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Dog Bite Expert Richard Polsky Compares Breed Dangers


Los Angeles, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/16/2013 -- The focus on pit bull attacks and breed-specific legislation may be having an unintended side effect: cases of dog bite in California and other locations may occur due to an erroneous mindset that only certain breeds pose a threat to people.

"People tend to simplify and assume that if a dog is not a member of a 'dangerous' breed it is perfectly safe around children and adults," says Dr. Richard Polsky, a dog bite expert who frequently testifies in cases of dog attack in California and throughout the country. "They forget that many different breeds of dog are theoretically capable of inflicting fatal injuries." Dr. Polsky notes one case in which a 2lb Pomeranian mauled an infant to death in its crib in Los Angeles.

While most fatal California dog bite cases probably involve pit bull-type dogs, there often is uncertainty about the particular breed of dog involved in fatal dog attacks. In some cases, a dog bite expert witness such as Dr. Polsky is required for dog breed identification, and propensity and foreseeability for an individual dog to bite based on breed tendencies, past behavior and environment factors.

A recent Oklahoma case involving a bull mastiff illustrates this point. In June, 2013, a five-year-old was killed by a 150-pound dog at a family friend’s home. The child allegedly had a temper tantrum just prior to the attack, and dog expert Richard Polsky speculates that this may have triggered the dog’s unease and prompted the attack.

It is possible that the bull mastiff was motivated to attack because it misread signals from the child and thought that its owner was in danger. However, it is impossible to know exactly what motivated the dog, which was found dead in the owner’s back yard the day after the attack.

“A dog attack is not often 100% the child’s fault,” Dr. Polsky notes. “But human behavior can certainly markedly affect dog aggressive behavior. In most circumstances with young children, one must be careful when leaving children alone with most dogs.

Dr. Polsky urges parents and caregivers to watch dogs closely when they are around young children and to avoid agitating them by allowing children to make loud noises or other provocative gestures that could be stressful for the dog, whether the dog is considered a “dangerous” breed or not.

Source: New York Daily News, “Moore, Okla., boy who survived tornado killed by Bullmastiff at family friend’s Arkansas home,” Sasha Goldstein, June 11, 2013.

About Dr. Richard H. Polsky
Richard H. Polsky, PhD, is an expert in dog behavior who has testified in hundreds of cases involving dog bite and attacks with dogs of all breeds. As a dog behavior expert, Dr. Polsky has been called to testify for both plaintiffs and defendants in dog bite cases and to examine dogs for behavioral cues that may lead to answers about dog attacks.

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