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« 8 year old Pennsylvania Girl Dies | Main | Preventing Dog Bites in Children »

January 20, 2009



This site is starting to look like it's run by dog-haters :>)

Seriously, I had to check to see if this was an update or a new one.

Five, already?

What's going on out there?


I know Selma. I was honestly just thinking about not even talking about these two and just compiling the info for the year end. There is obviously a lot of exciting things going on in this country that I'd love to discuss.

January is typically a bit of a rough month. I speculate that the cold weather could prevent dogs from getting as much exercise as normal (I know mine aren't getting walked enough) gets them a little fired up. But yeah, this has been a just awful stretch. I cover it because I feel like accurate information needs to get out there to counterbalance some of the garbage that gets posted around. We just have to change the dialogue that we have around canine safety and quit focus on breeds and start focusing on causes. It's all so tragic...and mostly preventable.


Four people, according to google news, have died from drowning in a swimming pool in January. Warmer weather patterns have certainly inspired more people to swim. There are about 8.6 million swimming pools in the US. About 80 million dogs and five deaths in a month.

It's amazing, really. We encounter dogs a lot more frequently than swimming pools and, yet, so few of us are harmed by these toothy canines.

Doesn't, of course, negate the inherent tragedy of losing a child. Nothing would. I feel sad for anyone who loses a child.


Wow, google is way off, as apparently around six people die a day from drowning in a swimming pool. Geez.


Did anybody see the letter opposing a dog park in Florida?

The writer pointed out that dog bites are more common than lightning strikes or shark attacks.


Haha, wow, then that 8 million dog bite stat must be WAAAAY off! There sure are a lot more lightning strikes than that. I'm pretty sure that aren't 8 million shark attacks every year, so I guess she's right there.

But you don't have to be accurate to get a letter to the editor printed. :)


What I found hilarious was trying to think of anything that is LESS common than lightning strikes (by which I assume she means strikes where people are injured and maybe killed) or shark attacks (average 3 - 5 annually worldwide, both fatal and nonfatal).

Somehow, it doesn't make dog bites sound very scary, especially as most of them are trivial.

How about human bites, are there more of them than lightning strikes and shark attacks?

"United States

Estimates vary regarding the frequency of human bites evaluated in US emergency departments (EDs). Some sources report an annual incidence of 250,000 human bites. This is well below the incidence of dog bites and is approximately half the incidence of cat bites."


Dog bites are CERTAINLY more common than being struck by lightning or bitten by a shark -- two things I seldom worry about. I've never understood that argument about dog parks. If you are afraid that having a dog park will cause more dogs to bite, don't go (even though well socialized dogs are less likely to bite outside of the park). As someone who lives 1500 miles from the nearest ocean, I am virtually assured of not getting bitten by a shark.

Sigh. It's impossible to deal with ignorance and paranoia.


Well, sure, being struck by lightning is a lot less frequent than being bitten by a dog (you're still more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than a dog).

But that isn't what the person wrote. She said lightning strikes are less common than dog bites. Oh, and that you're more likely to be bitten by shark BIKES. Yes, sharks on bikes or bikes made of sharks, I'm not sure.

That's patently untrue - 20+ million bolts of lightning strike the US every year (that's a best guess). Maybe 8 million get bitten by dogs. Sure, maybe the person MEANT to write that fewer people are struck by lightning than bitten by dogs but that's not what she wrote.

Which is all moot, anyways. We don't live with lightning strikes, we tend to avoid them. We live and interact with dogs every day. Comparing dog bites to lightning strikes is an apples to plastic bottles sort of comparison. Yes, you're right, fear and paranoia are certainly tough contenders to deal with.


So, I will throw out some things I am pondering... In previous years, have there been more dog bite fatalities but not reported as such? Can some of the major statistics be pulling only from major news skewing them as well on particular breeds? Could people have been reporting dog bite fatalities as other things in past years? This is really strange that we are only five weeks into 09 and 5 dog attacks already.


Funny I was thinking along the same lines, Carianne, ie, are dogs being blamed for some infanticides this year? Other years?

Yes, unfortunately, media reports are used as a source for info on DBRFs. CDC used them, others do, too.

btw Rinalia, the highest educated guesstimate for dog bites is around 4.5 million annually in the US and I think that's too high. Were you speaking of bites worldwide?

And yeah, lightning strikes the ground about every split second or something, doesn't it? Where was my head, cutting that trog some slack? I admit I just skimmed it, I can only take so much.


