‘Rottweilers…..don’t they bite?’ she asked.
As the lady posing the question already owns a dog she should know all dogs have the potential to bite. She went on, quite smug;
‘I have a Golden Retriever‘.
As she didn’t expand the conversation any further, I’m guessing her implication was that dog bites are something Golden Retriever owners don’t often think about. But they should.
I have written before about the problems regarding breed specific legislation (bsl) following the publishing of O’Súilleabhán’s research on the substantial increase in hospitalisations due to dog bites since it’s introduction. He argues that..
“Regulating breeds places restrictions on dogs that pose little risk and ignores the possibility that any breed is capable of inflicting serious injuries”
(O’Súilleabhán, P. 2015).
Ill-judged legislation, coupled with an absence of a proper educational campaign with supports to encourage responsible dog ownership leaves government policy with regard to ‘controlling’ dogs recklessly unbalanced.
Since the government vilified in stone, 11 breeds of dog in this country, hospitalisations in this country as a result of dog bites increased by nearly 50%.
The lady who asked a very specific question about Rottweilers might do well to consider the study published in 2012 by O’Sullivan and Hanlon which reviewed dog control data from Cork for the year 2007.
“the experience of a growl or snarl from a restricted breed is more likely to result in a complaint to the authorities than would similar behaviour from a non-restricted breed. It is the authors’ view that this reflects the media derived perception amongst the public that the restricted breeds pose a more significant public danger.”
The research found that although people were more likely to report incidence of aggression (a snarl or growl) from a dog on the restricted breeds list, the actual threat to public safety, in the form of dog bites, came from a variety of breeds;
The top offenders when it came to dog bites were Terriers, German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Springer Spaniels and Collies
(you’ll notice only one of those breeds is on the restricted breeds list. See the table here ).
So in answer to the lady with the Golden Retriever; my dogs are just as likely not to bite as yours (possibly, as studies have shown, even less likely) which is why dog control legislation in this country needs a serious overhaul in conjunction with a canine awareness education programme rolled out through all the schools.