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Dog Bites 101: Understanding The Law

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2016 | Dog Bites

Each day, about 1,000 U.S. citizens require emergency care treatment for dog bite injury. The dichotomy is that dogs can be our closest companions. They often live in our homes, have been proven to decrease stress, increase our exercise levels, and are frequent playmates for children. But sometimes man’s best friend will bite. In addition to causing pain, injury, or nerve damage, dog bites can become infected, placing the bite victim at risk for illness or even death. Even though the idea of being bitten by a dog is scary, it doesn’t mean that it is time to give up your dog. People who work and live around dogs should be aware of the risk and take precautions. With a few tips, you can learn how to prevent dog bites and reduce the risk of illness and injury.

Who is most at risk for dog bites?

Children. Among children, the rate of dog-bite-related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites.

Men. Men are more likely than women to be bitten by a dog.

Where do dog bites happen?

Over half of dog-bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to us. Among children and adults, having a dog in the household is associated with a higher likelihood of being bitten than not having a dog. As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the likelihood of being bitten. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home.

Florida law on Dog Bites

767.04 Dog owner’s liability for damages to persons bitten.-The owner of any dog that bites any person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners’ knowledge of such viciousness. However, any negligence on the part of the person bitten that is a proximate cause of the biting incident reduces the liability of the owner of the dog by the percentage that the bitten person’s negligence contributed to the biting incident. A person is lawfully upon private property of such owner within the meaning of this act when the person is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him or her by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when the person is on such property upon invitation, expressed or implied, of the owner. However, the owner is not liable, except as to a person under the age of 6, or unless the damages are proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of the owner, if at the time of any such injury the owner had displayed in a prominent place on his or her premises a sign easily readable including the words “Bad Dog.” The remedy provided by this section is in addition to and cumulative with any other remedy provided by statute or common law.

What type of dogs usually attack?

There was a study recently which included a combination of molosser breeds, including pit bulls, rottweilers, presa canarios, cane corsos, mastiffs, dogo argentinos, fila brasieros, sharpeis, boxers, and their mixes, inflict:

  • 86% of attacks that induce bodily harm
  • 81% of attacks to children
  • 89% of attack to adults
  • 76% of attacks that result in fatalities
  • 86% that result in maiming
  • Embody 9.2%+ of the total dog population

The researchers looked at the attacks and what type of individual they usually attacked and how viciously they attack. This is what they found:

1982-2014 chart
Breed Bodily harm Child Victims Adult Victims Deaths Maimings % of total dog population
Pit bull 3397 1355 1312 295 2110 6.69%
Rottweiler 535 297 141 85 296 2.76%
Husky 83 51 8 26 27 1.04%
Wolf hybrid 85 70 5 19 49
Bullmastiff (Presa canario) 111 46 41 18 63 .02%
German shepherd 113 65 41 15 73 3.72%
Pit bull-mix 206 78 54 12 115
Akita 70 44 22 8 52 .07%
Chow 61 37 18 8 40 .01%
Doberman 23 12 9 8 12 1.70%
Unidentified 81 16 29 8 32
Boxer 64 19 23 7 31 1.25%
German shepherd-mix 45 28 14 7 30

*Chart ordered by number of deaths; includes only a portion of breeds listed in report.



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