The U.S. Postal Service has released statistics for the number of dog bites to postal workers in 2010, broken out by city. Houston took the top spot with 62 attacks. Denver, with its long-standing pit bull ban, took the #8 spot, with 31 bites. The fact that Denver would rank so high despite its firm adherence to breed specific legislation is hardly a surprise to those who really understand dog bites. Research by the National Canine Research Council shows that dog bites do not occur due to breed. Rather, the most relevant factors are whether the dog is a “resident” dog (versus a primarily indoor “family” dog), whether the dog is intact, and whether the owner is responsible or properly supervised the dog.
The Insurance Journal also released statistics for the number of and costs related to dog bite insurance claims. State Farm’s data shows that California tops the list for the most dog bite claims, at 369, while Florida has the highest costs per claim, with an average claim of $38,356. I cannot resist a big shout out to State Farm, which continues its tradition of refusing to deny coverage based on breed. The one exception even State Farm cannot escape – the state of Ohio, which classifies bully breeds as automatically “vicious.” So where does Ohio fall in the list of dog bite claims? Number 3, with 215 claims, right behind California and Illinois. So much for the efficacy of breed specific legislation.
One group most at risk of dog bites is children. Psychology Today has a great article explaining why children are so at risk, which is due to insufficient supervision by adults, and children’s notoriously bad skills at reading body language. In an effort to address this, and just in time for Dog Bite Prevention Week, Dr. Sophia Yin has provided a poster that you can download from her website on recognizing a fearful dog’s body language.
For other tips on how to prevent dog bites, visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s site and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s site. You can also find more great information and downloads on Doggone Safe’s site.