Men and people with anxiety are more likely to be dog bite victims, according to a new study, which also reveals that the problem is more widespread than originally thought.
U.K. researchers surveyed 700 people, and nearly 25 percent said they’d been bitten at least once, according to The Guardian. When factoring in traits such as age, dog ownership, and sex, the study determined that men were 81 percent more likely to be bitten by a dog than women. Pet owners with multiple dogs were three times more likely to be bitten than those without canines.
Participants who described themselves as calmer or emotionally stable were less likely to report being bitten by a dog.
Study co-author Dr. Carri Westgarth of the University of Liverpool said it’s unclear whether anxious behaviour makes one more likely to be bitten by a dog or whether getting bit causes emotional instability. It’s also unknown whether calmer owners are more likely to have calm pets.
The researchers pointed out that socioeconomic status and other factors could be the connection.
The study has its limitations, according to the authors. Factors such as the dogs’ ages, sex and breed were not included. And the survey only included a sample of people from one part of the United Kingdom.
One takeaway is the type of people to focus on in terms of preventing dog bites. Westgarth explained that previous research has revealed that these incidents can be emotionally altering: “Most dog bites aren’t going to put you in hospital … but I don’t think that means that we shouldn’t try and prevent them.”
In 2005, Ontario banned the breeding and import of specific breeds, such as Pit Bulls. In 2008, a Canadian study found that approximately one to two people died each year from dog attacks. In Toronto, dog bites reached their highest levels in 2013 and 2014. Breeds with the highest number of attacks in 2014 were German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers.
Calgary created a different approach to prevent dog bites. Instead of a breed-based ban, they launched an educational program for dog owners and children. Bites in the province decreased significantly.