In April of 1998, eight year old Courtney Trempe was playing in a neighbour’s backyard, north of Toronto, when she was attacked and killed by the neighbour’s five-year-old male Bull Mastiff. The dog was subsequently destroyed. The Humane Society of Canada was called as an expert witness to give evidence in the subsequent coroner's inquest into her death.

The following material is available from our site:

Verdict of Coroner's Jury

Findings of the Jury

Letter to the Chief of Police concerning the case

 

The following letters have been received from various political levels and jurisdictions. To be completely fair, we have simply scanned these letters and reproduced them here:

Le 30 mai 1999

Monsieur le premier ministre Lucien Bouchard
Edifice J
885, Grand Allee est, 3e etage
Quebec QC G1A 1A2

Objet : Campagne nationale de sensibilisation sur les morsures causées par les chiens

Monsieur le premier ministre,

Je vous écris pour confirmer que The Humane Society of Canada est prête à investir un million de dollars de ses ressources pour prévenir les morsures causées par les chiens. Toutefois, nous ne pouvons le faire sans votre aide et celle des gouvernements fédéral, provinciaux et territoriaux.

Nous vous demandons votre aide afin de travailler de concert avec d’autres élus et agences gouvernementales dans le but d’enrayer ce sérieux risque pour la santé qui existe dans toutes les communautés du Canada.

J’ai récemment servi de témoin expert dans une enquête du coroner sur le décès d’une fillette en Ontario. L’année dernière, Courtney Trempe, huit ans, jouait dans la cour d’un voisin juste au nord de Toronto lorsqu’elle a été attaquée et tuée par le chien de cinq ans du voisin. Les recommandations du coroner Barry McLellan et du jury sont détaillées et pratiques.

Ces recommandations sont toutefois très préoccupantes car elles reprennent celles qui ont été émises par le coroner Pierre Brochu, du Québec, ainsi que par le jury, en février 1998, par rapport aux circonstances entourant le décès de Dariane Blouin, cinq ans, de St-Tites-des-Caps, qui a été tué par deux chiens de traîneau appartenant à son père.

D’un point de vue personnel, en tant que parent de deux jeunes enfants (Pierce, neuf ans, et ma fille Elan, quatre ans), je suis extrêmement préoccupé par les cas d’attaque au cours desquels des enfants et des adultes ont été blessés ou même tués, et les chiens ont été euthanasiés.

Le Canada est un pays où les gens aiment beaucoup les animaux. On estime qu’il y a 4 millions de chiens et 4,5 millions de chats vivant dans des foyers à travers le Canada. Une étude menée par Statistique Canada estime que sur 11,5 millions de foyers, un foyer sur deux possède un animal de compagnie quelconque, qu’il s’agisse d’oiseaux, de hamsters ou de poissons.

Selon nous, le thème sous-jacent de la campagne nationale de sensibilisation aux morsures causées par les chiens est que la société doit protéger les enfants et les adultes tout en faisant la promotion de l’appréciation des avantages de la relation immémoriale qui existe entre les gens et les animaux. Je suis convaincu que vous comprendrez qu’il est de la responsabilité de tous d’essayer d’atteindre ces objectifs.

Par conséquent, je vous écris non seulement au nom de nos 110 000 partisans à travers le pays et des millions de familles qui vivent avec un chien à la maison, mais également au nom des millions de Canadiens qui préfèrent ne pas avoir de chiens et dont les intérêts doivent aussi être respectés.

Le fait de protéger nos enfants contre les dangers de la circulation, de les inciter à ne pas parler aux étrangers, à ne pas prendre de drogues et à ne pas fumer fait partie de la vie de tous les jours dans la société actuelle. Dans le même ordre d’idée, nous devons apprendre à nos enfants et à tout le monde à reconnaître le moment où un chien va attaquer et à éviter de se retrouver dans ce genre de situation.

Nous ne devons toutefois pas oublier que, pendant des milliers d’années, les chiens ont été nos amis, nos protecteurs et nos compagnons. En fait, la plupart des 4 millions de chiens au Canada n’ont jamais mordu ou tué personne. Nous devons atteindre un équilibre dans cette relation positive et de longue date non pas en effrayant les gens, mais bien en aidant le public en général, ainsi que les propriétaires de chiens, en leur montrant à développer un respect sain et être sensibilisés face à la manière dont nous interagissons avec les chiens dans notre société.

Nous croyons que la meilleure façon d’y parvenir est par l’entremise d’une campagne nationale de sensibilisation aux morsures causées par les chiens qui offre des objectifs à court, moyen et long terme ainsi que des résultats prévus spécifiques.

