In May 2016, the Insurance Information Institute released the most up to date figures on numbers of liability claims, average insurance payouts, and other statistics. The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $37,214 in 2015. In Arizona, the average cost was the highest in the USA, at $56,654. The top three states in terms of number of claims were California, Illinois and New York. The state with the most claims was California, where the average payout was $44,983.
Houston ranks first and Los Angeles a close second when it comes to dog attacks on the people who deliver the mail to us, according to the US Post Office. More than 5,500 postal employees were victims of dog attacks last year across the U.S. Texas, California and Ohio had two cities in the top 10 list of places where dogs bite the "mailman." See Postal Service Releases Top Dog Attack City Rankings, May 14, 2014.
Dog owners need to understand that an attack on a mail carrier is not a Norman Rockwell moment (i.e., a pleasant slice of American life) but can produce terrible consequences. The dog can end up being taken away, its owner sued, and the delivery of mail halted. For the injured postal worker, there are two choices: federal workers compensation which costs the taxpayers money, and an insurance claim against the dog owner's policy of homeowner insurance or renters insurance.
A Rottweiler killed a one-year-old boy in North Carolina on May 4, 2014. His name was Nyhiem Wilfong and it happened at his grandfather's house. The latter was asleep; no other adults were present. The dog was chained and accessible to the toddler and his older brother, and had lived at the household only 3 weeks.
This accident was entirely foreseeable and preventable. Four of six factors from the Dog Attack Danger Scale were present: the breed was a Rottweiler, the dog was in its own yard with no master present, the dog was new to the household, and it was chained. The presence of two or more factors on the Dog Attack Danger Scale indicate that the dog should be avoided. In this case, there were 4 factors, and to make things worse, the children were unsupervised and the dog was accessible -- a prescription for tragedy.
Parents and dog owners should be aware of the 6 factors set forth by the Dog Attack Danger Scale. To learn what they are, read A Dog Attack Danger Scale To Keep You and Your Kids Safe.
Some dog owners disguise their dogs as service animals in order to break laws regarding health and safety, and the practice is causing alarm among the truly disabled. Read Fake Service Dogs a Growing Problem as Pet Owners Flout Disability Rules.
A police watchdog organization has accused the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department of overusing its dogs to bite suspects, rather than to find and corner them. Worse, the overwhelming majority of the victims are black and Latino. National Public Radio interviewed Attorney Kenneth M. Phillips for the article, In Los Angeles County, It's 'Bark and Hold' vs. 'Find and Bite.'
References to the news about dog bite law which appeared on the home page of this website starting in August 2011:
Police are investigating whether on August 12, 2011 a pregnant woman was killed by her own pit bull. (Read the article.)
A new study conducted by physicians has concluded that attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. (Read the abstract.)
A woman who suffered bites to her arms, face, neck, chest and nose when pit bulls broke into her home was awarded $2.2 million on August 12, 2011. (Read the article.) A TV interview with her can be seen by clicking here.
After a pit bull mauled to death a four-year-old Australian girl, the Australian Veterinary Association has called for increased funding for education and socialization programs for dogs, their owners and young children. "It is understandable that people are now calling for the banning of some breeds," they said. "However all the good evidence available shows that this does not work." (Read the article.)
A pit bull owner in Jackson Michigan was convicted on August 18, 2011 of keeping dangerous animals causing serious injury. She will be sentenced in a separate proceeding. (Read the article.)
On August 19, 2011, a four-year-old boy in Ozark Arkansas named James Dowling was fatally mauled by his grandfather's Rottweiler. (Read the article.)
An appeal has been filed in the case of the woman who was awarded $2.2 million after pit bulls broke into her home. (Read the article.)
Interesting reading: The Dog In The Room, by David Fleming, about "a uniquely American ethos -- one that has transformed dogs into our version of Hindu's sacred cows and one that exposes a deep-seated hypocrisy regarding animal cruelty...."
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a young girl who was bitten while attempting to pet a friend's dog in a dark area might be barred from receiving compensation for her injuries, despite the state's strict liability dog bite statute. The ruling has the potential to help as well as hurt the chances of any dog bite victim to recover damages. For details, see A New Definition of "Provocation" That's Both Good and Bad.
Two pit bull owners have been arrested for four counts each of violating New Mexico's dangerous dog laws and conspiring to commit a felony. On April 25, 2011, John and Maria Hardiman's four pit bulls killed 48-year-old Margaret Salcedo of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, as the dogs were running at large. (Read more.)
