As a dog bite expert witness for Colorado attorneys, it is my responsibility to be knowledgeable about dog bite statistics and other epidemiological information from Colorado. Knowledge about dog bites occurring in Colorado must be included in the expert reports I produce and cited when giving trial testimony. Hence, the findings reported below are meaningful, particularly given the paucity of statistics on dog bites specific to Colorado.
Colorado dog bite statistics
A forum held in Denver, sponsored by The Coalition for Living Safely With Dogs*, results were reported from a year long survey taken throughout Colorado about the number of dogs involved in dog bite incidents. The survey was taken from July 2007 to July 2008, and covered 17 “districts” in Colorado, inclusive of metropolitan Denver area, El Paso and Weld counties, and some Western Slope counties.
A population of 700,000 dogs were included in the study. From this population, a total of 2060 dog bites inflicted to people were reported. Based on the total number of dogs included in the population, divided by the number of dog bites, produced a ratio of approximately one dog bite for every 350 dogs, less than 1% of the total population. Hence, according to a coalition member, the data indicate that “any dog can bite, but most don’t.”
Specifically, by breed the results show that:
- Labrador retrievers were the breed most frequently involved in biting incidents, accounting for 13.3% of the total reported bites, followed by pit bulls (8.4%), German shepherds (7.8%), Rottweilers (3.9%), and Chows (3.5%)
These data should not be interpreted suggesting that Labrador retrievers are the dogs that bite people most frequently, because the total number of labs in the population could not be determined. By chance alone, one would expect higher bite frequencies in labs simply because of their popularity. On the other hand, the total population of Chows may not represent 3.5% of the population, yet they account for 3.5% of the total reported dog bites, thus suggesting the frequency of biting in this breed is disproportionately high.
Dog bite injury inflicted onto people is a significant public health problem. Other survey data indicate that approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually in the United States. Obviously, we all know that fatalities can occur and other significant injuries, particularly facial injuries caused by dog bite, are all too common. Dog bite prevention is the most effective way to reduce the prevalence of this problem rather than imposing laws that restrict the ownership of specific breeds of dog.
Colorado dog bite law
- Dog bite law in Colorado is based on the legal theories of scienter and negligence.
*No website exists using the Google search for the organization entitled The Coalition for Living Safely with Dogs. Nonetheless, it is assumed that this organization did exist and they reported the above-mentioned findings at a forum in Denver. Hence, the findings reported above should be regarded as valid and representative of more recent dog bite statistics in Colorado. This page updated July 4, 2020.