According to a recent Chicago Tribune article, State Farm Insurance released data showing that Illinois now ranks number two among the top ten states for total number of dog bite claims and dog bite insurance payouts. While California is at the top of that list with 369 dog bite claims and $11.3 million in payouts for 2010, Illinois ranks just below with 317 claims and payouts totaling $9.7 million. State Farm released this data in anticipation of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which is sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and runs from May 15th to the 21st.
There are many things that dog owners can do to help minimize the risk of dog bite-related injuries. One of the most important things that a dog owner can do to minimize this risk is to properly train and socialize your dog. Teaching your dog commands such as stay, sit, no, and come, and avoiding aggressive games like tug-of-war will help to foster obedience and will provide structure for your dog in terms of what kind of behavior is deemed acceptable. Socialization is also key: by exposing your dog to other people and animals in a controlled environment, you can help to decrease the likelihood that your pet will act out when the circumstances are beyond your control. If you ever feel that your dog is developing an aggressive attitude or is exhibiting undesirable behavior, it is important to seek professional advice as soon as possible (speak to your veterinarian or dog trainer).
As children make up a large portion of dog bite victims in this country, it is also important to educate them on how to safely interact with dogs. Make sure your children know not to approach unfamiliar dogs and not to play with dogs unless an adult is there to supervise. Furthermore, you should discourage your children from running at or away from a dog, screaming at a dog, or disturbing a dog while it is sleeping or eating, as these are things that might cause a dog to become aggressive to your child.
While there are many more things that you can do to prevent a dog bite accident from occurring, the data provided by State Farm should serve as a stark reminder that dog bite accidents do happen. If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog in Illinois, contact a Chicago dog bite lawyer for a free, no obligation consultation. You can contact us online by filling out our “Free Case Evaluation” form, or call us at 1-312-464-1234.