The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association identified seven controllable factors associated with fatal dog attacks (breed was not one of them). We have discussed each of these factors over the last two weeks as part of our #BSLbytes initiative.
Factor #1 – lack of supervision (see Tuesday’s post!)
Factor #2 – lack of familiar relationship between the victim and the dog (Wednesday)
Factor #3 – failure to spay/neuter (Thursday)
Factor #4 – victim had a compromised ability to manage interaction (Saturday)
Factor #5 - dog was kept as a resident, not family, dog (Monday)
Factor #6 – owner mismanagement (Tuesday)
Factor #7 – neglect or abuse
The final factor should not come as any surprise. In over 21% of the cases, the dogs involved were subject to neglect or abuse. A history of neglect by the owner included instances of dogs not given access to basic needs (food, water, shade or shelter) and dogs with untreated medical conditions. Other more extreme cases classified as abuse included severe starvation, physical and sexual abuse, or dog fighting. When neglected or abused dogs are faced with stressful, potentially dangerous situations, they may behave in ways primarily to protect themselves.
Of course, as we all know, a history of abuse or neglect does not automatically lead to aggressive behaviours. Any canine professional will tell you that dogs can be incredibly resilient and a great underlying temperament can overcome some of the worst abuse cases we see (see the case of HugABull’s Tiger – link below). As with humans, behaviour is a combination of nature and nurture.
In BC and in many parts of Canada, the SPCA has jurisdiction over cruelty complaints. In these areas, call the SPCA Cruelty Investigation Department for any suspected cases of abuse or neglect. Your local animal control department may also be a resource depending on your municipal bylaws and the department’s service priorities.
For background on the #BSLbytes campaign visit the HugABull blog: http://blog.hugabull.com/take-a-byte-out-of-bsl