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Policy Priority Issue: Dangerous and Vicious Dogs Essay


Dogs are some of the most common pets in American homes. They are not only seen as pets but also as forms of security in some of the homes. However, there are cases where a dog may become dangerous. Johnson (2014) defines a dangerous dog as one whose actions may subject the public or other pets to harm.

Some dogs can attack and maim or even kill other people, especially large dogs such as the German shepherd. These dogs may limit the freedom of the public as they may fear going to places where there might be a possibility of being attacked. It is for these reasons that the state government finds it necessary to come up with policies that help in guiding how people should manage dangerous and vicious dogs.

Owners of these dogs must understand that they are responsible for the action of their dogs. They must know that freedom of movement of the public should not be limited by the dogs. They should also know that the public expects them to be responsible in restraining their dogs within confined areas. In Illinois, there are policies that define what is expected of the owners of such dogs.

However, it is important to note that the existing laws and regulations do not adequately protect the public from dangerous and vicious dogs. In this paper, the researcher will look at the existing policies put in place by the state government of Illinois to guide the ownership and management of dangerous and vicious dogs and provide evidence-based suggestions of what can be done to address the existing weaknesses.

Key Points and Analysis of Key Points

In this paper, it is important to point out the key points which define the basis of the research project. The main point in this paper is to determine how to eliminate or significantly reduce dog attacks in the small village of Lincolnwood in Cook County. To achieve this primary objective, a number of key issues need to be addressed. First, the county needs to redefine dog classification policies and rules regarding keeping of vicious and dangerous dogs.

The state of Illinois already has laws and regulations regarding keeping of dogs and their classification (Philips, 2016). However, it is necessary to re-evaluate these policies to help come up with ways of protecting the public. The second point is to find ways of implementing the set policies. Coming up with good policies is one thing, and implementing them is another. It is not enough to enact policies. The relevant authorities at the state and local government levels should ensure that these policies are effectively implemented.

Policy Priority Issue

Illinois, just like other states in the country, have laws and regulations that define dog ownership and the responsibilities of the owners of dogs. The state allows families to own dogs as long as they have the capacity to take care of them and restrain them so that they do not cause any form of distraction or threat to the public. Animal Control Act and Animal Shelter Act are some of the most common policies that are used to guide owners of dogs on how they should care for and manage their pets.

These laws also define dangerous and vicious dogs. Different states have different policies defining how to deal with dangerous dogs. In the state of Illinois, Chapter 55 of the Public Laws, section 5/5-1071.1 primarily focuses on vicious and dangerous dogs (West, 2016). The law prohibits classifying dogs as vicious and dangerous based on their breed, but their specific acts that put the public at risk (Philips, 2016)

Dogs classified as vicious and dangerous are expected to be restrained to ensure that the public remains safe. According to Kousky (2016), failing to consider a given breed of dogs dangerous by the state of Illinois is an area of weakness in the existing laws that will need to be reviewed and some changes reduced. Some breeds such as pit bull and Rottweiler are known to be very vicious based on the existing records.

A study by Karp, Ocrant, and Bonanno (2011) argued that the size of some dogs make it possible for them to attack and harm or even kill people or other animals if help fails to come at the right time. New regulatory policies should be developed so that such dogs can be given special classification that makes it necessary for the owners to take greater care when keeping them than when rearing the smaller and less aggressive breeds. This is one area of the weaknesses in the existing policies that guide the management of vicious dogs.

In Illinois, just like many other states, the law states that dog owners shall be held criminally responsible if their pet harms or kills a person or an animal. In fact, the law says that such owners may face life sentence if their dogs end up killing a person after they had been given a warning about the threat the dogs pose to the public. (West, 2016)

According to Christin (2016), the existing laws and regulations are very good in paper, but implementation remains the biggest challenge. For instance, in Illinois it is rarely reported of instance where one is sentenced to death or even life imprisonment because of the actions of their pets (West, 2016). This is a clear message to the dog owners that they can easily get away with negligence when handling their vicious dogs.

In the village of Lincolnwood, Illinois, cases of dog attacks are not rare. Instances where a dog viciously attacks a passer-by have been reported. However, most of them go unprosecuted. (Hayes, 2016) One of the main reasons why nothing happens is because people do not know about the laws that protect them from such vicious animals. The local and county governments have done very little to sensitize the public about the laws governing vicious and dangerous dogs. As a result, most of the victims of such attacks seek for medication on their own without any financial support from the dog owners (Christin, 2016). This situation has led to laxity among the dog owners. They know that there are no serious consequences for the actions of their dogs.

