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Prevention of dog bites injuries in people requires an open-minded multidisciplinary approach that recognises the interaction between the dog, the human and the environment in which they interact, say Tiny de Keuster and Karen L. Overall
AS specialists in veterinary behavioural medicine with a commitment to promoting safe and humane interactions between dogs and people, we read with interest the recent letters by Mannion and others in Veterinary Record (June 4, 2011, vol 168, p 594) and in the British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (Mannion and others 2011) discussing recurrent dog bite injuries in people. We wholeheartedly agree that the human and veterinary medical communities must work more closely in truly collaborative relationships to provide accurate, data-based advice and education that will mitigate the risk for both dogs and their owners.
The data cited by Mannion and others from Stefanopoulos and Tarantzopoulou (2005) are for catastrophic bites involving surgically attended facial wounds. As such, these are atypical dog bite wounds in adults (Gershman and others 1994, Weiss and others 1998). In contrast, dog bites to young children often result in facial or neck injuries (Beck and others 1975, Wiseman and others 1983, Brogan and others 1995, Weiss and others 1998, Overall and Love 2001, Bernardo and others 2002, Kahn and others 2003, Hoff and others 2005). Older children are more commonly bitten on the extremities, as are adults (Guy and others 2001). The incidence of facial bites in children appears unrelated to the size of the dog but correlates with the age of the child (Bernardo and others 2002, Kahn and others 2003), emphasising the role for oversight when young children interact with dogs.
Mannion and colleagues note that the catastrophic bite that prompted their letter was from the …