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New Study Finds Family Dog Most Often to Blame in Dog Bite Attacks

By Kelly Balamuth on November 12, 2010

According to an article recently published in The Los Angeles Times, when left alone, children are the most vulnerable to dog bites, a new study from the University of Colorado, Denver reports. Most often, the attack may be from the family dog.

In a study of data on 537 children (birth to age 18) who were treated at the Denver Children’s Hospital for dog bites to their faces from 2003 to 2008, researchers found that children aged five and younger were most often the victims of dog bites. They accounted for 68 percent of all cases. Regarding the dog, about half were family pets, 15 percent were owned by a neighbor, 13 percent by a friend, and 10 percent by a relative, which means the children knew the animal that attacked them nearly every time. The most common dog breeds involved in the animal attacks were mixed breeds, followed by Rottweilers, German shepherds, and Labrador retrievers. The study did not include pit bull attacks as the breed is banned in Denver.

In about 53 percent of the cases, the attacks were provoked, either by playing with or petting the animal too forcefully, falling or stepping on it, or surprising the animal. While no child died as a result of the dog bites, injuries included significant eye damage and the surrounding areas, including torn eyelids, damages to the eyeball, and fractures around the eye.

Dr. Vikram Durairaj, the co-author of the study, believes that these types of incidents occur because parents more than likely allow familiar dogs to spend more time with children and with less supervision, which are key conditions that could result in a dog bite attack. Durairaj noted that the data is clear that any breed of dog can bite, which means parents must be very careful when allowing their children to play with animals.

Every year, there are more than 4.7 million dog bites worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the United States, approximately 800,000 people require medical attention due to a dog bite, and half of those are children. Of those injured by a dog bite, about 386,000 need emergency treatment, and about 16 people die as a result of their injuries. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is the highest for children between the ages of 5 to 9 years old.

If you or your child has been injured by a dog bite, you may be able to hold the dog’s owner liable for the injuries their pet caused. At Balamuth Harrington, LLP, our experienced Northern California dog bite injury attorneys have assisted many clients with claims against negligent dog owners. For more information about your legal rights and options when pursuing a Northern California dog bite injury case, please contact our law office for a free consultation. Call us today at 1-888-254-1234.

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Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
September 2013 Issue of Plaintiff Magazine.

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