A caveat: In theory, Pit Bulls are being phased out of Ontario. Pit Bulls born before 2005 could be grandfathered under the law. Dogs are supposed to be muzzled off of their property. Again in theory, Pit Bulls would be completely phased out in, at most, 15-18 years. This is when dog bite statistics would be most salient.
That said, there is nothing surprising about what Ontario is experiencing. My guess is, if things go on as is, dog bites will actually increase over the years.
- 2005 (law enacted) - 5,428
- 2006 - 5,360
- 2007 - 5,492
- 2008 - 5,463
- 2009 - 5,345
"The study does not show the number of dog bites compared to the number of dogs in the province. Nor does it adjust for changes to the province's population or for the severity of attacks."
It would be impressive if Ontario has seen a dramatic increase or decrease in the dog population during a five year period. My guess is it has not. But I do agree that the dog bite rate is probably more useful than total dog bites. Demographic information, along with severity data would be helpful too.
From the numbers presented, though, it would appear - on the surface - that Ontario is no safer from dogs in 2009 than they were in 2005. Now, if all the dog bites in 2005 were so severe as to require hospitalization and the bites in 2009 are not, then sure, I'll change my tune. If all the dog bites in 2005 were caused by Pit Bulls AND were so severe hospitalization was required, and that isn't true in 2009, then sure, I'll alter my opinion.
I'm pretty confident when I say that that is probably not the case. Breed specific legislation does not work. It does not improve public safety. It does not eliminate targeted breeds. It does not eliminate dog bites nor does it ensure that all future dog bites won't be severe.
Dogs are amazing animals. They show incredible self-restraint. They rarely bite. When they do, they generally don't bite hard. I still remain impressed by dogs.