Dog Bite Injury Severity and Bowl-A-Thon Event
DogsBite.org - In an ongoing tradition, we comment during National Dog Bite Prevention Week that there is no National Dog Mauling Prevention Week, a far more serious health and safety issue. The distinction between preventing dog "bites" and preventing dog "maulings" -- injuries involving maiming, loss of limbs and death -- is urgent. Over 600 jurisdictions in the U.S. regulate dangerous dog breeds, primarily pit bulls, to prevent devastating "mauling" injuries and deaths.
Dog Bite vs. Dog Mauling -- The Solesky Family
One of the voices in this critical battle to educate more Americans about the distinction between dog "bite" and dog "mauling" injuries, is the Solesky family. The family's landmark court case, Tracey v. Solesky, led to an appellate decision that declared pit bulls "inherently dangerous" and attached strict liability when a pit bull attacks a person. Last December, the Solesky's released the 911 call of their son's attack to demonstrate in real time a life-threatening dog "mauling."
Throughout the 5-year process of achieving this legal victory, both Anthony and Irene Solesky, the boy's parents, have battled against "bite" obfuscation tactics; those who attempt to equate all dog bites as equal. In media interviews and spoken testimony before Maryland House and Senate committees, both parents always distinguish that their son underwent a life-threatening dog "mauling," an incident never to be co-mingled with or compared to an average dog "bite."
Often Irene's testimony is the hardest to listen to because it is a reminder of how much work must still be done to inform more Americans about the different levels of dog bite injury. "Bite" obfuscation tactics used by regulation opponents only have power because too many people believe a dog bite injury today is the same as it was 35-years ago, hurtful but negligible. 35-years ago, pit bulls and their mixes and rottweilers were virtually nonexistent in our neighborhoods.
When Dominic's friend came to my house, one of the three friends he was playing with, came to my house to tell me, frantically knocked on my door, that he was being attacked by a dog, what I envisioned was just Dominic crying, knocked on the ground, a small bite and the dog owner consoling him.Obviously, this was nothing like I imagined.When I went to the scene in the alley, it was nothing of a typical dog bite. And there was no dog owner present. So, everything I imagined was not there.What I had seen appeared to be a crime scene. And injuries resembled to be from a shark attack. We're talking about all dogs biting, all dogs being similar. They are not similar. They are not built the same way. They don't bite the same way. This was a mauling and that needs to be recognized.His injuries, he had a cut clear down to the bone on his nose. A chunk out of his cheek. As I found out later, a severed femoral artery. I saw three gaping wounds in his left thigh. Blood all over the alley. And his clothes were saturated.This does not get done by a poodle. Does not get done by a beagle. We need to recognize the difference. Anything that can cause injury like this is deemed dangerous.1Irene Solesky
February 5, 2013
Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Testimony
Dog Bite Prevention Event: Bowl-A-Thon in Maryland
On Saturday, May 25, the Solesky and Mason families are teaming up for a Bowl-A-Thon event to raise awareness of Maryland's One Bite rule during National Dog Bite Prevention week. Both teenagers, Dominic Solesky and Scotty Mason, also badly injured during the same attack, "have fully recovered from their injuries and are ready to bowl to raise awareness about dog bite statistics and the laws addressing dog bite injuries," states the event's news release.
Fact sheets will be handed out at the event to inform attendees about the Three Levels of Dog Bite Injury and Maryland's One Bite rule. Due to the high court ruling declaring pit bulls "inherently dangerous," owners of pit bulls in Maryland are now held liable for the first bite. Victims of all other breeds are still held to the One Bite rule, where victims must prove the dog owner knew or should have known of the dog’s vicious propensity to receive compensation for their injuries.
All funds raised at the Bowl-A-Thon event will be donated to the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and DogsBite.org.
DogsBite.org encourages readers to download the Three Levels of Dog Bite Injury fact sheet. As stated in the fact sheet, a better understanding of them will help readers navigate the public debate about dog bite injuries and dangerous dog breeds. The fact sheet distinguishes three types of injuries, a dog "bite," a "severe" dog bite and a dog "mauling." The latter two categories, requiring hospitalization, saw an 86% rise from 1993 to 2008, the latest data available.2
The fact sheet also emphasizes that certain dog breeds more commonly inflict second level injuries, "severe" dog bite injury and that only a few dog breeds inflict "mauling" injuries, which represents a "sustained, unrelenting attack during which the animal refuses to stop in a clear attempt to maim or kill it's victim," states the fact sheet. The document also states that "multiple peer-reviewed studies point to only a few dog breeds that inflict attacks of this nature."
The Bowl-A-Thon event created by the Solesky and Mason families to raise awareness about Maryland's One Bite rule and the Three Levels of Dog Bite Injury is certainly the first of its kind in the country. Furthermore, the actual victims themselves, Dominic Solesky and Scotty Mason, 6-years after the devastating April 2007 attack, are the bowlers! DogsBite.org hopes that many more events like this one arise in the future during National Dog Bite Prevention Week.
DogsBite.org Neighborhood Safety Brochure
Finally, in April 2012, DogsBite.org announced a neighborhood safety campaign with a new brochure in preparation for National Dog Bite Prevention Week. The safety brochure, How to Keep Your Family Safe from Dangerous Dogs, contains five panels of important information, including images of dangerous dog breeds and the back reserved for U.S. postal mailing. The brochure was designed for parents, homeowners, community activists, and health and safety professionals.
In addition to the brochure, DogsBite.org developed three one-sheet safety flyers featuring the worst offending "mauling" dog breeds, pit bulls and rottweilers. The safety flyers present three powerful distinct messages along with photographs of each dog breed. The safety flyers are "print quality" and free for download and distribution. Since the release of the flyers in April 2012, the top downloaded flyer continues to be, "Is it Worth the Risk? Children and pit bulls do not mix."
2Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008, by Laurel Holmquist, M.A. and Anne Elixhauser, Ph.D., Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD., November 2010.
12/17/12: Solesky Family Releases 911 Call at the Center of High Court Decision
08/21/12: Maryland Court of Appeals Narrows Decision to Pit Bulls; Removes Cross-Bred Pit Bulls
06/08/12: DogsBite.org Launches Maryland Dog Bite Victim Advocacy Web Page...
05/22/12: National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 20-26, 2012)
04/25/12: DogsBite.org Announces Neighborhood Safety Campaign
05/15/11: National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 15-21, 2011)