Dog Bite Injuries and Fatalities
in the United States


Introduction

Dog Bite Injuries

Dog Bite Fatalities

Risk Factors:
Breed, Victim & Place

Cost of Dog Bites

Factors that Impede Progress

Event Analysis

Prevention Strategies

References

Dog Bite Fatalities

Diane Whipple, pictured at age 33

Bane, a 120-pound Presa Canario, mauled Diane Whipple. He was put to death immediately following the deadly attack. The dog's caretakers, married lawyers Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller, were charged in connection with the incident

www.virtual-condolences.com/Whipple.html
http://www.courttv.com/trials/dogmaul/background-a_intro.html

Read about the Diane Whipple case by clicking on the link below:
http://www.dogbitelaw.com/PAGES/Whipple.html

Source:
Phillips KM. Diane Whipple case, people of the state of California v. Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel. Dog Bite Law. 7-27-05, retrieved on 2-24-06 from: http://www.dogbitelaw.com/PAGES/Whipple.html

Summary

  • The number of dog bite fatalities has remained fairly constant over time in the United States. In the twenty-year period between 1979 and 1998, the number of fatal dog attacks ranged from 5 to 17 per year.8
  • Between 1979 and 1998, severe dog bites resulted in at least 332 confirmed human deaths. Twenty-five breeds of dogs were involved. Seventy percent of dog bite fatality victims were children.
  • Although rottweilers and pit bulls were responsible for 60% of the 1997-1998 dog bite fatalities, these breeds have accounted for far fewer fatalities in past years.8
  • The proportion of deaths attributable to pit bulls has varied over time from 20% in 1979-1980, to 62% in 1987-1988, and down again to 22% in 1997-1998.10,8
  • Dog bite fatalities are reported to occur less often in other developed countries such as Australia and Canada.

The number of dog bite fatalities has remained fairly constant over time in the United States. In the twenty-year period between 1979 and 1998, the number of fatal dog attacks ranged from 5 to 17 per year.8 In this period, severe dog bites resulted in at least 332 confirmed human deaths. Breed specific data was available for just 238 of these 332 cases, and revealed that 25 breeds of dogs were involved and that most dog bite fatality victims were children. Age specific data from 1997 and 1998, showed that 70% of fatal dog bite victims (19 out of 27) were children. One was less than 30 days, three were between 7 and 11 months, nine were between 1 and 4 years, and six were between 5 and 11 years. Of these 27 deaths, rottweilers accounted for 10, crossbred rottweilers accounted for 2, pit bulls accounted for 6, saint bernards accounted for 3, and a husky, great dane, doberman pinscher, a crossbred great dane, a crossbred doberman pinscher, and a mixed breed each accounted for a single death.8

Dog Bite Fatalities by Breed 1979-1998

Breed

1979-1980 1981-1982 1983-1984 1985-1986 1987-1988 1989-1990 1991-1992 1993-1994 1995-1996 1997-1998 Total
Purebred
Pit Bull 2 5 10 9 11 8 6 5 4 6 66
Rottweiler 0 0 1 1 3 1 3 10 10 10 39
German Shep. 2 1 4 1 1 4 2 0 2 0 17
Husky 2 1 2 2 0 2 2 1 2 1 15
Malamute 2 0 3 1 0 2 3 1 0 0 12
Doberman 0 1 0 2 2 2 1 0 0 1 9
Chow Chow 0 1 0 0 0 2 3 0 2 0 8
Great Dane 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 7
St. Bernard 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 7
Crossbred
Wolf X 0 1 1 2 1 4 1 2 2 0 14
Mixed 0 3 1 2 1 2 0 1 1 1 12
German Shep 0 2 0 2 2 2 9 1 1 1 11
Pit Bull 0 1 0 3 2 3 1 1 0 0 11
Husky 0 1 1 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 6
Rottweiler 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 2 6
Malamute 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 3
Chow Chow 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 3
Doberman 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2
St. Bernard 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Great Dane 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
Yearly Totals 10 20 26 24 22 34 24 25 26 27 242

Table is adapted from Sacks JJ, Sinclair L, Gilchrist J, Golab G, Lockwood R. Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association; 217: 836-840.

Although rottweilers and pit bulls were responsible for 60% of the 1997-1998 dog bite fatalities, these breeds have accounted for far fewer fatalities in past years.8 An earlier study by Pinckney and Kennedy showed that from 1975 to 1980, 81 dog bite fatalities occurred in the U.S., involving only one rottweiler and no pit bulls. The breed that caused the greatest number of fatalities between 1975 to 1980 was the German shepherd, a breed that was not involved in a single human death during the 1997-1998 study period.9 Likewise, the proportion of deaths attributable to pit bulls has varied over time from 20% in 1979-1980, to 62% in 1987-1988, and down again to 22% in 1997-1998.10,8 Pit bulls are noteworthy in an additional respect. Although the most common fatality scenario in the 1997-1998 data involved a single unrestrained dog located on the owner's property, this was not the case for pit bulls, which were almost twice as likely to attack off the owner's property, as compared to other breeds.8

Dog bite fatalities are reported to occur less often in other developed countries. In Australia, a country with slightly higher dog ownership than the United States (42% versus 39%), the dog bite fatality rate was .04 per 100,000, between 1979 and 1996, and in Canada the dog bite fatality rate was .03 per 100,000 in 1995.11 The U.S. rate of dog bite fatalities was .07 per 100,000 between 1979 and 1988.10 It should be noted, however, that direct comparison of dog bite data between differing countries is complicated by the variety of ways that bite data is reported and collected throughout the world.

Source: Lockwood R. Dog bite related fatalities - United States, 1995-1996. MMWR; 46: 463-466
http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00047723.htm

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