Dog Bites: Know the Facts
“70 million nice dogs…but any dog can bite,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association(AVMA). Dogs are usually man’s best friend and typically make great family pets. Scroll through Instagramand you will see pic after pic of smiling dogs with their happy owners. The truth is though, any dog can bite. As a homeowner you need to be prepared and know the facts. Anestimated 4.5 million people are bittenby dogs each year. Between 2010 and 2012, over 350,000 victims were children. Sixty percent of injuries to children 4 years and younger were to the head and neck, according to the AVMA.
Dog bite homeowner’s liability claims are on the rise, with an 18% increase from 2016 to 2017. The average cost per claim in 2016 was $33,000. This is a 70% increase from 2003. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.),the rise in the costs of claims is attributable to increased medical costs and size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs. The total claims paid out in the U.S. for dog bite liability claims in 2016 was $612,500,000. To see how your state stacks up for dog bite liability claims, check out this interactive map infographic from the I.I.I.
Are You Covered?
Dog bite liability coverage is not usually a common concern. However, a third of all homeowner’s insurance claims are for dog bites. You need to make sure you have enough coverage in case your pet decides to bite, as unlikely as that scenario may seem. Coverage can vary by state with some excluding coverage on certain breeds. South Carolina is a “strict liability” statewhich means the dog owner is responsible for their pet’s behavior even if they had no idea the dog was going to attack. “Homeowners insurance policies are frequently designed to cover at least the value of the home itself,” according to Nerdwallet. You can purchase an umbrella policy or pet liability insurance if you want further coverage. Call Abri Insurance to make sure you have the right coverage. Then, take the proper steps to prevent dog bites.
Protect Your Family and Your Wallet
Most dog bites are preventable. Being a responsible dog owner will not only ensure the health and happiness of your pet, but safeguard against your dog making an attack. If you own a dog, take these steps to make an attack less likely.
- Choose the dog that is right for you and your family. Certain breeds are better suited for homes with kids or other pets. The molosser breeds represent the most dangerous dog breeds, with pit bulls and Rottweilers being the most common. org, a non-profit that educates and supports victims of dog bites, reports “pit bull breeds were more than 2.5 times as likely as other breeds to bite in multiple anatomical locations.” Do your research prior to adopting a dog to make sure it suits your home and lifestyle.
- Keep them updated on their immunizations. Every year, about 40,000 people receive a rabies prevention treatment due to contact with a potentially rabid animal, according to the CDC. While the majority of rabies cases reported occurred with wildlife, most people get treated for rabies due to close contact with domestic animals like dogs and cats. Protecting your pet from diseases like rabies will keep them healthy and prevent them from becoming a safety risk.
- Socialize them with other pets and people. Starting at an early age, expose your dog to different situations involving other dogs, people, and unfamiliar environments. This will help your dog learn to adjust to changing situations and feel less threatened around strangers.
- Train your pet. Dog training is important to make sure your dog behaves in the home and in nature. It also solidifies the relationship that you are the master and they obey you. When your dog is confident in you as the leader, they don’t feel threatened in unfamiliar situations.
- Regular exercise. Being active is helpful not only for you and your family, but also your pets! Staying still for too long can build up too much energy and anxiety in your pet. Get them outside and running and the release of energy will do wonders for the health of your pet.
Protect Yourself from Other Dogs Too
Though not always predictable, most dogs exhibit certain warning signs prior to attacking. Sometimes a dog is sick, scared, annoyed, or hungry. The dog could feel threatened or startled. In any case, to prevent a dog bite it’s best to avoid these risky situations, according to the AVMA:
- If the dog is not with its owner
- If the dog is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog
- If the dog is on the other side of a fence – don’t reach through or over a fence to pet a dog
- If a dog is sleeping or eating
- If a dog is sick or injured
- If a dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of her puppies and anxious about your presence
- If a dog is playing with a toy
- If a dog is growling or barking
- If a dog appears to be hiding or seeking time alone
The AVMA has put together a series of short videos to help educate kids on dog-bite prevention. These Jimmy the Dog videosare helpful to train children how to behave around pets and hopefully prevent dog bites.
Take time this Dog Bite Prevention Week to educate yourself and your family on the best methods to stay safe with dogs and stay covered with your homeowner’s insurance. At Abri Insurance, we have over 20 commercial and personal insurance carriers. We will match you with the right policy to keep you protected. Call us to set up an appointment to make sure you’re covered with the right insurance. We shop and compare. You feel safe and save.