The last time I checked, Pools were not roaming the neighborhood and when a little girl came up to them to see if the water was nice, the pool jumped up and drown the girl on the spot.

Of course pools kill more kids, of course kids slip and fall downstairs and die, of course they die in car accidents...the difference is that these are all accidents and unfortuanlty they are a fact of life...

Not being a typical parent...I train my kids to be wary of all these events, even what to do in a dog attack.

But most parents dont expect their children to be attacked and killed by a dog....

The dont call the's best friend....

When a pool or lightning kill a kid, you cant have any retrobution on the pool or lightning...however you can with a dog attack.

This is why we have BSL, it is a reactive event to prevent future attacks...

But since the Anti BSL minority does not want to even try and work with the Pro BSL Reactive Majority you end up getting laws which are flawed....

Bombarding people with e-mails saying Punish the Deed not the Breed or waving an online petition in their face does not help your cause.

Of couse the vocal minority shows up for the city counsel meetings, they have to be loud and come out in force because the deck is already stacked against them.

Seeing how I live near the water in Florida we also have shark bite prevention training in my family...I am happy to say, no bites from dogs or sharks or pools.

By the way how did you find such an obscure web page from West NoWhere Florida.



I think it's quite the opposite. I think the animal welfare community has been more than willing to work with city councils on this. The problem is that not everyone is on the same page once they get there. Every single organization of experts on canine behavior is AGAINST BSL, however, there are so many other "solutions" out there (anti-tethering, Mandatory sterilization -- some work, some don't). However, in spite of all that, the cities go out and pass something that universally everyone knows doesn't work...which doesn't make a lick of sense.


Brent, kudos for caring more about taking these situations head-on than sweeping them under-the-rug.

In your 5:11 pm comment you make mention of rough weather causing many to cut back on the pooch's exercise. Agreed. I know I tend to cut it short when it's nasty outside.

However, there are SO MANY alternatives to the traditional "walk around the park"...namely, pretty much everything that get's labeled "dog fighting paraphernalia." In my opinion, these items are likely be in more homes if they hadn't been tainted by all the "how to spot a dogfighter" propaganda. Then again, I could be wrong, 'cause it never ceases to amaze me how frequently I talk with dog owner's that have never even heard of a Kong.


"When a pool or lightning kill a kid, you cant have any retrobution on the pool or lightning...however you can with a dog attack."

And that, in a nutshell is what drives BSL. Revenge and scapegoating.

Contrary to what the tiny minority of who support BSL believe, public support for it tends to be tepid at best. The way they get around this is by giving a platform to victims, someone who doesn't know what they don't know, an animal liberationist if they think they need 'credibility' and so on. They try to orchestrate support for a ban, in other words, using media to do it with 'reports' of trivial incidents, re-reporting, exclusionary reporting, blah blah blah.

By the time most dog owners hear about these ordinances, it's almost game over because the lobbying is all back-room stuff. That's why people who show up are playing defense by that time and are justifiably concerned and angry, because they know the facts.

Also, contrary to what some believe, most people who show up at these things don't know each other and aren't organized. That usually changes quickly. There are a lot more out there with common sense than you'd think if you only got your info from the news media.

Funny thing is, the people who write these laws know they aren't about 'devil dogs' because they don't exist. The people who own the targeted breed(s) know they aren't about 'devil dogs', the AL crew knows it too.

The only ones who think BSL is about 'devil dogs' are the ones who don't know anything about it. You know, the kind of people who don't look into things, generalize or use their imaginations.


Donavan, You had a great recent post on this I'm going to link to soon -- and I agree with you. I don't think the vast majority of dogs even need those items though. Oh certainly there are some really high energy dogs that do, but most just need a little walk.. I'm just amazed at the number of times I'll have a co-worker or friend come up to me with a problem they're having with their dog, usually chewing, jumping on furniture, barking, stuff like that. I ask them when the last time the dog has been on a walk. And they look at me like I have 2 heads. Walk? Amazingly, a short walk cures the problem. I am amazed at just how little people understand about dogs and their most basic of needs.



I'm not sure what your point is. The fact still remains that there are ten times fewer pools in this country than dogs, yet 4,000 people manage to drown in them annually. Only 30 of the 80 million dogs in this country manage to kill anyone. We encounter dogs on a daily basis, pools far less so...what is there to fear from dogs when they harm so few and kill even fewer?

I agree with Brent about this so called vocal minority (you know, the one who gives an iota about that seemingly reactive majority and their rights as animal owners) trying to integrate fairness into the legislative process. Singling out a particular type of animal is neither fair nor logical and every single reputable animal welfare agency will attest to that.


