Big Apple Dog Bites Surge to 5-Year High

By Susannah Griffee
|  Friday, Feb 18, 2011  |  Updated 2:19 PM EDT
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Dog bites in the Big Apple surged to their highest in five years in 2010, according to the city health department.

The city received reports of 3,609 bites, up from 3,586 the previous year, the highest since 3,966 in 2005.

Pit bulls were responsible for the most chomps on humans, with 815 bites.

The Rottweiler had the second-highest, but the third and fourth place biters come in surprisingly small packages -- the Shih Tzu and the Chihuahua.

The record year in bites was first reported in the New York Post.

Small dogs may be such frequent biters because they are often brought along on shopping trips and errands, situations that might feel unusual for some dogs.

But New York animal behaviorist and dog trainer Tammy Karecki believes that dogs can, and should, be taken almost everywhere.

“I think it’s wonderful to take your dog with you wherever you go,” Karecki said. “I have a toy schnauzer and I expose him to everything, I take him with me to different places, I even took him to a secret dog bar once.”

According to Karecki, “dogs only need basic manners and to be at ease.”

Owners should desensitize their dogs to their surroundings by exposing their dogs to different situations and people.

“If the dog becomes afraid of something, give it a special toy or a special treat. Make the dog want to be around people,” Karecki said.

For Karecki, the problem is with dog owners who don’t understand how to train their pets. “ I think there should be a certification program to become a dog owner in New York,” she said. 

Paul Columbia, founder of NYC Dogwalkers, also advises dog owners to “take the path of least resistance” when walking their dogs by crossing the street to avoid other dogs, shortening the leash, and remaining aware of potential problems.

“Even a small dog, if it shows aggression, can create fear in other dogs," he said.

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