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Published on May 31, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Dog Bites Cost Millions Annually

dog bites

Did you know that last year alone, dog bites accounted for more than one-third of homeowners' liability claims, costing insurance carriers about $480 million?

Most of us with dogs could never imagine them biting anyone, let alone a family member, guest in our home, or neighbor. But it's important to remember that dogs are animals and can be unpredictable. Dog bites are of particular concern this time of year. As the weather gets warmer, more and more people bring their dogs outside and take them to cookouts, parties, and parks. As a dog owner, you should do everything you can to prevent dog bites from happening.

In addition to traumatizing victims, dog bite injuries can cost thousands of dollars to treat. According to a recent study by the Insurance Information Institute, nearly 50 percent of those hospitalized for dog bites required treatment for skin and tissue infections, including skin grafts and wound debridement. This cost an average of $18,200 per patient.

Homeowner's insurance carriers warn that because of the surge in dog bite claims, they may stop covering them in policies. Furthermore, if your dog has already bitten someone, depending on the severity of the attack, the claim amount, and your dog's breed, you might have to pay higher rates on your policy.

More than 4.5 million dog bites occur each year nationwide. In hopes of preventing others, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep an eye on your children when they are with a dog. Sixty percent of those bitten are children, mostly between the ages of 5 and 9.
  • A stiff, upright wagging tail may look friendly, but it could be a sign of aggression. A soft wag and soft eye contact are good signs.
  • Know your state's or local municipality's dog bite and leash laws. These laws vary, with some local governments enacting their own, stricter versions.
  • Avoid putting your dog in a position where it may feel threatened or teased.
  • Be cautious around strange dogs

Summer is a great time for being outside and spending time with friends and loved ones. But if you bring your dog, do your best to minimize the chances of a dog bite. By taking steps to prevent a dog bite from occurring, you can help your family and friends have a fun and safe summer.

"Dog bites usually costly for owners." The Tribune Review. May 16, 2012. "Insurance claims for dog bites rise." USA Today. May 22, 2012.
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