It is better to teach children about dogs than ban breeds, according to new research.
A study in the Medical Journal of Australia says that banning certain breeds of dogs is ineffective in reducing the rate and severity of attacks.
Lead author, pediatric surgeon Professor Roy Kimble, said:
Basically in the hands of a irresponsible owner, any dog can be dangerous.
Kimble said laws which targeted specific ”dangerous breeds” were not based on whether the breeds were inherently dangerous, but on those breeds which had been traditionally used for fighting.
”Breed-specific legislation fails to take into account that any breed of dog can be dangerous in the hands of an irresponsible owner who fails to provide good and early training,” he said.
”Further, these restrictions may create the risk of higher numbers of unregistered animals or irresponsible owners simply turning to other breeds.”
Children and some dogs, like guard dogs, just should not be mixed, he said. And he says some people are not suited to certain breeds.
Sometimes people use dogs as status symbols and that’s often the dangerous breeds. You know, ‘look at me I’ve got a pit bull terrier.’
Professor Kimble said the key is educating dog owners and children about how to behave with dogs.
“All kids should be educated how to behave around dogs and that should be done by the parents. Also, it would be great if we could have a school education campaign for young kids,” he said.
The leading charity, the RSPCA, agreed, with its chief scientist Dr Bidda Jones telling the ABC:
What tends to happen when a child particularly is attacked by a dog is that governments are put under pressure to respond to that particular incident.
But actually what is needed is a long-term preventative strategy. It involves people actually being educated about what their responsibilities are as a dog owner.
Dr Jones says children can be taught simple things about how to behave around dogs.
“Not to approach them for instance when they are sleeping or when they are eating, not to pat dogs without actually asking whether or not that’s okay,” he said.
“To know how to behave if a dog does behave in an aggressive way towards them, so for instance, to avoid eye contact, not to run away but to stand still,” he said.
The report recommended that children should be taught to:
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