According to a recently released list of dog bite claims filed with a large insurance company this past year, Florida reported 146 dog bite injuries in 2010. Those injuries cost about $5.6 million. In reality, the number of dog bite injuries in Florida is much higher, since this release only covered the injuries reported to one insurer; other insurance companies also cover claims and some dog bites likely go unreported.
Nationwide an estimated five million people each year are injured by dog bite or dog attack, and estimates by the Insurance Information Institute places the annual cost of dog bites at $412 million. Injuries resulting from a dog attack can range from minor bites to serious disfigurement or permanent disability.
Release of these statistics comes just as National Dog Bite Prevention Week kicks off from May 15 to May 21. The week-long event, hosted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), is meant to educate the public on how to prevent dog bites.
According to insurers and the AVMA, those most frequently injured in dog attacks are children — with dog bite injury rates the highest for children between ages 5 and 9. Sadly, for 80 percent of these injuries, it is the family dog or the neighbor’s dog that attacked the child.
As part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, doctors and insurers encourage families to not only start educating their children at a young age about safety around dogs, but also recommend the following safety tips:
- Always supervise small children around dogs
- Teach children to never approach strange dogs – and to be careful around all pets
- Ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting any dog
Source: State Farm Press Release, “It’s Not the Breed, It’s the Bite,” 5/10/11.