Dog bite injuries cause over 100 000 paediatric emergency department visits annually. Our objective was to analyse associations between regional dog ownership laws and incidence of paediatric dog bites.
This observational study used an online search to locate local dog-related policies within Ohio cities. Data collected by Ohio Partners For Kids from 2011 through 2020 regarding claims for paediatric dog bite injuries were used to compare areas with and without located policies and the incidence of injury.
Our cohort consisted of 6175 paediatric patients with dog bite injury encounters. A majority were white (79.1%), male (55.0%), 0–5 years old (39.2%) and did not require hospital admission (98.1%). Seventy-nine of 303 cities (26.1%) had city-specific policies related to dogs. Overall, the presence of dog-related policies was associated with lower incidence of dog bite injury claims (p=0.01). Specifically, metropolitan areas and the Central Ohio region had a significantly lower incidence when dog-related policies were present (324.85 per 100 000 children per year when present vs 398.56 when absent; p<0.05; 304.87 per 100 000 children per year when present vs 411.43 when absent; p<0.05).
The presence of city-specific dog-related policies is associated with lower incidence of paediatric dog bite injury claims, suggesting that local policy impacts this important public health issue. There are limited dog-related policies addressing dog bite prevention, with inconsistencies in breadth and depth. Creating consistent, practical requirements among policies with vigorous enforcement could ameliorate public health concerns from paediatric dog bite injuries.