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National Dog Bite Prevention Week Begins May 18

National Dog Bite Prevention Week kicks off on May 18. It is hoped that National Dog Bite Prevention Week will help inform and educate dog owners about the responsibilities that come with owning a dog.

Experts suggest a number of dog bite prevention tips for pet owners in Cook County and around the country. Play games with your dog that are non-violent -- for example, "fetch" instead of "tug-of-war." Don't allow anyone to bother a dog that is sleeping or eating. Never allow an infant to be alone with dog, either. Whenever the dog is outside, the canine should be contained within in a fence or on a leash.

While these tips are meant to prevent dog bites, the Insurance Information Institute has some recent statistics about dog bites in the United States. Insurance companies report an increase in dog bite claims by 5.5 percent in 2013. The total number of claims last year went up to 17,359. The average amount of a claim was a whopping $27,862. The state with the highest average payout on a dog bite claim was New York at $43,122.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 33 percent of all liability claims by homeowners last year were related to dog bites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 20 percent of the 4.5 million dog bites each year require medical treatment. Of course, postal workers are often the victims of dog bites. Last year, 5,581 postal employees reported being bitten by a dog, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Victims of dog bites have a right to file a civil suit against a dog's owner in order to seek compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and medical expenses and other damages.

Source: Crains New York Business, "Bad dog! Bite claims hit record" No author given, May. 14, 2014

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