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Pit Bull Dog Bites in New Jersey

Pit Bull Dog BiteDogs of any breed can bite a human, but serious dog bites involving certain breeds of dogs make headlines more often. Pit bulls are at the top of this list.

If you have been bitten by a pit bull, here’s what you need to know about the dog breed and what to do next. The experienced pit bull dog bite attorneys at Console & Associates, P.C. offer a free, no-obligation consultation. Just call (866) 778-5500 today.

Pit Bull Breed Information

What exactly is a pit bull? Strictly speaking, most uses of the term “pit bull” don’t refer to a dog breed but rather the name for a broader classification of breeds that includes the following:

  • American bull terrier
  • American pit bull terrier
  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • Any mixed breed that includes the above breeds (or appears to do so based on subjective visual identification)

As the Animal Humane Society reported, pit bulls are generally classified by visual identification rather than DNA analysis. Dogs classified as pit bulls typically have characteristics like large “blocky” heads, short snouts, and muscular builds, the Animal Humane Society reported—even though these characteristics aren’t exclusive to the breeds widely considered to be pit bulls. As a result of this vague and subjective means of identification, many different dog breeds and mixes are lumped into the pit bull category.

Pit bull-type dogs have a complicated history. They were originally bred in the United Kingdom in the 1800s from the Old English bulldogs that were used in the brutal “bloodsport” of bull baiting, crossed with terrier breeds, BARK Post reported. The resulting pups were used in rat baiting and dog fighting. The inclusion of the term “pit” in their name comes from the pit in which the dogs were forced to engage in these brutal “sports.” However, early American immigrants brought with them pit bulls that were family dogs and had other jobs unrelated to fighting sports, such as farming and watching over their families as companions and protectors, BARK Post stated.

How Likely Is a Pit Bull to Bite?

The vague description of what a pit bull is has a lot to do with why this classification of dogs is so commonly associated with bites, according to NPR. The broader a breed category (and the more dogs it encompasses), the more dog bite incidents that category encompasses.

“When people ask, well, why are there so many pit bulls in the news? It’s because at this point almost anything is considered a pit bull,” author Bronwen Dickey said in an interview with NPR in 2016.

“Pit Bulls are responsible for 68% of dog attacks…”
Statistically speaking, pit bulls are among the breeds for which bites are most often reported, according to Canine Journal. A 2014 article published in TIME reported that “pit bulls make up only 6% of the dog population, but they’re responsible for 68% of dog attacks and 52% of dog-related deaths since 1982,” citing data from animal news organization Animals 24-7.

These statistics are the reason some insurance companies will exclude from homeowners and renters insurance coverage pit bull-type dogs and certain other breeds.

It’s worth noting that pit bulls are far from the only dogs that bite or that cause significant injury from biting. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reported that more than 30 different dog breeds and categories were involved in fatal bites of humans between 1979 and 1998. Among the breeds that fatally bit a human during this time were the Labrador Retriever, Dachshund, and Yorkshire Terrier breeds.

How Hard Does a Pit Bull Bite?

Part of assessing the amount of danger posed by a dog is taking into account not only how likely it is to bite but also how hard a bite it delivers.

Upon reviewing 15 years’ worth of pediatric dog bite cases involving serious injuries, researchers from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center put pit bulls as the type of known dog breed responsible for the highest percentage of reported dog bites, at 22.5%, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. Only dogs of unknown breed or type caused a larger number of reported dog bites. The study also concluded that pit bulls rank high in terms of bite severity. The types of dogs with the highest average damage per bite were pit bull-type dogs and mixed-breed dogs, the American Animal Hospital Association reported.

For the American Pit Bull breed, the website Pet Comments reported a bite force of 235 PSI, which earned the breed a spot on the ranking of dog breeds with the strongest bite. However, pit bulls aren’t the dog breed with the strongest bite—far from it. That title goes to the Kangal, which boasts a bite force of  743 PSI.

Still, the strong bites associated with pit bulls are another reason so many severe injuries and bite-related fatalities are attributed to this type of dog. In 2019, the most recent year for which DogsBite.org has complete data, pit bull-type dogs accounted for 69% of fatal dog bites, or 33 of the 48 deadly bites that occurred nationwide.

The theories that pit bulls bite harder or are more dangerous than other breeds of dogs are not universally accepted. The American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Division, for example, wrote that “controlled studies have not identified this breed group as disproportionately dangerous” in 2014, noting that the ambiguity of visual identification of the breed group may contribute to its disproportionate appearance in the news of severe bite incidents. Still, research studies published in respected journals have repeatedly indicated that pit bull bites can cause very severe injuries.

“Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs,” researchers reported in a 2011 study published in the Annals of Surgery.

Years later, the data still supports these findings.

“Injuries from Pitbull’s [sic] and mixed breed dogs were both more frequent and more severe,” researchers concluded in a 2019 article published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology after systematically reviewing actual dog bite injury cases that presented to hospitals.

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Pit Bull Dog Bite Examples in New Jersey

The available data pertaining to dog bite statistics isn’t granular enough to reliably report the number of dog bites to humans by pit bulls in NJ specifically.

One source, National Pit Bull Victim Awareness, includes in its pit bull attack database the records of 93 severe bite and attack incidents that took place in NJ between 2015 and 2022. However, this list is incomplete and includes incidents in which only other dogs—not humans—were harmed.

What we can do is infer how many pit bulls may have been involved in NJ dog bite cases based on the data that is available.

A report from online insurance comparison platform Quote Wizard stated that 467 dog bites claims were filed in New Jersey in 2020, with an average insurance payout of $49,582 and a total payout of $23,154,794. If we were to infer that the 68% statistic expressed above by Animals 24-7 holds true for these claims, we might conclude that pit bulls were likely to have been involved in upwards of 300 of these incidents. Even using the much more conservative 22.5% figure reported by the American Animal Hospital Association, pit bulls are statistically likely to have accounted for more than 100 of these claims.

These inferences based on statistical data aren’t the same as concrete counts of NJ pit bull dog bites, but they offer some insight into the extent of the breed’s involvement in New Jersey dog bite incidents.

Recent news stories involving pit bull dog bites and attacks in New Jersey include the following:

  • A September 2021 pit bull dog bite incident that occurred in Vernon, NJ, sent a three-year-old girl to Morristown Medical Center with serious injuries, com reported. The girl’s parents were also bitten in the course of trying to separate the girl from the dog, who belonged to the family friend they were visiting.
  • Two pit bulls attacked another dog at the Dogs on the Farm & Cats, Too animal daycare center in Atlantic Highlands, Monmouth County, in February 2022, according to NJ 101.5. The canine victim sustained “wounds to his chest, head and shoulders that exposed a bone,” after which he “was in surgery all day” and required “hundreds” of stitches, NJ 101.5 reported.
  • A nine-year-old girl was attacked by a pit bull in Pennsauken, NJ, in February 2022, and a group of teens came to her rescue, NJ 101.5 Even with the assistance of the “superheroes” who saved her, the girl sustained multiple injuries, including gashes, puncture wounds, scratches, abrasions, and bite marks.
  • Two loose pit bulls attacked a Shih Tzu being walked by its owner in Linden, NJ, in April 2022. Although patrol officers were able to intervene and stop the attack with no humans suffering injuries, the Shih Tzu was fatally wounded, according to NJ 101.5.
  • A May 2022 attack by a “pit bull-type dog” left both a Cherry Hill, NJ, man and the puppy he was walking injured, according to 6ABC News. The dog, who jumped out of the open window of its owner’s vehicle to attack the victims, was determined to have previously bitten another dog and multiple humans who had attempted to intervene in that attack.

What Should You Do If You Are the Victim of a Pit Bull Dog Bite in New Jersey?

No Fee PromiseAfter any serious dog bite injury, you should report the bite to the authorities and to animal control. It’s important to seek medical attention promptly, not only to begin to treat the serious damage resulting from the injury but also to assess the risk of infection. Doctors in New Jersey are legally required to report dog bite injuries to the health department.

Under NJ’s strict liability dog bite law, the owner of any dog that bites is automatically responsible for the damages sustained by the victim, regardless of the breed of the dog and whether it has a history of aggression. You may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages through the dog owner’s homeowners insurance, renters insurance, canine liability insurance, or umbrella insurance policy.

The strict liability law may make it seem as though getting the compensation you’re entitled to will be easy. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Insurance companies often delay or deny legitimate claims or try to get claimants to settle for much less than they deserve. In pit bull dog bite cases, in particular, an insurance company may try to decline coverage for bites from certain breeds of dogs even if the dog wasn’t actually excluded under the policy.

Having an attorney on your side is critical to making sure you are treated fairly by the insurance company, fighting improper claims denials, and calculating the full amount of money you deserve. The experienced pit bull dog bite attorneys at Console & Associates, P.C. offer a free, no-obligation consultation. Just call (866) 778-5500 today.

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