Dog bite-related fatalities: a 15-year review of Kentucky medical examiner cases

Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2009 Sep;30(3):223-30. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181a5e558.


A human dog bite-related fatality generally refers to death proximately caused by trauma from a dog's teeth and jaws. According to The Humane Society of the United States, more than 300 individuals died of dog attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1996. Children <12 and elders >70 years represent the typical victims. Pit bull-type dogs, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds constitute the majority of canines implicated in these fatalities.This is a 15-year (1991-2005) retrospective review of dog bite-related fatalities undergoing medicolegal investigation in Kentucky. Of the 11 deaths, 10 consisted of multiple bite marks and blunt force injuries of the head and neck, trunk, and extremities. In 1 case, an asplenic victim's immediate cause of death was bacterial sepsis secondary to a dog bite. Individuals ranged between 14 months and 87 years; 7 (63.6%) were < or =6 years; 10 (90.9%) individuals were white, and 8 (72.7%) were male. Forensic odontological examinations were performed on the dogs in 4 cases. The requisite multidisciplinary investigation includes a detailed assessment of the scene, the victim, and dog or dogs suspected in the attack.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Bites and Stings / mortality*
  • Bites and Stings / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coroners and Medical Examiners
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kentucky / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / mortality
  • Multiple Trauma / pathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis / pathology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Tooth / anatomy & histology
  • Young Adult