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Are dog bites on the rise in Michigan?

Genesee County residents may be concerned about the recent spike in dog bite reports. According to a news article, dog bite reports are up 28 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. County officials say, however, that area residents do not need to become too worried. Apparently, the increase may be attributed to better reporting by urgent care offices, doctors and hospitals.

In 2011, Genesee County animal control said that 580 dog bites were reported. In 2012, 745 bites were reported.

Michigan state health code mandates that all dog, cat and ferret bites must be reported to the local public health agency within 24 hours.

One emergency medical technician who works in Flint told a news reporter that he does not believe he is seeing more dog bite patients, but that a clear pattern is emerging. Certain breeds--such as pit bulls and dobermans--are frequently behind dog bite injuries.

While hearing about these dog bite injuries may make people in the county fear running into dangerous dogs on the streets, the Genesee County humane society has said that the majority of dog bites take place within homes.

It is important that Michigan residents are cautious around dogs when they are visiting other people's homes, and also that people are responsible for their own dog's behavior. Under Michigan law, dog owners are required to provide a safe environment for anyone who encounters their pet, and dog owners are liable if their dog causes injury to another person. Dog bite injuries often require medical attention, and it is important that victims are not unfairly burdened by such expenses.

Source: MLive.com, "Ouch: Dog bite reports jump in Genesee County," Ron Fonger, Feb. 14, 2013

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