Almost everyone hears about someone being bitten by a dog. You’ve probably heard the stories about the damages and scars dog attacks leave behind. But, how often do dog bites actually happen? What breeds of dog are most likely to bite? Here’s a look at the statistics.
Number of Dog Bites in the United States
The CDC reports that almost 2% of the U.S. population is bitten by a dog at some point during their lives, amounting to an impressive 4.5 million bites per year. That is one dog bite every seven seconds. Of those bites, the CDC estimates that 800,000 of those bites are serious enough to require medical attention. In other words, about one in five people who are bitten by a dog need to see a healthcare professional.
Fatal Dog Attacks
On average, about 20 to 30 people in the United States die from dog attacks every year. According to a study over an eight-year period, 283 Americans died due to their injuries from dog bites. Statistically, during this time period, Pitbulls and Rottweilers reigned supreme when it came to fatalities, and during these years, they were responsible for 176 and 33 deaths respectively. Other dogs including German Shepherds, Bulldogs, and Huskies were also responsible for multiple deaths or attacks.
One extremely extensive review looked at reports of dog attacks in the United States and Canada over a 27-year period, and over that time period, Pitbull varieties such as Staffordshire Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers were responsible for 159 deaths and 819 maimings. The research ranked dogs as dangerous based on their total of number of attacks compared to their population.
In this list, Chow Chows were in second place and considered to be more dangerous than the third place Rottweilers. Rottweilers were responsible for 244 maimings and 67 deaths, while Chow Chows were only responsible for 34 maimings and seven deaths, but the Rottweiler population is about ten times higher than the Chow Chose population. As a result, a higher percentage of Chow Chows committed attacks, earning them the second-place ranking, even though their actual number of attacks were lower.
Throughout the world, the number of people who die from dog deaths is much higher. Annually, approximately 59,000 people die from rabies, and approximately 98% of those deaths are caused by dogs. In contrast, in the United States, 90% of rabies cases are passed to humans through wild animals. Thanks to widespread vaccination against rabies, you usually don’t have to worry about rabies after a dog attack. In fact, scientists say that as long as 70% of the dog population in an area is vaccinated, that is enough to keep canine rabies out of the area.
However, there is no guarantee. Some owners don’t vaccinate their dogs or let them come in contact with potentially rabid wild animals. To be on the safe side, you should always check with the owner to make sure the dog has been inoculated and make an appointment with a doctor to ensure you have not been infected.
Keep in mind that rabies is not the only disease that dogs can carry. Their mouths contain a lot of bacteria. While it’s usually safe, even a lick from a dog has caused life-threatening conditions in some victims.
In Massachusetts, it’s illegal to make breed specific laws. Municipal and county governments can’t make laws banning or labeling dogs as dangerous based solely on their breed. But, the truth of the matter is that large dogs can cause more damage, regardless of their breeds.
Large dogs have an average of 269 pounds per square inch of pressure when they bite down, but that can vary depending on the part of the mouth involved. For instance, German Shepherds tend to exert 170 pounds of pressure in the front of their mouth, but when they chomp down with the rear of their jaw, the pressure is about 568 pounds. To explain, if a large dog bites your hand, that is the equivalent of dropping hundreds of pounds onto your hand.
In 2017, insurance companies paid out nearly $700 million in dog bite claims. Those settlements covered medical bills, lost time at work, pain and suffering, and other miscellaneous damages stemming from dog attacks. The number of claims increased by 2.2% over the previous year, but in general, claims are holding steady around 18,000 per year.
The average cost of a dog bite claim was $37,051 in 2017, while it was only $33,230 in the previous year. Since 2003, this number has increased by more than 90%. However, these numbers are just averages. Some plaintiffs win millions of dollars in dog bite cases. The settlement is based on your damages, but it’s also heavily influenced by the skill and experience of the dog bite attorney you hire.
In many circumstances, the dog bite is the result of a dog owner who does not fully understand the responsibility that owning a dog involves. Staying alert of your dog’s and other dogs’ behaviors is the key to remaining safe, but that’s not always possible. If you’ve been hurt in a dog attack in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, contact the dog bite attorneys at Mazow | McCullough, PC. We can provide you with a free case evaluation and help you get the justice you deserve.