Fatal dog attacks

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Fatal dog attacks are rare when compared to other causes of death, however they represent the extreme result of dog bite incidents, which do occur quite frequently.[1] The study of fatal dog attacks can lead to prevention techniques which can help to reduce all dog bite injuries, not only fatalities.[2] Since dog bites are a very high percentage of emergency room visits, it's worth investigating how to reduce those numbers.[2] Dog bites and attacks can result in pain, bruising, wounds, bleeding, soft tissue injury, broken bones, loss of limbs, scalping, disfigurement, life-threatening injuries, and death.[3]

Causes of death in dog bite related fatalities[edit]

There are several ways a person can die from a dog bite or a dog attack, including:

Preventing or reducing fatal dog attacks[edit]

Numerous scholarly studies have been published about dog bite injuries and fatalities which suggest ways of reducing or preventing fatal dog attacks, including:

  • Dangerous Dog laws: Create laws related to dangerous or vicious dogs, or strengthen those already in place, and enforce them vigorously.[12][13][14][15]
  • Breed-specific laws (BSL) are sometimes enacted to reduce the number of aggressive or dangerous dogs in an area or to restrict them from access to the general public.[15] (Note: BSL is a prevention technique. For opposition arguments, see Breed-specific legislation.)
  • Animal Control: Support and increase animal control efforts. Animal control officers should vigorously enforce existing laws and ordinances, including leash laws, registration/licensing, and dog fighting laws.[16][12][14]
  • Bite reporting: Improve surveillance for dog bites. Improve investigation into dog bite incidents. Require reporting of incidents for research and statistics, including circumstances about the bite, ownership, breed, sex, age, spay/neuter status, and history of prior aggression of the animal.[12][16][14][17][1][2]
  • Research: Conduct further research into the epidemiology of dog bites and attacks.[17][11][2]
  • Educate dog owners: Educate people about proper selection, socialization, training, and treatment of dogs, to reduce the likelihood of owning a dog that may bite.[12][16][13][14]
  • Educate the general public about bite prevention.[16][18][13][14]

Published studies[edit]

There are numerous studies published on the subject of fatal dog attacks, citing statistics, breeds, categorizing circumstances, and making recommendations. Here are some of the relevant studies.

  • "Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998" [16]
  • "Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite–related fatalities in the United States (2000–2009)" [18]
  • "Dog-Bite-Related Fatalities -- United States, 1995–1996" [12]
  • "Dog Bite-Related Fatalities From 1979 Through 1988" [13]
  • "Fatal dog attacks, 1989–1994" [14]
  • "Human Deaths Induced by Dog Bites, United States, 1974–75" [17]
  • "Human Fatalities Resulting From Dog Attacks in the United States 1979–2005" [1]
  • "Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs" [15]
  • "Traumatic Deaths from Dog Attacks in the United States" [11]
  • "U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities Breeds of Dogs Involved, Age Groups and Other Factors Over a 13-Year Period (2005 to 2017)" [19]

Fatalities in Australia[edit]