Pour être couronnée de succès, cette campagne doit comprendre un certain nombre d’éléments cruciaux qui auront pour résultat un programme équilibré d’éducation et de mise en application. La campagne devra comprendre au moins les éléments suivants :
  • un examen de l’efficacité des lois civiles et criminelles actuelles au Canada et dans les autres pays
  • l’expérience de ces territoires au niveau du lancement d’initiatives en éducation du public pour «enseigner la prévention» contre les morsures causées par les chiens et pour encourager les propriétaires d’animaux à être plus responsables (c.-à-d. la stérilisation, l’obligation d’obtenir un permis pour les éleveurs et les dresseurs, la formation sur le traitement humain pour les propriétaires envers leurs animaux, l’utilisation de harnais, de laisses, de muselières, etc.)
  • la mise en place d’une agence nationale pour faire la collecte et l’analyse des attaques d’animaux rapportées et les décès qu’elles ont causés afin de les documenter et de mieux comprendre pourquoi ces attaques se produisent et ce que nous pouvons faire pour les prévenir
  • des recommandations spécifiques à propos d’une campagne multimédia diversifiée visant à réduire le nombre et la fréquence de ces tragédies
  • des recommandations à propos des agences gouvernementales et de la coopération interagence nécessaires à l’atteinte de ces objectifs.

The Humane Society of Canada est prête à contribuer au financement, à partager son savoir-faire et à aider à incorporer ce type de programme aux initiatives d’éducation publique principales et aux programmes scolaires dans toutes les communautés du Canada.

Nous sommes également prêts à contribuer à la mise en place et à l’exploitation d’une agence nationale qui sera responsable de surveiller et d’analyser les cas de morsures causées par les chiens ainsi que les raisons de ces cas, d’effectuer des recherches scientifiques et d’aider à mettre en œuvre des mesures plus efficaces pour encourager les propriétaires d’animaux à être plus responsables et à réduire les cas de morsures causées par les chiens, ainsi qu’à mieux comprendre les soins médicaux requis pour les victimes de morsures.

Pour qu’une agence et un programme éducatif de ce genre remportent du succès, ils doivent parvenir à créer des mécanismes efficaces et soutenus qui pourront être mis en œuvre efficacement dans les communautés à l’échelle nationale.

À cette fin, en supposant que The Humane Society of Canada soit chef de file de la mise en place et de l’exploitation de ces initiatives, nous sommes prêts à investir nos ressources pour une valeur de un million de dollars afin de procéder à l’élaboration de ces programmes éducatifs dans les plus brefs délais.

Je suis conscient de votre préoccupation personnelle en ce qui concerne le bien-être des enfants et des animaux. C’est pourquoi je me réjouis à la perspective de travailler avec vous sur ces questions importantes au niveau des préoccupations sociales.

En attente de votre réponse, je vous pris d’agréer, Monsieur le premier ministre, l’expression de mes sentiments les meilleurs.

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NOTA : Une copie complète des résultats de l’enquête du coroner en Ontario est disponible (en anglais) sur notre site Web à www.humanesociety.com

 

29th May 1999

Rt. Honourable Jean Chretien
Office of the Prime Minister
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario

Re: National Dog Bite Awareness Campaign

Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing on to confirm that The Humane Society of Canada is willing to commit $ 1 million of our resources to prevent dog bites. However, we can't do it without your help and that of the Provincial and Territorial Governments

We are asking for your help in working together with other elected officials and government agencies in a concerted effort to solve this serious health crisis which exists in every community across Canada.

I recently gave expert evidence at a Coroner's Inquest into the death of an Ontario girl. Last year, eight year old Courtney Trempe was playing in a neighbour's backyard just north of Toronto, when she was attacked and killed by the neighbour's five year old dog. The recommendations by Coroner Barry McLellan and the jury are both detailed and practical.

However, they are also greatly disturbing - because they echo those made in February 1998 by Quebec Coroner Pierre Brochu and the jury in their report of the circumstances of the death of five year old Dariane Blouin of St.Tite-des-Caps who was killed by two sled dogs owned by his father.

On a personal note, as a parent with two small children (Pierce is now nine years old and my daughter Elan is four years of age), I am deeply concerned over cases where children and adults have been harmed or even killed, and the dogs destroyed as a result.

Canada is a nation of people who care deeply about animals. There are an estimated 4 million dogs and 4.5 million cats alone living in homes across the country. A study by Statistics Canada estimates that out of 11.5 million households, that every second home has a pet of some kind, everything from birds to hamsters to fish.

In our view, the underlying theme of a National Dog Bite Awareness Campaign is that society needs to protect children and adults, while at the same time fostering an appreciation of the benefits of the age old relationship that exists between people and animals. I am certain you would agree that working to achieve these objectives must be everyone's responsibility.

