The aetiology of dog bites in New Zealand : a thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Zoology at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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This thesis looks at factors associated with dog bites to people in New Zealand. It focuses on the causes of dog bites, the characteristics of both the dogs involved in bite incidents and the people bitten, and opinions on issues related to dog control. This information was collected through two separate surveys. The first was a survey of veterinary and veterinary nursing students at Masscy University. Students were included in this sample regardless of whether or not they had been bitten by a dog or how minor their injuries were. This study provided an insight into how many people had been bitten by a dog as well as factors associated with an increased risk of being bitten. Males, people in rural areas and people with a longer history of living with dogs were more likely to have been bitten by a dog. Many respondents had been bitten while between the ages of 5 and 10 years. For the second study, surveys were sent to people who had made claims to the Accident Compensation Corporation because of dog biles. People in this sample had sustained injuries that required medical attention. More people were bitten by male dogs than female dogs. Protection of territory, accidental bites, fear, and pain were considered to be the most common reasons for dogs to bite. The victim's home was the most common location for attacks, although many bites took place in public areas. Almost half of all respondents said it was either very or somewhat likely that their bite would have been prevented by a law requiring dog owners to fence their houses so visitors can access a door without coming into contact with a dog. This research highlights the need for more data on the causes and circumstances of dog attacks. This information is extremely useful for formulating effective dog control legislation and making recommendations aimed as reducing the incidence of dog attacks.
Dog attacks, Bites and stings, Dogs, Behaviour, Prevention, New Zealand