Date of death Victim Dog or dogs Circumstances
July 10, 2019 Leo Biancofiore, 61, Male American Staffordshire Terrier Melbourne, Victoria, Australia – The wheelchair-bound victim was attacked and killed by his son's dog. The victim's 58-year-old wife was hospitalized with serious injuries. Police officers jumped a fence and fired shots to stop the attack. The dog, which was not registered locally, was captured and euthanized.[20][21]
June 10, 2019 Graham Smith, 51, Male Staffordshire Bull Terrier Nowra, New South Wales, Australia – Victim was found dead in his unit. After investigating the death, investigators came to the conclusion he was attacked by his own dog after suffering an epileptic fit. There were extensive injuries to the body. The dog was euthanized.[22][23][21]
May 16, 2019 Rosemary O'Reilly, 72, Female Staffordshire Bull Terrier x Rhodesian Ridgeback Sydney, New South Wales, Australia – The couple's pet dog attacked either the wife or husband (reports vary), and the other stepped in to help. Both suffered severe bite wounds. The woman died in hospital. The dog was seized, had been owned by the couple for about 3 years, was registered, and had not been reported to council previously. There were a number of dogs at the home.[24][25][21]
March 1, 2019 Colin Amatto, 40, Male 2 American Staffordshire Terriers Tregear, New South Wales, Australia – Victim was attacked on January 24 and sustained a significant number of injuries to his face, abdomen, and chest, and went into cardiac arrest. He was placed in an induced coma and died five weeks later. A 30-year-old woman and her 10-year-old daughter were also injured in the attack and taken to hospital with minor injuries. The dogs were euthanized.[26][27][21]
March 3, 2018 Kamillah Jones, 1, Female Rottweiler Inverell, New South Wales, Australia – The dog grabbed the baby girl out of her pram while mother was walking with her daughter down the street. The child suffered critical injuries and died on the way to hospital. The dog, owned by a family member, had cleared a fence. The dog was seized.[28][29]

Fatalities in Canada[edit]

Fatalities in United Kingdom[edit]

Fatalities in United States of America[edit]

Fatalities in other countries[edit]

