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Reducing severe dog attacks

Quille Kaddon - February 27, 2020

PHOTO: Dog behaviour has more to do with "nurture" than "nature" (Flickr: DeeMo)

Interview with Phyllis Daugherty - director of Animal Issues Movement involved in animal protection, welfare and rescue since 1992. P. Daugherty heads a team involved in animal control, law enforcement and investigation, Los Angeles, CA. contact: - Interviewed by Quille Kaddon

Phyllis Daugherty offers recommendations on how to decrease the number of severe dog attacks in the City of Vancouver based on successful outcomes of restrictions imposed by other cities across Canada and US.

‘Gameness’ cannot be trained out of a dog

To claim that a certified animal behaviourist could train out the aggression of a dog that has bitten would be false in the case of pit bulls and other dangerous breeds bred for "gameness" - the instinct to attack and kill without warning.

Pit bulls could have gameness bred out but it would take 5 generations of selective breeding. That is not likely to happen because it is essential for the survival of lucrative dog fighting rings. If gameness is bred out they will lose that gene forever and won't be able to get it back. Boxers and Great Danes have had gameness selectively bred out of them. But the reason that will never be done with Pit bulls is because of dog fighting. These have Molosser bloodlines bred to kill their own almost instantly. Dogs specifically bred for fighting need their puppies removed from their mother at 5 weeks or she will kill them because of high instability. Some dogfighters isolate a selected pup that shows gameness in a litter as early as 3 weeks and bottle-feed and raise it so that it is totally dependent on the owner and will instantly attack and kill on command. I have actually seen some ferocious behavior that young in Pit Bull litters where it appears they would seriously damage or kill each other if they had teeth. It is scary that some seem to skip to full survival/kill mode with no in-between bonding and play. Even though the other pups in that litter may have more recessive combat genes and be more sociable to litter-mates, they still carry that bloodline and may produce very game pups themselves when bred. This is important to dog fighters and another reason they do not want limitations on pit bulls.

The testimony of animal behaviourists in BC cannot be relied on because many support aggressive breeds and propagate the myth that pit bulls are not inherently dangerous, plus falsely claim that with proper training pit bulls are just as safe as any other dog breed.

The Pit bull Problem

Hundreds of aggressive pit bulls slated to be euthanized in US shelters are picked up and sent to Canada via BC and Alberta/Montana border. Rescue organizations say we already have a surplus of native-born pit bulls needing homes and their lot is made only more desperate by importing others. No government agency is tracking the influx. “But Ottawa’s Kim Faulkes, a former rescue-society administrator, said she counted, just by monitoring Facebook, at least 600 pit bulls imported to Canada last year alone.”

Pitbulls from dog-fighting rings are often taken to Alaska and then enter Canada in a dog fighting chain. Only a Health Certificate is required for entry into Canada which does not discriminate against fighting dogs plus these have their biting history erased before entry. The best game dogs which are the most vicious are sent for selective breeding to increase aggression. The carefully bred winners are then transported to dog fighting rings across BC and to the rest of Canada and then distributed to rings in China, Japan, Czech Republic, Russia and the Middle East where dog fighting is legal.

Hundreds of dogs are brought into Canada because there is no limit to how many can enter. Many are dangerous dogs not because of their breed but because of their bite history of attacking one or more people. The Canadian government needs to investigate where the dogs are going:

  1. Are they are released to unsuspecting families who know nothing about their bite histories?

  2. Are they are released to fend for themselves?

  3. Are they going into dog fighting rings?

We need to have checks done on these dogs after 6-12 months in Canada. They need to be microchipped and if a particular dog cannot be produced, there needs to be a report to animal control whether the dog is lost or deceased.

Successful Solutions Used in Other Cities

Some cities across Canada and the US which don't have outright breed bans have breed restrictions which have proved very effective in reducing the number of dog bites every year. Breeds identified as dangerous have certain restrictions which ensure not only the safety of the public but the safety of the dogs in particular. Pit bulls and pit mixes are the most abused and most neglected dogs used for dog fighting and even bestiality which is little talked about. So these provisions not only protect people but also the animals since there are stricter rules on how they are confined, cared for and licensed to make sure that both the public and the dogs are safe. For example,

  1. higher licensing fees between $250-300;

  2. proper high fencing with no chaining on the property;

  3. 200K liability insurance in case of dog bite;

  4. Local officials can go in and check on the condition of the animal with no warrant;

  5. Photos of each dog's markings - 4 photos from all sides so a particular animal cannot be replaced.

How do you think your city can decrease the number of dog attacks successfully? Leave a comment to share your thoughts and stories with us!


Canine psychologist Dr. Stanley Coren, author of numerous books and over 500 scientific publications on dog psychology, encourages others to participate in our petting events. Also read about the research on the impact our therapy dogs are making at the University of British Columbia.


Do you have a gentle well-behaved dog who loves people and is nice to other dogs? You may want to find out about joining our Therapy Dog Program. Check our Requirements to see if you are a right match and contact us. Let's see whether your dog would be suitable to work as a Therapy Dog providing love and comfort to people in need in your community!

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