Dog Bite Injuries are on the rise across the U.S. A recent study showed that 1,000 Americans per day are treated in emergency rooms as a result of dog bites. That translates into one dog bite every eighty-six seconds requiring medical attention. In 2007, there were thirty-three fatal dog attacks in the U.S. That is up from an annual average of seventeen through the 1990s. Most of the victims who receive medical attention are children, half of whom are bitten in the face. Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year, with over $300 million paid by homeowners insurance. In addition, over 50% of the bites occur on the dog owner’s property, with the vast majority of biting dogs (77%) belonging to the victim’s family or friends.
Special care must be taken around certain breeds. According to an independent study published in 2007, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes are responsible for 74% of attacks that were included in their study. Most fatal dog attacks are by Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. In more than two-thirds of the surveyed cases, the life-threatening or fatal attack was apparently the first known dangerous behavior by the animal in question.
It is advisable to be extra careful when there is more than one dog in it’s own yard, and no master is present. As a general rule, the larger the number of dogs together, the greater the potential threat. Even docile dogs can become uncharacteristically violent and vicious when they are in a pack. Chained or tethered dogs tend to be more dangerous as well. In addition, male dogs (especially unneutered ones) are several times more dangerous than female dogs. There are three kinds of law that impose liability on owners:
A dog-bite statute: where the dog owner is liable (subject to certain exceptions) for injury or property damage the dog causes without provocation.
The one-bite rule: where the dog owner is responsible for an injury caused by a dog if the owner knew the dog was likely to cause that type of injury—in this case, the victim must prove the owner knew the dog was dangerous.
Negligence laws: where the dog owner is liable if the injury occurred because the dog owner was unreasonably careless (negligent) in controlling the dog.