Statistics correction to my Toronto Star letter

I have a minor correction to the Canadian “death by dog” statistics that I quoted in my letter to the Toronto Star. Originally, I stated that 35 children had been killed by 85 dogs in Canada in the past 29 years. I obtained my original numbers from a document that I had only kept current up to 2007. Then, based on my memory, I estimated the results from the next 4+ years.

The actual numbers are very similar, but I feel I should give you the exact statistics instead of my prior guesses.

Since 1983 (29 years ago), 36 people have been killed in Canada in 35 attacks (one attack killed two people). Of those 36 people, three were adults. All of the remaining 33 victims were under 12 years old.

There were a total of 90 dogs involved in these 35 attacks. In a number of cases, packs of three, four, or more dogs were responsible, especially in the northern areas of the country.

7 victims were 2 years old or less.

13 victims were between 3 and 5 years old.

9 victims were between 6 and 12 years old.

NONE of the children were killed by dogs that Ontario would call “pit bulls”.

The only documented case of a person being killed by any of the types of dogs targeted by the Ontario ban (i.e., “pit bulls”) was in 1995 at a Toronto rooming house when a 22-year-old drunken roomer broke into the dog owner’s room with a baseball bat, intending to kill the dogs. He didn’t succeed and instead ended up the victim of the only “death by pit bull” in Canada, ever.

26 attacks could have been prevented had the dogs been in secure enclosures that prevented dogs from escaping and prevented children from entering.

20 attacks could have been prevented had the child been supervised.

11 attacks could have been prevented had a known interaction between child and dog been supervised.

If there were a ban on all “pit bull” type dogs AND if the dogs from 1995 had NOT been grandfathered in AND the owner had followed the law regarding owning that type of dog, then it is possible that ONE death of an adult could have been prevented.

Leashing and muzzling all pit bull type dogs in public would have prevented NO deaths.

Interestingly enough, a leash law for all dogs would have prevented NO deaths, since all loose dogs involved were either roaming unowned stray dogs or were owned dogs that had broken loose from their yard or chain. A “muzzle all dogs in public” approach would have also had no impact.

The only exception regarding a leash law MIGHT be the case where sled dogs were turned loose on an uninhabited island for the summer and attacked a family who had boated to the island to pick berries. If those dogs had not been deliberately turned loose, then the mother and son would still be alive, but there is an argument that it was an uninhabited island that wouldn’t have had dog control bylaws anyway.

So those are the real statistics. I’m in the process of updating my Excel spreadsheet with the latest information and then I’ll post a link to it and to a web-readable version.

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