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An Evidence Based Perspective on Dog Bites

An Evidence Based Perspective on Dog Bites

Ron Law
Beyond Alternative Solutions

The chance of being killed by an animal, including dogs, is so small that the risk is within de minimis thresholds and does not register on any public health Richter Scale," says risk and policy analyst Ron Law.

Ron Law has undertaken extensive comparative risk analysis of everyday causes of death in a number of countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA.

"Whilst dog attacks are very tragic, and make for very emotive television, and give well meaning bureaucrats the chance to justify their existence, the chance of being killed by a dog is less than the chance of being killed by lightning," says Ron Law, of risk management consultancy, Beyond Alternative Solutions.

By comparison to the 0.1 killed by dog attacks each year, on average, 12 people die each year riding bicycles (120x higher risk), 10 people die each year while fishing, 8 die while scuba diving, 7 die due to sports injuries, and over twenty people have died this past year while enjoying the beautiful high country in the South Island.

It's important to keep a level head when discussing risk in society, apply common sense and, in this case, to forget about any precautionary principle. "I'd be much, much more concerned about the known and very high risks associated with medical injury whilst visiting the hospital to get a bite treated,"says Ron Law.

Graphs showing the relative risks associated with every day activities can be found for

New Zealand




I t is well established that moderate levels of fatigue impair performance to an extent equivalent to or greater than is currently acceptable for alcohol intoxication. Doctors in our hospitals regularly work for 24 hours without sleep -- such sleep deprivation impairs cognitive psychomotor performance to the same degree as having a 0.1% blood alcohol level and increases the chance of a serious accident by 600 - 1,000%.

THERE ARE NO DESIGNATED DRIVERS IN MEDICINE: People with non serious animal bites should dress the wound with Manuka honey, which is proven to reduce the risk of infection and to enhance the healing process, and stay away from hospitals.

"The Government bans truck drivers from driving for prolonged periods because it's unsafe, and yet the Government forces doctors to work such long hours that they are effectively drunk."

"It simply doesn't make sense -- especially when preventable medical injury results in more deaths than all other forms of injury combined, and has an economic impact of over 4 billion dollars per year."

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