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Dog attacks may be fault of negligent owners

A Chicago jogger who was recently mauled by two pit bulls remains in critical condition but is expected to live. That dog bites were reported more than 3,000 times in Cook County during the year of 2010 shows that such attacks are prevalent. However, what is being reported as a dog bite can also include scratches and other minor injuries as well.

The data is not clear as to what types of dogs are most likely to engage in attacks on people. Pit bulls have the worst reputation among all dogs, but this may be in part due to the way the dogs are raised and trained.

Attacks such as the one that took place with the jogger are extremely rare. A director from Animal Care and Control stated that pit bulls are essentially a "people-oriented" dog. Unfortunately, many owners have instead trained these dogs to fight.

What this points to is that many such attacks are more likely due to irresponsible owners than are due to badly behaved breeds of dogs. There are a series of municipal ordinances in place making owners of the dogs accountable for such attacks. Even so, fines of $1,000 to $2,000 probably are not sufficient to punish dog owners that have improperly trained their pets and have allowed them to roam freely on the streets.

Litigation, on the other hand, may create a stronger incentive for individuals taking care of their pets and making sure that their dogs do not attack passing individuals. Verdicts in such lawsuits can sometimes be in the five or six digit range.

Source: WBEZ, "Despite pit bull mauling, dog attacks uncommon," by Jennifer Brandel, Jan. 3, 2012

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