Insurer: Dog bite claims on the rise in Oregon

State ranks 13th in State Farm claims

SALEM, Ore. - With National Dog Bite Prevention Week just around the corner comes word from one major insurance company that reported dog bites are on the rise in Oregon.
State Farm received 91 dog bite claims last year, which is up significantly from the 77 it received in 2012, officials said Wednesday
That ranks Oregon No. 13 in states with the most dog bites, ahead of several states with larger populations, including its neighbor to the north. Washington ranked 25th, with 56 dog-bite claims in 2013 to State Farm.

Dogs are a member of the family, so many owners think that their dog won't bite. Unfortunately for the 4.5 million victims of dog bites and attacks each year, this isn't true. Any dog can bite, regardless of the breed.

State Farm and Victoria Stilwell, internationally renowned dog trainer, author and star of Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog, have joined forces to teach people how to be responsible pet owners and reduce the number of dog bites.

"I am delighted to team up with State Farm as we have a mutual goal to raise awareness about the dog bite epidemic, while stressing the importance of pet owner responsibility", says Stilwell. "Through my work as a dog trainer, educator and bite investigation advisor, I see all sides of the dog bite issue, but it is my role as a mother that drives me to continue educating and empowering all children with the right knowledge to keep them K-9 safe and smart."

National Dog Bite Prevention Week® is May 18 -24, 2014 and to reinforce the importance of pet owner responsibility, members of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week Coalition are hosting a press conference at the National Press Club on Thursday, May 15.

In addition to representatives from the coalition, Kathy and Kelly Voigt from Prevent The Bite will demonstrate the correct way for children to approach a dog with assistance from Victoria Stilwell, her daughter Alex, and 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog of the Year, owner Leah Brewer with Elle the pit bull.

Education about responsible pet ownership and how to interact properly with any dog is critically important when it comes to reducing dog bite incidents.

According to Stilwell, "The most effective way to prevent dog bites is not to ban certain breeds of dog, but to raise awareness of canine behavior through education, as well as encouraging responsible dog ownership."

State Farm does not ask the breed of dog owned when writing or renewing homeowner insurance and does not track the breed of dog involved in dog bite incidents.

In 2013, State Farm paid $104 million as a result of 3,700 dog bite claims. Over the past five years, the insurer has paid $510 million for claims resulting from accidents involving a dog. Sadly many of these accidents could have been prevented.

Top 15 States for State Farm Dog Bite Claims in 2013

  1. California              449 claims              $14.7 million paid
  2. Illinois                        309 claims              $8.9 million paid
  3. Ohio                    221 claims              $4.2 million paid
  4. Texas                   207 claims              $4.0 million paid
  5. Pennsylvania            180 claims              $5.8 million paid
  6. Michigan                162 claims              $3.9 million paid
  7. New York                149 claims              $6.4 million paid
  8. Indiana                 146 claims              $3.5 million paid
  9. Minnesota               120 claims              $4.0 million paid
  10. Georgia         106 claims              $2.1 million paid
  11. Arizona                 105 claims              $2.8 million paid
  12. Florida                  93 claims               $5.5 million paid
  13. Oregon                     91 claims               $1.4 million paid
  14. Missouri                 88 claims               $2.0 million paid
  15. New Jersey               86 claims               $4.3 million paid

Consider these alarming statistics provided by National Dog Bite Prevention Week® Coalition members.

  • 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 reports that according to the Center for Disease Control, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, 9th for ages 5-9 and 10th for ages 10-14 from 2003-2012.
  • Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid over $483 million in dog bite claims.
  • American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery reports that according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 26,935 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
  • U.S. Postal Service reports that 5,581 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • American Humane Association reports that 66% of bites among children occur to the head and neck.

State Farm urges caution around all dogs, including family pets. Prevent the Bite provides posters and safety information to teach children how to correctly approach a dog. The American Humane Association offers a free online booklet called Pet Meets Baby that includes a forward by Victoria and provides families with valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a dog.

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.
  • Ask permission before touching or playing with a dog.
  • Remember that any dog can be dangerous and any dog can bite.

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