Effectiveness of Breed-Specific Legislation in Decreasing the Incidence of Dog-Bite Injury Hospitalisations in People in the Canadian Province of Manitoba
A study analyzing dog bite injury hospitalizations over a 23-year period (1984 to 2006) in Manitoba showed a significant reduction at the provincial level after implementing breed-specific laws.
- Supplemental letter: Effectiveness of breed-specific legislation in decreasing dog-bite injury hospitalizations in Manitoba--what it means to researchers, policy-makers and the public, by Raghavan et al., Injury Prevention, September 2012
- The study was conceived to address shortcomings in other short-term, cross-sectional studies of the effectiveness of breed-specific legislation (BSL) that concluded that BSL is ineffective. The study’s hypothesis was that areas with BSL would have lowered dog bite injury hospitalizations (DBIH), but that rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) numbers would not be affected by BSL.
- A total of 16 urban and rural jurisdictions with pit-bull bans were identified. At the provincial level, there was a significant reduction in dog bite injury hospitalization (DBIH) rates from the pre-BSL to post-BSL period -- 3.47 per 100,000 person-years to 2.84. In regression restricted to two urban jurisdictions, DBIH rate in Winnipeg relative to Brandon (a city without BSL) was significantly lower post-BSL in people of all ages and more pronounced in those aged < 20 years.
- Two key tables within the study illustrate the lowering of hospitalizations for serious dog bite injuries by comparing the pre-implementation and post-implementation period of pit bull bans in Manitoba. For instance, Table 3 depicts all Manitoba jurisdictions combined in the years 1984 to 2006, which showed an -18.1% change in hospitalization incident rate and jurisdictions that implemented BSL sometime during the same years showed a -21.5% change in incident rate.
- Table 4, which focuses on ages 0-20 years, depicts an even greater reduction in the hospitalization incident rate. In this table, all Manitoba jurisdictions combined in the years 1984 to 2006 showed a -25.5% change in hospitalization incident rate and jurisdictions that implemented BSL sometime during the same years showed a -27.4% change in incident rate. Thus the conclusion that BSL appeared more effective in protecting those aged 20-years and younger.
- When jurisdictions were used as their own controls in a pre/post comparison of incidence of dog-bite injury hospitalizations, no significant reduction in incidence was observed in the period after breed-specific legislation (BSL) was implemented. When temporal and geographical variations were introduced in a generalized estimating equations model comparing urban jurisdictions alone, hospitalization rate in Winnipeg (city with BSL) relative to Brandon (city without BSL) was lower after implementation of legislation.
- Despite the study limitations listed, trends in population-level outcomes studied collectively suggest that BSL in Manitoba may have decreased dog bite hospitalizations (DBIH) in people, especially in those younger than 20 years. The results support the findings from another population-based study that showed a significant decline in DBIH over a 12-year period was associated with stricter government regulations, including breed-specific regulations, in Catalonia.