Dog Bites Stats And Solutions
Despite public perception to the contrary (often based on media reports), serious dog bites are relatively rare, and no particular breed is more likely to be responsible for them. A publication issued by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services examined statistics and circumstances related to dog-related incidents, and is formulating more effective strategies to improve public safety.
“The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters” looks at the circumstances related to dog bites and related incidents, focusing more on behaviors than breeds. It notes, for example:
- In 2007, of the 2,158 bites reported to the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services, only 7.4 percent were classified as “serious.” (Source: San Diego Department of Animal Services, Dog Bite Data from Jan. 1–Dec. 31, 2007.)
- In a two-year period, from 2007–2008, there were 2,301 dog bites reported to the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety–Animal Control. Only 165 (7.2 percent) of these reported bites were classified as “severe.” The 165 severe bites were inflicted by 34 different breeds of dogs. (Source: Indianapolis Department of Public Safety– Animal Control, Dog Bite Data from Jan.1, 2007–Dec. 31, 2008.)
- In 2007, only 10 (5.5 percent) of all the reported dog bites in Washington, D.C., were classified as severe. The 10 severe bites were inflicted by nine different breeds of dogs. (Source: Government of District of Columbia, Bureau of Community Hygiene, Animal Disease Prevention Division, Dog Bite Data from Jan. 1–Dec. 31, 2007.)
Serious dog bites tend to receive a disproportionate amount of news coverage, but in fact they are relatively rare. The implications are many, but center on so-called dangerous dog ordinances as well as Breed-Specific Legislation (BSL). This study shows that no breed is more likely to bite than other breeds; given that dog bites are an important measure of aggression, this further suggests that BSL is unjustified.
However, it’s important to note that dogs do occasionally bite. This report acknowledges that danger to law enforcement officers can be mitigated by recognizing the environmental factors that lead to dog bites, and by addressing the factors that would cause dogs to act aggressively due to fear or other potentially avoidable circumstances.
Derived from “The Problem of Dog-Related Incidents and Encounters” by Cynthia Bathurst, Donald Cleary, Karen Delise, Ledy VanKavage & Patricia Rushing. 2011. U.S. Department of Justice.
This research nutshell comes from Jill Howard Church at the Animals and Society Institute (ASI), an organization dedicated to policy-oriented research and human-animal studies. HRC and ASI already collaborate on multiple projects and we will work together to identify important studies for future research nutshells.
See the original post on the ASI website.