Serious Dog Bites are Increasing, Safety and Precautions Important as Ever

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Although most dogs don’t bite, and most dog bites are not serious, according to recent federal government data, hospitalizations for dog bites have nearly doubled in the past 15 years. Approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, causing 316,200 trips to the emergency room and 9,500 hospitalizations in 2008.

The cost of treating the injuries from these dog bite incidents is $54 million per year, or $18,200 per hospital stay.

Dog bites are most common in the Midwest. More than 30 children are admitted to local hospitals each year for dog bite treatment, which usually involves surgery.

Toddler Avery Imhof is a perfect example of how things can go wrong involving small children and dogs. The toddler leaned down to kiss her grandparents’ dog that was sleeping on the floor. The dog spooked and snapped at Avery. Part of Avery’s cheek was gone and she was airlifted to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Plastic surgeons had to graft skin from the toddler’s abdomen onto her cheek. Avery has undergone four reconstructive surgeries for the dog bite injuries. The dog had not been aggressive before this attack.

According to Dr. John Peter, emergency department director at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, “children need to be told not to fear the dog but to respect the dog. Children aren’t born with the knowledge of how to behave around dogs and traffic and guns.”

Serious dog bites are most common among children and older adults. “Little kids tend to be down in the face of the dog,” said Peter. More commonly children are bitten by dogs belonging to family members, friends or neighbors, “not some stray dog that’s just attacking people”.

Dogs are not inherently violent killers; however it is important to be educated and informed on how to interact with them. Parents need to work with their children so that they know what appropriate behavior around animals is, even if they are familiar with the animal.

*Pictures used in blogs on this website are not the actual photos from the crash or incident described in the content of the blog.


The A.W. Smith Law Firm in Columbia handles dog bite and serious injury cases all over the State of Missouri. If you have questions about how to choose a law firm that is equipped to handle your dog bite or serious injury case, please contact us today at 573-443-7300 or visit our website at The A.W. Smith Law Firm has recovered millions in settlements and verdicts in serious injury and wrongful death cases.