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Dog bites higher in Illinois than other states

In 2013, Illinois ranked second in the United States for most dog-bite claims. In 2013, nearly $9 million was paid in relation to injuries caused by dog bites, according to a survey by State Farm Insurance. The only state that paid more was California, with approximately $14.7 million paid. Although the survey did not include residents without State Farm Insurance, the company is large enough that the study gives a good indicator of the overall scope of dog bites in the state.

Children are the most likely to get bitten by dogs, according to research released during National Dog Bite Prevention Week in May 2014. Elderly citizens and postal workers are also frequently bitten. Most dog bites occur with people that the dog knows. It is less common for a dog to bite a stranger. However, many bites happen when a person enters a dog's territory, scares the dog or attempts to take something from it, regardless of whether the person is known.

Dog bites should be reported to animal control or the county health department. Under Illinois law, all medical personnel who treat a dog bite must quarantine the animal. The dog will be held for 10 days. If the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, it may then be returned to the owner after being examined by a licensed veterinarian.

Regardless of how a bite occurs, the law puts the burden on dog owners to either control their dogs or lock them up away from where they can harm others. When a dog injures a person, the owner may be liable for any medical bills associated with treating the victim's injuries, plus lost work and pain and suffering.

Source: The Southern, "Illinois ranks high in dog bites", Scott Fitzgerald, May 30, 2014

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