Therefore, while I am writing to you on behalf of our 110,000 supporters nationwide and on behalf of the millions of families living with their dogs - I am also writing to you on behalf of those millions of Canadians who chose not to own dogs and whose interests also need to be respected.

The idea of "street proofing" our children, protecting them from the hazards of traffic, talking to strangers, taking drugs are all a part of living in today's society. In a like minded fashion, we need to teach our children and others that they should know how to recognize and avoid when dogs are going to attack.

While at the same time, we should never forget that for centuries, dogs have been our friends, our protectors and our companions. Indeed, most of the 4 million dogs in Canada never bite or kill humans. We need to strike a balance in this long and positive relationship not by making people fearful, but by helping the public at large, and dog owners, by teaching them to develop a healthy respect and awareness of how we interact with dogs in our society.

We believe this can best be accomplished by a National Dog Bite Awareness Campaign that provides realistic short, medium and long range goals and with specific measured deliverables.

In order to be successful, this campaign would have to embody a number of critical elements, which would result in a balanced program of education and enforcement and at the very least, would include:

  • a review of the effectiveness of existing civil and criminal legislation in Canada and other countries;
  • the experience of these jurisdictions in launching public education initiatives to "street proof" against dog bites and to encourage more responsible pet ownership (e.g. spaying and neutering, requiring breeders and trainers to be licensed, humane training of owners and their dogs, animals being kept on a harness, leash, muzzle, etc.)
  • establishment of a national agency to collect and analyze the reports of animal attacks and related fatalities to record and better understand why these attacks take place and what we can do to prevent them;
  • specific recommendations for a multimedia and multifaceted campaign to reduce the number and frequency of these tragedies;
  • recommendations on what government agencies and what interagency cooperation would be necessary to achieve these objectives.

The Humane Society of Canada is prepared to assist with the funding, expertise and delivery needed to incorporate this type of program into mainstream public education initiatives and school curricula in every community across Canada.

We are also prepared to assist with the establishment and operation of a nationwide agency that will track and analyze dog bites and the reasons why they take place, carry out scientific research, and work to develop even more effective measures to encourage responsible pet ownership and reduce dog bites, and better understand the patterns of medical care needed for dog bite victims.

In order for such an agency and an educational program to succeed, they must result in the creation of effective and sustained mechanisms that can be effectively implemented in every community nationwide.

To this end, provided that The Humane Society of Canada takes a lead role in the establishment and operation of these initiatives, we are willing to commit $ 1 million of our resources to begin these educational programs as soon as possible.

I am aware of your own personal concern for the welfare of children and animals, and I look forward to working together with you on these important issues of social concern.

Awaiting your reply, I remain, yours sincerely,


Michael O'Sullivan
Executive Director

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NOTE: A full copy of the findings of the Coroner's Inquest can be found by visiting our website

 

Humane Society of Canada estimates someone suffers a dog bite in Canada every 60 seconds, yet no national prevention program in place

(TORONTO, Ontario - May 25, 2003) - The Humane Society of Canada today launched a public service campaign as part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 22-29) to provide tips to parents and dog owners in a campaign to reduce dog bite incidents. Media reports from across Canada frequently report dog attacks, yet governments typically react with legislation and fines, not education and prevention.

"If we can streetproof our kids against strangers, why not strange dogs?" says Michael O’Sullivan, CEO, Humane Society of Canada. "We can have legislation, but fines arrive after the damage is done - we need a more balanced program of education for dog owners and parents backed-up by smart legislation and law enforcement."

With six million dogs in Canada - one for every five humans - dogs are a part of most people’s daily lives, from the cities to the most remote parts of the country. But O’Sullivan says unlike the US, where Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control tracks dog bites, Canada has no tracking mechanism, so no concerted government action is taken. "Without stats, little national analysis of reasons for an attack is conducted, which means no research is undertaken on how to prevent future attacks on children and other animals."

Streetproofing Tips for Parents

A series of three ads created by TAXI, an award-winning advertising agency in Toronto, will run in transit shelters, magazines and newspapers across Canada. The ads feature graphic images of children with dog bite scars as well as a full-sized image of a dog with a small caption near its mouth that reads "If you’re close enough to read this, you’ve made the same mistake five-year-old Tina Philips made before she was severely mauled." The ads ask people to write or call the federal government with their concerns and offers more information and safety tips on the Society’s Dog Bite Awareness Page. Some tips:

  • Encourage children to be aware of all dogs in the neighbourhood
  • Teach them not to pet strange dogs, even if the owner says "it’s okay"
  • When petting any dog, offer a closed hand first to let the animal smell it first
  • Don’t try to feed or taunt dogs with food
  • If confronted by an angry dog, don’t panic; try to put a bicycle or jacket between you and the dog. Throw food, a stick or ball behind the dog to distract him/her.

