Death Statistics

For the average person in the U.S., how likely are you to die from:

Car accident?  1 in 6700

Murder?  1 in 18,000

On-the-job accident?  1 in 48,000

Bathtub drowning?  1 in 840,000

Lightning?  1 in 3 million

Hornet, wasp or bee sting?  1 in 6.1 million

Shark attack?  1 in 280 million

Where do dogs fit in?

Janis Bradley, dog bite researcher and the author of ‘Dogs Bite: But Balloons and Slippers Are More Dangerous,’ states, “Dogs can be dangerous. And they are more dangerous to children than adults. Not as dangerous, of course, as kitchen utensils, drapery cords, five-gallon buckets, horses or cows. Not nearly as dangerous as playground equipment, swimming pools, skateboards, or bikes. And not remotely as dangerous as family, friends, guns, or cars.

A child is more likely to die choking on a marble or balloon, and an adult is more likely to die in a bedroom slipper related accident. Your chances of being killed by a dog are roughly one in 18 million.  [emphasis added]

By contrast, if we estimate that 3 – 4 million pets are killed by shelters every year, that works out to one pet being killed every 9 seconds.  The 2366 pets unfortunate enough to cross the threshold at PETA’s so-called shelter in VA last year had a 97% chance of being killed.  I’d hate to face those odds.  I think I’d rather stand in a slippery bathtub with a murderer and wait for a shark to swim up the drain.

6 thoughts on “Death Statistics

  1. I have a question about the 3 to 4 million pets killed by shelters each year. What percentage of those killed are dogs, what percentage are cats, and what percentage are some other species of pets?

    Also, in your post you compare the chances of being killed by a dog to the chances of being killed by lightning, murder, hornets, etc. That’s all well and good, but wouldn’t it be more relevant to post stats about what your chances of being seriously injured by an attacking dog? Obviously most instances of dogs biting people don’t result in death, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not pretty
    tramatic events.

    I’m a dog lover and I’m not anti-pitbull, but if someone is going to use statistics to try and show that dogs are not dangerous I think that it is a bit
    disingenous to focus only on the number of deaths and ignore the non-fatal attacks.


    1. If you notice, I titled the post “death statistics”. The reason I did was because I came across the Harvard research on the topic. If Harvard has research on “traumatic events”, I’d be happy to post those too but I am not aware of such research. My intent was not to spin or skew anything regarding dog bites. It was simply to put “death by dog” into some perspective as the MSM generally does not. When is the last time you recall a media story about the death of someone slipping in the tub? And yet, death by dog(s) always makes the paper and/or TV news. It gives the public a false perspective on the potential lethal factor in dogs. On the estimated numbers of shelter pets killed, it’s important to remember these are really “best guesses”. We have no national shelter reporting mandate. That said, it’s estimated that more far more dogs are redeemed by owners from shelters than cats. I would guess that more shelter cats are killed than dogs. As far as “other pets”, I would guess that number to be statistically zero.

    2. I’ve been injured in bike crashes, falling off a ladder, tripping on the curb, by house current, hammering my #%&! thumb, closing my hand in a car door, sledding, plastered by a runaway horse, cat bite, kitchen knife, wrist slit on a broken storm window, clobbered by canoe paddle, glissade involuntary arrest, hot oil, broken stubbed toe (many, many times), hit by car, and playground equipment failure (broken foot). The last bee sting nearly killed me, and there have been four trips to the hospital for stings. Of course there is more that I’m forgetting. I’ve had some morbidity.

      I’ve also been bitten by dogs three times in 44 years; once seriously in a vicious attack, once moderately-badly by a dog that had been HBC and soon died, and once trivially by a snotty poodle puppy.

      Considering that I spend nearly 24/7 in the company of multiple dogs, and significant time working with strange dogs, and I specialize in aggression cases in both my business and my pro bono work — and relatively much less time bicycling, petting kitties, crossing the street, deep-frying, messing with wiring, etc. — it appears that everything else in the universe is far more dangerous than dogs.

      But to put a finer point on it, the reason to look at *fatalities* is because these events are fairly reliably tracked. You are dead or not. While there are a very few cases in which it is disputed whether a dog attack was the cause of death, in most cases it’s pretty clear-cut.

      “Bites” otoh, only became “epidemic” when contingency-fee barratry became widespread and its practitioners started buying the back page of the yellow pages and running TV ads. Just like people suddenly started to slip & fall in record numbers at the same time.

  2. Janis Bradley’s book is excellent if you haven’t read it. Not only does she have information about fatal dog attacks, she also has information about the severity of dog bite injuries seen in emergency rooms (or maybe it was just a specific emergency room? I can’t remember). Basically, while lots of people are bitten by dogs, most result in a bandaid and nothing more.

    I found it to be an interesting and sensible book.

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