What is a Dog Bite?

“What is a dog bite?”: the question seems simple enough.

Most of us would describe a dog bite as an incident where a dog deliberately inflicts an injury to a person. However, animal control and public health departments consider any incident in which a dog’s tooth or nail breaks a person’s skin – regardless of the circumstances or any characterization of the dog’s intention – to be an animal exposure that merits their notice.

Based on this definition, animal control and public health departments classify all of the following types of animal exposures as dog bites:

• Nips from playful puppies.

• Scratches from a dog’s nail.

• Scrapes from a dog’s tooth.

• Accidental bites by dogs.

• Bites from injured or ill dogs receiving assistance or comfort from Good Samaritans (e.g. dogs hit by cars).

• Bites by working K-9 dogs delivered in the performance of police duties.

• Bites delivered to canine professionals such as veterinarians. These may have occurred under extreme duress, such as if the dog was in pain or otherwise unable to control its behavior.  (e.g. a vet tech bitten while removing intubation tube from a dog’s throat)

Dog Bites and “Statistics”

Dog bite statistics include a range of types of dog bites. The vast majority are not severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room. In addition to reporting even the most benign nip, scratch or scrape, dog bite statistics do not provide a complete picture of dog bites. They fail to accurately show which dogs bite, why dogs bite, or describe just how frequently owners irresponsibly allow their dogs to become a problem to people or other animals. Read more…







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