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Veterinary Preventive Medicine Lecture 3 Environmental Health and Animal Control Sabbatical – Denmark (’97-’98) Animal Control Most common area for vet employment in public health Mostly a local govt. responsibility

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Veterinary Preventive Medicine

Lecture 3

Environmental Health and Animal Control



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Animal Control

  • Most common area for vet employment in public health

  • Mostly a local govt. responsibility

  • Large cities and countries usually have a full-time administrator (usually a vet)

  • Others use part-time vet advisors or administrators


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Animal Control

  • The involved vet is often on the board of health

  • Govt. and corp. practice rotation –

    • E.g. Detroit dog pound (dog pounds tend to be the ugly underbelly of the companion animal industry)


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Animal Control Officers

  • Public Health Justification

    • Zoonoses (rabies, Toxocara, lepto, etc.)

    • Sanitation

    • Animal attacks

  • Humane considerations

    • Requires diplomacy, people skills, patience

    • 12 million dogs & cats euthanized per year in U.S. (Arkow)

    • Between 1/10 and 1/4 of nation’s pets euthanized annually

    • See JAVMA 197:1134-1139


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The Population Perspective

  • “The pet paradigm often results in costly and superfluous attention for a tree, with disregard for the forest.” (Ott, JAVMA 197:1134-1139)

  • $8 billion – spent for individual animal medicine.


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Current Animal Control Issues

  • All hammered out at local level

    • Leash laws, pooper-scooper laws

    • Rural v. urban conflicts

    • Pit bull laws

    • Ethical issues of euthanasia of strays

      • No-kill facilities

    • Enforcing vaccination laws of dogs, cats

    • Animal ownership and zoning laws


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Epidemiology of Dog Bites

  • About 2 million reported bites per year

  • About 50% of kids 4-18 report at least one bite in their life

  • 1% of all emergency room visits

  • $30 million in health care (not including other costs)


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Dog Bite Fatalities in the U.S.

  • 1979-94, 279 U.S. dog bite fatalities (DBF)

    • About 18-20 per year

    • Human rabies: about 2 every year

  • ~ 600,000 dog bites per year requiring medical attention


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1995-1996 DBF s (n=25)

  • 80% (20) are in children <12 yrs. old

    • 3 neonates, all on dog owner’s property, all involving 1 dog, all involving a sleeping child

  • 20% adults (ages 39, 60, 75, 81, 86)

  • 30% unrestrained dog off owner’s property

  • 22% restrained dog on owner’s property

  • 48% unrestrained dog on owner’s property

  • 36% involved only one dog

  • 100% of attacks by an unrestrained dog off owner’s property involved >1 dog (pack hunting instinct)


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DBF’s

  • Pit bull DBFs were twice as likely to be caused by strays as other breeds (1979-89)

    • Non-pit bull attacks were more likely to be defense of home territory

  • What do these statistics tell us about the dog’s motivation/instincts?

    • Defensive, territorial bites by individual dogs

    • Pack hunting behavior off the owner’s property

    • Predation of infants


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DBF’s

  • Is the legal view of dog attacks changing?

    • Pit bull or Rottweiler attacks in urban areas

  • Disposition of biting dogs

  • The problem with breed-specific laws – according to Dr. Stinson

  • Cat bites :

    • Poor surveillance, less tissue damage

    • Risk of P. multocida infection may be 10x higher than that of dog bite


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Measures for Preventing Dog Bites

  • Realistically evaluate environment and lifestyle and consult with a professional (e.g. vet, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to determine suitable breeds of dogs for consideration

  • Dogs with histories of aggression are inappropriate in households with children

  • Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a god and, if so, delay acquiring a dog

  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a puppy into the home of an infant or toddler


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Measures for Preventing Dog Bites

  • Spay/neuter virtually all dogs (this frequently reduces aggressive tendencies)

  • Never leave infants or young children alone with any dog

  • Properly socialize and train any dog entering the household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g. rolling over to expose the abdomen and relinquishing food without growling)

  • Immediately seek professional advice (e.g. from vets, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors


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Measures for Preventing Dog Bites

  • Do not play aggressive games with your dog (e.g. wrestling)

  • Teach children basic safety around dogs and review regularly:

    • Never approach an unfamiliar dog

    • Never run from a dog and scream

    • Remain motionless when approached by and unfamiliar dog (e.g. be still like a tree)

    • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g. be still like a log)

    • Never play with a dog unless supervised by an adult

    • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult

    • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog

    • Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies

    • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first

    • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult


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Dog Breeds and Crossbreeds Involved in Dog-Bite Related Fatalities by 2-yr. Period – U.S. 1979-1996*


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Dog Breeds and Crossbreeds Involved in Dog-Bite Related Fatalities by 2-yr. Period – U.S. 1979-1996*

*Source: MMWR, May 30, 1997.


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Companion Animal Industry Fatalities by 2-yr. Period – U.S. 1979-1996*

  • Small animal vets are part of this industry

    • Where is the quality control for our product?

  • We intentionally breed dogs with problems

    • Genetic defects requiring vet care

      • Too big, too small, too long, too short-faced, too floppy eared, too long haired, too big skin, etc.

    • Temperament – too aggressive, not sufficiently domesticated

      • Bred for how they look, not how they act (dog shows)

      • Dog-wolf hybrid. It took years of selective breeding to get a submissive dog that will not challenge humans as the head of the pack. The last thing we need is to introduce wolf genes into the gene pool!


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Legislative Mess: Fatalities by 2-yr. Period – U.S. 1979-1996*

  • Dog-Wolf Hybrid bills

  • Dangerous Animal Act

    • African lions sell for about $150 in Michigan


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Ferret Bites Fatalities by 2-yr. Period – U.S. 1979-1996*

  • Anecdotal accounts are nasty

  • Motivation/instinct: aggression, rough play, predation of infants

  • Each state is trying to decide if ferrets should be legal. Legal in MI as of Jan. ’95

  • Are bite rates lower than for dogs?

    • Poor “reporting”

    • Less severe for adults

    • Rabies laws dictated euthanasia (until Dec. ’97)

  • A licensed rabies vaccine now available for ferrets.

    • The MDCH fought licensing – bites used to mean rabies testing for $200 each

  • Now a 10-day observation period is available for ferrets


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Horses: The Second Most Dangerous Animal Fatalities by 2-yr. Period – U.S. 1979-1996*

  • Oregon Study of Animal-related deaths (1983-1993):

    • 16 Horses (8 thrown, 4 kicked, 2 crushed, 1 dragged, 1 bumped heads)

    • 10 Wasps and bees

    • 4 Bulls

    • 2 Cows

    • 3 Dogs (2 pit bulls, 1 tripped over and fell down stairs)

    • 1 Mule (trampled)

    • 1 Sheep (54 yr. old hairdresser kicked by his sheep)

    • 1 Bison

    • 1 Ferret attack

    • 1 Lion

    • 1 Rattlesnake

Homicides / Animal related deaths = 38


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Michigan Study Results: Fatalities by 2-yr. Period – U.S. 1979-1996*

Human Deaths resulting from animal-related trauma in MI, 1987-1996


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