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Dogs Bite: But Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous - A Book Review

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

In 2007, I went through the process of becoming a Certified Kennel Operator through the now-defunct American Boarding and Kennel Association. Part of the vetting process included writing a book review. I chose to write about this book, written by Janis Bradley, who had been one of my teachers when I went through The Academy for Dog Trainers in 2004 (she is now the founder of the Dog Trainer Internship Academy). In honor of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, I wanted to share this with you and encourage you to pick up your own copy!


I think one would be hard-pressed to find an adult American who has not at least heard about the San Francisco woman who was killed by two dogs back in 2001. While dogs have bitten and even killed people before that event, it seems that the media has grabbed hold of dog bite stories since then and made a huge spectacle out of them. People who work with dogs understand that any dog can be provoked to bite under certain circumstances no matter what breed, age, or temperament. Janis Bradley’s book helps to calm the media storm by letting people know that “the reality is that dogs almost never kill people, and they don’t actually bite very often, and when they do, we’re seldom injured, and when we are, it’s seldom serious.”


Ms. Bradley presents some amazing data on dog bite fatalities versus car

accidents, drowning, and even getting struck by lightning. It is astounding that dog bites resulting in deaths and even major injuries comprise such a small amount of the reported statistics through Emergency Rooms when we hear so much about it. For the last 30 years, dog bites resulting in death in the USA have numbered about 12-20 deaths a year. Compare that to car accidents, poisoning, or even accidental gun-related deaths, and it doesn’t even register on the same meter.


So Ms. Bradley helps to dispel the idea that dog bite-related injuries and death are on the rise and discusses how numbers get inflated by the media and why we as a society are so willing to accept those numbers. She talks briefly about how dogs first came to be dogs in human society and different forms of aggression that people are likely to see. She then delves into the current state of research on biting dogs. She notes that many “statistics” on types of dogs that bite are grossly inaccurate, as the people often reporting about the situation are not familiar with dog breeds. So very often, breeds like German Shepards and Pit Bulls get pinned for misdeeds, when in fact, it may have been an Akita or a Shar-Pei (much love to all of these breeds).


She discusses how breed ban legislation is simply not the answer to avoid dog bites. She notes that, even if it were possible to eliminate all of the pit bulls off of the face of the planet, it wouldn’t make one bit of difference because, in the grand scheme of things, it’s relatively easy to make dogs more aggressive. So another breed would come along and take its place. She says that getting rid of specific breeds is not the answer. Changing the way we breed and raise our dogs is.


Ms. Bradley then discusses the benefits people enjoy by keeping pets of all kinds, but especially dogs. People with dogs are generally healthier. Children that grow up with dogs are less likely to have allergies later in life. Dog owners are more active, are less stressed, and more likely to gain social contact, all through their dog. She surmises that the good things that people attain through dog ownership greatly outweigh the possibility of injury that a dog may represent.


She concludes her book with a chapter on how to prevent dog-related injuries from happening, namely: use common sense when interacting with strange dogs, breed dogs for temperament (and never breed dogs who have a history of aggression), and finally, to start training dogs from an early age to be social with all sorts of people and to learn to control the force of their jaws, so that if a bite does happen, it won’t cause any damage.


I think that “Dogs Bite” is a book that all people should read. Politicians, media personnel, insurance companies, teachers, and breeders, to name a few, would all greatly benefit from reading what Ms. Bradley has to say. She presents everything so practically and with such straightforwardness that it really puts everything into perspective. Your chances of being killed by a dog or dogs are roughly one in 18 million. But there are easy things that can be done to reduce the already unlikely event of that happening. People need to understand that dogs are not hurting people as much as the media would lead us to believe, and I think this book is a great way to start accomplishing that!

 

Tracey Lee Davis is a former CPDT-KA, a graduate with honors of the Academy for Dog Trainers, and a Certified Kennel Operator. For close to a decade, she ran one of the most well-respected dog daycares in the Silicon Valley. She is passionate about helping dogs and their humans lead happy and fun lives together.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you!

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