That’s right, with an estimated population of about 70,000,000 dogs in this country, it turns out that homeowners insurance carriers are paying millions in dog bite losses every year. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute (III) has the cost per bite at around $37,000! A total of over $571 million was paid out for 15,352 claims.
The United States Postal Service says that in 2015, 6,549 mail men and women were victimized by dogs. In fact, behind small children and the elderly, letter carriers are the third most frequent victims of dog attacks.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, 9th for ages 5-9, and 10th for ages 10-14. Surprisingly, the AVMA says that most kids get bitten during everyday activities by dogs they’re familiar with.
The AVMA is very active in helping people prevent dogs from biting. Their motto is: Any Dog Can Bite. That’s especially true if a dog is in pain, if it’s frightened, or even just protecting food or a favorite toy. Owners need to be aware of their dog’s body language and never assume their dog won’t bite.
When You Approach a Dog…WAIT.
Here’s a tip from the AVMA called, “WAIT.” Use it when you approach a dog on a leash. (If a dog isn’t on a leash, the advice is to not approach it or pet it at all.)
W: wait before you pet a dog on a leash to see if the dog is friendly.
A: ask the owner for permission to pet the dog.
I: invite the dog by rolling your hand up in a fist, put it to your side, and let the dog come to you to sniff your hand first.
T: touch the dog on the back and pet it the way the fur goes.
What You Can Do as a Responsible Dog Owner
The Insurance Information Institute recommends the following tips based on actual claims experience. You can see with each one how severe bites can happen.
- Before you get a dog, learn about different breeds and their behavior. Find one suitable for your unique household.
- Spend time with a dog before you buy or adopt it. Be very careful if you have an infant or toddler at home. A dog with an aggressive history is plainly inappropriate for a home with young children.
- Secure the dog if a stranger comes to the door.
- If your child seems fearful or apprehensive around dogs, don’t get one. And never leave small children alone with your dog.
- Socialize your dog. Train it how to act with people and other pets.
- Try not to let your kids disturb your dog if it’s eating or sleeping.
- Be careful about placing your dog in situations that it is not used to or that you’re not sure of its response.
- See a vet or professional dog trainer if your dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.
May 15-21, 2016 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week®. We suggest you take a minute in the next few days to assess your family and your beloved pet. Consider the rules above to increase the odds that your loving, loyal “best friend” remains safe along with those around him/her.
Until next time,
Your SZW Team
Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.