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Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer warns spring is a dangerous time for dog bites

RTA_9901Spring is finally here, and after a long, cold winter in Northeast Pa, that means going outside to enjoy the warmer weather. The warm-up will also bring more dog owners outside to walk their pets, which may be why the incidence of dog bites always seem to increase in the spring.

According to the American Humane Society (AHS), an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year. Nearly 800,000 of those bites require medical attention. The AHS also reported that at least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S.

The American Pet Products Association found that pet ownership is at an all-time high. There are currently 83.3 million dogs in the U.S., which are kept by 56.7 million households. The number of dog bites, as well as their severity, has risen dramatically since the 1980’s. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that hospital admissions for dog bites increased 86% over a 16-year period. There was also an 82% increase in fatal dog attacks from the 1980’s to 2012.

The insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that the direct medical costs of dog bites per year equaled $165 million.

According to the website dogbite.org, there were 32 dog bite fatalities in the U.S. in 2013. Despite being regulated in over 700 U.S. cities, pit bulls contributed to 78% of these deaths. Together, pit bulls and rottweilers accounted for 81% of the total recorded deaths in 2013. This same combination accounted for 75% of all fatal attacks from 2005 to 2013. During that 9-year period, pit bulls killed 176 Americans, about one citizen every 18.6 days.

Many of these reported dog bites involve children. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms caused by activities common among children. AHS statistics found that 50% of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old. 82% of dog bites treated in the emergency room involved children under 15 years old and 70% of dog-bite fatalities occurred among children under 10 years old.

Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, James Christopher Munley of Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, advises parents to educate their children on how to safely play with a dog and when to leave a dog along. Supervise your child when around a dog, as unsupervised children may innocently wander too close to a dangerous situation.

The CDC offers the following dog safety tips to teach your child:

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog or scream.
  • Remain motionless when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and be still.
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, all dogs three months of age or older must be licensed. All dogs must also be under control and not be allowed to run at large. To see specific information about dog bite laws in Pennsylvania, click here.

Each state has specific laws governing whether dogs should be leashed or confined if roaming on your property. If you are a dog owner, make sure you know the law where you live.

If you have suffered a serious injury due to a dog bite, contact the personal injury lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys at 855-866-5529.

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