Five pit bull victims & one hurt by German shepherd in first 24 hours
NEW YORK, N.Y.––Dog Bite Prevention Week 2017, April 9-15, almost began with a bang at Angel Ridge Rescue in Chartiers Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, but hero-of-the-hour Justin Killion didn’t have his gun when the mayhem started.
“Killion said his daughter told him a woman and her family were being attacked by a pit bull,” reported Katelyn Sykes of WTAE Action News 4 in Pittsburgh.
“Beat the dog off”
Killion ran to the rescue. “I beat the dog off the woman,” he recounted, “and as I was trying to get tourniquets on her arm, the dog kept attacking us. He just kept coming. He was relentless. I was so worried the woman was going to die.”
The victim, an Angel Ridge Rescue volunteer, had been walking dogs with her four-year-old and seven-year-old daughters. The four-year-old was also injured, WPXI Channel 11 elaborated later.
Finished Sykes, “Killion said the dog took off running after his daughter tossed a gun over the fence. The victim was flown to a hospital in Pittsburgh and was last listed in stable condition.”
Shooting in San Angelo & St. Jean
Dog Bite Prevention Week 2017 did start with a bang-bang-bang in San Angelo, Texas and St. Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec, where on April 10 police in parallel incidents shot a German shepherd mix and a pit bull to stop attacks that injured two women and one of the San Angelo police officers.
The St. Jean sur Richelieu attack, occurring just east of Montreal, revived media awareness of the reason why Montreal banned pit bulls on September 27, 2016 and is now defending the ban in court against a lawsuit brought by the Montreal SPCA.
The St. Jean sur Richelieu victim was at least the eighth Quebec victim of a disfiguring pit bull attack since the Montreal ordinance was adopted, responding to the June 2016 fatal pit bull mauling of Christiane Vadnais, 55, in the Montreal borough of Pointe-aux-Trembles.
Having gun was no help
Dog Bite Prevention Week might also have begun with a bang, but did not, in Edmond, Oklahoma. Knocked down by two pit bulls and bleeding profusely, Wanda Perkins, 77, “was carrying a gun but wasn’t able to reach it in time,” reported Lorne Fultonberg of KFOR News 4 television in Oklahoma City.
Fultonberg described the dogs, clearly shown in accompanying video, as “boxer mixes.”
Passers-by J.C. Hopkins and Bill Held intervened before there could be a repetition of the April 6, 2017 fatal mauling of Cecille Short, 82, of Oklahoma City, who was reportedly almost decapitated by two pit bulls who smashed through a fence to attack her. Short’s own small dog was killed with her.
The attack on Perkins occurred less than 16 miles from where Short died, in a comparably “quiet” neighborhood of tree-lined streets and suburban homes.
Dog Bite Prevention Weak
Jointly sponsored in 2017 by the U.S. Postal Service, the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Humane, the Insurance Information Institute, and celebrity dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, Dog Bite Prevention Week publicity as always spotlighted the latest insurance data on dog attacks, and as always evaded drawing the obvious breed-specific conclusions.
According to the official Dog Bite Prevention Week media release, “Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2016,” a total of $612.5 million.
10% of policies, 20% of payouts
Of that amount, the State Farm insurance group alone paid out $121 million––just over 20%. State Farm, holding market share of slightly more than 10% of all U.S. homeowners policies, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissions, is among the few major U.S. insurance groups that cover pit bulls without breed-specific restrictions. At least 13 major insurance groups do not insure pit bulls at all.
Because State Farm insures pit bulls and other high risk dogs, the official Dog Bite Prevention Week media release failed to acknowledge, State Farm makes dog attack payouts at twice the rate of the U.S. insurance industry as a whole. People insuring their homes with State Farm who do not have pit bulls or other dogs of dangerous breeds are accordingly paying higher premiums to help cover the damage done by those who do have them.
18% increase in claims
“The number of dog bite claims nationwide increased to 18,123 in 2016 compared to 15,352 in 2015 –– an 18% increase,” the official Dog Bite Prevention Week media release admitted.
“The average cost per claim for the year, however, decreased by more than 10%,” the release continued. “The average cost paid out for dog bite claims nationwide was $33,230 in 2016, compared with $37,214 in 2015 and $32,072 in 2014.”
Speculated Insurance Information Institute vice president Loretta Worters, “The decrease in the 2016 average cost per claim could be attributed to a decrease in severity of injuries. But the average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 70% from 2003 to 2016, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs.”
Deaths down, disfigurements up
The ANIMALS 24-7 log of fatal and disfiguring dog attacks in the U.S. and Canada, maintained since 1982, showed a decrease in 2016 in fatalities inflicted by pit bulls, from a record 34 down to 26. But the total numbers of disfiguring injuries inflicted both by pit bulls and by all other dog breed types combined jumped, as the Insurance Information Institute data showed.
Fatal and disfiguring injuries severe enough to be logged by ANIMALS 24-7 came to 7.5% of the insurance claims.
But many of the most severe dog attacks logged by ANIMALS 24-7 involve uninsured owners––and because those owners are not insured, the cost of treating the injuries inflicted by their dogs is not included in the Insurance Information Institute figures.
Of the 18 largest court awards for dog attack damages documented in the ANIMALS 24-7 files since 2010, four involved uninsured owners, from whom collecting the awards will probably never be possible, not least because two of those owners went to prison for negligent homicide.
Despite omitting uninsured damage awards, the official Dog Bite Prevention Week media release documented an 85.8% increase in total payout for dog attacks since 2003, and a 73.4% increase in the average payout per claim, despite only a 7.1% increase in the number of claims filed.
In other words, dog attacks are becoming markedly more severe, according to the insurance data, coinciding with an increase from 86 to 725 in the number of pit bulls involved in fatal and disfiguring attacks over the same years, as logged by ANIMALS 24-7, including an increase in pit bull-inflicted fatalities from six to a five-year average of 31, and an increase in pit bull-inflicted disfigurements from 54 to 574.
One mention of pit bulls
The official Dog Bite Prevention Week media release did make one mention of pit bulls: “Dog attacks on postal workers rose last year to 6,755, up 206 from the previous year and the highest in three decades, as internet shopping booms and consumers increasingly demand seven-day-a-week package delivery and groceries dropped at their doorstep. The high for attacks dated back to the 1980s, at more than 7,000, before maulings by pit bulls and other potentially aggressive dogs became a public issue.”
Barely half the dogs in the U.S. were sterilized then, while many still ran free most of the time. Pit bulls, however, were under 2% of the dog population, compared to 5% today.