On October 7th in Cape Coral, Florida, 3 people were viciously attacked by a dog that a witness described as “being out for blood.” The dog had been tied to a post with a wire but broke free and attacked a couple walking their poodle, plus a bystander who stepped in to help.
The 3 people suffered injuries as a result of the attack, with witnesses describing things like “a chunk of skin missing from his arm” and “her arms were shredded.” Authorities eventually gained control of the dog, and the owner ended up surrendering it to them.
About 4.5 million dog bites happen annually in the U.S., with children and elderly people being the most frequent victims. About 20% of those attacked require hospitalization, and 41% of dog bite fatalities are children.
Here are a few more dog bite statistics:
- Between 1993 and 2008, dog bite hospitalizations increased by 86%
- Insurance companies paid out nearly $800 million in dog-related injury claims in 2019
- More than 1,000 people are treated daily in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal dog bite injuries
- The average dog bite injury stay at a hospital costs are around $18,000, which is about 50% more than a typical injury stay
Yes, Some Breeds are More Prone to Attack
Many people believe that certain dog breeds get a bad rap for being considered inherently vicious or prone to attack a person, but it is hard to argue with the actual statistics. There have been countless studies done on the subject, and the numbers are quite indicative of the propensity for certain breeds to be more likely to bite a human than are others.
From 2015 to 2019, 20% of dog bite fatalities resulted in the dog's owner facing criminal charges, and 76% of those attacks involved a pit bull dog.
More than 1,000 cities in the U.S. have enacted breed-specific laws regarding pit bulls. The breed is thought to have been introduced into the main population after being used mainly for dog fighting. More than 290 U.S. military bases also have regulations regarding ownership of dangerous dog breeds.
Between 2005 to 2009, dogs that were rescues or rehomed accounted for just 2% of dog bite fatalities. Between 2015 to 2018, that number soared to 14.7% - a whopping 600% increase.
Pit bull terriers and rottweilers are reported to be the most dangerous breeds of dogs. Pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 76% of all dog bite fatalities from 2005 to 2019. Experts say that a pit bull's selective dog fight breeding make them more likely to attack, and their methods of attacking are far more violent than other breeds. A pit bull generally will not show any indication they are going to attack, which results in a “surprise” attack. Because of their breeding for fighting, they fight much more aggressively than do other breeds, using their massive, powerful jaws to hold and shake their prey violently.
Many states also regulate the breeding and ownership of breeds called “wolf-dog hybrids”, meaning a dog who is the result of the mating of a dog and a wolf.
The dog involved in the recent Cape Coral attack was described as a German shepherd mix.
The bottom line is, even though pit bull and rottweilers are known to inflict more serious dog bite injuries, any breed of dog can attack without warning.
Kids, Elderly are Vulnerable to Fatal Attacks
One of the most dangerous situations that can result in a deadly dog attack is the interaction of a young child and a pit bull or rottweiler. If a dangerous dog visits an unfamiliar home with a child living there, there is a very high risk of an attack. The same holds true for a household where a pit bull lives, and a child comes to visit.
It is never recommended to offer to dog-watch a dangerous breed for anyone, especially if there are kids in your home.
Children who are unfamiliar with a dog may rush up to the animal abruptly, making aggressive and sudden moves. With the pit bull's breeding for fighting, the dog may attack in an effort to protect themselves.
Older people are also susceptible to being at a higher risk for a serious dog bite injury. An elderly person is generally less agile or mobile than a younger victim, and does not have the ability to defend themselves, often falling down during an attack. Their skin is thinner and more susceptible to puncture wounds, and their bones are often more brittle, resulting in more likelihood of a bone fracture.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Being Attacked by a Dog
There are some things you should keep in mind to help reduce your risk of a dog bite injury:
- Never approach an unfamiliar dog
- Do not startle a sleeping dog or a dog that is eating
- Do not tease or taunt a dog that is tied up
- Do not lean close to a dog with your face
If you are attacked:
- Try to resist the urge to fight the dog off – be as still as possible
- Avoid making direct eye contact with the dog
- If the dog knocks you down, curl up in a tight ball and try to cover your head, face and ears
- Never run away or make loud noises
The personal injury attorneys at Goldberg Noone Abraham have successfully represented many victims of dog bite injuries. Depending on the seriousness of their injuries, victims can often be left with astronomical medical bills and rehabilitation costs that may last for a lifetime. Injuries can often be severe, including facial and cranial lacerations, head and neck punctures and even the loss of fingers, toes or other extremities.
Things to Do After a Dog Attack
- Do everything possible to try to find out the dog owner's name, or the person that was supposed to be in control of the dog
- Get medical care for your injuries right away – an accurate record of any injuries will be critical should you decide to file an injury claim
- File a report of the attack with law enforcement and the appropriate local animal control authorities
- Take photos of your injuries
- Begin keeping a written journal of your experiences following the attack – your levels of pain, things you can no longer do, and other ways the attack has affected your life
- Contact one of our personal injury attorneys for answers to any questions you may have about filing a claim for your injuries
“An attack by a vicious dog can change your life,” says attorney Scot Goldberg. “If you're fortunate enough to survive, you'll likely need extensive surgeries and skin grafts to recover, maybe physical and rehabilitative therapies, all of which costs a lot of money. A skilled attorney can help you get your life back together as much as possible.”
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