Environmental correlates of urban dog bites: A spatial analysis

Joshua Vertalka, Laura A. Reese, Melinda J. Wilkins, Jesenia M. Pizarro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


To be able to design effective urban public health programs to reduce the risk of dog bites and transmission of disease, the very complex factors that lead to bites need to be considered holistically. This research focuses specifically on the role of spatial and environmental factors as urban public health risks. In doing this, it addresses the following research questions: (1) What are the relative powers of traditional demographic versus environmental variables in explaining dog bites? (2) Do different areas of the city evidence different correlates of bites? The answer to the first is that despite a long tradition in the literature, demographic variables do a relatively poor job of explaining variation in the rates of emergency room visits due to dog bites. Rather, environmental and spatial variables, particularly crime, vacancy, and blight, are better predictors of dog bites than traditional demographic variables such as age and gender. However, even the best-fitting regression model leaves dog bites in many areas of a city unexplained; bite covariates differ by neighborhood. Thus, to effectively address the risk of dog bites in urban areas, different policies are required for different neighborhood conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-328
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Urban Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018
Externally publishedYes

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© 2018 Urban Affairs Association.


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