A new study shows those living in a city are twice as likely to be bit by a dog compared to those living in the country and the majority of those bites come from off-leash dogs.
Researchers from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College found that while pet dogs were more common in rural households, dog bites are more of a city problem.
The study was published in Zoonoses and Public Health and the research involved a survey of 2,006 respondents including 1,002 rural and 1,004 urban residences.
Among households in rural areas, six per cent had at least one person bitten by a dog in the previous year, while urban households had nearly 11 per cent, the university stated.
Prof. Jan Sargeant and epidemiology PhD student Danielle Julien say they also found a majority of the bites not only came from unleashed dogs, but a high percentage of the bites were from dogs that were not vaccinated against rabies.
Their research also showed 60 per cent of all bites came while playing or interacting with the biting dog, while nearly 77 per cent of biting dogs were unleashed, and nearly 17 per cent of biting dogs were not vaccinated against rabies.
“In Ontario, dogs three months of age or older are legally required to be vaccinated against rabies,” Sargeant said. “These findings will not only help shape public health measures related to preventing dog bites, but also bring awareness to the need for the rabies vaccine.”
Most victims were between 25 and 34 years old and most biting dogs were three to five years old. The university did not break statistics by dog breed.
New research shows dog bites more likely to happen at home
The researchers added that they aimed to determine the differences between urban and rural communities when it comes to the number of dogs, dog ownership dynamics and human exposure to dogs.
Julien said all of these are important in the planning and implementation of public health strategies related to diseases spread from animals, prevention and control and also the promotion of responsibly dog ownership.
“Some of the more important concerns surrounding the issue of dog bites include the repercussions of physical and emotional trauma experienced by bite victims,” she said.
Julien added another major concern is the transmission of rabies since the main transmitter of canine rabies to humans is domestic dogs.
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