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Lansing, Michigan

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Diego Avila
Diego Avila
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Dog Bites Surged Last Year Across the Country – What You Should Know

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According to insurance industry estimates, dog bites cost insurance companies approximately $497 Million in 2011, up $66 Million from the previous year. State Farm, the "good neighbor" of insurance companies, had to foot over 20% of that bill, paying over $109 Million on 3,800 dog bite claims nationwide last year. That was an increase of $19 Million and 300 claims from the previous year.

While State Farm is busy trying to understand why the spike in claims from the last year, there are some important tips you can know now to prevent injury from a dog bite:

1. Young children are some of the most vulnerable dog-bite victims.

2. Young children should avoid the following: staring into a dog's eyes, teasing a dog, approaching a chained dog, and touching an off-leash dog.

3. It's also a good idea to not run and scream if approached by a dog, as that only increases the likelihood of an aggressive response.

4. Young children should also avoid touching a dog while it is eating or waking up a sleeping dog.

Industry experts recommended that children should stand still and be quiet if confronted by a dog. It might also be a good idea to drop whatever you are holding in your hand, because that may be what is attracting the dog to you.

Some states, like Michigan, have strict liability on dog bite cases, meaning there are no defenses unless the victim was trespassing or provoked the dog. It doesn't matter if the dog has never bit anyone before in states with strict liability.

The next class of people, aside from children, that are often the victims of dog bites are senior citizens and those people we rely upon to deliver us our mail on a daily basis. Postal carriers were bit about 5,600 times in the last two years, nationally. One postal carrier in California even died from her injuries.

The effects of dog bites can range obviously from the immediacy of the bite itself, with concerns for infection, rabies, and eventual scarring from the bites. But just as common is the reality that dog bites can lead to very traumatized victims, who become reclusive, isolated, scared, and depressed.

With 4.7 Million dog bites happening every year, that's a lot of avoidable trauma if dog owners take greater precaution to keep their dogs controlled at all times.