The recent dog food contamination scare and recall has caused a lot of concern about feeding pets. Many recipes for homemade dog food have surfaced which, when followed correctly, resemble food humans would even eat. This could mean table scraps for humans—is there any question that we are going to the dogs?
Dog ownership is a serious responsibility and no one questions the importance of a dog in a family. But as all insurance companies are well aware, some dogs are not everyone’s best friend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dogs bite more than 4.7 million people each year in the United States. More than 800,000 of the victims require medical treatment and half of those victims are under age 18. More than 50 percent of the bites occur on the dog owner’s property which is a major source of concern for insurers.
The Insurance Information Institute reported that in 2005 dog bites cost insurers $317.2 million and the cost of the average dog bite claim rose sharply to $21,200. Many companies have special guidelines concerning specific breeds. I cannot write a homeowner policy for homes with certain breeds of dogs which is based on claim experience and statistical information from several sources. Other companies may be more lenient, but the breeds that are sure to be on everyone’s list are: American Pit Bull Terriers, also known as American Staffordshire or Staffordshire Terriers, and Rottweilers.
A dog bite claim could cause your homeowner policy to be canceled and it might be very difficult to find a policy that you can afford or even purchase.
There are some things you can do to reduce the threat of dog bites:
- Select a new dog carefully. Look at its parents—know how big the full-grown dog will be.
- Stay away from a dog’s food dish. Especially when it is eating.
- Let a dog sniff you, but keep your hands at your side. The thing to remember is that any dog can be startled and attack at any time.
I recently read about a “doggie yoga” class where the humans do traditional yoga while staying in contact physically with their pets. Yoga is a well-known stress reliever, so while you are doing “Downward Facing Dog,” your dog does “Upward Facing Belly” and wonders what you’re cooking him for dinner. tpw