Coming Up: National Dog Bite Prevention Week


Next week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. If you own a dog, you need to pay attention because dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, costing more than $489 million. While the number of bites has declined, the cost of claims continues to rise – the average cost paid out for dog bite claims was $29,752. For more on the ins and outs of insurance issues related to dog ownership, see our prior post, Insurance and Your Dog.
Postal workers – a group of folks who are particularly at risk of dog bites – issued their annual list of top dog attack city rankings, along with their tips for preventing dog bites … and they certainly have experience in that area. If you haven’t yet seen it, visit former mail carrier Ryan Bradford’s posting, All the Dogs Want to Kill Me, where he logged snapshots of dogs lurking on his postal route a few years ago. It’s pretty amusing, unless you are the postal worker or the gas meter reader who has to face the pets down. Here’s a few clips that demonstrate just how territorial and aggressive even seemingly sweet dogs can be over mail deliveries.


In addition to mail carriers, kids are also very vulnerable when it comes to dog bites. Here are some good sites for teaching your kids how to be safe.
Teaching kids how to have safe encounters with dogs
Prevent the Bite – preventing dog bites to children through education
Learn to Speak Dog and Teach Your Kids
Dog Bite Prevention – from the CDC

Insurance and Your Dog


If you are thinking of getting a dog, or even if you already have one, it’s critical as either a homeowner or renter to check with your insurance agent to establish or review your liability coverage for dog bites and other canine-related injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that every year more than 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs, and last year, the average cost of a dog bite claim was $26,166, according to the Insurance Information Institute — and costs continue to rise due to growing medical costs and larger settlements.

Most states have strict statutes holding owners directly responsible for injuries or damage inflicted by their dogs, and some insurance policies exclude dog breeds that are seen as particularly aggressive (see the Top 7 Dangerous Dog Breeds), so in addition to evaluating your ability to care for and properly train a dog, it’s vital to make sure you are covered by your policy, and take steps to minimize any risk of dog bite or other injury.

Tips for dog owners seeking homeowner/renter’s coverage for their dog(s):

  • Enroll your dog in obedience classes and work on helping the dog earn a diploma or certification
  • Schedule refresher classes for dogs who have already been trained, but are not as attentive as they once were!
  • Neuter male dogs to reduce dominance and aggression
  • Always keep your dogs on a leash and under control during walks
  • If your dog is allowed outside on your property, be sure the area is adequately fenced and protected
  • Never leave young children alone with a dog, and always teach them how to behave safely around dogs
  • If strangers make your dog nervous, be sure to separate them from new visitors in your home
  • To keep canine frustration in check, always make sure your dog is properly exercised, and don’t allow them to be exposed to teasing or taunting

Finally, if you are thinking of getting a dog primarily for home protection, be aware that money spent on increased security measures will ultimately be easier, more reliable, less expensive — and kinder to the animal.