"While our dogs are a part of our family, it’s important to teach children to respect dogs and understand they’re not people," says O’Sullivan. "By educating kids, they can enjoy the wonderful aspects of these faithful and trustworthy animals, while avoiding problems."

Tips for Dog Owners

O’Sullivan says that responsible dog owners play a huge role in preventing dog bite incidents by having their dogs spayed or neutered, choosing the right kind of dog for your living situation, and investing the time and energy to properly train dogs from the time they’re puppies. Some tips:

  • Puppies develop personalities between 8-12 weeks, they need and want attention
  • Do not send your dog away to be trained without you - training and obedience will help you control you dog in most situations
  • Train your dog using rewards of food or affection, punishment doesn’t work
  • Make sure your dog is socialized and familiar with people, animals and the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood

Attention TV and Print Public Service Directors: You can download a high-res version of the ads from the Humane Society web site at www.humanesociety.com or call Diane Madeiros at 416-640-5525 x244.

About the PSA Ads

The ads were created by TAXI, and feature shots by renowned photographer, Russell Monk under the creative direction of Taxi’s Zak Mroueh and Lance Martin.
Production was courtesy of Connie Gorsline, with printing by Electric Picture Company.

For more information on how to prevent dog bites, please visit www.humanesociety.com or phone the toll-free number at 1-800-641-KIND.

CONTACT: Al Hickey or Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has 6 grandchildren.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 100 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada works to protect dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals, horses, birds, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. They carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, fund studies to help animals and the environment, work to pass laws to protect animals, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

A registered charity, The Humane Society of Canada depends entirely on donations to support our programs to help animals and the environment. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes. If you would like to support our campaign to protect animals and the earth, please make a donation at www.humanesociety.com. Because when it comes to fighting cruelty, we don’t give up. Ever.

 

 

What is it now? I have to worry about something else? No, but you need to be aware of it.

  1. You remembered to 'street proof' your kids. You told them to look both ways before they cross the street. To wear a helmet when they're riding their bike, skateboard or rollerblades. You've told them not to talk to, or accept rides from, strangers. You've warned them about drugs and smoking. What about dogs?

  2. Dogs are one of the greatest friends your children or your family will ever have.

    They are our friends, our companions, and they teach our children responsibility and respect for others.

  3. In fact, all of the above reasons are part of the problem. Most dogs never bite anyone, so we become busy, or don't even think about it, or even worse pretend it could never happen to us or to our children. That simply isn't the case.

  4. Please read the section on Tips for Child Safety and Tips for Dog Owners and explain and practice the safety tips with your children.

  5. Never under any circumstances leave even your family dog alone with infants or small children. We need to be very clear on this, because children have been maimed and killed this way.

  6. We all agree that it's important to teach children responsibility, but be realistic. If you have a small child and a very large dog, or even a very excitable smaller dog, don't ask your child to try and walk the dog by him/herself. The last person in the world who will probably admit to you that they can't walk your dog by themselves is your child.

  7. Be safe; enjoy your dogs and those in the neighbourhood. Be aware of the need for safety for your children and your family.
  1. Your dog is going to be a member of your family for at least twelve to fourteen years. Make sure that you pick the right dog for the right reason. Some dog owners, unfortunately mostly men, often want to get a macho dog because they think it reflects their own personality. Do everyone a favour, and lighten up. Small dogs also make great pets. If you want to be macho, go work out at the gym.

  2. Sometimes, people will also buy a dog to guard their home, especially after a break in. Our advice is to get an alarm system instead. Although there are many reputable dog trainers out there, you should be aware that there is no licensing or monitoring system for dog trainers. A badly trained, or a cruelly trained guard dog is a time bomb waiting to go off. If your guard dog bites or even kills someone, you will never forgive yourself, and you will be visiting tragedy on someone else, your family and your dog. You will also be leaving yourself wide open to the possibility of criminal charges and civil lawsuits.

  3. There are over one hundred and fifty breeds of dogs and even more crossbred dogs. Your local humane society or animal shelter has lots of beautiful crossbred dogs, which need loving homes. We don't recommend that you buy dogs from a pet shop because humane societies and animal shelters already have to kill too many unwanted dogs and cats.

  4. If you are determined to buy a purebred dog, then visit at least four different breeders and make sure you see the mother and father, and see the way the dogs and puppies react to the breeder, and look at the way the breeder treats his/her dogs. If the breeder cannot provide you with registration papers, or says they will mail them to you, then don't buy a dog or puppy from them.

  5. Please, please do not allow your dogs or cats, whether they are purebreds or crossbreds, to have even one litter. An estimated one million unwanted dogs and cats are killed each year in Canada because there are simply not enough loving homes for all of them. Even if you think you can find a home for your puppies and kittens, that means fewer homes for someone else who has the same idea as you.

