Spanish Dangerous Animals Act: Effect on the Epidemiology of Dog Bites

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Short Description:
This study examined the effectiveness of legislation to regulate dogs of "dangerous breeds." The authors compared dog bite data in Spain before and after the Spanish Dangerous Animals Act was implemented. The study found that "dangerous breeds" were not overrepresented in dog bite reports before or after the legislation went into effect and that the legislation had no bearing on the prevalence of dog bites.

Article Abstract:

"The effectiveness and suitability of legislation regarding the issue of dangerous dogs, especially those targeting so-called ‘‘dangerous breeds’’ (DB), have been the object of a lot of criticism. However, the shortage of scientific studies in this field makes an objective assessment of the impact of current legislation difficult. In the present study, dog bite-related incidents from Arago´n (Spain) were analyzed for a 10-year periods (1995 to 2004). With the aim of assessing the impact of the Spanish Dangerous Animals Act on the epidemiology of dog bites, data from the non-legislated (1995 to 1999) and the legislated period (2000 to 2004) were compared in 2 different areas (low- and high-populated areas)."

"According to the results, the population density did exert a significant effect on the incidence of dog bites, whereas the legislation in force did not. Popular breeds such as the German shepherd and crossbreed dogs accounted for the great majority of the incidents during the 2 periods of study. Specifically, the German shepherd proved to be over-represented significantly among the canine population. Dogs in the dangerous breeds list, on the other hand, were involved in a small proportion of the incidents both before and after the introduction of legislation. The present results suggest that the implementation of the Spanish legislation exerted little impact on the epidemiology of dog bites."
"Besides the scarce effectiveness, the results suggest that the criteria to regulate only so-called DB were unsuitable and unjustified. It is hoped that this study will be helpful in the elaboration of future regulation measures in this matter."

Spot Check Number: 2017
Sponsor: University of Zaragoza & Merial Laboratories
Researcher/Author: Belen Rosado, Sylvia Garcia-Belenguer, Marta Leon & Jorge Palacio
Animal Type: Dogs
Research Method: Case Study
Geographic Region: International
Population Descriptors: Dog bites, Spain
Year Conducted: 2007
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