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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Dog bite statistics

A  large amount of data concerning the epidemiological and statistical aspects about dog bite injury inflicted to people has been generated of the last several decades.  We now know more about who gets bit, where they get bit and who they are bitten by. So for example, children are bitten more often than adults, the majority of victims are bitten by a dog they know and most of the incidences happen on the dog’s home turf.  What is more controversial is what breeds involved, however.

The epidemiological and statistical analyses of dog bites cover a broad range of topics such as:

  • The breed, gender, and age of the dog which inflicted the bite;
  • The circumstances and context in which the bite occurred;
  • The gender, age of the dog bite victim;
  • Costs associated with treating dog bite injuries;
  • Types of injuries associated with dog bites, including psychological trauma such as  post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Fatal dog attacks;
  • Statistical analyses of breed specific legislation;
  • Statistical analysis of the effects of  programs for dog bite safety 

Collecting dog bite statistics is an important area of public health inquiry: the frequency of dog bites is high, costs are staggering and the emotional and physical damage inflicted onto a human, particularly a child, from an attack by a dog can be great. A better understanding of the epidemiology of dog bites thru understanding of statistical patterns is, therefore, necessary for programs and education about dog bite prevention.

Several important considerations to be kept in mind about dog bites statistics:

 #1. The frequency of dog bites in the USA is no longer at epidemic proportions

In the last 10 years recent years there has been a substantial decrease in frequency in nonfatal dog bites to children. Currently, it appears that the overall frequency of nonfatal dog bites has decreased or at least stabilized. Consequently, while recognizing this public health problem still exist, it would be misleading to characterize dog bites in the USA as an “epidemic”, as it was done 30 years ago.  No doubt that dog bite problem continues but it appears to have lessened, probably the result of educational efforts and not through breed-specific legislation. 

Nonetheless, attacks on people by dogs will always be a public health concern because dogs are ingrained into culture and society, even in third world countries. And in fact, the dog bite problem is of much greater concern in Third World countries, because of rabies. The bottom line: this public health problem will never go away: the best that could be done is to control it. Fortunately, unlike India, in the USA and in other Western countries, rabies is not a serious concern, however.

 #2. Dog bite statistic should always be considered in the context in which an incident happens

Dog bite statistics should not be presented out of context. As much specificity should be given, if available, about the particular statistic. For example, since relatively detailed information and statistics about dog bites to children are available, it would be misleading (but not necessarily inaccurate), to represent in a general sense that children are the ones most frequently bitten by dogs (as some attorneys might do to argue foreseeability in a personal injury case). Specificity should be provided because it is also known that boys are more frequently bitten than girls, children under 10 years of age are bitten more frequently than children over 10 years, children under 6 years are the population most severely bitten, and children sustain dog bites most frequently during the springtime and summer months.

#3. No conclusive statistical data exist indicating that breed specific legislation lowers the frequency of dog bites in the general population

Studies have been undertaken about dog bite frequency and in Ireland, England, Spain, and  Belgium.  Results from these studies show no correlation between the frequency of dog bites in the general population and the restriction of certain so-called “dangerous” breeds.if

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This section of dogexpert.com is divided into two to parts: First, links are provided to pages about dog bite statistics found on this website and the second part lists links to other relevant websites.

 

Dog bite statistics found on this website

Links to websites containing information about dog bite statistics, research findings, and reports

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