  6. Be aware that some dogs are better off living in the country, rather than in the city. If you can't spare more than two hours (or more) every day to exercise your dog properly, then don't get a big dog that needs a lot of exercise. Even smaller dogs should be walked two or three times a day, for a total of at least an hour.

  7. In today's fast paced world, the most precious thing we all have in short supply is time. Most of us are also two income families and no one is home during the daytime. Make sure that you adopt the right dog for your family. If no one is home during the day, then do not adopt a puppy, unless you are willing to take at least four weeks off to train him or her.

  8. Puppies develop their personalities between the ages of 8 - 12 weeks, and they are very social pack animals. They need and want attention.
  9. We're going to give you some hard truths, which you may not want to hear. If you are not around to give them attention, then you are only being selfish and thoughtless. You will not be able to train your puppy and will wind up causing heartbreak for yourself and your puppy. You will wind up with a beautiful six-month-old young dog, who chews, barks, defecates, urinates or is very aggressive and anti-social, or all of the above.

  10. You will break your heart, and your dog's heart, when you decide to call it quits and give him/her up for adoption. You also place an unfair burden on your local humane society or animal shelter because you expect them to find a new home for your young dog, and will blame them if your dog has to be put to sleep. The new owner also has to undo all of your months of neglect, and retrain your dog.

  11. Some pet shops and breeders say that if you work all day, then simply put the dog into a cage or a crate and train the puppy this way. In our view, this is absolute nonsense. Puppies and dogs are social animals and members of your family. They don't deserve to live in a crate or a cage any more than you do. No matter how attractive this solution seems, it is a mistake for you, your family, and your dog.

  12. You may be able to adopt an older dog that is already fully trained, but had to be given up because a person was moving or developed allergies. Even so, be prepared to take time off to spend with your dog for the first several weeks, until he/she becomes accustomed to your new home.

  13. Spay or neuter your dogs. This will reduce their aggression and will make them a healthier happier pet. Another message for the macho guys out there. Whatever your hang-ups are about having your dog neutered, get over it. Your dog will still be a real male dog and at the same time be more obedient and won't be out roaming after females in heat and contributing to the pet overpopulation crisis.

  14. Train your dog using rewards of food and affection and encouragement. Never use punishment because it doesn't work and is harmful. Carefully investigate any dog trainer and make sure he/she really knows what they are doing. Do not send your dog away to be trained without you. You need to be with the dog and be trained alongside him/her. Visit other dogs the trainer has worked with.

  15. Make sure your dog is socialized and familiar with people, animals, and the sights and sounds of your neighbourhood.

  16. Never tease or play aggressive games with your dog. How is your dog supposed to understand when and where he/she can be aggressive or what their limits should be?

  17. Be aware that when you pat your thigh and tell your dog to jump up on your leg, you are being submissive and encouraging your dog to dominate you. You are teaching your dog that it is ok to be aggressive.

  18. Dogs chase smaller animals because they regard them as prey. Encouraging this type of behaviour teaches your dog that it is ok to chase anything they regard as prey. Why shouldn't your dog then regard children or cats or smaller dogs as prey?

  19. Dogs often bark when someone comes onto your property or knocks on your door. While this is desirable, do not encourage your dog to go overboard with his protective behaviour. If you do encourage him, remember you may not be able to easily get him to turn this behaviour on and off like a light switch.

  20. If you don't know how your dog behaves around children, then don't tell children that it is ok to pet your dog. Also use your own good judgment. If the child seems nervous, or too aggressive, or has food in his/her hand, don't let them pet your dog. If you tell a child that it is ok to pet your dog, and their parent(s) says no, don't take it personally. They are only looking out for their child's best interests.

  21. Some dogs are also fearful or aggressive around children. Don't try and break your dog's habits at the expense of your own children or someone else's children.

  22. If you have an aggressive dog, the worst thing you can do is be in denial. "My dog is just playing rough" or "My dog would never bite anyone" are famous last words. If you have an aggressive dog then seek professional help immediately from your veterinarian. Don't put it off for any reason, and do not wait for your dog to "grow out of it." That simply isn't going to happen. The problem is only going to get worse for everyone involved, including your dog.

  23. If your dog's aggressive behaviour cannot be eliminated, then you may decide to purchase a humane muzzle when you walk him/her outside.
  24. Whatever you do, if you have to give up, or even have a veterinarian or animal shelter humanely kill your dog - do not under any circumstances rush out and get another dog. Try and figure out what went wrong, and honestly ask yourself if you were at fault. Be fair to yourself, your family, your neighbours, and your next dog. If you have had a particularly serious incident, you may even decide not to get another dog. Whatever you decide, have a cooling off period of at least several months and think the decision through logically and carefully.

