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Legal epidemiology of paediatric dog bite injuries
  1. Kelli N Patterson1,
  2. Annamarie Beckmeyer2,
  3. Tran Bourgeois1,
  4. Kyle Z Horvath1,
  5. Amy L Pratt2,
  6. Lisa Armour2,
  7. Ling Wang3,
  8. Peter C Minneci1,4,
  9. Katherine J Deans1,4,
  10. Rajan K Thakkar4,5,
  11. Efthimios Parasidis2,6
  1. 1 Center for Surgical Outcomes Research, Abigail Wexner Research Institute, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  2. 2 Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  3. 3 Partner for Kids, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  4. 4 Department of Pediatric Surgery, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Oh, USA
  5. 5 Center for Pediatric Trauma Research, Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH, USA
  6. 6 College of Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Efthimios Parasidis, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Columbus, OH 43210, USA; parasidis.1{at}


Background Dog bite injuries cause over 100 000 paediatric emergency department visits annually. Our objective was to analyse associations between regional dog ownership laws and incidence of paediatric dog bites.

Methods This observational study used an online search to locate local dog-related policies within Ohio cities. Data collected by Ohio Partners For Kids from 2011 through 2020 regarding claims for paediatric dog bite injuries were used to compare areas with and without located policies and the incidence of injury.

Results Our cohort consisted of 6175 paediatric patients with dog bite injury encounters. A majority were white (79.1%), male (55.0%), 0–5 years old (39.2%) and did not require hospital admission (98.1%). Seventy-nine of 303 cities (26.1%) had city-specific policies related to dogs. Overall, the presence of dog-related policies was associated with lower incidence of dog bite injury claims (p=0.01). Specifically, metropolitan areas and the Central Ohio region had a significantly lower incidence when dog-related policies were present (324.85 per 100 000 children per year when present vs 398.56 when absent; p<0.05; 304.87 per 100 000 children per year when present vs 411.43 when absent; p<0.05).

Conclusions The presence of city-specific dog-related policies is associated with lower incidence of paediatric dog bite injury claims, suggesting that local policy impacts this important public health issue. There are limited dog-related policies addressing dog bite prevention, with inconsistencies in breadth and depth. Creating consistent, practical requirements among policies with vigorous enforcement could ameliorate public health concerns from paediatric dog bite injuries.

  • Child
  • Policy
  • Public Health
  • Trauma Systems

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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  • KNP and AB are joint first authors.

  • Twitter @kellinicole87

  • Contributors Study conception and design: KNP, TB, AB, KZH, PCM, KJD, RKT and EP. Data acquisition: KNP, TB, AB, KZH, ALP, LA, LW, PCM, KJD, RKT and EP. Drafting of the manuscript: KNP, TB, AB, KZH, ALP, LA, LW, PCM, KJD, RKT and EP. Critical revision: KNP, TB, AB, PCM, KJD, RKT and EP. The guarantor of this study was EP.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.