Understanding Dog Bites & Attacks: Statistics & Facts

Dogs make wonderful companion animals, but owning a dog comes with risk. Their behavior can be unpredictable and if a dog bites someone, the owner can face steep fines and other consequences.

How Common are Dog Bites?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AMVF), about four and a half million people each year are bitten by dogs in the United States. About 4000 of these bites occur in New York.

Many dog bites are minor and require no medical attention, but some are serious enough to require an emergency room visit. The majority of bites that require medical attention happen to children.

In part, this is because children lack the awareness and caution that protects them from bites. Many approach an unfamiliar dog aggressively, causing the dog to react out of fear. Even familiar dogs can react poorly if a child is too aggressive or makes the dog uncomfortable in some other way. As a matter of fact, the AMVF reports that the majority of children bitten by dogs know the dog and have interacted with it before.

What Causes a Dog to Bite?

Dogs react to stress differently than humans and one of the most common reactions is to bite. They might be scared or feel threatened, or feel that their owners or puppies are threatened and are prompted to act in defense.

Some people assume that because their dog has never bitten anyone that it can be trusted to not bite in the future. This isn’t always the case. Sometimes dogs bite because they are not feeling well, which tends to occur as they grow older and their health deteriorates.

It should also be noted that dogs sometimes bite when they are playing. They mean no harm, but if they are powerful enough and the person they are biting is unprepared or easily injured, a play bite can be serious.

Are Some Dogs More Dangerous than Others?

Any breed or mix of breeds can bite, but some are more likely to bite than others. If you are around any of the following breeds or you are responsible for a dog of any of these breeds, you should use special caution.

Dogs that tend to bite more than others include:

  • Chihuahuas
  • Pit Bulls
  • German Shepherds
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Jack Russel Terriers

It’s rare for a dog bite or attack to be fatal, but at least a quarter of all fatal cases involved a dog that had been chained up – something that is illegal in New York for more than three hours at a time.

New York Dog Bite Laws

Owners of dogs that have a “propensity” to be vicious or bite are responsible for injuries to those bitten by dogs. Oftentimes, proving this propensity requires proof of prior bites or attacks. It’s sometimes said that the law of this State allows dogs “one free bite.” If such a propensity can be shown, New York dog owners can be responsible for injuries caused by bites and all of the injured party’s damages—which could include medical expenses, lost time from work and disfiguring scars. 

If you have been bitten by a dog, you might be entitled to compensation. Here at The Law Offices of Elan Wurtzel we provide legal representation. Consult with us today CALL (516) 822-7866







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