I was going on the HSUS number of 8 million bites, 4 million requiring hospitalization. I'm assuming yours is based on the probably more accurate CDC injury database info, right? Worldwide, though, I'm sure there are more...India has an enormous dog bite/rabies problem that makes the US "dog bite epidemic" look like a single isolated case of bad food poisoning.


Wow.... I 100% agree with Selma...did I just say that...


well, considering that most of these recent tragedies were NOT caused by pit bulls, perhaps there will be a bit of a silver lining in forcing people to recognize that dogbite fatalities are NOT ABOUT THE BREED?

What do you think, Doug?


Please clarify something for me, when you claim few support BSL, are you saying few support the premise of BSL or few support the practice of BSL?

While it may be true that the supporters of the practice of BSL are small in number, most people believe wholeheartedly in the premise.

Do you know why? Do you even know what the premise is?


They all come around to our way of thinking eventually, Doug...:>)

Rinalia, is that what the Hsux is saying these days? Because it's totally off the mark.

Sacks et al did a paper in 1994 and I came across a new one from Oct 2008 the other day.

The estimate, based on a random telephone survey and then extrapolated was 4.7 million in '94, around 4.5 million in the latest. They believe that bites have decreased markedly among children, remained stable with adults.

Other estimates from other papers put the number for which people sought medical attention (not whether it was required) at anywhere from 336,000 to 800,000 per year, depending on which paper you read. These are not counts, they are again extrapolations, because nobody is actually counting dog bites.

The numbers are medians and the confidence intervals are huge, meanning how much confidence the researchers have in the results.

Which is fine, until people start throwing these numbers around as if they are 'facts'. So the Hsus has almost doubled an estimate and is calling it a fact.

Why am I not surprised?

It's funny, I just raised this point in my letter to Montana about seeing the 4.7 million described as 'reported bites' or sometimes 'bites requiring medical attention' and a day or so later, up popped '5 million reported bites' in a Googlebot.


Rinalia, those numbers must be worldwide, and even then, sound pretty high. These are the numbers quoted on the Nat'l Canine Research Council website, which is based on CDC and Nat'l Center for Injury Prevention:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control over 300,000 people report annually to emergency rooms for treatment of dog bites, of whom approximately 6,000 are injured severely enough to require hospitalization.
Hospital admission for injuries sustained during a dog attack is a valid medical assessment of “bodily harm.” Therefore, according to the CDC and the NCIPC, at least 150,000 people received bodily harm (i.e., hospital admission with a median stay of 3.6 days# from dog attacks during the same time period...#1982-2006)


psyquark, what exactly is the point of separating the premise of BSL from the practice? Doesn't one ultimately lead to the other? I don't see how you can claim many support the premise but not the practice...that really doesn't make any sense. I would venture to guess that most people who regularly comment on this page have full knowledge of what BSL is, as many of us have read the city ordinances first hand that have this type of legislation in it, and have been to many city council meetings as well as Canine Legislative Conferences.


Hey Selma and linskykitty,

It seems like dog bite stats are notoriously difficult to come by! From both your comments (and mine), we have a range of 300,000 (hospitalization)-4.7 million (extrapolated total dog bites?). I'll toss out the 8 million. :)

I still don't believe that there are only 8 million dog bites worldwide. With a population of 300 million and only 4 million dog bites, the US cannot possibly be responsible for 1/2 of worldwide dog bite stats.

I might believe it if you threw out rabies inflicted bites (between 25,000-50,000 people die yearly in India alone from rabies caused by dog bites). Still, I just don't think, between 5+ billion people, there are only 4 million dog bites (when between 300 million people there are only 4 million).


I think that in N. America, we likely do have a disproportionate number, largely for cultural reasons, so it's not inconceivable that around half the reported bites would occur here.

Europe and countries settled by Europeans should be in the same group.


Hysteria generated by media.
A long tradition of owning dogs and these days, multiple dogs - more disposable income.
A more restricted, uptight social scene where dogs are kept cloistered more often.
A tendency to not understand nature or animal behaviour because so many are so far removed from it these days.
A more punitive attitude in general towards people who either make mistakes or don't conform.
Heightened sensitivity due to point one to the issue in general and about so-called 'pit bulls', 'rottweilers', etc, so bites that would be ignored if they were by little dogs or sporting dogs are more likely to be reported to authorities - and to be broadcast by media outlets.

I'm just guessing here and I'm sure there's more, but I think it makes sense when you look at how these things are covered in different countries.

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