The Statistics Behind Dog Bite Attacks

One type of Des Moines personal injury law case involves dog bites. The Centers for Disease Control reports that approximately 4.5 million people suffer dog bites each year.  Half of those victims are children. 20% of reported dog bites cause personal injuries significant enough to require medical attention, more frequently among children than adults. Of special note is that some of those injuries, 27,000 for 2012 based upon most recent information, necessitated reconstructive surgery. Sadly, some of these attacks also result in the death of the dog bite victim.

So who are the hundreds of thousands of people being bitten each year? As noted, most of them are children, usually between ages 5 and 9.  Adult males receive dog bites more often than adult females. More bites occur in rural areas than urban areas. And, unfortunately, the greatest danger of a dog bite is right at home. More dogs in a home means a greater potential for dog bites, especially compared to homes with no dogs at all.

Some dogs are more likely to attack humans than others. Studies of attack reports in the United States and Canada provide good data on the rates of attacks and deaths among various dog breeds. Not surprisingly given their fearsome reputation, pit bulls (including pit bull mixes) and rottweilers injure and kill more people than any other dog breed. It's not even close based on the statistics. The next closest breed for injuring people is bull mastiffs and the next closest for killing people are huskies. Of course, any breed of dog has the potential to bite and if you're the victim of that attack it won't matter whether it's an isolated or a common occurrence.

Steps can be taken to avoid dog attacks. If you see the dog before it attacks, the following precautions may help avoid an attack:

  • Don't approach or touch a dog that’s eating, sleeping, playing with a toy, chewing on a bone, or caring for puppies. A dog bite is more likely if the dog's startled, frightened, feels like its personal space or items are being invaded, or caring for young.

  • Obviously, stay away from barking, growling, or scared dogs.

  • Don't pet unfamiliar dogs unless the owner or handler gives permission.  

  • Don't try to pet dogs that are in a car or behind a fence.

  • Don't approach dogs that are at large, meaning that they are unleashed, out of their home or enclosure, and away from their owner or handler. If a loose dog approaches you, don't run or even try to move away. Stand still and avoid eye contact with the dog until it moves away.

Sometimes dog attacks happen without warning and you have no chance to avoid them. At that point you need to do everything you can to defend yourself and try to avoid a serious, if not fatal, dog bite. If you have time before an attack, try to toss something at the dog to distract it and give it something else to bite, like a jacket, backpack, or anything that's not connected to you that you can afford to sacrifice. If the dog attacks you anyways, then you have no choice but to fight back and yell, hoping to scare it off before it does real damage. Aim for the dog's throat, nose, and the back of its head, using a weapon if you have one. Blunt force to those areas may stun the dog, temporarily stopping the attack and giving you a chance to escape. If the dog knocks you to the ground, you're in a very vulnerable position and need to guard vital areas like your face, throat, and chest by curling into a ball and covering up. 

Please feel free to contact us if you need the assistance of a Des Moines dog bite lawyer.

Harley Erbe