Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that about 885,000 people in Pennsylvania and around the country seek medical attention each year after being bitten by a dog. Media reports about the issue often focus on dangerous breeds like pit bull terriers or Rottweilers that attack strangers without warning or provocation, but a major study published in 2010 suggests that family pets are the culprits in most dog bite cases and unsupervised children are usually the victims.
Children suffer face and neck bites
Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine came to this conclusion after scrutinizing 537 cases involving children who were treated after suffering dog bite injuries between 2003 and 2008. They found that 68% of the children were 5-years-old or younger, and most of them were bitten on the face or neck. The researchers also discovered that the dog involved in the majority of the cases studied was either a family pet or known to the victim. The results of other studies suggest that children in the United States have a 50% chance they will be bitten by a dog at least once.
Mixed breeds and Labradors most often involved
The study also revealed that dogs with a reputation for being friendly are just as likely to bite a child as breeds known for their ferocity. Mixed breeds were involved in 23% of the cases studied, and 13.7% of the children treated were bitten by Labrador retrievers. Rottweilers and German shepherds were involved in just 4.9% and 4.4% of the cases respectively. About half of the dogs that bit children became aggressive after being petted aggressively, startled or stepped on according to the researchers.
Dog bite lawsuits
Dog owners are expected to do all that they reasonably can to protect members of the public from their pets, and they may be sued for negligence by individuals who suffer injury, loss or damage because this duty of care was not met. If you or one of your children is bitten by an aggressive dog, a personal injury attorney with experience in this area could pursue civil remedies on your behalf and seek compensation for your pain and suffering and medical expenses. If the facts of the case suggest that the dog owner acted with gross negligence, an attorney could also seek punitive damages.