By S.E. Slack
Think your dog would never bite? Think again. Just like people, dogs have their good days and bad days. And on a bad day, any dog can bite.
In Ohio, State Farm Insurance paid out $5 million to dog bite victims last year. And the company named the state number four on its Top 10 States for Dog Bite Claims in 2012 list.
According to Prevent the Bite, a dog bite prevention organization, dog bites were the ninth leading cause of nonfatal unintentional injury for children aged 5 through 9. For children aged 10 through 14, it was the 10th leading cause. It doesn’t matter if you live in one of the nation’s most dangerous neighborhoods or not.
“Never did I think my Golden Retriever would bite my child,” said Elizabeth Shaw. “But she did. She thought she was protecting her puppies and my child was just trying to play.”
Prevent the Bite stated that following four key steps can help in dog bite prevention. Children and adults alike should always wait to see if a dog is with its owner and make sure the dog looks friendly. Then they should ask permission to pet the dog. If permission is received, they should invite the dog to sniff them using a quiet voice and standing with hands curled at their sides.
Only then should the dog be touched gently and petted. The best method of petting is to pet the back and avoid the face, head or tail.
Sixty-two percent of U.S. households own a pet, according to a 2011 survey from by the American Pet Products Association. Many states have passed laws with stiff penalties for owners of dogs that cause serious injuries or deaths. In some states, owners are considered completely at fault for their dog’s behavior but in others they are at fault only if they knew or should have known their dog had a tendency to bite.
Most insurers provide liability coverage for homeowners that cover dog bite claims. Some companies, however, exclude certain breeds or dogs that have been known to bite. Check with your insurer to determine your specific coverage.