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April 15, 1998

Injuries From Dog Bites

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(15):1174. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-279-15-jbk0415

To the Editor.—The article by Mr Weiss and colleagues1 about the incidence of dog bites certainly highlights the extent of this problem. However, the authors neglected to mention that dogs often bite out of self-defense, and every year, thousands of dogs are mistreated by their owners. Humans have the ability to seek medical treatment for their wounds, but many dogs are left to fend for themselves. Moreover, dogs are at a much greater risk of death than humans are of dog bite injuries. Comparison of the number of dog bites (334000) the authors expect to be treated annually in emergency departments with the number of dogs euthanized because they are unwanted (8 million)2 suggests that dogs may be the losers.