The Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics Behind Dog Bites

This “google-research” is then taken and compared with media reports involving individual, specific dog breeds. Like, a Labrador Retriever.

(This was obtained from the Franklin County Department of Health in Ohio for the city of Reynoldsburg, which has enforced breed specific legislation against pit bulls for thirteen years)

If we applied this logic elsewhere, the argument would sound something like this:

“Domestic, U.S. made vehicles are unsafe for the public and should be banned because there are more Dodge, Jeep, Ford, Chevy, and Lincoln crashes each year in the U.S. than Honda crashes.”-Said by nobody, ever.

Which is why State Farm Insurance, the largest insurance company who collects more data than the U.S. Government and makes policy decisions simply based on risks and underwriting, does not discriminate against this loosely defined group of breeds.

“Decisions are made on a case by case basis for those instances, ” State Farm spokeswoman Heather Paul told HuffPost. “Pit bulls in particular are often misidentified when a bite incident occurs, so reliable bite statistics related to the dogs’ breed are unreliable and serve no purpose.”

Neither does the White House, Centers For Disease Control, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Bar Association, ASPCA, American Kennel Club, American Pet Dog Trainers Association, International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, American Animal Hospital Association, and the list goes on and on…

Now that we know breed specific information is unreliable, what can we look at?

The U.S. National Safety Council has collected data on your likelihood of being killed by a dog of any breed, as well as your likelihood of being killed by other risks.

The data is defined and the parameters are clear.

In 2014, the U.S. National Safety Council showed that your chances of dying by a dog bite are 1 in 116, 448. That’s just a number though; to put that number into perspective, your chances of dying by legal execution are pretty similar, 1 in 127, 717.

You are, in fact, twice as likely to die by a hornet, bee or wasp sting than a dog, 1 in 55, 764.

Maybe more striking is the fact that you are FAR more likely to die from eating a hot dog (choking from inhalation of food) than from being attacked by an actual dog.

Death by a real dog- 1 in 116, 448.

Death by a hot dog- 1 in 3, 375.

According to the CDC, only 1.8% of all dog bites treated in Emergency Departments result in hospitalization. When a dog attacks, a child between 5-9 is statistically most likely to be bitten. As a parent, I can only imagine the horror of feeling helpless while your child is being attacked or bitten.

When a pit bull type dog is involved in a bite incident, it is instantly used as a way to drive traffic to websites as the comments section is flooded with people screaming and yelling why all pit bulls are good or why all pit bulls are bad.

In the midst of the mudslinging, we miss the critical opportunity to educate children on dog bite prevention, to advocate for effective dangerous dog ordinances that are breed neutral but give animal control officers the tools to do their jobs and keep communities safe, and to provide spay/neuter assistance and education to the public. The three main suggestions the Centers For Disease Control and others offer to reduce dog bites and create safer communities.

We will never live in a world without dog bites or risks, nor will we ever live in a world without irresponsible people. We can, though, live in a world where dogs are judged as individuals and by their actions rather than their appearance, and owners are held accountable for the actions of their dogs.