Given that I am a dog bite expert from California, I’m partial to dog bite statistics relevant to this state. Hence, when I came across a rather obscure, but nevertheless interesting study about the frequency of dog bites in San Francisco, I wanted to share this information with my readers.
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 rate 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.
The authors also note that bites inflicted by pit bulls type dogs represented 27% of all reported dog bites. Other breeds that were disproportionately involved included German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Rottweilers, and Jack Russell Terriers.
These results need to be carefully interpreted because not all owners register their dogs, and this is likely for owners pit bulls. hence, bite statistics are inflated for pit bulls. 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. Dog bites are inevitable in any large metropolitan area. In fact, I find the results reassuring: It indicates that San Francisco animal control may be doing an adequate job in protecting the public from vicious dogs.