When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries
Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that the Humane Society estimates that 46% of US households own dogs. But not all dogs exude the same warm friendliness that your family’s Golden Retriever displays. Dog attacks are a serious problem, and an aggressive dog can cause brutal injuries that maim, permanently injure, or even kill their victims. And these attacks occur more frequently than we would like to think. According to Dogsbite.org, a site for victims of aggressive dog attacks, every day in the U.S., 1,000 people seek medical treatment for dog bites. In 2001, 42% of these attacks were on children age 14 or younger with the highest rate of attack on boys between the ages of five and nine years old.
Now before you start giving Fido the wary eye, keep in mind that certain dog breeds are far more likely to attack than others. Merrit Clifton, the editor of Animal People conducted a 30-year study of all cases of aggressive dog attacks in the U.S. and Canada. Compiling massive amounts of data, Clifton concluded that these 10 breeds are responsible for the majority of aggressive dog attacks:
1. Pitt Bull – These dogs, which make up only 4.4% of the canine population, caused bodily harm to 2235 victims, over four times more than any other breed. 233 Pit Bull attacks resulted in death, and 1268 victims were maimed.
2. Rottweiler – In 30 years, Rottweilers caused bodily harm 495 times and caused 81 deaths and 277 maimings.
3. Pitt Bull Mix – Turns out the breed’s aggressive temperament is only slightly cooled by strains of other breeds. Pit bull mixes caused bodily harm to 148 victims, killed 12, and maimed 83.
4. German Shepherd – Though a popular breed, these dogs inflicted 96 cases of bodily harm, killed 14, and maimed another 59.
5. Bullmastiff – These strong, solidly built canines harmed 87 people, killing 14 and maiming 46.
6. Wolf hybrid – Because these dogs are just what they sound like – a mix of a wild wolf and another dog breed – it is not surprising that they are exceedingly aggressive animals. The study found that they caused bodily harm to 84 people, killed 19 and maimed 48.
7. Husky – Since this is another popular breed, it is alarming that Huskies caused injuries 71 times and were responsible for 24 deaths and 20 maimings.
8. Akita – These Japanese dogs with a coat similar to that of a Husky don’t look particularly aggressive, but they inflicted bodily harm 65 times, killing 8 and maiming 47.
9. Chow – Chows are not particularly large, and their fluffy coats mask an aggressive nature. Still, these dogs inflicted bodily harm 55 times, killed 7 and maimed 37.
10. German Shepherd Mix – Even with the blood of other breeds running through their veins, German Shepherd mixes caused 41 cases of bodily harm, killed 7 victims, and maimed 26.
As is made clear by the study, the dangers posed by these dogs are significant. In fact, some insurance companies will refuse to insure owners of these dogs when it comes to homeowners or renters insurance. Even more significant, some cities and even states have legislation prohibiting the ownership of certain dangerous breeds. For example, Miami-Dade County bans the ownership of Pit Bulls.
Given the significant evidence of the potential dangers of these breeds, ownership of these dogs means that owners should be vigilant in ensuring that the public is protected by keeping their dogs contained and under control. What is especially unconscionable is when dog owners allow these dogs to roam about or to come into contact with small children. Though many will argue that their bully breed or large breed dog is the most gentle, smart, and loyal companion to be found—and we don’t argue that those claims are often true—the fact is that when a large dog does attack, they generate powerful force and create substantial injuries due to their size and build. Dog owners must be held responsible for the behavior of their pets, and victims should receive financial compensation for trauma inflicted by aggressive canines.
About the Author:
Steven E. Slootsky is a personal injury lawyer with more than two decades practicing law. A graduate of George Washington University and Nova Law School, he is the founder of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mr. Slootsky is a member of the Florida Bar, the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court, and a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates. He also serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.
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