Epidemiological and statistical data which describe dog bite injury can facilitate the implementation of public health policies and dog bite prevention strategies. For example, if statistics show that most dog bites happen near the territory of the dog to familiar children of a certain age group or gender, then safety measures can be implemented targeting these factors. Neighborhood children of a certain age or gender could be instructed to avoid certain locations, or not to interact with certain dogs.
This was the aim of a recent study (Matthias, J., et.al. Setting and Ownership Analysis of Dog Bites in Bay County, Florida from 2009 to 2010. Zoonoses and Public Health. 2014) which analyzed demographic factors associated with dog bite injury in Bay County Florida, between 2009-2010. Data collected included the victim’s age and gender, the reported cause of the bite, the context in which the incident happened, whether the dog was restrained, the relationship between the victim of the dog. 799 dog bite instances were investigated.
The principal results were as follows:
- Most dog bite instances were reported to County health authorities by healthcare practitioners, particularly those instances involving children less than six years of age. However, bites involving dogs not familiar to the victim, and away from the dog’s territory, were more likely to be reported by other sources;
- Most victims between the ages 6-14 years were usually boys, and boys were 2.24 times more likely to be bitten than females of the same age group;
- Victim six years and older were 3.6 times more likely to be bitten by a dog that did not know;
- Lack of adequate behavioral management was the reason attributed to most dog bite instances (26%), followed by protective behavior (24%). Children under six years of age were 2.5 times more likely to be bitten by causes that were not fully understood;
- Victims over 15 years of age, particularly females, were the ones most likely bitten as a result of trying to break up a dog fight;
- Males, rather than females, were the ones usually bitten by unrestrained dogs off the owner’s property.
These Florida dog bite statistics add to the fairly voluminous literature on dog bite epidemiology, and generally mirror results from larger studies done the United States and in other countries.
Animal behavior expert, Richard Polsky, PhD. is available to in need of expert witness services. Both plaintiff and defense, criminal and civil. Reconstruction and analysis of provocation, assumption of risk, and identification of alleged dog bite injuries.