It's sad, but sometimes dogs bite

It’s time for a sad reminder that man’s best friend, no matter how cuddly, isn’t always that friendly.

Last year, August was one of the leading months for dog bite claims in New York and was the highest month nationally. With an estimated 89.7 million dogs living in U.S. households, dog bites are bound to happen. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year.

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 3,280 dog bite and injury claims, according to a release. Over the past 10 years, they paid more than $1.1 billion for dog bite claims.

New York was ranked No. 9 in 2018 in number of State Farm dog bite claims, with 107 claims and an average pay out of $74,000 per claim, totaling $7.9 million. The number of claims in New York decreased 21.9% from 2017, but the amount paid for claims in the state increased by 24.6%.

The top three states for 2018 dog bite claims are California, Illinois and Ohio, respectively.

Children make up more than 50% of all dog bite victims and the highest risk group in children are ages 5 to 9 years old. The elderly and home service people, like mail carriers, are also high on the list of frequent dog bite victims.

When it comes to laws about dog attacks, New York is known as a “mixed” state — meaning there is a one-bite rule in which the owner is liable for injuries caused by the bite, but by a limited degree. According to dogbitelaw.com, to collect other damages, New York requires a victim to prove that the dog had the dangerous tendency to bite people, and that the dog owner knew it. The state also does not permit victims to recover compensation on the ground of negligence.

State Farm — which does not have a breed restriction list and does not exclude homeowner or renter insurance coverage because of the breed of dog owned — offered these tips to prevent dog bites:

  • 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 household.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized so he feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Walk and exercise your dog on a leash to keep him healthy and provide mental stimulation.
  • 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 change
  • s in your dogs’ body language. Look at the eyes, ears, tail, and posture to know when your dog may be happy, fearful, or angry.
  • Spay or neuter. This procedure can help reduce your dog’s aggressive behaviors.

State Farm suggested homeowners talk to insurance agents about coverage under a standard homeowner policy if their dog bites someone. Officials said pet owners should consider a personal liability umbrella policy (PLUP), and renters should consider getting renters insurance to cover that instance.

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