Dog Bite Prevention Week Myth #6: "Most dog bites are by strange dogs."
When we hear about someone getting bitten by a dog, we often picture a stray mongrel roaming the mean streets, and attacking an unsuspecting person who crosses his path. This myth is quite pervasive, however we've seen over the years that statistically, it just isn't true. So, who are the perpetrators? Who's doing the biting?
Unfortunately, approximately 77% of bites come from a familiar dog, either a dog that lives with a friend or the family's own dog (source: http://stopthe77.com). Furthermore, most dog bites happen to children ages 5-9 years old, and boys are twice as likely to be bitten (source: "Living with Kids and Dogs... without losing your mind" by Colleen Pelar). After children, senior citizens are the second mostly likely demographic to be bitten (source: American Veterinary Medical Association). So, despite the dramatization about a rabid stray we may have in our head when we hear about a dog bite, the very real truth is that it's the dogs that we are familiar with that are at the heart of the issue.
The good news, however, is that dog bite fatalities are extremely uncommon (source: The National Canine Research Council), no matter how much the media may sensationalize these stories. In fact, kitchen utensils, skateboards, and swimming pools are all more likely to cause fatalities than a dog (source: "Dogs bite, but balloons and slippers are more dangerous" by Janis Bradley). And in most dog bite fatalities, there are easily managed or avoided factors that contributed to the issue, so careful and responsible dog ownership will prevent these instances from occurring.
So what can we and should we do to prevent dog bites? I'll be discussing these factors at length in tomorrow's blog post, my last for dog bite prevention week 2018.
Some other resources for safety around dogs: