North Sacramento Has a Dog Bite Problem

According to the Sacramento Bee, more dog bites happen in North Sacramento than anywhere else in the city, citing 2,800 bite reports, many of which required hospital treatment, between 2012 and 2017. Of the twenty-three zip codes in the area, 95815 and 95838 reported the most dog bites, 647 total. One-fourth of all dog bite reports in the city. These two zip codes cover the area from American River to the city boundary in the north and from the east boundary to Steelhead Creek. City groups such as the Del Paso Heights Community Association confronted city officials about the dog bite problem in North Sacramento only to be told there was nothing they could do about it and there was not adequate funding for animal control in the city.

Gina Knepp, the manager of Front Street Shelter and person responsible for the city’s animal control, is quoted as saying proactive measures are limited because there are only six animal control employees and never more than two on duty at the same time. A backlog of more than 270 dog bite complaints existed earlier this year.

A report from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 2013 showed that when crime and social disease are a part of the community, there are also problems with animal control. In the report, impounded animals at SPCA shelters and those by the city and county of Sacramento were investigated and the highest concentrations were found in Del Paso Heights and Oak Park. The information from the report was combined with a map of the city’s worst areas for building code violations. The most dog bite problems happen in the areas with poor housing maintenance and code violations. There tends to be less fenced in areas and more dogs roaming free on the streets.

High crime areas also have a large dog bite problem. Dogs in these areas are often kept for security reasons. They are more aggressive dogs and usually kept tied in the yard with less socialization. The Sacramento dog bite reports identified more Pit Bulls than any other breed of dog. Over 1/3 of the reports were about Pit Bulls.

Poverty stricken areas are also notorious for dog issues. People cannot always afford to take proper care of a dog. They often go without veterinarian visits, immunizations, and adequate shelter. For instance, homeless people often own dogs for safety reasons and companionship. All of these lead to stray dogs on the street and more bites.

Dog bites are especially impactful on the community financially and medically. With 4.5 million people bitten each year in the United States, and over 20% needing medical attention, insurance rates can be staggering. In 2014, the Insurance Information Institute showed dog bites were 1/3 of all homeowner liability insurance payments in the United States. In California alone, for the same year, 1,900 claims were made with an average $34,000 payout.

Dog bites are also stressful for the dog owner. All dogs involved in a bite case are quarantined by the city until it can be proved to have been vaccinated. The city will also euthanize dogs if the owner cannot provide proper shelter, immunizations or if the dog has a history of biting. North Sacramento has a dog bite problem and as of yet, there are no proposed solutions.

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