The bite facts
DANGEROUS dogs are a hot topic. Here are a few relevant facts and figures on dogs that bite humans and also on their victims.
Firstly, any breed of dog can bite. The tendency to bite is dependent on at least five factors including its genetic make-up.
Other factors include the dog's early life experience, its socialisation and training, its physical and psychological health and the behaviour of the victim.
Dogs roaming at large are responsible for the minority of bites, but they attract disproportionate media and political attention.
In Australia 73 to 81% of bites occur in the dog's own home and involve victims who are the dogs' owners.
Males are six times more likely to bite than females. Undesexed dogs are nearly three times more likely to bite compared to desexed dogs.
Chained dogs are three times more likely than unchained dogs.
Dogs bred at home are less likely to bite than those from pet shops or breeders and are more likely when they were obtained at an older age.
Biting dogs are more likely to live in low-income areas.
Local council data report that 62% of dog attacks occurred in public places, but that is because few people report bites by their own dog!
What about the victims? Seventy per cent of fatal dog attacks and more than half of bite wounds requiring medical attention involve children, mostly five- to nine-year-olds.
Of the dog-bite cases presented to hospital emergency departments, 65% were bitten at home and 35% in public.
In 86% of the home bites and 31% of the public bites the bite was determined to be the result mainly of the victim's behaviour.
Children's behaviour puts them at risk for dog bite injuries.
Running, yelling, grabbing, hitting, darting movements and maintaining eye contact, while at the same time, the greater proximity of a child's face to the dog increases the risk of facial injuries.
In a nutshell, reducing risk involves better dog training, selection and supervision, improved education from early childhood onwards and adult supervision of children with dogs.