  25. Some well-meaning owners take their dogs everywhere with them. They tie their dogs up outside of restaurants, outdoor cafes and stores - and then leave them alone "just for a minute" or "just for a little while." This is an accident waiting to happen, because your dog is surrounded by a cacophony of sights, sounds, smells and people and children passing by (some with food in their hand or their shopping bags). When your dog is tied up, he/she has their movement restricted and they can become more easily frightened or territorial or may refuse to take no for answer when that child refuses to give up their ice cream cone. Give everyone a break, especially your dog, and leave him/her at home in familiar surroundings.

  26. Never put your hand in between two dogs that are fighting with each other. You will only be bitten by one or both dogs. Try commanding them to stop. If this doesn't work, then grab one of the dogs by both of his/her hind legs and pull hard. He/she should let go. If this does not work, try and distract the dogs by whistling, throwing a ball or stick. Although it may seem like forever, the dogs will actually stop fighting very quickly if left on their own.

  27. Sometimes when a male and female dog are having sex, the two may become stuck together. The dogs may cry out in pain, and try and pull away from each other, adopting unusual positions. All you can do is keep people away from both dogs until they relax and separate on their own. If you try and forcibly separate them you will only injure both dogs and will likely be bitten for your efforts. Some people may suggest that you throw a pail of water on the dogs, but this will not help. What will help is having your pet spayed or neutered so your dog doesn't become involved in one of these incidents.

  28. If you are not certain how your dog will react under new and unfamiliar conditions (for example, like taking them camping or to someone's home for the first time), then make sure your dog is under firm, but very tight, control for everyone's sake.

  29. Dogs bite due to a combination of genetics, training and environment and this involves factors which can include, but are not limited to: food, toys, aggression, defense, fear, injury, illness, age, sex, and prey.

  30. Some pet owners park their vehicle and leave their dogs in the back of their pickup truck, or inside their car with the windows rolled down slightly. Your dog may try to protect his/her new "territory" or may become frustrated, angry or scared due to the unfamiliarity of his/her surroundings and this can be dangerous for children or adults who try to pet him/her.

    Please leave your dog at home, or leave someone with your vehicle. Cars can be very dangerous places for your pet, in hot weather heat stroke can occur, as can hypothermia in the winter. Never carry your dog in the back of an open pick up truck - this is very dangerous for your dog and other drivers.

  31. No one expects that you can plan to prevent or control every situation. But you can be aware of potential problems and exercise reasonable care and supervision to prevent and reduce the frequency and severity of dog bites.

Please read the sections on Tips for child safety and Tips for parents.

Remember to have fun with your dog. They are one of the greatest friends you will ever have.

My son Pierce is 17 years old, and my daughter, Élan is 12 years old. We also have three huskies, 'Sionnaich', 'Taiga' and 'Chewie', a german shepherd named 'LB' and one cat, 'Pasha'. Just because I have worked with all kinds of animals for over 30 years doesn't mean my children have any special protection from dogs or other animals. The only thing I can do is teach them respect, not fear, and to teach them prevention. No matter how hard I try, or how much I'd like it to happen, neither my wife nor I can be with them all the time.

  1. Be calm, gentle and as quiet as you can around dogs. They get tired, cranky, and excited just like you do. Because a dog can't speak to you and let you know these things, you need to try and watch for signs that let you know when the dog is becoming too scared or excited.

  2. Try and get to know the dogs in your area. Do not try and pet a strange dog, even if he/she is with the owner and the owner says it's ok. Sometimes even a dog owner doesn't always know how their dog will behave around children.

  3. Never approach a dog that is tied up, or that is in a small space. Although you don't mean to, this can frighten the dog, or cause him/her to try and protect their space the same way you might not want to share your favourite play space with another child.

  4. Dogs also have favourite toys, just like you do. This may be an old blanket, a rubber toy, a ball, or a chewbone. The dog will not want to share this with you, and you should never try to approach a dog when he/she has it in their mouth or near them.

  5. Imagine eating your favourite chocolate bar or ice cream cone, and having another child come along and even think about taking it away from you. Dogs are just the same. If a dog is eating, then you should not approach him/her because they might think you're trying to eat their dog food, even though you and I both know that it's just too yucky to even think about.

  6. Even if you're eating your favourite snack or treat, if a dog tries to grab it, throw it so it falls behind him/her. In their excitement to get your snack or treat, not every dog has good manners. Whatever you do, don't try and stop the dog from taking your snack or your treat, because the dog may try and jump up and take it from you. Don't worry; your parents will get you another one.

  7. You know how upset or angry you become when other children tease you by calling you names or pushing you. Dogs feel the same way, so please, don't ever tease a dog with food, or a toy or a stick or anything else.

