Number of Arizonans Hospitalized for Dog Bites Has Doubled Over Last Five Years

The number of Arizonans who had to spend at least one night in the hospital as a result of dog bites has more than doubled over the last five years.

As the story of Mickey, the pit bull who mauled 4-year-old Kevin Vicente, grabbed headlines around Phoenix, the state health department started researching dog-bite statistics.

See also:
-10 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Pit Bulls Like Mickey

From 2008 to 2012, more than 34,000 Arizonans went to emergency rooms due to dog bites (these statistics don't include certain hospitals, like VA hospitals or ones on Indian land).

In that same five-year span, more than 2,300 people had to spend at least one night at the hospital.

While the number of ER visits actually decreased over that five-year span, the number of visits that resulted in at least an overnight stay increased by 139 percent, according to the AZDHS report.

AZDHS director Will Humble says it's an indication of an increase in more severe dog bites.

During this five-year stretch, hospitals charged these dog-bite victims a combined total of $55 million. The median cost for a dog-bite visit to the ER was $1,150, and if it required an impatient visit, the median cost was about $17,000.

The AZDHS report also includes maps of which parts of the state have higher rates of dog bites that result in ER visits.

Interestingly, much of the area around central Phoenix and the east Valley had somewhat lower rates of bites resulting in ER visits. Higher rates were found in northern areas of the Valley, with especially high rates in the far north Valley, like the New River/Cave Creek area. The lowest rates were in the old folks' communities -- Sun City, Sun City West, and Sun Lakes.

According to a study published a few months ago in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, a vast majority of fatal dog bites have several things in common:

Major co-occurrent factors for the 256 [dog bite-related fatalities] included absence of an able-bodied person to intervene (n = 223 [87.1%]), incidental or no familiar relationship of victims with dogs (218 [85.2%]), owner failure to neuter dogs (216 [84.4%]), compromised ability of victims to interact appropriately with dogs (198 [77.4%]), dogs kept isolated from regular positive human interactions versus family dogs (195 [76.2%]), owners' prior mismanagement of dogs (96 [37.5%]), and owners' history of abuse or neglect of dogs (54 [21.1%]). Four or more of these factors co-occurred in 206 (80.5%) deaths.
As we've noted before, according to reports, at least five of these factors were present in Mickey's recent attack on 4-year-old Kevin.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley

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