Animal bites are the cause of a significant number of injuries in New Jersey every year. While some countries have high numbers of bites caused by animals like snakes and monkeys, in the United States, most bites come from dogs and cats. An animal bite can cause serious injury, and there is always a risk of rabies from a bite by a mammal.
Studies indicate that tens of millions of canine bites occur annually worldwide. In the U.S., about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. The numbers are similar in other high income countries like Canada, France and Australia. Children are most at risk for dog bites, particularly in the mid-to-late childhood years.
Of the millions of dog bites that happen in America yearly, less than 20 percent are fatal. But 30,000 people undergo reconstructive medical procedures for dog bites. Many dog bites can lead to infection. Cat bites are believed to be less common than dog bites, but still account for a significant number of animal bites. In the U.S. there are about 400,000 cat bites every year. The majority of victims are female adults.
The World Health Organization is working to promote education and other preventive tools for all types of animal bites worldwide. WHO also focuses on rabies prevention by promoting widespread dog vaccination and increased production of rabies vaccine.
In New Jersey, owners are liable for any injury their dogs cause to other people, including bites. Because New Jersey is a strict liability state, a dog owner is liable even if there was no intent of harm. This means that when someone is bitten by another person’s dog, it is not necessary for the victim to show that the owner was aware of the pet’s vicious propensities.