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This past week we have heard the horrific news of a young boy in Cornwall being killed and a baby boy from Hawick being in critical condition both as a result from dog attacks.

Whilst further details are yet to be released relating to these cases and calls are being made to change UK Dog Law, dog bite studies do provide insight into dog attacks.

What do dog bite studies tell us?

  1. 44.6% of dog bites are provoked.
  2. The majority of dog bites are caused by the family dog with no previous history of ‘aggression’.
  3. There is substantially greater injury and fatality rate for children compared with adults.
  4. Children, under 7 years of age (63%) more likely to be victims.
  5. Adult males are more frequently bitten than adult females.
  6. 60% of people bitten could identify a trigger that resulted in the bite.
  7. Around 66% of dogs that bite have not attended training classes. Thus, obedience training does not necessary reduce the risk of biting.
  8. Most dog bites occur during positive interactions initiated by the child with stationary, family dogs, indoors.
  9. 82% of parents feel it is appropriate for their children to kiss or hug their dog.
  10. Intact dogs are 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs, although testosterone is not the only driving factor in a dog bite.

What these statistics show is that by educating owners on what are appropriate and inappropriate human-dog interactions and the importance of dog and environmental management, the risk of attack can be greatly reduced.

Dog Safety Talks with Blue Cross
Hanne Grice is a Volunteer Educational Speaker for Blue Cross.  If you are a teacher, Group Leader or parent and would like to organise a talk about ‘Safety around dogs’ or any other pet-related topic, please do get in touch at [email protected].

Delise, K. (2002) Fatal dog attacks: The stories behind the statistics. Manorville: Anubis Press, p.14.
Patrick, G.R., and O’Rourke, K.M. (1998) ‘Dog and cat bites: epidemiologic analyses suggest different prevention strategies.’ Public Health Reports 113(3) pp.252-257.
Patronek, G.J., and Slavinski, S.A. (2009) ‘Animal Bites.’ Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 1;234(3) pp.336-345. doi: 10.2460/javma.234.3.336.
Reisner, I.R., and Shofer, F.S. (2008) ‘Effect of gender and parental status on knowledge and attitudes of dog owners regarding dog aggression toward children.’ Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 233(9) pp.1412-1419.
Reisner, I.R., Nance, M.L., Zeller, J.S., Houseknecht, E.M., Kassam-Adams, N., and Wiebe, D.J. (2011) ‘Behavioural characteristics associated with dog bites to children presenting to an urban trauma centre.’ BMJ 14(5).
Reisner, I.R. (2017) ‘Dog Bites and Children: A Behavioral Perspective Presented by Dr Ilana Reisner.’ 4 December 2017: Pet Professional Guild.

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