"If the existing system fails to track critical data then fix the system so that it does." -DogsBite.org
Joint Summary Statement
DogsBite.org - Last September, after the White House unwisely responded to a We the People1 petition pertaining to breed-specific legislation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DogsBite.org wrote to CDC Director, Dr. Thomas Frieden. Our letter warned of the serious repercussions this response would have on local governments who are grappling with mauling and maiming injuries and deaths inflicted by a handful of well-recognized dangerous dog breeds.
The CDC's response was predictable and set about a new series of actions. In December, we filed an FOIA with the CDC requesting the total number of U.S. dog bite fatalities from 2000 to 2012. At the very least, we thought then, since the CDC only tracks the number of fatalities (no other parameters), we could compare this data set against our own. The CDC response said they had no records at all pertaining to our request. We knew this was untrue and filed an appeal.2
Shortly thereafter, DogsBite.org began working on a larger research project regarding the CDC. Jeff Borchardt and Daxton's Friends for Canine Education and Awareness, based in East Troy, Wisconsin, were in contact with Jeff's congressman. Given the insufficient responses we had received from the CDC thus far and that Jeff and his group share the same goal of wanting to understand why the CDC stopped tracking a rich data set for dog bite fatalities, we agreed to help.
DogsBite.org created an extensive document (referred to as the Remedy Document) for Jeff and his group to forward to his congressman. The document outlines a number of remedies the CDC could provide to lower the hurdles faced by victims' advocacy groups, municipalities and law enforcement agencies seeking to prevent grievous and fatal injuries inflicted by a small group of well-documented dangerous dog breeds since the CDC last published on this issue in 2000.
Key Portions of the Remedy Document
The 15-page document explains past conditions leading up to present day and is divided into four central parts: 1.) The "Spirit" of Tracking Rabies -- It is Fatal 2.) The CDC Obfuscates "Bites" with Mauling and Maiming Injuries and Deaths 3.) Broaden Tracking to Include Hospitalizations (Mauling and Maiming Injuries) and 4.) This Epidemic Will Not Go Away on its Own. A summary of our top requested remedies offers a brief overview of the document and is located on Page 4.
By reviewing the Remedy Document, readers will understand why progress in reducing mauling and maiming injuries and deaths by a well-recognized group of dangerous dog breeds is unattainable in present day conditions. As well as, the remedies the CDC could provide to greatly improve these conditions. The document also lays bare the driving forces behind this stagnation of progress: The CDC's reliance upon the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Conclusion: After reviewing this document, along with the outdated AVMA/CDC study published in 2000 and the adjoining AVMA guide, A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention, published in 2001, there will be no mistake that the CDC relinquished all control of the study pertaining to human fatalities by dog breeds to the AVMA. This private professional association’s “research” and “positioning” was dictated to the CDC, which then set public policy. Since the release of the 2000 study, 277 Americans have been mauled to death by pit bulls (226) and rottweilers (51).3
On February 13, we submitted our Remedy Document to Jeff Borchardt who forwarded it to his congressman who then advanced it to the CDC with a letter of inquiry in March. Today, we release a Joint Summary statement of this correspondence and research effort and our final viewpoint about the CDC's failure to track a richer data set for children and adults disfigured, maimed and killed by dogs. In a nutshell: The CDC can collect and analyze this data, but the CDC will not.
Call to Action for Health and Safety Officials
Doctors and researchers must understand that this may be as far as DogsBite.org and Daxton's Friends can take this issue. Medical associations, including pediatrics and emergency physicians groups are best suited to apply pressure to the CDC to resume tracking a richer data set for these victims, at the very least for human fatality victims. We urge doctors and researchers to continue your studies in this area. At some point, the CDC will no longer be able to sidestep this vital issue.
Call to Action for Concerned Citizens
What can a person do to make a difference? Each of you can do what Jeff Borchardt did. Contact your U.S. Representative or Senator and bring this issue to their attention. The CDC is fully aware that they are not providing sufficient information to the American public about this issue, and the CDC, whose mission is to protect America from health, safety and security threats, is turning a blind eye to a known danger that victimizes children the most. Find your congress members.
Key related documents:
- Joint Summary Statement by DogsBite.org and Daxton's Friends
- Congressman’s Inquiry Letter to the CDC (March 13, 2014)
- Jeff Borchardt’s Enclosed Letter to His Congressman
- DogsBite.org’s Enclosed Remedy Document and Attachments
- CDC Director, Dr. Thomas Frieden’s Response (April 28, 2014)
2In June, the appeal process was resolved; the CDC provided the requested information from 2000 to 2010. In 2010, 38 people died due to being struck or bitten to death by dogs (the CDC cannot distinguish between the two). That is as much information as the U.S. government collects and analyzes about violent dog mauling fatalities.
3Fatality numbers reflect the date the Remedy Document was completed and sent, February 13, 2014.
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