Common misperceptions about dogs:

* Most bites are from strays: The truth is that about 85 percent of all reported bites are from owned, rather than stray dogs, says animal expert Alan Beck. His research indicates that all the dog bites resulting in fatalities in the past several years have involved an owned dog and a victim who was either a member of the family or otherwise knew the animal.

* German shepherds and Doberman pinschers are the most notorious biters: A bad rap. "You may have a higher frequency of bites among those breeds because of their popularity," says The Humane Society's Michael Fox, but dogs of all breeds bite. Bites of these animals are also more likely to be reported, because being big dogs they are more likely to do serious damage. Overbreeding (due to their popularity) can also result in what Fox calls "a lack of quality control" that may produce more biters among these two breeds.

* Most bites happen during the "dog days" of July and August: False. While the incidence of reported bites does go up in the summer, July and August are no worse than May and June, Beck reports. Fifty percent of bites occur between noon and 7 p.m., with the peak coming between 3 and 7 p.m.

Beck explains that this is when children and animals are most active and most likely to interact with each other. During the school year, incidents increase on the weekends, but during the summer the level is about even for all seven days.