Given that I am a dog bite expert based in California, I’m probably partial to dog bite statistics relevant to this state. Hence, when I came across a rather obscure, but nevertheless interesting report about the frequency of dog bites in the San Francisco area, I wanted to share this information with those who follow my blog.
This information appeared in a letter to the editor in the February 2007 issue of the Journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (Dog bites in San Francisco, C. Ching, et. al. Volume 119 (2), February 2007, 749-750).
Data was taken from animal control records from the city and County of San Francisco for a 29.5 month period from January 1, 2003 through May June 2005. Results show that the incident of dog bites to people was 0.49 per thousand per year. This was less than the incident in Oakland, California at 0.80 per thousand and also less compared with New York City which had an incident of 0.85 per thousand per year.
And the authors also note that that bites inflicted by pit bulls represented 27% of all reported dog bites. Other breeds that were disproportionately involved included German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Rottweilers and Jack Russell Terriers. However, these statistics may be misleading because not all owners register their dogs, and this is likely true for owners with pit bull type dogs. In order to calculate accurate breed-bite-specific frequencies, an accurate count of the total number of pit bulls within the overall population is needed.
The fact that less than one person in 1000 is likely to be bitten in any given year is nothing to get alarmed about. In fact, I find the results reassuring. This finding indicates that frequency of dog bite injury inflicted to people in the San Francisco area is low, and most likely without significant financial or emotional consequence.