Our furry canine friends may seem to be “good with children” or “family pets,” but it is important to remember that dogs are still animals with the propensity to bite. In fact, this week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. This week brings the public’s attention to the need in Massachusetts and across our nation to reduce the number of dog bites suffered. For example, in 2016, 6,755 U.S. postal workers suffered from dog attacks.

In fact, State Farm reports paying out $121 million in injury insurance claims involving dogs — an all-time record for them. Some of these injuries were specifically dog bites, but some were other types of injuries caused by dogs, even happy dogs. And, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million individuals will suffer a dog bite annually, especially children.

State Farm reports receiving 3,660 injury claims involving dogs in 2016. That number, according to State Farm, is relatively consistent with the number of dog-related injury claims over the past 10 years. However, the uptick in payouts may be attributed to an increase in medical expenses, including plastic surgery, and an uptick in litigation in these types of cases.

In the end, while it is important for people — especially children — to know how to approach dogs, it is up to dog owners to ensure their dog is properly trained, socialized and leashed if necessary. If a dog owner fails to do so, and their dog attacks another individual, the dog owner may face liability for the damages the attack victim suffered.

Source: The Washington Post, “Insurance payouts for dog-related injuries hit record high,” Karin Brulliard, April 10, 2017