Thursday, August 11, 2005

Controls on Dangerous dogs

Should dangerous dog ownership be restricted?

Those who argue against it use a number of arguments
1) Blame the owners not the dog.
This is an interesting argument biased on the principle that you move blame for anything to the nearest human. It is a similar argument that is used to support gun ownership "guns don’t kill people, people kill people". But this has no implication for policy since it is just a blanket argument against intervention. For example I could argue bombs don’t kill people - people kill people - and yet a smart person doesn’t just hand out powerful bombs to everyone.

2) Dangerous dogs are not dangerous
This of course makes no sense in this form but usually a certain breed like pit bulls is in question. They will argue
A) pit bulls are not aggressive "fill in the blank" is worse
This is a claim that requires statistics - it can be done but the question then becomes why not address both problems? Furthermore usually it is addressed with very poor statistics for example by saying a much more common breed is responsible for more bites.
B) Don’t judge dogs by their looks
This is an idealistic defence - one that no person really does in real life - after all a toy poodle is unlikely to kill you even if it does look aggressive - other types of dogs might be more of a worry.

Often in addition they note exceptions to the rule (for example death by poodle). This doesn't contradict the original statement but when said with enough enthusiasm people might think that it does.

the basic statistics seem to be that some breeds of dogs are in the order of 10 times as dangerous as the average dog to a stranger and some breeds are less dangerous by a similar amount. Most dogs are not very dangerous and most dog bites are on their owners BUT that is only because most dogs spend the vast majority of their time around their own owners.

3 Another argument one can use in almost any situation is something along the lines of this "In a typical year, automobiles kill far more people - so why fear dogs?"

There is a sound argument here which is the one that says "the risk of you dying is not worth the loss of my freedom to own a dog. That is an argument I have some sympathy for but I presume it should be up to the community to decide the exact level of risk they wish to take.

The rest is less convincing - it misses a vital part of the equation. The question is how much it costs you to deal with the thing that might kill you. Otherwise you could easily say "red 5 series BMW's kill less people than pit bulls so that’s why I am not scared to cross the road". Or maybe they kill less people...

Furthermore there is a good analogy with cars. Initially car manufacturers fought the move towards seatbelts and so forth. And while cars are still dangerous, the danger has been reduced. The industry has survived the new safety features introduction and so too have many extra members of the public.


Blogger Nigel Kearney said...

Two points:

1. Even if particular breeds are shown to be more dangerous, that doesn't mean you can solve the problem by banning them. It's possible, in fact likely, that those breeds are preferred by the kind of people who either neglect their dogs or actively train them to be aggressive. Those people will switch to other breeds.

2. "Blame the humans" has an important advantage you haven't acknowledged. Owners are in the best position to know if their dog is dangerous. The set of dogs that are actually dangerous is quite different from the set of dogs belonging to a breed that is regarded as dangerous.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Genius said...

Society could put controls on dogs - somthing equivilent to dog insurance - which discourages ownership of bad dogs without banning them - or require furhter training. Banning may be excessive when they are only in the order of ten times more dangerous but if it gets much worse like 100 times then it is starting to approach hte danger levels of owning a lion or a tiger and if it is 10,000 times its like allowing people to keep small pox as a pet.

I am suggesting that it is legitimate for there to be a level of risk society is willing to take and that most reasonalbe people accept that. The only legitimate defense therefore is that we hve not reached the point where the risk is worth looking into.

8:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home