Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, PhD, CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

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Animal behavior variables affecting fatal dog attack

Fatal Dog Attack California

Dog’s past behavior

Prior documented displays of aggression directed towards people in many cases, but not always.

Owner present?

Owner / keeper of dog usually never in presence of dog when fatal attack happens. One notable exception is the San Francisco dog mauling in which the owner of the dog was present, but claims could not stop the attack.
Size of dogMedium to large size dogs usually involved; however, small dogs such as pomeranians have killed people.
Breed of dogOver 30 different breeds have inflicted fatal injuries to people in the United States. Pit bulls and Rottweilers are disproportionally represented.
Sex & reproductive statusFrequently an adult male dog who has not been neutered.
CircumstancesDogs who are chained; dogs who escape through a broken fence on the owner’s property; a child who wonders into the territory of a dog; a group of dogs either running loose in an urban or rural setting, or on rare occasions in a household setting.
VictimUsually a relatively defenseless person such as child or an elderly person


Based on the above, a high risk situation exists for a fatality to happen to a child or an elderly person when, for example, a pair of reproductively intact adult male Rottweilers, who have previously displayed aggression towards people near their territory, escape from the property where they are being kept through a broken fence or open gate or door.

Another well-qualified dog bite expert, Randall Lockwood, Ph.D., offers an easy to understand and valid explanation: “Fatal attacks include a combination of the wrong dog in the wrong hands in the wrong circumstances”.

The reader should visit the section of this website dealing with dog bite prevention for measures to take to avoid fatal attacks and dog bites in general.

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