Next week (April 7-13) is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. With an estimated 90 million dogs living in U.S. households, accidents are bound to happen. Most dogs will never bite, but it is important to remember that any dog can bite regardless of breed or type.
In 2018, State Farm paid $123 million as a result of over 3,200 dog-related injury claims across the United States. Virginia ranked twentieth with 63 claims last year, resulting in $2.7 million paid for those claims. While the overall number of claims decreased, the average amount per claim rose 11 percent to $43,000.
According to the State Farm announcement, State Farm Insurance is one of the few insurance companies that does not have a breed restriction list and does not exclude homeowner or renter insurance coverage because of the breed of dog owned.
“We believe that educating dog owners about being responsible will reduce dog-related injuries because under the right circumstances, any dog might bite,” the announcement said.
State Farm suggests the following tips on being a responsible dog owner:
- Protect kids. Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet. Children are often bitten by dogs in their own households.
- Be social. Make sure your pet is socialized so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
- Grab the leash. Walk and exercise your dog on a leash to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
- Go to the vet. Regular veterinary visits are essential to regulating the health of your dog. A sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
- Be alert. If someone approaches you and your dog, caution them to wait before petting the dog. Give your pet time to be comfortable with the stranger.
- Understand and respond to your dog’s body language. Look at the eyes, ears, tail, and posture to know when your dog may be happy, fearful, or angry.
Other groups are joining forces with State Farm to educate on ways to reduce dog-related injuries are American Humane, American Veterinary Medical Association, dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, and Dr. Marty Becker.
Additional resources include YouTube video State Farm Dog Etiquette, State Farm Simple Insights: When Your Dog Bites. State Farm Simple Insights: Dogs and Kids: Getting the Facts and Myths About Bite Risk, visit www.thinglink.com/scene/907827808238043139