A human dog bite-related fatality generally refers to death proximately caused by trauma from a dog's teeth and jaws. According to The Humane Society of the United States, more than 300 individuals died of dog attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1996. Children <12 and elders >70 years represent the typical victims. Pit bull-type dogs, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds constitute the majority of canines implicated in these fatalities.
This is a 15-year (1991–2005) retrospective review of dog bite-related fatalities undergoing medicolegal investigation in Kentucky. Of the 11 deaths, 10 consisted of multiple bite marks and blunt force injuries of the head and neck, trunk, and extremities. In 1 case, an asplenic victim's immediate cause of death was bacterial sepsis secondary to a dog bite. Individuals ranged between 14 months and 87 years; 7 (63.6%) were ≤6 years; 10 (90.9%) individuals were white, and 8 (72.7%) were male. Forensic odontological examinations were performed on the dogs in 4 cases. The requisite multidisciplinary investigation includes a detailed assessment of the scene, the victim, and dog or dogs suspected in the attack.
From the *Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Louisville, Kentucky; †Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky; ‡School of Dentistry, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky; §Office of the Associate Chief Medical Examiner, Frankfort, Kentucky; and ¶Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky.
Manuscript received April 22, 2007; accepted May 13, 2007.
Presented (Oral) at the 40th Annual National Association of Medical Examiners Meeting; October 14–18, 2006; San Antonio, Texas.
Reprints: Donna M. Stewart, MD, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Urban Government Center, 810 Barret Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky 40204. E-mail: Donna.Stewart@ky.gov.