Cunningham’s Article on Dog Biting Statistics Relied on By West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

Associate Academic Dean Larry Cunningham’s research on dog bite statistics was cited favorably by

Larry Cunningham

Larry Cunningham

the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, the court of last resort in that state, in State v. Blatt, 774 S.E.2d 570 (2015).  Blatt overturned a lower court’s decision ordering the destruction of “Tinkerbell,” a pit bull terrier that bit a child.  The question in the case was whether pit bulls are “inherently vicious.”  In his 2005 article, Cunningham cited research from the CDC and other experts to conclude that there was no scientific basis for the belief that some breeds of dog, such as pit bulls, are inherently dangerous or are disproportionately responsible for fatal or non-fatal dog bites.  The court summarized Cunningham’s article, writing that it “describ[ed] in great detail how dog-bite statistics may not accurately present the nature of the dog bite problem because of how data is collected, what data is collected, and how data is analyzed.”  Cunningham’s article is entitled The Case Against Dog Breed Discrimination by Homeowners’ Insurance Companies and is published in volume 11 of the Connecticut Insurance Law Journal.

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