Friday 5 July 2024

Animal advocate angry at clickbait articles about dogs killing people

Nathan Winograd is a very high-profile American animal advocate specialising in animal shelters and saving lives. He's written a letter, officially from his No Kill Advocacy Center. In it he criticises an article on USA Today, the title to which is click bait: "Dogs are mauling and killing more people. What to do pits neighbor against neighbor". Note: see the bottom of the page about police officers killing dogs! That's probably the real story.

It's not even written that well to be honest. Anyway that's not relevant.

The gist of Nathan Winograd's letter is that there are no statistics which support the view that dog bites are increasing in the USA and certainly there is no evidence that the rate of dog bites are increasing in the USA.

Clearly, there are more dogs in the USA than there were in the past because there are more American citizens adopting dogs and cats. But the proportion between the number of dogs biting people or killing people compared to the number of citizens in America has probably dropped. This is the rate of dog bites and dog killings.

As an extract from his letter:
Moreover, the salient question is whether dog bite rates have increased. And in cases where numbers are available, the trend appears to be in the opposite direction. For example, the author writes that “Emergency room visits due to dog bites decreased from almost 363,000 in 2012 to 317,000 in 2021,” according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), despite millions more dogs in the U.S.
Nathan Winograd says that "While it appears the number of fatal dog attacks has increased, they remain under 100." I asked Google Gemini (Google's artificial intelligence computer) for information on the number of people killed by dogs annually in the US. This is its answer:
The number of people in the US killed by dogs annually falls within a range of  30 to 50 according to the National Library of Medicine [US dog bite fatalities statistics]. 
There are no figures on cats killing people because its just so rare. And anyway cats can't kill people directly. It has to be indirectly such as through a rabies bite which are infinitesimally rare despite more click bait on this topic. The news media likes to exaggerate in order to attract attention.

Nathan Winograd interestingly makes a comparison between people killed by forklift trucks and those killed by dogs. It's a similar amount. Perhaps more are killed by forklift trucks because Google Gemini tells us that "Estimates suggest that around 75 to 100 workers in the United States are killed by forklift accidents annually with an average closer to 87 deaths per year".

This is more than people killed by dogs which puts things into perspective because 99% of the American population do not interact with forklifts! Most Americans come into contact regularly with dogs.

Winograd finishes with this quote:
While fatal dog attacks are tragic, the CDC notes that they remain “rare,” involving roughly 0.0001% of the dog population. Moreover, “Experts say the number of annual fatalities from a dog bite is small enough that measuring year-to-year trends becomes difficult.”
The point that he makes is that if news media use click bait to attract readers about dogs killing people they inadvertently threaten the lives of dogs. It can colour the opinion of people against dogs. They can make people fearful of dogs. This can lead to people using force against dogs unnecessarily which can lead to the death of some dogs.

On that last topic by the way I've seen too many stories about American policeman shooting dogs for no good reason. Many of them seem to be fearful of dogs and they are just too keen to shoot them. On one occasion, a Labrador raced up to a policeman for a cuddle and the police officer shot the dog. Can you believe that? Complete idiocy.

How many dogs are shot by police officers in the US annually?

Unfortunately, there isn't a definitive answer to the exact number of dogs shot by police officers in the US annually. Here's what we know:

  • Estimates suggest it's around 10,000 dogs per year, based on a Department of Justice official's report [].
  • This number might be even higher, with some suggesting it could reach six figures [].

There are a couple of reasons why there's no precise data:

  • Lack of mandatory reporting: There's no federal legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to record or report animal deaths during interventions.
  • Inconsistent record-keeping: Even if departments track these incidents, there might not be a standardized method, making it difficult to compile national data.

If you're interested in learning more about this issue, you can search for terms like "police shootings of dogs" or "canine fatalities by police."


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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