports to gather information on DBRFs. The recorded data included standard demographics such as the victim’s age, sex, and residence, the dog’s age, sex, breed, and neuter status, and circumstances leading up to the attack. The author defends her use of media reports as the best source for identifying fatal attacks, stating that newspaper reports “contain information on factors facilitating fatal attacks,” but does not acknowledge any accuracy limitations of such data, particularly the unreliability of visual breed identification.
In many ways the results were similar to those seen in US studies. Twenty-eight fatalities were identified over the 10-year period, which is comparable to numbers reported in the US when population size is considered. The majority (85%) of the victims were children under 12 and often they were alone with the dog at the time of the incident. Males were victims more often than females. In contrast to common findings in US-based studies, attacks were more prevalent in rural areas and multiple dogs were involved in the majority of cases. Only 1 dog in these DBRFs was identified as a “pit bull.” The author implies this may be the result of breed-specific ordinances. However, no specific analysis of the various legislation was done, nor were the details of the ordinances discussed, nor was there any validation of breed identification in any of the cases, so this implied claim is unsubstantiated. The author suggests that future studies should assess the effectiveness of dog bite-awareness campaigns and dog-control legislation.