Please remember - all dogs can bite

Matthew Lane • Apr 9, 2019 at 9:02 AM

KINGSPORT — Tennessee ranked 21st in the United States last year with dog bite claims, according to State Farm. The insurance giant says it paid more than $1.7 million toward 60 dog bite claims in 2018, with the average claim being more than $28,000.

This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and State Farm is partnering with the Veterinary Medical Association, the Insurance Information Institute and the American Humane Association to get the word out on the importance of responsible pet ownership.

Over the past decade, State Farm says it has paid more than $1.1 billion nationally for dog-related injury claims. Last year, the company said it paid more than $123 million. The top 10 states for dog-related injury claims are: California, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Indiana, New York, and Minnesota.

According to the Center for Disease Control, there were nearly 350,000 people (of all ages) treated at hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal dog-related injuries in 2017. The highest risk age group for dog bites was children ages five to nine years.

This age group made up 35 percent of all children seen in hospital emergency rooms for dog injuries. The elderly and home service people like letter carriers and package deliverers, meter readers, and food delivery services also are high on the list of frequent dog bite victims.

According to State Farm, there are an estimated 89.7 million dogs living in U.S. households and millions of people are bitten or attacked by dogs each year. More often than not, these incidents can be prevented, especially when using the following tips:

When encountering a dog, State Farm recommends that you W.A.I.T.

W – WAIT to see if the dog is with his or her owner and looks friendly.

A - ASK the owner for permission to pet their dog. If the owners says, no, then stop and walk away slowly.

I - INVITE the dog to sniff you. Use a quiet voice to talk to the dog.

T - TOUCH the dog gently to pet. Never pet near the face, head, or tail.

Finally, remember the following “Don’ts” when dealing with dogs you don’t know:

- DON’T disturb a dog while eating.

- DON’T pull a dog’s tail.

- DON’T try to outrun a dog. You’ll probably lose that race.