99,003 dog bites were reported to ACC between 2004 and 2014, with 5842 cases requiring hospitalisation – an average of two a day. Over a third of those hospitalised were children, usually with facial injuries.
The annual bite rate had risen steadily from 10.5 people per 100,000 people in 2004 to 14.3 per 100,000 in 2014.
Children under nine years old were at the highest risk, particularly Maori and those living in low socioeconomic areas.
Injury analysis showed that children were much more likely to be bitten on the face or neck. More than three quarters (79 per cent) of reported bites to 0 – 4-year-olds were to the head or neck, compared to just 8 per cent of bites to 20 – 59-year-olds.
Plastic surgeon Dr Zachary Moavenia, who authored the study along with medical student Jonny Mair, told Sunday the findings angered him.
“Our most innocent members of society, our children, are suffering horrible, unimaginable terror,” he said.
“It’s our job to protect our babies, our children, and I think we’re failing.”