The City of Irvine, California, passed an ordinance that will ban the sale of dogs and cats in the city. The purpose is to help eliminate commercial mass breeding facilities and discourage impulse purchases of dogs and cats. (Read more.)
Parts of a woman's nose and mouth were removed from the stomach of the pit bull that attacked her and left her in critical condition. The victim was Normanda Torres, 71, of Bridgewater, Mass. The attack happened in her family's home. The dog had bitten two other people who failed to report the incidents. (Read more.)
A horrific pack attack by pit bulls in San Diego County, Cal., has left a runner with severe injuries to his legs. The victim was Richard Garritson, 21. (Read more.)
In December 2011, 4 lives were lost because of maulings by pit bulls. Two of the victims were killed by their own dogs. The other two victims had no interaction with the dogs prior to being fatally mauled. (Read more.)
A succinct statement of the most troubling issue in dog law, namely whether the blame for life-changing and life-ending pit bull attacks should be placed on the dogs or their owners, came from
Trauma physicians who made a study of pit bull injuries to humans have called for legislatures to conduct public hearings about pit bulls and other dangerous dogs. Their recent study found that "patients attacked by pit bulls had more severe injuries, higher hospital charges and a higher risk of death." They pointed out another study which established that the enactment of stricter regulations on dog ownership in Spain resulted in a nearly 40 percent decline in hospitalizations. (Read more.) Attorney Kenneth M. Phillips and other experts have called for laws that would keep certain high-risk breeds away from the wrong people, places and situations. (Read more.)
An Argentine Mastiff bit veteran anchorwoman Kyle Dyer on the face during a segment being filmed for the morning news. She later was listed in "fair" condition at the hospital. You can watch the video segment by clicking here. It demonstrates that dogs bite people without provocation. Warning: this is an upsetting video.
A pit bull brutally killed a poodle at a dog show attended by 35,000 people. The pit bull was not muzzled as was required by law. This happened in Dubai. (Read the story.)
The first human killed by dogs in 2012 was a toddler who was mauled to death by his grandparents' pit bull. On January 14, 2012, 23-month-old Jace Paul Valde died inside his grandparents' home. (Read the original story and the story identifying the child.)
A 6-year-old boy was mauled to death by a service dog on January 31, 2012, in Oak Grove, Kentucky. The boy was a guest in the home of a soldier living at Fort Campbell. The dog was a German shepherd. (Read the story.) This was the USA's second fatal dog attack in 2012.
A 30-year summary of dog attack deaths and maimings in the U.S. & Canada from September 1982 to December 26, 2011 has established that fatal or disfiguring attacks by pit bulls are increasing exponentially. The author, Merritt Clifton, concludes that the pit bull problem "has slipped out of any semblance of control." (Read the study.)
On February 16, 2012, Howard Nicholson Jr., 2-days old, was killed by his parents' husky while the child was sleeping in a bassinet inside the house. This happened in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, a state that has strict liability by judicial decisions. The mother of the deceased boy has been charged with a misdemeanor.
On or about March 1, 2012, 59-year old Diane Jansen, a postal worker who was delivering mail, was attacked by a pit bull in Esondido, California (a statutory strict liability state), and she died on March 4.
On March 9, 2012, a 17-month-old boy, Dylan Andres, was killed by a neighbor's rottweiler in Jacksonville, Florida (a statutory strict liability state). While his mother was unloading groceries from her car, the boy crossed the street from his home and encountered the dog which was chained in the front yard.
On March 25, 2012, Kylar Johnson, 4, was killed by pit bulls belonging to a neighbor in Victoria, Texas, a one-bite state.
On April 10, 2012, two pit bulls killed James Hurst, 92, as he was working in his front yard. It happened in Mead, Oklahoma, a strict liability state.
The highest court in Maryland has established "a strict liability standard in respect to the owning, harboring or control of pit bulls and cross-bred pit bulls in lieu of the traditional common law liability principles." The court has ruled that pit bulls are inherently dangerous as a breed, making their owners and harborers strictly liable for injuries inflicted by these dogs. This is a historic decision that is certain to be adopted by courts around the USA. The Maryland Court of Appeals is the highest court in the state (commonly called the Supreme Court in other states). (Click here to read the court's decision.)
Animal control departments in at least 24 U.S. states report that pit bulls are biting more than all other dog breeds. See the details at DogsBite.org.
