Have Dog Bites Increased During the Pandemic?

Looking back, it is certainly fair to say that living through a pandemic has had a profound effect on everyone. Of course, there are the obvious health concerns for ourselves, our loved ones, and all of society. But the effects don’t stop there. COVID-19 has caused a lot of people to take stock of their lives in other ways, as well. 

For example, a surprisingly large number of people have chosen to retire. Many more have elected to leave secure jobs and start businesses. Some people have decided to leave crowded living arrangements and move to the suburbs or even more remote locations. Finally, more people than ever have decided to bring a pet into the family.

But that raises an interesting question - have dog bites increased during the pandemic?

The Pandemic’s Effect on Pet Ownership

According to Statista, the pet industry has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey conducted in the United States in November 2021 found that 14 percent of respondents acquired a new pet. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that 23 million households in the United States obtained a new pet during the pandemic, constituting almost 20 percent of American households. Ninety percent of new dogs still remain in their new homes and the owners have no plans to rehome them.

Lockdowns and working from home also had a major effect on people’s relationships with their pets. Statista reports that 70 percent of Americans responding to a 2020 survey reported that as a result of social distancing requirements, they spent more time with their pets. Obviously, many pet owners fostered and enjoyed increased bonds with their animals.

Dog Bites During the Pandemic

As much as dogs positively affect society and many families, they have also always presented certain dangers. Prior to the pandemic, Petpedia reported that more than four million dog bites occurred in 2020 in the United States. DogBite.org estimated the number closer to 4.5 million

Not surprisingly, a variety of local governments, veterinarians, hospitals, and other groups have noted increases in dog bites and dog attacks during the pandemic. To some extent, it makes sense that if people are spending a lot more time around dogs, there will be more dog bite occurrences. Additionally, experts note that pets feel the anxiety of the humans they are around and are affected by it. That could lead to increased attacks.

Medical attention was required for more than 800,000 dog bites per year even before the pandemic. Many dog bites become infected, and some victims need reconstructive surgery. Unfortunately, many of these dog bites involve children. In fact, children and teens suffer approximately 40 percent of all dog bites in the United States. 

Call with Questions

Many of us have dogs that have assumed the status of beloved family members within the household. It is certainly understandable that more people came to appreciate the love and companionship of dogs during a stressful, and sometimes lonely, pandemic. However, with dog ownership comes responsibility. If dog owners behave negligently and fail to meet that responsibility, dog bites and dog attacks can occur that cause serious injury and even death.

If you or a family member has been injured by a dog, you probably have questions about your rights under the law. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are ready to answer your questions and assist you in any way possible. Our attorneys have handled personal injury cases all around Oregon. We are well-versed in the law and would be happy to answer your questions in a free consultation. We are convinced that the only way to make society safer is to hold accountable those who act negligently and cause harm.


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