Shark attacks are a scary thought, but dog bites far more likely

Shark attacks are a scary thought, but dog bites far more likely

Ever since the movie “Jaws” came out in 1975, Americans have been especially fascinated with and terrified of sharks. Most Californians who spend time at the beach have probably worried about a shark attack at least once, if only a little bit.

Earlier this month, a man was attacked by a shark off Southern California’s Manhattan Beach. The attack made headlines and probably rekindled some public fear about swimming in the ocean. It should be noted, however, that shark attacks are exceptionally rare. In fact, Americans are approximately 33 times more likely to be killed by an animal that many of us keep as pets: the domesticated dog.

Shark attacks are generally divided into categories of unprovoked and provoked. Unprovoked attacks occur when the human victims did not make first contact with the shark. In California, there have only been 110 unprovoked shark attacks reported since 1837 (the attack earlier this month was technically provoked, but not by the swimmer who was bitten).

Between 2001 and 2013, there were just 11 fatal shark attacks in the United States. During that same time period, dog attacks in the U.S. killed 364 people. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million Americans suffer dog bites each year. Many victims are children, and about 20 percent of bites are serious enough to require medical attention.

Most dogs are friendly, well socialized and docile. When dogs are vicious or attack strangers unprovoked, it is usually a reflection of the way they are being treated by their owners. Even if a dog is “naturally” vicious or aggressive (which is rare), dog owners are still responsible for keeping their dog properly restrained and restricted to the owner’s property.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries after being attacked by someone else’s dog, it’s important to understand your rights and legal options. Please seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: Vox, " Shark attacks are rising — but you're still 33 times more likely to be killed by a dog," Brad Plumer, July 8, 2014

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