On April 20, 2012, 2-month old Aiden McGrew of Ridgeville, Sout Carolina, was killed and dismembered by his parents' recently adopted golden retriever-mix. (Read the article.)
On April 28, 2012, a 1-year-old boy named Jeremiah Eskew-Shahan was killed by his grandmother's mastiff-Rhodesian mix in Henderson, Nevada. (Read the article.)
On May 2, 2012, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 74-year old Clifford Wright was killed by his son's pit bull. (Read the article.)
On May 8, 2012, 15-month-old Jazilyn Mesa of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was killed by her father's pit bull. Additionally, the child's grandmother was accidentally wounded by a neighbor as the latter fired upon the dog in an attempt to save the little girl. (Read the article.)
On May 12, 2012, Maryann Hanula, 72, of Surprize, Arizona, died from injuries inflicted by pit bulls in October 2011.
On May 17, 2012, a 3-day old baby girl named Makayla Darnell died after being attacked by her parents' pit bull-mix. It happened in Monroe Township, Ohio. (Read the article.)
Ohio has repealed its state law which established that deemed all pit bulls to be vicious. (Read the article.)
On May 26, 2012, Eugene Cameron, 65, of Henderson, North Carolina, was killed by a pit bull owned by a neighbor, as he was checking a neighbor's house while the neighbor was out of town. (Read DNA links dog to site of Henderson man's death.)
On May 27, 2012, a neighbor's Labrador-shepherd mix dogs killed Ja'Marr Tiller, a 2-year-old boy in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. The child walked outside during the night, but it is unclear (at this writing) how he encountered the dogs.
On June 13, 2012, 2-year old Jack Redin of St. Marys, West Virginia, was killed by two pit bulls in a neighbor's yard. The boy stepped through an electronic containment fence, which does not serve as a barrier to humans or even to any dog that chooses to ignore it.
On June 14, 2012, 3 pit bulls killed an 8-month-old boy (name not released) in Lemon Grove, California, at his residence. (USA 2012 death 16.)
Police misconduct involving a police canine and clearly unwarranted use of force was captured on video: see the video showing the abusive misuse of a police dog attacking demonstrators in Anaheim, California. The article accompanying the video tells us that the police then attempted to buy the videos.
Orange County, California, is considering an ordinance forbidding the owners of vicious dogs from getting another dog. This is significant because under current laws throughout the USA, a person can repeatedly violate animal control laws without additional penalties -- meaning that an irresponsible dog owner can have one vicious dog after another, without limitation.
Rebecca Carey, a Georgia college student who liked to rescue dogs, was killed on August 11 or 12, 2012 by several that she rescued. (See Rebecca Carey, Georgia Student, Killed By Dogs She Rescued.) Attorney Kenneth M. Phillips has called for the enactment of laws that restrict the number of dogs at any one residence, and that require licensing for adoption and rescue groups. (See Adoption and Rescue Groups Should Be Licensed.)
On August 15, 2012, 44-year-old Charles Hagerman of Chicago, Illinois, was killed by two pit bulls owned by his girlfriend's son. (Read Horrified wife finds body of husband, 44, after he was killed by pet pitbull which was gnawing at his neck.)
Pit bull owner Antonio Ford of Roxboro, North Carolina, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter (negligent homicide) and obstruction of justice following the fatal mauling of his neighbor, Eugene Cameron, in May 2012. (Read Dog Owner Charged in Man's Death.)
Sixty-three percent of the voters of Dade County, Florida, voted in support of it ordinance that bans pit bulls. (Read Pit bulls: Miami-Dade County voters uphold ban on breed.)
The important ruling in Tracey v. Solesky has been clarified but continues to stand, after the Maryland State Legislature failed to pass a law restricting it. The case holds that pit bulls are inherently dangerous, putting everyone on notice, including landlords who are aware that a tenant has a pit bull on the premises. (Read the court decision in Tracey v. Solesky.) The court issued a clarification stating that the holding does not apply to mixed breed dogs that are part pit bull.
After adopting a "no-kill" policy at its animal shelters, the City of Austin, Texas, has seen dog bite injuries increase by 33%. (Read Dog Bites Increase 35% in Austin After the Adoption of 'No-Kill' Policy.)
Ronnel Brown, 40-years old, was mauled to death by an Alapaha blue-blood bulldog, a cross between an old southern white bulldog and the American pit bull terrier. It happened in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Read Avondale man dies after attacked by dog.)
On September 1, 2012, Dawn Jurgens, 76, was mauled to death by her two pet cane corsos in Trotwood, Ohio.
