Tethered dogs more likely to attack humans says expert

ABOVE: Another fatal dog mauling, this time near Kamloops, is raising questions about the frequency of maulings and animal care. Dog behaviourist Dr. Rebecca Ledger joins Global BC to answer come questions.

This past weekend a 78-year-old grandmother was mauled to death by the family dog while she was feeding it.

Kathleen Green, an elder of the Tk’emlups First Nation near Kamloops, was a residential school survivor and lived with her grandson. The mixed-breed dog was shot by officers at the scene because it continued being aggressive as they arrived. The breed of dog has not been released at this time.

Fatal dog maulings are very rare, but one expert said the fact that the dog was tied up at the time of the incident could have played a factor in what happened.

“Studies have found that when dogs are tethered, they are typically more defensive and they are more aggressive,” said animal behaviourist Rebecca Ledger. “They are three times more likely to bite when they are tied up and that’s because if they’re scared they can’t escape. They feel more threatened, they’re more likely to be teased when they’re on a tether and so they can often associate being tied up with being under attack themselves.”

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Ledger said statistically, small dog breeds are more likely to bite than large dog breeds.

“Last year a study was done whereby researchers at the University of British Columbia looked at the incidents of dog bites across municipalities in Canada and found that when there was breed-specific legislation implemented it had no impact at all on the number of people getting bitten by dogs in the communities,” said Ledger.

“The data shows pit bulls are rarely responsible for most bites.”

Ledger said she thinks owners have to shoulder more responsibility for their dogs when they are out with them in public and let people know it is not OK to pet their dog if there are any concerns. She said children should also be supervised around dogs and make sure the child is not antagonizing the dog in any way as well.