Dog bite - Cat bite Expert Witness

Expert witness testimony dog bites

Resources for attorneys handling dog bite cases

Website author: Animal behavior expert

Richard H. Polsky Ph.D.

"Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys"

The internet's most comprehensive website on animal behavior & dog bite law

Fatal dog attacks in the USA

Fatal Dog Attacks

                      Current year statistics 2013: 29 fatalities

  Prior Year Statistics

2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004

  1. Fatal dog attacks outside USA
  2. Other sources of information about fatal dog attacks

The accuracy of the information posted on this site depends on the validity and accuracy of the newspaper reports from which information posted on this site has been collected. Individuals seeking verification of the facts surrounding any particular incident can easily do online research of news stories for verification purposes. For this reason, no separate listing of the reference sources from which this information was collected will be made. In the least, it is assumed that reports are valid concerning the fact that a dog-related fatality happened. News reports may be inaccurate and may misrepresent other important imformtion, such as the breed of dog(s) involved in the incident, however. Since there may be error in the identification of the breed of dog(s) involved in a fatal attack as reported in newspaper stories, it would be a mistake to use information posted on this site to support agendas promoting legislation banning, limiting or curtailing the ownership of certain breeds of dog, such as a so-called “pit bull” dog (read Problems with pit bull terrier identification). Note that a pit bull is not a breed of dog, but instead the term has come to be widely used to describe a dog that has an appearance similar to a American Pit Bull terrier of American Staffordshire terrier. In some cases a dog described as a pit bull may in fact be an American Staff (AKC recognized) or an American Pit Bull (UKC recognized), but in other cases it may not. Since other breeds of dog physically resemble these breeds, mistaken identity is frequently made and consequently numbers are inflated for the number of attacks involving so-called “pit bulls”. Further, correct breed identification becomes more problematic when the dog involved in an attack is a mixed-breed. Hence, ambiguity exists when using the term “pit bull”. Dr. Polsky discourages and specifically requests that statistics on this site not be used to suppprt breed specific legislation. Note that other data collection techniques (animal control reports, police reports, witness observation) used for breed identification purposes in fatal dogs attacks may also be flawed for these reasons. For obvious reasons, those interested in this area need to proceed with caution before drawing any definitive conclusions about the breeds involved in fatal dog attacks.

The reader should note the incidences of fatalities listed on this site may not represent every case in the United States where death was caused by a dog attack. In the very least this site represents a near exhuastive listing, however. The reader who is familiar with this area should note that this site currently lists fatal attacks that are not listed elsewhere by other authors who are independently collecting and documenting similar kinds of information on fatal dog attacks in the United States. As noted above, the primary source for information about fatal attacks comes from news reports published on the Internet and made available through Google News by using selected keywords. The accuracy of the information listed on the site depends entirely on the accuracy of the news reporting, and as noted above this may become problematic when dealing with the breed of dog in question.

Finally, only those fatalitities that happened as a direct result of injuries sustained from a dog attack are listed. For example, not included in these statistics are dog fatalities where the primary cause of death is secondary to bite injuries caused by an attack (e.g. caradic arrest, freezing to death after falling unconscious following an attack, rabies, septicaemia, infection, falling on head as a result of being attacked). For example, there was an incident in March 2010 incident in Lucknow, South Carolina involving a 65-year-old lady in which all news stories initially reported a fatality caused by a pit bull attack, but subsequently the autopsy indicated a fatal heart attack was the primary cause of death (presumably from the stress of the attack). Hence, this incident cannot be included in the database. Also, a human fatality can be caused by the behavior of a dog that does not involve an aggressive attack (e.g. smothering), and likewise such instances are excluded from the database. Click here for medical explanation of the causes of death directly from of a dog attack. Black dog

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