Date of death Victim Dog or dogs Circumstances
July 1, 2019 Name undisclosed, <2 years, Male Pit bull Mexico City, Mexico - Victim was attacked and killed by a pit bull that was kept tied up on a roof. Victim died on scene. The dog was taken into custody.[30] Photo of dog.[31]
March 20, 2019 Iat, 75, Female 6 Pit bulls Bangkok, Thailand – The victim's family returned home to find the 75-year-old grandmother had been attacked and mauled by the family's six pit bull terriers. The woman was found dead, lying in a pool of blood outside the house, having been bitten all over. The dogs were put back in their cage.[32]
June 17, 2017 Undisclosed name, Adult, Male 12 stray dogs Sovetsky, Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, Russia – A drunk man, who had been feeding a pack of stray dogs for two years, was attacked and killed by them when he tried to pass the pack without feeding them and fell during the encounter. His remains were found the following morning. The incident was captured on CCTV. He reportedly died just two minutes after the first dog attacked.[33]
April 18, 2017 Undisclosed name, 40, Female Presa Canario El Molar, Madrid, Spain – Victim was found dead in her home; she had been attacked by one of her Presa Canarios and died from bites to the neck. The woman lived alone and was a breeder of Pit bulls and Presa Canarios. The dog was seized.[34]
August 18, 2015 Elizabeth Claire Wright, F, 55 Rottweilers (3) Watamu, Kenya, Africa - The Kenyan husband of the English victim came home to find his wife dead and the three dogs feeding on her body. The husband said he'd warned her to stay away from the dogs, and it was presumed she had opened their cage to feed them. Victim had been visiting her husband at his Kenya beachside home from her home in England where she worked at a school.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Langley, RL (Spring 2009). "Human fatalities resulting from dog attacks in the United States, 1979–2005". Wilderness Environ Med. 20 (1): 19–25. doi:10.1580/08-WEME-OR-213.1. PMID 19364181.
  2. ^ a b c d Weiss, Harold B (January 7, 1998). "Incidence of Dog Bite Injuries Treated in Emergency Departments". JAMA. 279 (1): 51–3. doi:10.1001/jama.279.1.51. PMID 9424044. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  3. ^ Holmquist, Laurel. "Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008" (PDF). Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Tsokos, M (June 28, 2007). "Extensive and mutilating craniofacial trauma involving defleshing and decapitation: unusual features of fatal dog attacks in the young". Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 28 (2): 131–6. doi:10.1097/01.paf.0000257395.90724.39. PMID 17525563.
  5. ^ McGuinness, Chris (March 6, 2014). "Preliminary autopsy: Dog attack death accidental". The Killeen Daily Herald.
  6. ^ "Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal – Google News Archive Search". May 28, 1976.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Jennifer (November 7, 2013). "Spanaway woman dies week after attack by two pit bulls". Local News. The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
  8. ^ "'I know he's a hero': Woman mourns adult son who died saving his daughter from dog attack in Iowa". Des Moines Register. June 7, 2019.
  9. ^ "Devastated daughter says mum, 55, died of sepsis after being mauled by dog". June 9, 2019.
  10. ^ Tsong, Nicole (September 9, 2010). "Family of man who died after dog bite sues dog's owner". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on May 12, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c Pinckney, Lee E (February 1982). "Traumatic Deaths from Dog Attacks in the United States". Pediatrics. 69 (2): 193–6. PMID 7058093.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Dog-Bite-Related Fatalities -- United States, 1995–1996". wonder.cdc.gov. CDC. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c d Sacks, Jeffrey J (September 15, 1989). "Dog Bite-Related Fatalities From 1979 Through 1988". JAMA. 1989 (262(11)): 1489–1492. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Sacks, JJ (June 1996). "Fatal dog attacks, 1989–1994". Pediatrics. 97 (6 Pt 1): 891–5. PMID 8657532.
  15. ^ a b c Bini, John (April 1, 2011). "Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs". Annals of Surgery. 253 (4): 791–797. doi:10.1097/SLA.0b013e318211cd68. PMID 21475022.
  16. ^ a b c d e Sacks, JJ (September 15, 2000). "Breeds of dogs involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998". J Am Vet Med Assoc. 217 (6): 836–40. doi:10.2460/javma.2000.217.836. PMID 10997153. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  17. ^ a b c Winkler, WG (September 1977). "Human deaths induced by dog bites, United States, 1974–75". Public Health Rep. 92 (5): 425–9. PMC 1432043. PMID 910019. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Patronek, Gary J (December 15, 2013). "Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite–related fatalities in the United States (2000–2009)". Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 243 (12): 1726–1736. doi:10.2460/javma.243.12.1726. PMID 24299544.
  19. ^ "U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities: Breeds of Dogs Involved, Age Groups and Other Factors Over a 13-Year Period (2005 to 2017)". DogsBite.org. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  20. ^ "'I saw a dog on top of the body of the man and the lady was trying to help out'". www.9news.com.au. July 11, 2019.
  21. ^ a b c d Zhuang, Yan; Hope, Zach (July 11, 2019). "American Staffordshire terriers have killed four Australians this year". The Age.
  22. ^ "Man mauled by dog after epileptic fit". www.9news.com.au. June 13, 2019.
  23. ^ "Man's 'suspicious' death on NSW south coast caused by pet dog". ABC News. June 13, 2019.
  24. ^ "Australian woman dies after being attacked by her pet dog". Stuff. May 17, 2019.
  25. ^ "Woman, 72, mauled to death by pet dog at Sydney home". www.msn.com. May 17, 2019.
  26. ^ "Man dies five weeks after Sydney dog attack". ABC News. March 2, 2019.
  27. ^ Chung, Laura (March 2, 2019). "Man in 'horrific and distressing' dog attack dies". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  28. ^ "One-year-old dies after attack by family's Rottweiler dog". ABC News. March 3, 2018.
  29. ^ "Rottweiler killed girl in her pram". The Daily Telegraph. March 4, 2018.
  30. ^ "Pitbull attacks, kills two-year-old child in Mexico City". July 2, 2019.
  31. ^ "Pit bull terrier attacks, kills 2-year-old child in Mexico City". Sott.net.
  32. ^ "75-year-old mauled to death by six pit bulls in Nonthaburi". The Nation, Thailand Portal. March 20, 2019.
  33. ^ "Drunk man eaten alive by pack of stray dogs". Metro news. June 17, 2017.
  34. ^ "Una mujer de 40 años muere en El Molar tras ser atacada por su perro de presa canario". ELMUNDO. April 19, 2017.
  35. ^ Laing, Aislinn (September 21, 2015). "British woman killed by Rottweilers at seaside home of Kenyan husband". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved June 24, 2019.