Dogs bite almost 4.5 million people every year, and many of the victims are children. Although most dog bites are not serious, several can cause serious injury, and a few are fatal.

Twenty percent of all incidents involving dogs biting people are severe enough to require hospitalization. That amounts to 885,000 trips to the hospital each year for Americans. Reconstructive surgery is required in 27,000 of these cases annually.

Risk factors for becoming the victim of a do bite vary. Having a dog in the home is one of the more obvious life factors that raises the risk. As the number of canines in a house goes up, so does the chance of being bitten. Dog owners with two or more canines were five times more likely to be bitten than the average person who does not live with a pet.

Males are far more likely than females to be bitten by a dog.

Children under the age of 12 are the targets of half of all dog attacks, and they are more likely than adults to require hospitalization for their injuries. Youngsters are most likely to be injured by canines when they are between the ages of five and nine.

Arms, legs and other extremities are the site of 71 percent of all dog attacks, according to the American Humane Society. This is different for kids, who experience attacks to the head and neck 65 percent of the time.

An astounding 92 percent of all fatal dog attacks were carried out by male dogs, and 94 percent of those animals were not neutered. In nearly one quarter of these cases, the animal was unrestrained and off its property at the time of the incident. Children under 10 are the victims of seven out of every ten fatalities caused by canines in America. Deadly dog attacks were carried out by animals from more than two dozen different breeds in recent years.

Each year in the United States, insurance companies pay out more than one billion dollars in claims in cases related to dogs biting humans.

Although certain breeds of dogs are more likely than others to bite, all dogs are capable of attacking people. Similarly, many animals representing breeds famous for violence can be gentle and loving.

We teach children to be wary when approaching strange dogs. That advice should be remembered by adults as well. Dogs can be wonderful animals, even if our relationship is not without its scuffles.