As a dog bite expert witness for Colorado attorneys, I have become knowledgeable about dog bite statistics and other epidemiological information about personal injury caused by dogs within the state of Colorado. For example, knowledge about dog bites occurring in Colorado must be included in the expert reports I produce for attorneys. Hence, the findings reported below are meaningful, particularly given the paucity of statistics on dog bites specific to Colorado.
Colorado dog bite statistics
In 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 covered the time between July 2007 to July 2008, and included 17 “districts” in Colorado, including the metropolitan Denver area, El Paso and Weld counties, and some Western Slope counties. ((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.))
A population of about 700,000 dogs lived in the areas that were surveyed. 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, and 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 were:
- 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 dangerous dogs because given that this type a dog inflicts more dog bites to people compared with other types of dog. Rather, this result is expected given that Labrador type dogs, given their popularity, are proportionally are overrepresented in the population. 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, suggesting the frequency of bite injuries inflicted to people in this type the dog is disproportionately high.
Dog bite injury inflicted onto people is a significant public health problem. Several epidemiological studies have consistently shown indicate that approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually in the United States. other well-publicized statistics show that human-dog-bite-fatalities happen at about a frequency between 30 and 40 fatalities annually, and other significant injuries inflicted to humans by dogs, particularly facial injuries are common. Animal behavior experts agree that dog bite prevention in the form of education is the most effective way to reduce the number of dog bites in the United States. Moreover, research studies have consistently shown that laws restricting the ownership of certain so-called “dangerous breeds” are ineffective in reducing the number of dog bites. Nonetheless, when certain types of dogs attack and bite people (e.g. mastiff type dogs, pit bull type dogs) the severity of the injuries inflicted a person are usually much greater.
Colorado dog bite law
- Dog bite law in Colorado is based on the legal theories of scienter and negligence.
Richard Polsky, Ph.D. resides in Los Angeles. Nonetheless, Dr. Polsky welcomes the opportunity to serve attorneys in Colorado as a dog bite expert witness. Most expert assignments can be completed remotely including deposition testimony via Zoom. Dr. Polsky has been retained previously by Colorado attorneys to render opinions about provocation, the negligent handling of a dog and the dangerous nature of wolf hybrids.