Dog bites appear to rising nationwide as a new insurance claim poll shows a surge in reports of these types of attacks.
As reported by Bloomberg News, claims through insurers for dog bites in the United States increased by 18 percent in 2016. There were fewer than 16,000 claims in total throughout 2015, but that figure jumped to 18,123 for 2016. Insurance industry groups peg the average attack cost as $33,230, which is lower than the $37,214 per-incident price tag of 2015 but more than 70 percent higher than 2003’s figures. The general nationwide increase in medical care costs and the bigger settlements associated with these attacks is behind the surge in claim cost, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
The biggest provider of coverage for property incidents in the US, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., said that its own dog bite costs have increased by 15 percent in 2016, amounting to over $121 million dollars for just last year alone. State Farm also said that children accounted for more than half of the injuries related to the claims they received. According to Loretta Worters, an Insurance Information Institute Vice President, children are simply more vulnerable and also need to learn proper animal interaction from their parents, which includes not running away from an animal and asking for permission before petting any animal. Pet owners, the institute says, need to socialize their puppies so they learn proper behavior while they’re still young and have dogs neutered or spayed to help curb aggressive behavior.
Children are not the only increasing target of dangerous dogs in the country as attacks on postal service workers are also on the rise. NPR says that the United States Postal Service (USPS) reported 6,755 dog attacks on its employees in 2016, which is up by 200 from 2015. Los Angeles was at the top of the attacks location list, with 80 last year, followed by other major cities such as Cleveland, Houston and Louisville, Kentucky. USPS currently recommends that pet owners place their dogs in a different room during delivery times if the carrier delivers their mail to their front door. The service also asks that people indicate whether they have dogs at their address on the USPS official website so that carriers unfamiliar with a neighborhood are aware of potential dangers.
Once thought of as just a nuisance, the public is now becoming increasingly aware of the dangers that dog bites pose and the potentially devastating consequences of an attack. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that close to one out of every five dog bites end up infected and that the illnesses a person can contract from a dog bite include tetanus, rabies, the bacterial infection pasteurella, and MRSA, which is a difficult-to-treat staph infection that can carry severe complications.
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