How to take the bite out of dog-related injuries

Maine’s ranking worsens in number of incidents

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 2020, State Farm paid $157 million as a result of 3,186 dog bite and injury claims. Over the past decade, State Farm paid more than $1.1 billion for dog-related injury claims.

Maine was ranked #39 in 2020 in number of State Farm dog bite claims, with an average pay out of $24,000 per claim. This is a decline from the state’s #45 ranking for 2019. The top three states for 2020 dog bite claims are California, Illinois and Ohio, respectively.

The highest month for number of claims and amount paid for those claims was at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. In March 2020, State Farm paid over $19 million for 320 injury claims. Dogs were picking up on their owners’ stress and increased activity in the home, such as children being home from school and adults working from home, resulting in negative behavior because of anxiety.

“Children make up more than 50% of all dog bite victims and the highest risk group in children are ages 5-9 years old,” says Augusta State Farm Agent Dennis Keller. “The elderly and home service people, like mail carriers, are also high on the list of frequent dog bite victims. Being bitten or attacked by a dog can leave physical and emotional scars. For the dog, it can be a death sentence.”

State Farm claim numbers include dog bites, as well as dog-related injuries. This can involve injuries resulting from a dog jumping on a person, and knocking a person down or off a bicycle. A person can also be injured because they were afraid of the possibility of a dog attacking, such as falling down stairs while backing away from a dog.

State Farm is one of the few insurance companies in the country that does not refuse insurance based on the breed of dog someone owns. “We recognize that, under the right circumstances, any dog might bite,” says Dennis. “That is why we encourage people to be responsible pet owners and educate the public, especially children, on how to safely approach a dog.”

Dennis offers these tips to help 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.


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