Two of the three states making up Greater Cincinnati's Tri-State landed on State Farm's top 10 list for dog-related injury claims.
Claims in Ohio spiked 42 percent from 2015 to 2016, bumping it from fifth to third place with 211 dog bite claims totaling over $7.5 million. Indiana rated eighth with 137 claims totaling $3 million.
The average dog bite claim costs almost $36,000, according to State Farm. Throughout the past decade, the company said it has paid out over $1 billion in dog-related injury claims nationwide. In 2016, State Farm paid over $121 million as a result of 3,660 dog bite claims across the country, an increase of 15 percent.
RELATED COLUMN: Let's stop calling them 'pit bull' attacks
State Farm is a member of the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition, which includes the United States Postal Service (USPS). The USPS also saw an increase in dog bite incidents from the year before (6,755, which was 200 more than in 2015). The USPS ranked the top 30 cities for dog bites on letter carriers, with four of those being in Ohio – Cleveland (third, 60 bites in 2016); Columbus (15th, 39 bites in 2016); Cincinnati (25th, 24 bites in 2016); Akron (28th, 21 dog bites in 2016 – up 133 percent from 2015).
Warmer spring weather means people and their four-legged companions are spending more time outside, but a sunny afternoon can be spoiled by an often preventable incident like a dog bite. Children make up 50 percent of dog-bite victims. Small children often run up excitedly to a dog to pet it, but unfortunately not all dogs understand this as a gesture of innocent love.
Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell works with State Farm on educating people about responsible dog ownership and understanding dog body language. She recommends the following tips to keep people safe from dog bites:
- Learn canine body language. Too often people misunderstand or miss signals that a dog is uncomfortable. For example, a dog that yawns might not necessarily be tired. Yawning can also be a sign of stress.
- Give dogs space. Dogs can feel threatened when strange people touch them, so take pressure off by giving them the choice to come into your space first to say hello.
- Be humane. Dogs that are raised and trained humanely are more confident and less likely to bite than dogs that are trained using punitive methods or equipment designed to intimidate and cause pain.