France is to create a “dog bite register” to help evaluate dangerous dogs on a case-by-case basis, as “breed is not enough” to make a judgement call or to prevent bites.
A new report published today by safety agency L'Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'alimentation, de l'environnement et du travail (Anses) has said that “the danger of an animal must be evaluated individually” as “breed is not enough to predict and prevent the risk of biting”.
It said: “No scientific study shows any evidence that there is a higher risk of biting by dogs in categories 1 and 2, dubbed ‘dangerous’”. These include Pitbulls and Rottweilers, for example.
Anses said that there are several factors that can affect how dangerous a dog is - such as its breed, its gender (males are more aggressive than females), if it is castrated or not, its personality and temperament, its relationship with humans, and the training it has received.
More awareness needed
The agency said that there was also a need for added “awareness” among adults and children, even those who do not own a dog.
People must learn to appreciate the “needs and expectations of a dog”, and learn to notice “stress signals”, such as nose licking, repeated yawning, and looking away.
Anses said that children should never be left alone and unsupervised with dogs, no matter the size, temperament, or breed of the animal.
According to a 2007 report, Anses said that “around 10,000 bites per year were [by dogs] under health surveillance”.
The agency admitted that these figures are quite old, and almost certainly underestimate the extent of the issue, because, while all dog bites are required to be reported to the local mairie by law, in practice, many are not.
As a result, Anses said that it aims to create “a register of bites, which will allow us to add to the existing available data, and help with research, but also to formulate more targeted and appropriate risk advice”.
The agency said that professionals should help implement the new register, but also said that contributions from individuals would be welcome.