Italian breed-specific legislation on potentially dangerous dogs (2003): assessment of its effects in the city of Florence (Italy)
Canine aggression is a very discussed topic, especially when a person is injured. The problem of dog bites towards human beings must be tackled and scientifically analysed, in order to address the policy makers to effective measures. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of Italian breed-specific legislation on potentially dangerous dogs (Sirchia’s Ordinance issued on the 9th September 2003 called “Protection of the public safety against the risk of aggressions by potentially dangerous dogs”) on the trend of dog bites towards people in the city of Florence (Italy). Data for the current study were collected by the Veterinary and Urban Health, Local Sanitary Enterprise 10 in the city of Florence (Italy). Reports drew from the certifications of medical reports coming from different Hospital Emergency Departments in Florence, from the denunciation done at the canine registry office, and from the observational reports carried out at the observatory for the prophylaxis of the rabies. Reports referred to dog bites occurred in the city of Florence from September 2002 to August 2005. In total, 556 cases were gathered. The characteristics of injuries, dogs, owners and victims involved in dog bites in the year preceding the Sirchia’s Ordinance were compared to the same characteristics in the two years after the issue of such Ordinance (short and long-term effects) using the c2 test (p<0.05).The findings suggest that the above-mentioned ordinance has not caused any significant change on the trend of dog bites in the taken sample, nor in the short-term neither in the long-term. In fact, even if a numerical decrease has been observed in the period following the ordinance, a trend of reduction was already in progress since 1986. In addition, the characteristics of owners, injured people and dogs involved in the aggressive episodes remained unvaried, apart from a decrease in minor injuries. Finally, after the Ordinance the number of dog owners whose personal details were unknown increased. These findings suggest that restrictive legislative measures regarding potentially dangerous dogs are not effective for the control of canine aggression towards people.