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Canine attack incidents: data, legal regulations, and follow-up measures


38.4% of households in America own a dog as a source of comfort, companionship, and joy. No matter how innocent and well-tempered dogs can be, 4.5 million people report being bitten by dogs each year in the United States, according to CDC dog bite statistics. Of course, dog owners want to do everything they can to ensure no one is put at risk by their furry friend. These statistics give insight into the type of dog bites and circumstances, common breeds that bites, and laws in place surrounding dog bites.

Understanding Aggressive Canine Behavior

According to AVMA, dogs bite for a variety of reasons, but the most common are as a result of being scared, stressed, or startled. If a dog is stressed, it may bite to defend itself or to protect something that is valuable to them. If a dog is scared or startled, they may bite to express that they want to be left alone. Dogs often nip during play as a result of being overly excited, which can be dangerous.


  • 4.5 million people report being bitten by dogs each year in the United States
  • 800,000 people require medical attention for dog bites each year
  • About 30-50 people are killed by dogs each year
  • Children are the most common victims of dogs
  • Between 2000-2018, 45.9% of dog bites occurred in people under 16 years old
  • California reported the most dog bite fatalities between 2005-2017
  • 4% of dog bite fatalities were not caused by the family pet
  • Dogs with short, wide heads who weigh between 66-100 lbs are most likely to bite
  • In 2019, only 10% of dog bite deaths could be linked to a specific breed.
  • The three breeds with the highest percentage of reported dog bites in one study were Pit Bulls, German Shepards, and mixed breeds
  • $854 million was paid by insurance companies for dog bite injuries in 2020
  • The average cost for a dog bite insurance claim in 2020 was $50,245

Understanding California's Canine Attack Laws

When a dog bites someone either in public or private, the owner of the dog is held responsible. This is consistent regardless of whether or not the animal has previously been aggressive. Anyone can pursue legal action against an owner after their dog has bitten humans on two or more instances. When an owner trains their dog to fight, attack, or kill a human, the state holds the right to take the dog from the owner or euthanize them. Contrarily, if a dog bites as a means of self-defense, the dog owner may not be held responsible. This may also apply if the person bit by the dog was trespassing, and the dog acted out of protection.

Tips for Avoiding Canine Bites and Staying Safe

  1. Be alert and aware of your surroundings
  2. Recognize the warning signs of aggressive behavior such as teeth showing, growling, tense body posture, or hard stare
  3. Relax your body posture and maintain a soft gaze when approaching a dog
  4. Never chase a dog, violate a dog’s territory, tease a dog, or bother a sleeping or eating dog
  5. Remain calm if approached by an unfamiliar dog

Have You Been Injured in a Canine Attack? MVP Accident Attorneys is Here to Help!

MVP Accident Attorneys are here to help you pick up the pieces following the trauma of a dog bite accident. After a dog bite accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation due to medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages. We suggest acting quickly so we are able to get you the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to. Call us to schedule a free case evaluation today.


brett sachs2
Brett Sachs

Brett S. Sachs graduated from Michigan State University College of Law with Cum Laude Honors. While attending Michigan State, Brett was awarded for his service in the Michigan State University College of Law Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections from injustices brought upon them. Learn more.

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