Objectives (1) To explore the relationship between regionally implemented dog control strategies and dog bite injuries (DBIs) and (2) to evaluate current implementation of dog control strategies.
Methods Observational study using a nationwide online survey of territorial authorities (TAs). Domains of interest included complaints for attacks on people, dog population, primary and secondary prevention strategies, resourcing and perspectives of current strategies. Quantitative variables were compared with DBI Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) claims by region from 2014 to 2018.
Results Two-thirds of TAs (70%; n=47/67) responded to the survey. No clear relationship was observed between DBIs and: registered dog population, proportion sterilisations or microchipping, classifications due to dog behaviour, or existing limited resourcing. Legislated breeds and infringements for failure to control a dog or non-registration were higher in areas with greater DBIs. Educational messages varied widely and were predominantly victim directed (67%; n=71/106). Complaints for dog attacks on people were lower than DBIs in most areas, with no formal cross-agency notification policies. Few prosecutions or dog destruction orders were made.
Conclusions Regional inequity in DBIs could not be explained by differences in the registered dog population or dog control strategies. Minimal and inequitable resourcing exists to implement current dog control strategies and provide owner-directed education. Gaps in legislation include environmental barrier requirements for all dogs (leash/muzzle use, adequate fencing), notification of incidents and child protection. Partnership with the Indigenous community (Māori) and other community groups will be required to implement these measures successfully.
- Public Health
- Animal bites
- Child Survival
Data availability statement
All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.
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Contributors Study design by all authors. Data collection, data analysis and write-up by ND-S and MH. Reviews, feedback and group discussion by all authors. NDS is responsible for the overall content as guarantor.
Funding Starship Foundation Clinical Research Award. Research Registration Number: SF2137: A+9001.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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