On September 5, 2012, Bryton Cason, 4, was killed by a dog that the family stated was a bulldog. It happened in Donaisonville, Georgia.
On September 7, 2012, Deborah Roberts, 45, was killed by her two pet pit bulls in Jefferson County, Arkansas.
On September 11, 2012, James Hudson, a 10 month old, was killed by his grandparents' pit bull mix in Hertford, North Carolina.
On September 20, 2012, 83 year old William D. Thomas was mauled to death by two rottweilers outside his home in Leeds, Alabama. The neighbors, Jerry Lenton and Jacqueline Lenton, had 33 dogs and have been charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.
On September 24, 2012, a pit bull owned by his father killed 3-month-old Rayden Bruce in Burleson, Texas.
On September 26, 2012, Nellie Davis, 61 years old, was mauled to death by her granddaughter's pet pit bull in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
On October 2, 2012, 53-year-old Mary Jo Hunt of Pembroke, North Carolina, was mauled to death in her hom by 7 pit bulls that she had rescued. She worked for a rescue organization.
On October 4, 2012, Tarilyn Bowles, only 3 weeks old, was mauled to death by a pit bull at the home of her parents' friend in Detroit, Michigan.
On October 24, 2012, 55-year-old Robert Rochester, Jr., of New Castle, Delaware, died after being attacked by a German shepherd while Rochester was working as a mail carrier in Stanton.
On November 9, 2012, 3-month-old Dixie Jennings was killed by her grandmother's rottweiler in Yadkinville, North Carolina.
On November 11, 2012, Remedios Romero-Solares, 30, of Fallbrook, California, was killed by one or more of 8 American bulldog mixes. This was the 4th killing by a pit bull type dog in San Diego, a county which has adopted a no-kill policy when it comes to dogs but not people.
On November 12, 2012, Dawn Brown, 44, of Big Rock, Illinois, was killed by a bullmastiff that she and her husband had recently adopted.
A new case holds that a dog owner can receive compensation for emotional distress if his dog is injured or killed but only if the defendant's action was intentional, not negligent. This decision is by the California Court of Appeals (the second highest appellate court in California). It expands the situations in which a dog owner can receive compensation. (Read Plotnik v. Meihaus.)
On November 28, 2012, a dog owner shot an animal control officer to death in Galt, California. (Read Animal Control Officer Killed in Galt Shooting.) 65-year-old Joseph Corey, the alleged shooter, was described as being mentally ill by his former wife and a neighbor. Sacramento County Animal Control Officer Roy Marcum was killed while checking on dogs that had been left behind when Corey was evicted and the house was locked up.
On December 11, 2012, Esteban Alavez, 34-years old, of Selma, California, died due to multiple dog bites. Authorities stated that 4 pit bulls killed the man. A total of 12 dogs were seized from the owner's home, including 7 pit bull puppies about 8-10 weeks old.
San Diego, California, is another city that has seen a dramatic increase in dog bites in the past year. Its animal control department has engaged in the controversial practice of promoting the adoption of pit bulls. The city's Union-Tribune newspaper has published official statistics establishing that approximately 9% of pit bulls bite people, while the average is 1-1/2% for all breeds. (Read What's Being Done About Dog Bites.)
The family of a boy who was killed by a pit bull has released the 911 calls that were made at that time. The recording is 9 minutes long and is horrific, sickening and gut-wrenching. There are few people who should listen to it, including those who believe that a pit bull attack is a media-made bugaboo, and lawmakers who are considering whether or not to enact reasonable limitations on who can own pit bulls and how these dogs should be confined. This audio recording is not for children or for after dinner. It can be heard here on YouTube.
On December 13, 2012, Savannah Edwards, 2, was killed by a rescue pit bull at the home of a tenant in Shawnee County, Kansas.
On December 26, 2012, Tomas Jay Henio, an 8-year-old boy in northwestern New Mexico, died after being mauled by feral dogs. The FBI is investigating the death because the attack happened on Navajo Nation land. It has been estimated that nearly half a million feral, usually starving dogs exist there.
On January 14, the highest court in West Virginia affirmed the constitutionality of a breed-specific ordinance that prohibited the ownership of pit bull terriers in the Town of Ceredo.
On January 8, 2013, Betty Ann Chapman Todd, 65, of Hodges, South Carolina, was killed by her son's pit bull in his home as she was babysitting for his children.
