The other day I received an email containing a graphic on fatal dog bite attacks in the United States from 2005 to 2009. You can see the graphic at the bottom of this post.
The graphic does a terrific job of summarizing information about breed-specific fatal attacks on people. It shows that out of 149 fatal attacks, 55 percent (83 attacks) were by Pit Bulls, 14 percent (21 attacks) were by Rottweilers, and various other breeds were responsible for the remaining attacks. The graphic also points out that some 4.7 million dog bites occur every year (see my blog post of March 18, 2009 on dog bite statistics).
This is valuable information. Dog bites are a serious problem, and nothing can lessen the tragedy of a person killed by dogs, or even being bitten by a dog.
However, before we decide that dogs are just plain dangerous to have around, let us keep these numbers in perspective.
The 149 fatal attacks are over a 4 year period. That averages to about 37 fatal attacks by dogs each year.
Compare that with these numbers from various sources on the internet:
Each year in the United States,
- About 50-100 people die from bee stings (Yahoo Answers).
- About 36,000 people die from the flu (CDC).
- About 40,000 people die in car accidents (NHTSA).
Let's see how the numbers stack up in terms of the chance of a fatal dog attack or the chance of getting bitten .
The 2010 population of the United States is estimated to be about 310 Million people, and there are estimated to be 110 Million households. The US Humane Society estimates that 39 percent of households own at least one dog, and that there are about 78 Million dogs living in households.
The chance of any given person suffering a fatal dog attack is very small. Dividing 37 (the average number of fatal attacks per year) by 310,000,000 (the estimated population in the US), gives us about a one in 10 Million chance of a person being fatally attacked by a dog. This is comparable to one person suffering a fatal dog attack in the entire Los Angeles County (population 10.3 Million) which includes 88 cities.
In terms of dog bites, the chances of a person being bitten are larger. Dividing 4.7 Million by 310 Million gives us about 1.5 chances out of a hundred that a person will be bitten by a dog. This means that about 1.5 percent of the population of the United States can expect to be bitten by a dog annually.
How does this compare to the number of dog bites vs. the number of dogs? If we divide 4.7 Million (the number of dog bites) by 78 Million (the number of dogs), we get 0.06. This means that on average 6 percent of the total dogs in the United States have bitten someone annually.
So your chance of being fatally attacked by a dog is very small, but your chance of getting bitten by a dog is significantly larger.
As far as dog bites go, I think we should keep in mind two points:
One is that any dog can bite given the wrong circumstances.
The other is that dogs who are well-socialized and who are treated with kindness, respect, and gentle leadership are less likely to bite than dogs who are abused and treated with violence.
Visit Oklahoma-Law.com for more information on Oklahoma dog bite laws.