The Bite is worse than the Bark

Aurora, Ontario. May 17, 2012. � Each year almost five million people are bitten or attacked by dogs in Canada and the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of them are children.

The Humane Society of Canada estimates someone suffers a dog bite in Canada every 60 seconds making dog bites a serious public health problem. They can cause both physical and emotional damage to victims and considerable cost to communities. Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 20 to 26, 2012, is held to help educate the public on how to act safely around dogs by understanding their behavior.

State Farm paid more than $109 million as a result of the nearly 3,800 dog bite claims across North America in 2011. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that insurers in the U.S. paid nearly $479 million in dog bite claims, accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners insurance liability claims paid out.

In Canada, of the 3 provinces State Farm does business in, Ontario ranks number 1 for State Farm dog bite claims. In 2011, 25 claims were made paying out $917,670. By comparison in 2010, 19 claims were reported and $659,786 was paid out, in 2008 the most dog bite claims were reported at 42, and in 2007 the most money was paid out, $1,178,000. Alberta had 2 reported claims in 2011, paying out $99,800, while in New Brunswick no claims were reported by State Farm customers.

Top 5 U.S states for State Farm dog bite claims in 2011
State Number of claims Claims paid (estimated)
1. California 527 $20.3 million
2. Illinois 309 $10.0 million
3. Texas 219 $5.1 million
4. Ohio 215 $5.4 million
5. Pennsylvania 197 $4.9 million

A dog�s tendency to bite depends on such factors as heredity, obedience training, socialization, health, and the victim�s behavior. There are good dogs and bad dogs within every breed, just as there can be responsible and irresponsible owners of each breed.

State Farm does not refuse insurance based on the breed of dog a customer owns but does require customers to answer questions about their dogs� history on a homeowner insurance application.

In addition to stressing responsible pet ownership, State Farm encourages responsible behavior and caution around dogs, including family pets. Under the right circumstances, any dog might bite.

Dog bite prevention tips:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Be on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations where dogs are present.
  • Start teaching young children — including toddlers — to be careful around pets.
  • Children must be taught NOT to approach strange dogs.
  • Always ask permission from a dog’s owner before petting any dog.
  • Never tease a dog with food or toys, they may become aggravated and attack.

For more information about dog bite prevention, visit the Humane Society of Canada.

About State Farm®

State Farm has been serving Canadians since 1938. State Farm and its affiliates are the fourth largest auto insurance provider, and the seventh largest property and casualty insurer in Canada. In addition to providing affordable car insurance rates, State Farm has more than 525 Canadian agents and 1300 employees providing insurance and financial services including mutual funds, life insurance, vehicle loans, critical illness, disability, home and auto insurance to our customers in Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick. For more information, please visit, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or see us on YouTube.