On January 19, 2013, Christian Gormanous, 4, of Montgomery County, Texas, was killed by a killed by a chained pit bull in a neighbor's yard.
On February 8, 2013, Elsie Grace, 91, was killed by two pit bulls in a motel room she shared with her son, the owner of pit bulls, in Hemet, California.
On February 16, 2013, Isaiah Aguilar, 2, of Uvalde, Texas, was killed by a pit bull when he wandered into a neighbor's back yard to retrieve a balloon.
On March 2, 2013, in Galesburg, Illinois, Ryan Maxwell, a 7-year-old boy was mauled to death by a pit bull at a relative's house. His mother said, "Half of his face was gone. And all of his throat. They had a wash cloth over half his face and his throat covered up. This thing did that to him. This thing just took our heart. It just took our soul."
On March 6, 2013, Daxton Borchardt, a 14-month-old boy, was killed by his babysitter's two pit bulls in Walworth, Wisconsin.
Another reason to carefully investigate the history of any dog that you might be thinking of adopting: "dog laundering." Attorney Kenneth M. Phillips uses that term to describe the practice of obtaining vicious dogs and obscuring their history for the purpose of putting them back into the community. See for example the recent article about thefts of pit bulls from an animal shelter in Columbia, South Carolina. The dogs in question might be used for dog fighting or sent to a "rescue group" and from there might end up next door. See also the article about a dogo Argentino that killed a man in New York, was released for rehabilitation to a place in Ohio, and then was stolen.
ALERT: JURY DUTY SCAM. The FBI is warning about a scam related to identity theft and the court system. You may receive a phone call telling you that you failed to report for jury duty and notifying you of a warrant for your arrest. When you protest that you never received the jury summons, the caller will ask you for your Social Security number, date of birth and other information, supposedly to get the warrant recalled. The true purpose is to steal your identity. See "The Verdict: Hang Up."
A neighbor who shot at pit bulls that were in the process of mauling an 11-year-old boy may face criminal charges for using or possessing his gun. At a time when Americans are debating gun control and the safety of our children, this incident illustrates some of the issues. Read D.C. Man Who Shot Dogs Biting Boy Could Face Charges. Join this discussion about this case at the Dog Bite Law Group on Facebook.
The Maryland State Legislature did not overturn the decision of its highest court that pit bulls are inherently dangerous. (Read the article about the legislation and the Solesky case.)
A security camera recorded video of a dog racing across the street and attacking a little girl. The girl was badly mauled. (Click here to watch the video.)
It is worth noting that all 4 of the fatalities in April 2013 were caused by pit bulls. For more information on this breed, see the informative Pit Bull FAQ page on DogsBite.org. One interesting statistic: 7 out of 8 times in the year 2012, when you heard that a dog killed its owner, the dog was a pit bull.
On June 25, 2013, a chained pit bull killed a 5-year-old girl named Arianna Jolee Nerrback of Effingham, Florence County, South Carolina. This is USA fatality number 17 this year. Pit bulls have been the killers in 16 of these 17 cases.
On July 1, 2013, Linda Oliver, 63-years old, of Dayton, Texas, was viciously attacked by a stray dog she began caring for two weeks earlier. It was a rottweiler-mastiff mix.
On August 30, 2013, Juan Campos, 96-years old, was found dead in his backyard in Katy, Texas, after being mauled by one or more pit bulls.
On September 15, 2013, Jordan Reed, 5-years old, was mauled by a stray husky mix in Kotzebue, Alaska.
On September 22, 2013, a 2-year-old boy in Gilbert, Arizona, identified only as "David" was killed by his babysitter's pit bulls, which also turned on the babysitter herself.
The next day, on September 23, 2013, in Colton, California, 2-year-old Samuel Zamudio was killed by his family's 5 to 7 pit bulls. “His face was all eaten up. He was eaten from the face,” said a witness. His grandmother and uncle have been charged with child endangerment.
On September 27, 2013, Jordan Ryan, a 5-year-old boy, died after being mauled by pit bulls at a babysitter's house in Baker, Oregon.
On November 1, 56-year old Terry Douglass was mauled to death by her pet pit bull in Baltimore. Prior to this, the dog had attacked Douglass twice before.
On November 4, Katherine Atkins, a 25-year old woman, was mauled to death by her "boyfriend's" two pit bulls in Kernersville, North Carolina.
On November 5, 65-year old Nga Woodhead died of a heart attack brought on by a severe attack one week earlier by two loose pit bulls.