Dog Bite Study: Unsupervised Children Most At Risk

Do you have children?  The University of Colorado School of Medicine just released this study — good reading for anyone with children.

Dog bite study: Unsupervised Children most at risk

This story seems especially relevant today after news of a tragic dog attack in Texas yesterday.

A new study from Vikram Durairaj, MD from the University of Colorado School of Medicine is believed to be the largest study of its kind in studying 537 dog bites in children that happened between 2003 and 2008.

According to the report, unsupervised children are most at risk for bites.  The study also notes that the culprits are usually the family pet and that once a dog has a history of biting, the dog is more likely to bite again (with the second attack being more serious than the first).

Children seem to be the most susceptible to bites because they are more vulnerable and their heads and necks are closer to the dog’s mouth.  A child’s face and eyes are the most common targets.

According to the study, 68% of bite cases were to 5 year olds or younger — with 3 year olds being the most common victims.  In the majority of cases the child knew the dog (either it was a family dog, or belonged to a friend or neighbor) and in the majority of cases, the dog bite was provoked when the child either pet the dog to aggressively, startled the dog, or stepped on the dog.

Durairaj also studied the breeds of dogs involved — in 23% of cases, mixed breeds were responsible. Labrador Retrievers accounted for 13.7%, Rottweilers 4.9%, German Shepherds 4.4% and Golden Retrievers 3%.

“It’s clear from our data that virtually any breed of dog can bite” said Durairaj. “The tendency of a dog to bite is related to heredity, early experience, later socialization and training, health and victim behavior.”

The study is not terribly eye-opening for people who have studied dog bites and attacks – but it is further research that indicates that a) there are a lot of contributing factors to dog bites and b) parents need to supervise their children around dogs.  People who try to focus solely on breed when it comes to dog bites are missing the majority of factors involved in the deterimining the bite.

And if we focus on the science and academic studies of dog bites they all point this direction — and focusing on the realities of dog bites and attacks will help us put a stop to them, vs the media and blog-fueled hysteria that often exists around dog breeds.

From:  http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2010/11/dog-bite-study-unsupervised-children-most-at-risk.html

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