  8. When you approach a dog, even your own dog, don't pet him or her without letting them see and smell your closed hand first (don't let your fingers stick out). This way you don't surprise or scare your dog or another dog. Remember dogs don't see as well as people do, and they really depend on their sense of smell and hearing.

  9. You know what it feels like when your parents and relatives rub the hair on the top of your head and tell you how big you've grown. You kind of like it, but it also kind of bothers you at the same time. Dogs feel just the same way. When you pet a dog, at first try scratching under his chin and even gently rubbing his chest. If this is ok with him/her then you can try gently scratching behind their ears or the top of their head.

  10. Never rub a dog along his/her side or grab their tail, because believe it or not, when one dog tries to scare or pick a fight with another dog, this where the trouble first starts.

  11. Dogs like to take naps a lot, just like you. So if your dog, or someone else is sleeping, remember that he/she may be having a bad dream and if you wake them up too suddenly, you may scare them without meaning to.

  12. You know how your mother and father try to make sure that no one hurts you. Mother dogs are the same with their puppies. Wait for one of the puppies to come over to you, and keep an eye on the mother to make sure its ok with her. Only do this if your parents are with you and they say it's ok.

  13. Have you ever been in a staring contest with someone? That's when you stare into another person's eyes to see who blinks their eyes or looks away first. Try it.

    It feels kind of weird or uncomfortable, doesn't it? Dogs are just like us. If you stare into a dog's eyes, this is the way another dog would pick a fight or even scare another dog. Even though you don't mean to, you will confuse your dog and he/she may be scared or think you are trying to pick a fight. Some children also hold onto the dog's head while they are staring into his/her eyes, and the dog can feel trapped or frightened.

  14. You know what it feels like when kids play too rough with you by pushing or shoving? Did you know that when a dog jumps up on your leg, that this is the way dogs play rough? Even though it seems like fun, this is where the trouble first starts because you are actually telling the dog that it's ok for him/her to play rough with you.

  15. This next one is really tough. You need to know that while most dogs will never bite you, there are some that will. I hope you never meet one of them, but if you do and your parents, or older brother or sister or an adult is nearby, call for help. If they are not around, or too far away, then it's going to be up to you to try and help yourself.

  16. You will be scared, but try to be as brave as you can.

  17. If you have a bicycle, a jacket, a wagon, a tree branch, or anything else lying around, try and put it between you and the dog.

  18. If you have some food, something in your pocket, or can pick up a stick, or a ball, or even a stone, throw it as far away as you can behind the dog: the dog may run after it.

  19. If you think the dog is going to bite you, try your hardest not to scream or run away, because this will only show the dog that you are afraid and will cause the dog to bite you.

  20. Never turn your back on a dog and try to run away, because the dog will always run faster than you, and you won't be able to keep your eyes on the dog.

  21. Instead, back away slowly, and talk quietly to the dog, telling him what a good dog he/she is.

  22. If you can, try and walk slowly into a yard, or up onto someone's porch, or someplace safe where the dog can't get at you.

  23. If the dog does attack, you will have to decide to do one of two things:

    • Some people say that the best thing to do is to lie down on the ground, and curl up into a ball, making a fist with your hands and covering your neck. Sometimes the dog will still bark and may still bite you, but eventually the dog will lose interest and will go away.

    • Other people say the best thing to do is to pick up something and throw it at the dog as hard as you can, and kick and fight and scream to try and scare the dog into running away and leaving you alone.

    • You will have to make a choice very quickly, and no one can be sure which is the right one.


  24. You may be tired of hearing it, but it is true that practice makes perfect. Work with your parents and friends and learn how to respect our four-legged friends and how to protect yourself at the same time.

  25. Watch for early warning signs that a dog may be getting ready to bite. The dog may growl or bark. Someone may have told you that if a dog wags his/her tail they will never bite, and that is wrong. Sometimes when a dog is getting ready to bite, he will also wag his tail because he is very nervous or angry.

  26. You know how sometimes you fight with your best friend, or with another child you don't know very well? Once in a while, dogs do the same thing. If two dogs are fighting, even if one of them is your dog, never try and stop them. Because dogs will be so excited, they will bite you by mistake. It may look like they are really hurting each other, but there is nothing you can do except call one of your parents or an adult and let them break up the fight.

  27. Sometimes two dogs may become stuck together. Never try and separate them, because you might hurt the dogs or be bitten by one of them. Instead call an adult and ask them to help.

  28. It's great that your parents want you to help out around the house by walking your dog. However, if your dog is too big for you to handle, even on a leash, then don't be afraid to ask your parents to come with you.

  29. Remember that most dogs never bite anyone, but it is always better to be prepared.

Why don't you have your parents read the other sections with you - the ones dealing with TIPS FOR DOG OWNERS and TIPS FOR PARENTS.

