The number of dog bite incidents reported to the Capital Regional District animal control services is trending downward, but the CRD says the true numbers are likely higher, as many go unreported. (Black Press Media file photo)

The number of dog bite incidents reported to the Capital Regional District animal control services is trending downward, but the CRD says the true numbers are likely higher, as many go unreported. (Black Press Media file photo)

Dog bite incidents mostly down, says CRD, but true numbers likely higher

Under-reporting common, CRD says; owners can prevent incidents with training

Dog attacks throughout Greater Victoria are largely decreasing, but the Capital Region District says it’s hard to know the true numbers due to underreporting.

Eight municipalities plus the Juan de Fuca electoral area contract the CRD for animal control services. Of those, Langford has reported the most dog bite incidents in 2021 so far with 38, including 16 domestic – a dog biting another dog or other pet – 21 where people were bitten and one of case of livestock bitten.

That total is five more than Langford had for all of 2020, but is 10 fewer than were recorded in 2019.

Colwood’s numbers have decreased dramatically since it recorded 35 incidents in 2019, with just 10 reported so far this year. The number of human-involved dog bite incidents has also dropped significantly, from 16 in 2019 to one so far this year.

Looking down the 2021 list, the mostly rural Juan de Fuca electoral area has had 15 total reported incidents – almost double last year’s eight – followed by Sooke (13), Central Saanich (12) and Colwood and View Royal with 10 each. Sidney, North Saanich and Metchosin have reported six, five and four, respectively.

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With online reporting and cell phones, it’s easier than ever to report an incident, according to Shawn Carby, the CRD’s senior manager for protective services, but many people don’t, he added.

“Dog bite reports fluctuate and are dependent on people actually reporting them,” he said in an email.

“We really can never have a true number as many go unreported. Dog bites/attacks on domestic animals have decreased from 2018-21, the number of (bitten humans) have either decreased or stayed around the same.”

The numbers include reports of incidents in which a dog has injured a person, a domestic animal, livestock or wildlife. Some are minor injuries while others are more significant.

Carby said municipalities with higher populations and more dog-friendly parks tend to experience higher numbers of incidents. The responsibility for prevention of biting incidents falls on the owners, he added.

“Train your dog. It’s unrealistic to expect dogs to never get over-excited or fight, but it is perfectly realistic to raise and train your dogs to never hurt each other when this occurs,” he said.


 

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