When Dogs Attack

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Animal Service experts say the recent rash of attacks in the area is just the half of the story of what's going on.

Since mid January of this year about 187 bite reports have been filed at Winnebago County Animal Services. About 10-percent of those bite's are from dogs. In fact as of Monday afternoon there is one more dog bite to add to the list. A rottweiler bit an animal control officer on the 2300 block of 18th Street leaving several puncture wounds. From the day-to-day dog incidents, to dog attacks, animal control says the number of viscous dog attacks are on the rise.

Looking around Winnebago County Animal Services kennel has you seeing red. Right now Animal Services is holding 27 dogs with labeled as "biters." While 15 of these dogs are pit bulls, it's not just one breed causing concern German shepherds, mixes, and even hunting dogs are behind bars. Officer Supervisor Gary Longanecker says, " The main problem is ownership and failure to adequately keep dogs within a person's property."

Animal Services blames unleashed dogs on the run for an attack that put 19-year-old Marco Washington in the hospital where he's still recovering. His mother Mary says, "It's so hard to see him lying there knowing that he has to learn everything all over again."

Marco is finally starting to make sounds since his jaw is broken in three places. On April 11 a pit bull bit Marco on the leg. As he tried to escape he ran into the street and was struck by a car. Animal Services along with Rockford Police continue to investigate and are close to filling charges in this attack.

Viscous dog attacks are also a growing concern among mail carriers. Since September there's been seven postal workers involved in dog incidents. Right now mail delivery within the 1100 block of Grant Street is on a day-to-day basis. A carrier was chased by a dog and luckily got away. Michelle Zyvert with the Postal Service says, "We do attempt to deliver mail in that block if dogs out or menacing around the carrier gets back in the vehicle and will not deliver."

Just last week another carrier was bit on the right thigh by a black lab. Since January of 2002, Animal Services says they are close to about 700 dog bites. Although considered a higher risk, it's a number that doesn't even begin to compare with the overwhelming number of daily dog incident reports.

With so many incidents and bites, just last week Animal Services hired an investigator so some of these bite cases can be prosecuted. Watch 23 News at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Monday May 10 and Tuesday May 11 for more on, When Dogs Attack, a special report.

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Dog Attack Statistics

  • 4.7 million dog bites are reported in the U.S. annually

  • 800,000 dog bites require medical attention each year

  • Reported dog bites have increased 37 percent since 1990

  • For every dog bite fatality, there are 670 hospitalizations

  • Children are the most frequent victims

  • Children are most frequently bitten in the face and neck area

  • Boys ages five to nine are bitten most frequently

  • 334,000 dog bites require emergency room visits

  • Dog attacks cost society about $1 billion each year

  • Insurance companies pay about $250 million each year in dog bite case claims

  • More than 7,000 U.S. Postal carriers report being bit by a dog each year

Sources: drklein.net contributed to this report