A large amount of data about dog bite statistics and injury inflicted by dogs to people has been researched and published in 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 are involved and to what extent. This topic remains controversial. Recent peer-reviewed research has provided answers to this question, 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. Bite statistics should always be considered in the context in which an incident happens
Statistical information on dog bites 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.
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
- California dog bite statistics
- Postal letter carriers
- Florida dog bite statistics
- Dog bite statistics in San Francisco
- Statistics and factors affecting risk for dog bite injury in Florida
Links to relevant websites
- How likely are you to get bit?
- Editorial from the American Veterinary Medical Association pertaining to breed specific legislation
- The National Research Council statement on fatal dog attacks
- Dog bites in a U.S. county: age, body part, and breed in pediatric dog bites
- The website of the supposed “Dog Bite King of the legal universe” for the most part is factually correct and comprehensive
- Wikipedia’s website on dog bites contains a section on epidemiology
- Animal bite fact sheet from the World Health Organization
- Research paper worth reading: Severe dog-bite injuries, introducing the concept of pack attack: a literature review and seven case reports
- The United States and Jamaica dog bite statistics
- Breeds involved in dog bite injuries to the face
- Recent epidemiological data pertaining to dog bites in Israel, 2016-2019
- Dog bite statistics and hospitalizations from Arkansas
- Research findings on dog bites taken from YouTube videos
- Comprehensive research study on the dog bite problem in England
- Research study analyzing dog bites in a pediatric population
- Epidemiology of dog bites in Italy
- A study examining the misleading rhetoric used in the dog bite literature
- Epidemiology of dog bites in Iran
- Study about hospitalizations from dog bites in Australia
- Analysis of dog bites in Los Angeles County, 2009-2011
- An excellent peer-reviewed study about the epidemiological aspects of dog aggression