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

In the last several years a surfeit of statistical informaton about dog bites have been generated by epidemiologists. This information has become widely disseminated on the internet, partially in an Dog Bite Statisticsattempt to lessen the extent of the problem through education and increased public awareness about the circumstances and the kind of dogs known to be associated with attacks on people. Collecting dog bite statistics is an important and valid area of public health inquiry: the frequency of dog bites is high 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 description with statistics may help in the prevention of this widespread phenomenon.

Note the occurrence of a decrease in frequency in dog bites upon children in recent years, and this decrease probably stems from an increased parental awareness about the problem. Currently, it appears that the overall frequency of dog bites, and the human victims to whom dog bites are inflicted, has stabilized. Consequently, while recognizing this public health problem, characterizing the dog bite problem as epidemic, as it was done 30 years ago, no longer seems to be warrented. In short,the problem continues but appears to have been brought under better control, probably largely through educational efforts and not through breed-specific legislation.

Now that tthe public has become more aware of the problem and are aware of who the victims usually are, and the context in which the bites happen, and the kind of dogs who most often inflict the bites, we must realize that dog bites are inevitable, dogs are ingrained into our culture and society, and dog bite injury can be reduced through dog bite safety programs and educating children about how to behave around dogs.

Carefully note that dog bite statistics should not be presented out of context, and 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 somewhat 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 those children older than 10 years, children under 6 years are the ones most severely bitten, and children sustain dog bites most frequently during the springtime and summer months.

Only statistics gathered from reputable sources will be posted on this web site: The following sources will be considered: (a) Official publications from governmental agencies,(b) Data found on the Insurance Information Institure website, and (c) Publications in the scientific literature. Statistics gathered from sources like these are usually accurate and valid, which contrasts with many dog bite statistics found online where the source is not mentioned.

Those wishing to cite a particular statistic found on this website, should reference bite statistics as the primary source point. E-mail Dr. Polsky for the specific citation from where the statistic was taken.