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When is a "provoked" bite not okay?

Discussion in 'Dog Debates' started by Valco, Feb 28, 2015.

  1. Valco

    Valco Puppy

    I saw something last night that really disturbed me, I will explain at the end of this post so it doesn't overtake my actual question. I also posted this here in the controversial thread because I think this topic has the potential to get heated.

    In the purest sense of the law, dog bites are usually viewed as "provoked" - meaning someone/thing caused a reactionary bite, or "unprovoked," - meaning the dog bit for no apparent cause or reason. I want to make this as clean as possible (fingers crossed) so I want to remove the BSL element and the breed trait element, as the law (in theory) typically sees a dog as a dog. Also I was hoping to keep it a general discussion, with the dog being just a dog, not APBT or German Shepard or whatever. Because I realize that breed traits often play into opinions on what is acceptable and what is not.

    So when is a "provoked" bite not okay?

    In Maryland we have a "one bite law," and AC usually views dog bites as "provoked or unprovoked." Depending on the circumstance is how they deal with the dog, assuming there is no prior bite history a "provoked" bite tends to end in quarantine and that's the end of their involvement. The families are left to sort out all the legalities and cost, the end. So that brings me to why I am asking this question; Cesar 911. I turned on my TV last night and it was on (honestly didn't know he was still on TV) and as I was about to change the channel when something the father said to Cesar caught my attention and I had to watch the train wreck. His bulldog had bitten his son on 3 separate occasions, on the 2nd or 3rd bite - I can't be sure because I was too pissed off and it blurred for me, the dog went for the 3 year-olds THROAT. The father wanted to shoot the dog, the mother said no. Even Cesar agreed that going for the throat was serious and with intent to kill. Of course he did his "rehabilitation" crap anyway. I DO NOT agree with letting the dog live, just to make that clear. But my question stems from the hospital stays that the son had, here we have to report all dog bites, so in theory after the 2nd bite AC would have seized the dog. However these parents kept the dog long enough to bite THREE times. Regardless of "provoked" or not, at what point does someone step in and remove the dog? Obviously I blame the humans a bit more than the dog, if I had it my way the animals and child would be rehomed - except for the bulldog, whom I would euthanize.

    This caused many arguments at my work today, so I'm interested in your replies.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2015
  2. _unoriginal

    _unoriginal Cow Dog

    Moving this to the dog debate section.
  3. CallSignOWL

    CallSignOWL Good Dog

    hmmm. almost want to suggest a 3 strikes rule, just based on how I view things: once is an accident, twice is coincidence, but three times is a patten.

    Like, if the attack was unprovoked its an automatic out. But if there was extenuating circumstances, Id give the dog another chance.

    Three times though? No dice. That dog is too reactive and needs to be PTS.

    does that make sense?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2015
  4. BCdogs

    BCdogs Good Dog Super Moderator

    For me it would really depend on the circumstances. Why did it happen, was it my/another person's fault or the dog's, were there any warnings given before going for a bite, was the dog in a new/stressful situation, etc.
  5. Valco

    Valco Puppy

    In this case I'm assuming it's not the dogs fault (in the sense that it was not completely random). And I am mostly in favor of giving the dog the benefit of the doubt because it usually is the person's fault. But that dog bit on 3 separate occasions, person's fault or not, after the second bite shouldn't something be done?
  6. Valco

    Valco Puppy

    Yes, I agree, mostly.

    I'm not sure I would go 3 bites, 2 bites and I think there needs to be some kind of automatic behavioral/environmental assessment maybe. I know that brings in a whole new argument about resources and cost though.
  7. Tiffseagles

    Tiffseagles GRCH Dog Premium Member

    Then you make the owner pay for it.
  8. Jazzy

    Jazzy GRCH Dog

    I doubt this would help in crafting a law - probably just muddy the waters...but for me personally, I'm more interested in the intensity of the bite and the damage done vs. the frequency of the behavior.

    I like Ian Dunbar's bite scale:

    An assessment of the severity of biting problems based on an objectiveevaluation of wound pathology

    Level 1. Obnoxious or aggressive behavior but no skin-contact by teeth.

    Level 2. Skin-contact by teeth but no skin-puncture. However, may be skin nicks (less than one tenth of an inch deep) and slightbleeding caused by forward or lateral movement of teeth against skin, but no vertical punctures.

    Level 3. One to four punctures from a single bite with no puncture deeper than half the length of the dog*s canine teeth. Maybelacerations in a single direction, caused by victim pulling hand away, owner pulling dog away, or gravity (little dog jumps, bites anddrops to floor).

    Level 4. One to four punctures from a single bite with at least one puncture deeper than half the length of the dog*s canine teeth. Mayalso have deep bruising around the wound (dog held on for N seconds and bore down) or lacerations in both directions (dog hel d onand shook its head from side to side).

    Level 5. Multiple-bite incident with at least two Level 4 bites or multiple-attack incident with at least one Level 4 bite in each.

    Level 6. Victim dead.

    The above list concerns unpleasant behavior and so, to add perspective:

    Levels 1 and 2 comprise well over 99% of dog incidents. The dog is certainly not dangerous and more likely to befearful, rambunctious, or out of control. Wonderful prognosis. Quickly resolve the problem with basic training (control) —especially oodles of Classical Conditioning, numerous repetitive Retreat n' Treat, Come/Sit/Food Reward and Back -up/Approach/Food Reward sequences, progressive desensitization handling exercises, plus numerous bite-inhibition exercises andgames. Hand feed only until resolved; do NOT waste potential food rewards by feeding from a bowl.

    Level 3: Prognosis is fair to good, provided that you have owner compliance. However, treatment is both time-consuming and notwithout danger. Rigorous bite-inhibition exercises are essential.

    Levels 4: The dog has insufficient bite inhibition and is very dangerous. Prognosis is poor because of the difficulty and danger oftrying to teach bite inhibition to an adult hard-biting dog and because absolute owner-compliance is rare. Only work with the dog inexceptional circumstances, e.g., the owner is a dog professional and has sworn 100% compliance. Make sure the owner signs a form intriplicate stating that they understand and take full responsibility that: 1. The dog is a Level 4 biter and is likely to course an equivalentamount of damage WHEN it bites again (which it most probably will) and should therefore, be confined to the home at all times andonly allowed contact with adult owners. 2. Whenever, children or guests visit the house, the dog should be confined to a singlelocked-room or roofed, chain-link run with the only keys kept on a chain around the neck of each adult owner. (To prevent children orguests entering the dog's confinement area.) 3. The dog is muzzled before leaving the house and only leaves the house for visitsto a veterinary clinic. 4. The incidents have all been reported to the relevant authorities — animal control or police. Give the ownersone copy, keep one copy for your files and give one copy to the dog's veterinarian.

    Level 5 and 6: The dog is extremely dangerous and mutilates. The dog is simply not safe around people. I recommend euthanasiabecause the quality of life is so poor for dogs that have to live out their lives in solitary confinement.

    I wouldn't even classify Level 1 as something that requires any outside intervention - it's not even technically a bite; and frankly to me, level 2 is iffy also. If there was intervention it would be nice if it was along the lines of a required class on dog behavior and basic obedience and manners.

    Level 3 - I'd go with 3 bites to cover the accident, coincidence, pattern approach - also if the owners can't get their shit together by then it's not going to happen.

    Level 4 - 2 bites - meaning the owner gets 1 opportunity to work with the dog after the initial bite; and I like the stipulations Dunbar put on it.

    Level 5 & 6 - 1 bite and euthanized.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2015
  9. Valco

    Valco Puppy

    Jazzy, I like this idea of 'measuring'. :)

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