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Dog Bite Prevention Week

05/20/2010

May 17th-23rd is Dog Bite Prevention Week.

When I was about seven, I was bitten by a friend’s German Shepherd. I remember being pretty stunned when it happened. This was a dog I knew and had played with often. She was very familiar with me and used to being in a household of young kids, however this didn’t prevent her from biting my hand when I went to pet her. Fortunately it wasn’t a bad bite, just a little swelling and some bruises, and my friend’s parents acted responsibly when it happened. We found out later that an ear infection had caused her to strike when she thought I was going to touch her ear. I was lucky. My experience could have been a lot worse.

Dogs and certain dog breeds have long been discussed in conjunction with Liability Insurance. The Insurance Information Institute sites a pretty startling statistic that “Dog bites account for one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims, costing $387.20 million in 2008”. The average cost of a dog bite is roughly $24,000.  To mitigate risk, insurance carriers often turn to banned breed lists, and politicians turn to breed banning legislation. While those issues can be very contentious, few disagree that owners play a huge part in dog bite prevention. 

Here is a list of several official resources, that you may wish to pass on to clients, that offer some tips and guidance about general canine safety and dog bite prevention:  American Veterinary Medical Association,   Humane Society of the United States,   American Academy of PediatricsCenters for Disease Control. Additionally, this post at Digital Dads offered some common sense parenting tips for helping to teach young kids how be safe with dogs.

Briggs & Tucker

Despite my incident as a youngster, I am a dog lover and my husband and I own two mixed breed rescue dogs. We live next to an elementary school in a densely populated neighborhood full of other dogs and small kids, and are keenly aware of how our dogs need to behave when they are both on and off our property. My dogs are friendly and happy to let the neighborhood kids give them some love, but we do take some precautions to make sure that everyone is safe when we meet new people on our daily walks. Here are my top two common sense rules that help keep my dogs and the neighbors safe.

1. Get permission. Whenever possible, I ask parents’ permission before kids approach my dogs. Sometimes they say no. It’s their right.

2. No food. I never allow a child to approach my dogs if they are holding food. That Popsicle, cookie or lollipop is a temptation I know my boys won’t resist. And I never allow kids that I do not know to give my dogs a treat.

Do you have any Common Sense Tips of your own?

*****
Reminder: The RLI Personal Umbrella offered by the Number One Agency, Inc. is an option for households with dogs. The RLI Umbrella does not exclude any specific dog breeds and offers a drop down retention for dogs who are excluded on the underlying homeowners policy. Contact Colleen Lahna at our office for more information – 800-742-6363.

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