The website (http://www.illinois.gov/search/pages/Results.aspx?k=dog%20laws) is the Illinois state government’s website where all the rules and regulations about dog keeping are posted. The updates on these laws are often made available in this website. The state and local government are primarily responsible for enacting and implementation of laws and regulations relating to management of vicious and dangerous dogs.

Empirical Evidence

The issue of dog bite has attracted attention of a number of scholars who have conducted research to come up with ways of redefining the current policies used in the country to manage vicious and dangerous dogs. A research by Christin (2016) shows that dog bites pose serious health challenges, especially if they are not addressed in time.

The scholar insists that it is the responsibility of the local governments to develop policies that can address this problem effectively. A study by Johnson (2014) strongly recommends classification of dogs based on the threat they pose to the public. It is the simplest way of knowing how well a given dog should be confined away from public. However, Kousky (2016) says that the issue has not been treated with weight by the state government of Illinois as would be expected. This paper seeks to address this problem.

Impact and Importance to Nursing

This policy issue has a direct impact on nursing. According to Young, Olson, Reading, Amgalanbaatar, and Berger (2011), dog bites can result into a serious medical problem for the victim if immediate medical attention is not sought. A dog that is infected by rabies can easily transfer the virus to human beings through bites. Rabies cause acute inflammation of the human brain and can lead to death within a few hours after infection. Sometimes the victim may not be aware of the dangers posed by such dog bites and go to hospitals when it is too late to help them.

Nurses in this state have handled such cases on several occasions and saddens them when they lose patients due to inability to implement policies (Rosenfeld, 2016). There are other cases where patients are taken to hospitals with serious physical bodily harm inflicted by vicious and dangerous dogs. Nurses are forced to stop any other work to focus on the patient of the dog bite (Rosenfeld, 2016). If these cases can be reduced, then nurses may have more time to focus on other care giving issues in their respective areas of work. Nurses, therefore, are interested parties when it comes to coming up with adequate policies of managing vicious and dangerous dogs and having ways of implementing these policies effectively.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Vicious and dangerous dogs pose serious physical and psychological threats not only to the public but also to family members of those keeping these dogs. The state of Illinois, just like many other states in the country, has clear laws and regulations that guide the entire process of keeping dogs. However, policy makers have not taken time to investigate and understand the threats posed by these dogs hence the law is weak and ineffectively addressed. It is necessary to come up with mechanisms that can help tighten these laws and improve the process of implementing them. The policy makers should consider the following recommendations when making the adjustments.

  • Existing laws in Illinois should be amended so that dog owners can be held criminally responsible for any aggressive act of their dogs unless it is a case of intrusion
  • The laws should require dog owners to report to the relevant authorities when they suspect that their dog has become vicious. This way, an appropriate action can be taken.
  • The law should stipulate that dog owners who are found in a court of law to be irresponsible when handling their dogs should be denied license to keep dogs.
  • A new law is needed that will require some breads such as pit bull to be kept under strict conditions because of the dangers they pose to the public.


Christin, H. (2016). Health and Well-being: Federal Indian Policy, Klamath Women, and Childbirth. Oregon Historical Quarterly, 117(2), 166-197. dio:10.5403/oregonhistq.117.2.0166

Hayes, N. (2016, July 23). . Chicago Tribune.

Johnson, K. (2014). The Chinle Dog Shoots: Federal Governance and Grass-roots Politics in Postwar Navajo Country. Pacific Historical Review, 83(1), 92-129. doi: 10.1525/phr.2014.83.1.92

Karp, A., Ocrant, Y., & Bonanno, S. (2011). Recent Developments In Animal Tort And Insurance Law. Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, 47(1), 21-44.

Kousky, C. (2016). Impacts of Natural Disasters on Children. The Future of Children, 26(1), 73-92. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.10.008

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Rosenfeld, J. (2016). Illinois Dog Bite Verdicts & Settlements.

West, S. (2016). : Chapter 510, Animals Act 5, Animal Control Act 72, Humane Euthanasia in Animal Shelters Act. Act 13, Assistance Animal Damages Act 630, Guide Dog Access Act Act 92, Illinois Public Health and Safety Animal Population Control Act.

Young, J., Olson, K., Reading, R., Amgalanbaatar, S., & Berger, J. (2011). Is Wildlife Going to the Dogs? Impacts of Feral and Free-roaming Dogs on Wildlife Populations. BioScience, 61(2), 125-132. doi.org/10.1525/bio.2011.61.2.7

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