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.
- Public Health
- Trauma Systems
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.
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.
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