The facts about dog bites

Dog bites, whether from a family pet, guard animal or a stray, can cause serious physical and emotional harm.

While dogs are among the most common and desirable pets for families, they may still pose a threat to their owners or to strangers. Whether people are dog enthusiasts, pet owners or victims of an attack, there are some facts about dog bites they should be familiar with.

Dog bite statistics

According to DogsBite.org, there are about 4.5 million dog bites in the nation each year. Dogs may bite unexpectedly, even when unprovoked, and because of the dog's size or the size of the victim, some bites may be fatal. Texas had the highest number of dog bite fatalities in the United States from January 2005 to February 2013, with 34 deaths resulting from injuries related to dog bites.

Top dangerous breeds

Dogs that are raised with proper training and positive reinforcement often grow up to be wonderful pets. However, even when they are well trained and properly cared for, there are certain dog breeds that are more likely to harm people than others. In the past 11 years, the six most dangerous dog breeds according to fatalities caused are:

  • American Pit Bull Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • German Shepherd
  • Mastiff/Bullmastiff
  • Husky
  • American Bulldog

These dogs are all identified as aggressive breeds, some of which were originally bred for fighting or protection. They are typically also known for being physically strong animals, which means that if they do bite, their powerful jaws and muscular body may lead to more severe injuries. As a result, they may cause broken bones, injuries to the head and brain and even internal trauma.

Because there have been so many official reports of attacks involving these breeds and others, some have been banned in certain areas and cities in Texas.

Most vulnerable victims

Children are at the greatest risk of injury due to dog bites as their size often makes them an easy target for larger dogs. Also because of a child's size, a dog bite can be much more dangerous than it is to adults, and possibly even fatal.

It is not just stray or feral dogs that tend to bite a child. According to a study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and published in The Journal of Pediatric Surgery, more than half of all injuries from dog bites came from a dog that belonged to a member of the child's immediate family. That same study revealed that over 60 percent of children who had been bitten by a dog had serious enough injuries to require surgery.

While medical science may be able to physically repair children once they have been bitten, the psychological trauma of a dog bite may never go away, instilling a permanent and even debilitating fear of dogs.

Mesquite residents who have been bitten by a dog may want to consider meeting with an attorney in order to better understand their possible legal options.