There are at least 4.5 million cats and 4 million dogs in Canada. There are an estimated 11.5 million homes and every second one of them has a pet of some kind.

The good news is that most of us regard dogs and cats and other house pets as members of our family. They share our homes and our hearts. They are our friends and our companions and most of them don't ever bite anyone.

The bad news is when they do bite, dogs are usually the pets that deliver the most severe bites, and children are the ones most often hurt, or sometimes even killed.

The Humane Society of Canada is taking a lead role to try and prevent as many bites as possible, and to reinforce the positive relationship which has existed between humans and dogs for thousands of years.

However, since dog bites take place under a wide range of circumstances and for a wide range of reasons, we need to add a word of caution here. There are no hard and fast rules about how to prevent dog bites or even how to stop an attack from resulting in serious injury or even death. For these reasons, The Humane Society of Canada accepts no liability for any use or application of this information.

We also need to advise you that by law, you are required to report every single animal bite to the Medical Officer of Health in your area.

Children have the kind of energy most of us still wish we had. And they love to play.

While dogs have a very acute sense of hearing and a well developed sense of smell, they do not see as well as humans do, and they do not see colours, only shades of greys, whites and black. While some breeds have been identified statistically as causing more bites, we do not believe that simply passing breed specific legislation as some countries and jurisdictions have done will accomplish what people are trying to do - namely prevent the frequency and severity of dog bites.

For example, say an American Pit Bull Terrier bites someone. Is this dog, because of its size, tenacity and breed, likely to cause more damage? The answer is likely, yes.

On the other hand, can a Scottish Terrier cause harm to a six month old child that still hasn't learned to walk? The answer is also likely, yes.

The reason why breed specific legislation doesn't work is just like telling a child that when they cross the street they need to really watch out for a truck, but you also need to tell them about the small cars.

Having said this, people who own, or who are aware of larger, more powerful dogs need to be aware that the potential for physical harm is much greater should this type of dog bite someone - and they need to take extra precautions.

Unfortunately, many children accidentally cause some dogs to attack, either from their games or by simply playing with one another. Anyone who has been around children know that these games are accompanied by yelling, screaming, laughter, running, jumping, and rough housing.

Some children will also try to encourage their own family dog, or a neighbour's dog, to join in the fun. They may crawl on the ground and make animal noises, or they may rough house with the dog, making sudden jerking movements near the dog's head, ears, side or tail. They may try to do all of these things with a very young dog, with an old dog, a nursing female with puppies, or with a dog that simply wants to be left alone.

The most important thing for everyone to remember is that your dog, or in fact any dog, regards you not as a person, but as another dog. And if another dog teased or challenged or frightened your dog, then the other dog would not likely be surprised if your dog fled, growled, or even bit to make him stop.

We need to find a balance, so that our children, their parents and their relatives can recognize that kids can still have fun and play with dogs. However, we need to be aware that even well intentioned behaviour can result in a bite. The key is awareness and respect for your dog and other dogs - not to instill a fear of dogs in children and adults.

"... The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association recognizes that aggressiveness in all dogs and the subsequent dangers to the public are largely a product of inappropriate methods of genetic selection, rearing and training ..."

"... Health Canada recently reported through the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program that the data collected concluded 'it was clear that dog bites are, to a point, preventable. The results support the argument that young children, because of their lack of judgment or their difficulty in recognizing the dog's warning signs, are more likely to act in ways the dog considers threatening ..."

"... According to [a 1994 national telephone survey by] the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, every 40 seconds a dog bites someone [in the United States] severely enough to warrant medical attention. Put another way, every year in the United States, almost 2 percent of the population is bitten by a dog. That's about 4.7 million bites, of which nearly 800,000 require medical attention ...

"... A study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Journal [in 1998] found that the median age of patients bitten was 15 years, with children; especially boys aged 5 to 9 years, having the highest incidence rate. The authors write that it has been estimated that almost half of all children have been bitten by a dog at some point in their lives ... Children seen [in emergency departments] were more likely than older persons to be bitten on the face, neck and head. ... Considering the risk to large parts of the population, especially to children, it is necessary that effective preventive strategies be developed and applied to reduce the painful and costly burden of dog bites. We know little about what strategies work or do not work. More knowledge is needed through a combination of enhanced and coordinated dog bite reporting systems, expanded population-based surveys, and implementation and evaluation of preventive trials. Particularly for the more severe episodes, information needs to be obtained regarding high risk situations, high risk dogs, and what leads to successful preventive interventions ... "

" ... In Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from 1979 to 1994, there were 279 people killed by dog attacks. More recently, during 1995 - 1996, 25 people died as a result of dog attacks. Of these, 20 were children under 12 years of age ..."