Dogs With a Fatal Bite

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For many, the terms “dog bite” or “dog attack” invoke the image of an angry pit bull mauling its victim in a vicious encounter. However, the Chicago Dog Bite Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. understand that any dog can become aggressive and cause fatal injuries, regardless of their size or breed. In some cases, a victim may survive the initial attack, but then suffer subsequent complications, such as bacterial infection, which can have severe and even deadly consequences. Numerous studies have been conducted addressing the role of dog breeds in fatal attacks, many of which support the connection between breed types and fatality causation, and others that oppose such research due to data collection methods, breed popularity, breed ambiguity/improper breed classification (i.e. mixed breeds); breed stigma; unreported incidents; and/or other factors such as owner behavior or victim provocation.

A Special Report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with the Humane Society and the American Veterinary Medical Association, found Rottweiler’s and Pit-bull-types to be most commonly associated with dog bite related fatalities (DBRF). In addition, the study identified several other breeds that appear to be problematic in terms of human dog-bite fatalities, such as German Shepherds; Husky-types (including Siberians); Malamutes; Wolf-dog hybrids; Chow-Chows; Dobermans; Saint Bernards; and Great Danes. Other breeds noted as potentially problematic, with reported fatalities ranging from 2 to 5 reported deaths over a twenty year period, include: Labrador Retrievers; Akitas; Sled-type breeds; Bulldogs; Bulldogs; Mastiffs; Boxers; Collies; Bullmastiffs; and Hound-type breeds.

Although the research presented by the CDC study presents a compelling argument in support of the linkage between higher fatality rates with at least a handful of breeds, as dog bite injury attorneys, we find that is important to note the limitations presented by this particular study, as expressed by its authors:

“First, the human DBRF reported here are likely underestimated; prior work suggests the approach we used identifies only 74% of actual cases. Second, to the extent that attacks by 1 breed are more newsworthy than those by other breeds, our methods may have resulted in differential ascertainment of fatalities by breed. Third, because identification of a dog’s breed may be subjective (even experts may disagree on the breed of a particular dog), DBRF may be differentially ascribed to breeds with a reputation for aggression. Fourth, it is not clear how to count attacks by crossbred dogs. Ignoring these data underestimates breed involvement (29% of attacking dogs were crossbred dogs), whereas including them permits a single dog to be counted more than once.”

So then, what can be taken from the CDC’s study, and others similar to it? Well, put simply, while breed-specific fatality data is certainly useful and informative, the fact of the matter is that nearly any dog can inflict fatal injuries upon a victim. Stated differently, it is often better to look to the specific dog, as opposed to a specific breed. Further, it is not only the actual attack, but also the possibility for infection-related complications, that we find concerning in terms of fatality rates.

If you or a loved one were attacked or bitten by a dog, it is critically important to seek medical treatment immediately following the incident. Thereafter, victims should take measures to protect their legal rights, by contacting a personal injury attorney that has the experience necessary to obtain the compensation deserved. At Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., we have prosecuted numerous cases involving animal and dog bite injuries, and want to do the same for you. For a FREE personal injury consultation, contact us, either online or by calling 773-516-4100.

To view a related topic, see our blog on Breed-specific Legislation

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