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NRW Police bite statistics for the last 9 years

Report from Dieter Hartwig, Ministry of the Interior Northrhine-Westphalia, in view of the training with regard to the regulation on the prevention of danger regarding the keeping of dogs(HundeVO) of the State Hessen on 19 March 1998 in Wetzlar.

Dangerous dogs from the police's point of view and experience with the Dangerous Dog Regulation of Northrhine Westphalia Hereafter some excerps from the report (with the approval of Mr. Hartwig and the German Dog Association (VdH)).


The basis of my report on the topic "dangerous dogs" are not the administrative aspects of the Dangerous Dog Act of Northrhine-Westphalia (GefHuVO NW) but the knowledge taken from the evaluation of the use of firearms of the police of Northrhine-Westphalia as well as the experience gained during a three-year-period of application of the Dangerous Dog Act.

From these two theses can be derived:

  1. According to the firearms statistic damage claims with dangerous dogs have continuously declined in Northrhine-Westphalia.
  2. The demands on the dog associations (VDH and LTV) by the local offices for public order have stabilized on a low level.

    Incidents with dangerous dogs are no specialty in everyday's police work, but have beed part of actions taken for the prevention of dangers for decades.

    The scope of police action ranges from minor offenses up to negligent or willful behavior of dog owners. Many times the reason for later bite incidents are disputes between neighbors about the dog barking.

    So the "Dog"–problem is not a new one. New is only the media's little rational way of dealing with this subject!

  2. DATA (1989-1997)

    The police of Northrhine-Westphalia is the only institution to have a statewide and up-to-date information pool concerning dangerous dogs that had to be killed by the use of firearms.

    Essential trends may be seen from the firearms analysis.

    The overall problem thus takes on a totally different perspective as spectacular press articles based on only individual cases try to make us believe.

    But the media hype also has its advantages: dog owners meanwhile react more sensitive and as a consequence of this change of behavior, severe attacks of dogs against people or animals have not increased in Northrhine-Westphalia:


    Within nine years police officers had to make use of firearms in 2,380 (264/year) cases, in order to prevent dangers for people or traffic caused by animals that were injured, suspected to have rabies or had escaped or in order to quickly save these animals from agony and pain.

    293 of these animals were dogs (12,3%), 150 of which had to be killed because of injuries suffered in a car accident and 143 because of attacks on people or animals. This concerned mainly individual dogs.

    Many times crosses, Shephards, Rottweiler and Pitbulls were involved in damage claims.

    • 36 people were thus threatened by a dog,
      As "threatened" an event is to be understood, when the dog runs towards or after a person, while showing its teeth, growling and with its neck hair raised.

    • 86 people were attacked,
      If there was body contact between dog and person with or without damage, the incident is categorized as "attacked" .

    • 49 people were slightly injured,
      Out-patient care

    • 24 people severely injured and 1 killed.
      In-patient care

    Furthermore, 31 animals were injured and 195 killed. Preferred prey of crosses, Shepherds and Huskys were grazing sheep (102) and free-running chicken (25).

    From this survey, however, no indication for the particular danger of "fighting dogs" as discussed by the public may be derived.

    Only in 20 cases (14 Pitbulls, 2 American Staffordshire Terriers and 4 Bullterriers) such animals were involved in damage claims.

    (Note: Were these really Bullterriers?? Our experience has taught us that when the word "fighting dog" is mentioned, the media mostly publishes the photo of a Bullterrier!!)

    But only 2 American Staffordshire Terriers and 6 Pitbulls injured people.

    (Note: The person reporting, Mr. Hartwig, is referring to a period of 9, in words NINE, years)


    Of the 196 injured persons, 171 persons were adults and 25 were children, of these 18(4) were dog owners, 76(5) were passers-by and 77 were police officers (in parentheses the number of women).

    Only in 25 out of 196 cases (12.8%) children were confronted with aggressive behavior; (Feddersen-Petersen, D, 1987, Hundepsychologie (Dog Psychology), 2nd edition, p. 72ff; according to this book, aggression is not something bad in itself, but part of the dog's social behavior).

    12 children were injured, which equals 16.2% of all persons injured by dangerous dogs.


    A wide range of purebreds and crosses was involved in the severe injuries of people. Out of these only two American Staffordshire Terrier and six Pitbulls deserve the term "fighting dog".

    This clearly shows that a stigmatization of certain dog breeds as "fighting dogs" is absurd

    see Feddesen-Pettersen, D., 1990: " Wieder lernen, mit einem Hund umzugehen" (Learn to deal with dogs again), in: "Zur Sache Kampfhunde" (on fighting dogs), p. 70ff.,

In Northrhine-Westphalia in the period of 1989 - 1997
Dog Breed Number of Total %
slightly inj. severly inj. Killed
German Shepherd 25 5 1 31 41.9
American Staffordshire 1 2 0 3 4.1
Boxer 1 1 0 2 2.7
Rottweiler 7 1 0 8 10.8
Pit-Bull 7 5 0 12 16.2
Saint Bernard 1 2 0 3 4.1
Bernese Mountaindog 0 5 0 5 6.8
Giant Schnautzer 1 0 0 1 1.4
Dobermann 2 2 0 4 5.4
Cross 3 0 0 3 4.1
Turkish Akbash 1 0 0 1 1.4
Great Dane 0 1 0 1 1.4
Total: 49 24 1 74 100


The underlying proven figures of the Ministry of the Interior of Northrhine-Westphalia prove that in the German State richest in population with approx 17.679 million inhabitants over a period of 9 years not one single person was injured or killed, ... neither by a Bullterrier nor by a Staffordshire Bullterrier let alone by a Miniature Bullterrier