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Dog bites among letter carriers in St. Louis

By Alan M. Beck, Randall Lockwood

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A detailed analysis of all the reported dog bites that occurred over a 2-year period in St. Louis, Mo., provided new insight not only into the severity of the problem, but also the environmental context for injury. Dog bite is a major
medical problem that affects at least 1 of every 222 people and specifically 1 of every 83 children, 5 to 9 years old. Nearly 20 percent of all the children biften were injured on the head or face, a source of concern and expense for all concerned. Nearly 10 percent of all bites were classified as serious.

In only 25 percent of all injuries did the victim's behavior involve the dog at the time of the bite, and in only 10 percent of the cases was the victim interacting with the dog's owner. The victim was on the dog owner's property in about 10 percent of the incidents, and in about 48 percent of the cases the bite took place near the owner's property. Bite incidents go up whenever the weather is conducive to street activity.

More than 85 percent of all the biting dogs had owners. These results indicate that society's views of dog bite injury, which tend to minimize the problem and find fault with the victim, must be re-evaluated. It is time to place less emphasis on the victim and even the animal and review the public health
implications of dog ownership.


Angel Tobey

Purdue University

Date 1975
Publication Title Public Health Reports
Volume 90
Issue 1
Pages 262-267
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Attitudes about animals
  5. Bites and stings
  6. Dogs
  7. Health
  8. Injuries
  9. Public health