Aim: To describe the circumstances of dog bites to adults in New Zealand, in order to better understand factors associated with these bites.
Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 1,800 adults aged > or =16 years who had made claims to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) in 2002 as a result of dog bites.
Results: Five hundred and thirty-five questionnaires were returned; 50% of respondents were male, and 30% of bites were reported to local authorities. Most injuries were to the legs or hand. More people were bitten by male dogs than female dogs. A disproportionate number of bites took place in rural areas, but the most common locations for attacks were streets/walkways, and the victim's home. Protection of territory, accidental bites, fear, and pain were considered to be the most common reasons for dogs to bite.
Conclusion: Many victims were bitten in situations that could have been avoided.