DETROIT (WWJ) – Michigan finds itself on another top 10 list — this time as one of the highest ranking states in the nation for dog bite claims.
State Farm said it paid on 151 dog bite claims in the state last year, totaling an estimated $4.6 million. That’s down from 181 claims ($7 million) in 2011.
Nationwide, the insurance agency had 3,670 dog bite claims and paid more than $108 million. California leads the nation in dog bite claims, with nearly three times the amount as Michigan.
State Farm’s top 10 states for dog bite claims in 2012:
- California — 451 claims, $17.1 million
- Illinois — 337 claims, $9.0 million
- Texas — 236 claims, $4.3 million
- Ohio — 235 claims, $5.0 million
- Pennsylvania — 165 claims, $4.5 million
- Michigan — 151 claims, $4.6 million
- Indiana — 148 claims, $2.7 million
- Florida — 123 claims, $7.1 million
- Georgia — 121 claims, $3.3 million
- New York — 116 claims, $6.4 million
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates the U.S. dog population was approximately 70 million at the end of 2011, down from approximately 72 million in 2006, yet the number of dog bite incidents hasn’t decreased.
Prevent the Bite, a nonprofit organization devoted to dog bite prevention through education, reports that from 2001 to 2011, dog bites were the ninth leading cause of nonfatal unintentional injury to children 5-9 (512,638) and tenth for children 10-14 (412,895).
The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2012, insurers across the country paid nearly $490 million in dog bite claims.
A dog’s tendency to bite depends on such factors as heredity, obedience training, socialization, health, and the victim’s behavior. Under the right circumstances, any dog might bite.
State Farm urges caution around all dogs, including family pets. Remember, a responsible dog owner should:
- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet. Children are often bitten by a dog in their own household.
- Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
- Never put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
- Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
- Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog.
- Regular veterinary visits are essential to regulating the health of your dog. A sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
- Be alert. If someone approaches you and your dog while out on a walk, caution them to wait before petting the dog, giving your pet time to be comfortable with the stranger.