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Dogs chomp on more than four million people a year.
Megan Boger of La Belle, Pa., returned from shopping with her mother and ran into the yard to greet the family pet, a part-cocker mutt named Blaze. Seconds later, her mom, Elena Boger, heard a snap and then shrieks from three-year-old Megan. There was blood all over her face from tooth punctures under an eye and around her mouth, she recalls. Elena and her husband rushed their sobbing child to a local hospital. But the injuries were severe enough that the Bogers were sent to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where a plastic surgeon stitched the gashes.
Little Megan is far from alone in having been the victim of a dog bite. According to a 1994 survey (the most recent) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, some 4.7 million people were bitten by dogs. About 800,000 required medical treatment. Many bites are to children, and most are from family pets or familiar dogs, not strays.
Many bites are treated at home or in a doctor's office, and as a consequence are often not reported to authorities. Meanwhile, there is no ongoing national system for counting dog bites, says the CDC's Dr. Jeffrey Sacks. In some locales bites are reported to the police, in others to the animal-control folks or the health department. Some counties don't collect data at all.
Whatever the exact numbers, medical, veterinary and insurance experts agree: dog bites are on the rise. One reason may be that more people are getting larger, more powerful dogs than in the past. The CDC considers dog bites a serious public-health problem for children. A Pennsylvania study found that 45 percent of children had been bitten. And not only children are at risk. Dog bites are no joke for letter carriers and delivery people.
Dog attacks account for a whopping one-third of all liability claims under renter or homeowner's insurance policies. The Insurance Information Institute says that dog-bite-related medical treatment costs $1 billion a year. Homeowner-liability claims paid about $250 million of that in 1996.
One provider of liability coverage, MetLife Auto & Home, refuses coverage to many homeowners who have dogs with a history of biting or to those who own a breed they believe most prone to bite, including German shepherds, pit bulls, Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers, chows, huskies and Alaskan malamutes. Although any breed can bite, these breeds tend to be responsible for the most bites, the worst bites, and many of the dozen or so dog-bite fatalities every year.
How can you protect yourself and your children, and prevent your pet from becoming part of the problem? Some common sense will help:
Bad matches between a dog's temperament and a family's personality are sure to cause trouble. People can fall in love with a cute puppy, then find out six months later that they got more dog than they bargained for or one whose personality is different from what they imagined.
Quotes talked about in this paper
Sports mentioned in this paper
Names included in this term paper
Megan, Diane Allevato, Itfs, Dr. Jeffrey Sacks, Dr. Leslie Sinclair, Megan Boger, Blaze, Elena Boger, Pat Hubbard, Elena, Carol Lea Benjamin, German shepherds, Robin Kovary, Carolyn Boatner,
Organizations mentioned in this report
Bogers, Humane Society, CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Insurance Information Institute, Reader's Digest, Humane Society of Southern Arizona,
Locations talked about in this research material
Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, La Belle, Charlotte, United States, Signal Mountain, New York, Tenn., California, NC, Marin County,
Keywords included in this research material
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