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What you should know

about Dog Bites &

Preventing Them

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Dog Bites: The $1 Billion Problem

While dogs are often referred to as man's best friend, with one
bite they can become a physical and financial enemy.
In 1998, there were more than 4.7 million dog-bite injuries, and
more than half the victims were children.

Dog attacks account for one-third of all liability claims on
homeowners' insurance policies. And, according to the Western
Insurance Information Service, the insurance industry paid out
more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims in 1998 alone.

WIIS helps dog owners understand that choosing and training a pet
properly is vital in preventing costly insurance claims.

Dog-Bite Liability:

Homeowners are financially liable for dog bites. Most homeowners
and renters policies provide $100,000 to $300,000 in coverage for
liability claims. However, anything over the policy limit is the
homeowner's responsibility.

Once a dog has bitten someone, it poses an increased bite risk. A
survey among insurance companies showed that 70 percent of
insurers would not renew a homeowner's policy after one dog bite.

To increase home security, consider buying an alarm system rather
than a dog. An alarm may qualify for an insurance discount.

Preventing bites:

Carefully consider dog breeds before selecting a pet. Consult a
veterinarian for advice.

Introduce new dogs slowly to new social situations. Never put a
dog in a position where it feels threatened.

Have the dog spayed or neutered. Unneutered dogs are three times
more likely to bite than neutered dogs.

Do not run past a dog or disturb it while it is eating, sleeping
or caring for puppies.

Play nonaggressive games such as fetch with dogs. Playing
aggressive games can encourage inappropriate behavior.

Never approach a dog you don't know, and avoid teasing or eye
contact with a dog that appears threatening.

All parents - even those without family pets - should teach their
children to be careful around animals.

WIIS is a nonprofit, nonlobbying consumer education organization
serving 10 western states and is supported by the
property/casualty industry.

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