EL PASO — Dogs bite or attack millions of people every year, including in our area. In fact, a new report ranks the top ten states for dog bites in the United States and Texas ranked number three, according to State Farm, The U.S. Postal Service and The American Veterinary Medical Association.
In the nation, about 4.7 million people are bitten or attacked by dogs and even if you are never actually bitten, you can still be impacted.
"It goes from a simple dog bite to people losing their lives over this situation and it isn't always about a dog bite, it could be an attack and usually it's from a situation where the animal felt like it was being provoked," said State Farm Agent James Cuilty.
It's a public health problem that can cause both physical and emotional damage to victims and considerable cost to communities. In 2012, State Farm paid $4.3 million in dog bites claims just in Texas.
James Cuilty said dogs’ bites are often preventable.
"Dogs have bad days just like people do," said Cuilty. "The number one thing is awareness and a good example of awareness is doing ever let your children play with animals without adult supervision depending of course on their age. That in itself is huge."
Owners should also:
- 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 on where it feels threatened or teased.
- 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.
- 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.
Cuilty said if fewer claims are paid out for dog bites, it'll affect us all by lowering the cost of our insurance.