Hospitals treating more dog-bite victims in Stanislaus County and state

Dogs attack Ceres woman and her dog

Jan Stiles, a 67-year-old Ceres woman, discusses the painful effect of the dog attack she and her dog Charlie endured earlier this week. (Andy Alfaro and Erin Tracy)
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Jan Stiles, a 67-year-old Ceres woman, discusses the painful effect of the dog attack she and her dog Charlie endured earlier this week. (Andy Alfaro and Erin Tracy)

The number of people who seek treatment for dog-bite injuries has increased substantially in Stanislaus County, following a statewide trend.

Hospital emergency departments in the county are dealing with 100 additional patients with dog bites each year compared with six years ago, according to state data.

Dog bites resulted in 738 visits to local emergency departments in 2015, or two per day. There were 774 visits in 2014, which was 20 percent higher than in 2010, when dog bites sent 641 people to hospital ERs. The data comes from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

Statewide, annual emergency room visits for dog bites are up 10 percent, climbing from 35,020 in 2010 to 38,657 last year.

Annette Patton, animal services director for Stanislaus County, had no explanation for the upturn. She said she had contacted fellow animal services directors in the state, who had no observations about the data.

Some vicious-dog incidents have created headlines in the past two years.

In July, a 67-year-old Ceres woman who was walking her Yorkshire terrier was attacked by a 50-pound pit bull. She suffered bite wounds and bruises on her arms, legs and ribs.

Three days later, a 2-year-old boy was playing in his driveway in west Modesto when he was bitten on the face by a pit bull. The boy was treated at a local hospital and released.

In October 2014, a 54-year-old man was mauled to death by a pack of dogs that had entered the backyard of his south Modesto home through a hole under the fence. His 77-year-old mother, who tried to fend off the dogs with a broom, suffered multiple injuries. She survived the attack.

Jan Stiles, the Ceres woman who was attacked in July, said the public should be aware of the statistics. She said she learned that two other residents were attacked the same day.

“They went for my little Yorkie first,” Stiles said, noting that two dogs attacked her. “They had a hold of him, ripping him apart. They knocked me down and had me on the ground.”

Stiles was taken by ambulance to Kaiser Modesto Medical Center. The veterinarian bills for her Yorkie came to $1,000, she said. “People came out of the woodwork telling their stories (about dog attacks),” Stiles said. “Everyone seems to have a story lately.”

Carin Sarkis, spokeswoman for Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, said emergency room physicians at the hospital have not seen an unusual number of dog-bite injuries.

California leads the nation in homeowner insurance claims for dog bites. The 1,684 claims in 2015 were fewer than the 1,867 claims in 2014, according to a study by the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.

More than one-third of homeowner insurance claims nationwide in 2015 were for dog bites or canines causing injuries by running into children or seniors, or knocking over bicyclists. The total cost of the claims was $571.3 million, the study said.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321