Dog bites are too common, with an estimated 4.7 million a year in the U.S. In Chicago alone, there were over 1,700 dog bite reports in 2011. With spring and summer just around the corner, it is a good time for outdoor enthusiasts and dog owners alike to take heed of preventing dog bite attacks.
Dog Bite Injuries
A dog’s instinct is to protect its territory and its master. Even a “friendly” dog can become aggressive if it feels threatened or thinks that someone is encroaching on property that they deem is theirs. Dog bites can range from a slight scratch to severe and even fatal injuries. According to the Center for Disease Control, 800,000 dog bites each year require medical treatment. Many severe dog bites result in:
- Puncture wounds
- Torn skin, tissue and muscle
- Severe scarring
Cost Of Dog Bite Injuries
Although most dog bites may only require first aid or a few stitches, those that are more serious will need medical attention. The cost for the treatment of a dog bite injury rose to $29,396 in 2011. Although this refers to the medical cost of treating the injury, there are other financial aspects for victims of a dog attack. Many victims lose time from work, need physical or emotional therapy and are left with scars that may need plastic surgery.
These high costs of a dog bite injury can often be covered under the dog owner’s homeowner insurance policy. In fact, dog bites attribute to about one-third of all homeowner insurance claims. Over $478 million in dog bite insurance claims were paid out in 2011 in the U.S.
Preventing Dog Bites
No one wants a dog bite to occur: not the dog owner and certainly not the victim. It is up to the dog owner to protect others from their canine and keep them confined. However, those who visit homes that have dogs or come in contact with dogs while outdoors this spring should take the following precautions:
- Do not approach a dog that you do not know
- Do not run from a menacing dog. Stay still and avoid eye contact.
- Do not let children ever play with another persons dog unsupervised
- If knocked over by a dog, roll over and curl into a ball and be still.
Dogs can be great pets and are beloved by their families. However, they are still predators at their core and can be deadly in the wrong circumstance. If dog owners follow the laws and everyone uses common sense, many dog bites can be avoided and everyone can enjoy the upcoming season.