- Behavior, Genetics, and “Breed”
- Public Policy
The best ways to reduce dog bite-related incidents in a community are multifactorial approaches that focus on improved ownership and husbandry practices, better understanding of canine behavior, education of parents and children regarding safety around dogs, and consistent enforcement of breed-neutral dangerous dog / reckless owner ordinances in communities.
Mandatory Spay/Neuter (MSN):
Community-based outreach programs that focus on removing barriers and extending information and resources to under-served communities in a compassionate way have been shown to be very effective in increasing the number of altered pets in a community without legal mandates.
For more information see: Advocate for Spay/Neuter Laws by The Humane society of the United States.
Pet limits are based on the incorrect notion that arbitrarily limiting the number of pets a resident can own will eliminate nuisances and result in higher standards of care for the community’s animals. For example, one pet owner may be able to care for four dogs with a very high standard of care and responsibility, whereas another may allow their one dog to bark all day. Consequently, pet limits punish responsible pet owners while failing to address the problem of irresponsible ownership.
If the concern is standards of care (including cruelty and neglect), or nuisances (barking, picking up poop), check the municipality’s existing laws, as most already have these in place, making the common goals of pet limits redundant. If either of those types of laws are not already in place, cruelty and nuisance prevention policies would be much more effective to pursue than pet limits.
Ordinances with extremely specific rules and requirements are very difficult and impractical to enforce, as they demand a vast amount of resources from animal services. For example, time limit tethering ordinances require an animal control officer to stop by a home once to start a clock, and then re-check the same home later to see if the same pet is still outside after a defined time. For ordinances requiring the tethering equipment be proportional to the dogs own body size, an officer would have to stop by a home with equipment to weigh and measure the dog as well as the tethering equipment in order to see if a pet owner is in violation.
Community-based outreach where animal services or humane organizations work with pet owners to understand motivations individual owners have for tethering can be a more effective approach to change because it builds a relationship with the owner rather than leading with punishment.