State Farm® Teams Up with Canine Expert Victoria Stilwell to Take a Bite Out of Dog Attacks

Insurer Releases Top Fifteen States for Dog Bite Claims

/ PRNewswire / — Dogs are a member of the family, so many owners think that their dog won’t bite. Unfortunately for the 4.5 million victims of dog bites and attacks each year, this isn’t true. Any dog can bite, regardless of the breed. State Farm and Victoria Stilwell, internationally renowned dog trainer, author and star of Animal Planet's It’s Me or the Dog, have joined forces to teach people how to be responsible pet owners and reduce the number of dog bites.
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“I am delighted to team up with State Farm as we have a mutual goal to raise awareness about the dog bite epidemic, while stressing the importance of pet owner responsibility”, says Stilwell. “Through my work as a dog trainer, educator and bite investigation advisor, I see all sides of the dog bite issue, but it is my role as a mother that drives me to continue educating and empowering all children with the right knowledge to keep them K-9 safe and smart.”

National Dog Bite Prevention Week® is May 18 -24, 2014 and to reinforce the importance of pet owner responsibility, members of the National Dog Bite Prevention Week Coalition are hosting a press conference at the National Press Club on Thursday, May 15 beginning at 10:30 AM ET. In addition to representatives from the coalition, Kathy and Kelly Voigt from Prevent The Bite will demonstrate the correct way for children to approach a dog with assistance from Victoria Stilwell, her daughter Alex, and 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog of the Year, owner Leah Brewer with Elle the pit bull.

Education about responsible pet ownership and how to interact properly with any dog is critically important when it comes to reducing dog bite incidents. According to Stilwell “the most effective way to prevent dog bites is not to ban certain breeds of dog, but to raise awareness of canine behavior through education, as well as encouraging responsible dog ownership.” State Farm does not ask the breed of dog owned when writing or renewing homeowner insurance and does not track the breed of dog involved in dog bite incidents.

In 2013, State Farm paid $104 million as a result of 3,700 dog bite claims. Over the past five years, the insurer has paid $510 million for claims resulting from accidents involving a dog. Sadly many of these accidents could have been prevented.

Top 15 States for State Farm Dog Bite Claims in 2013

  1. California   449 claims   $14.7 million paid
  2. Illinois   309 claims   $8.9 million paid
  3. Ohio   221 claims   $4.2 million paid
  4. Texas   207 claims   $4.0 million paid
  5. Pennsylvania   180 claims   $5.8 million paid
  6. Michigan   162 claims   $3.9 million paid
  7. New York   149 claims   $6.4 million paid
  8. Indiana   146 claims   $3.5 million paid
  9. Minnesota   120 claims   $4.0 million paid
  10. Georgia   106 claims   $2.1 million paid
  11. Arizona   105 claims   $2.8 million paid
  12. Florida   93 claims   $5.5 million paid
  13. Oregon   91 claims   $1.4 million paid
  14. Missouri   88 claims   $2.0 million paid
  15. New Jersey   86 claims   $4.3 million paid

Consider these alarming statistics provided by National Dog Bite Prevention Week® Coalition members.

  • American Veterinary Medical Association estimates the U.S. dog population was approximately 70 million at the end of 2011, down from approximately 72 million in 2006, yet the number of dog bite incidents hasn’t decreased.
  • Prevent The Bite reports that according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control CDC, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, 9th for ages 5-9 and 11th for ages 10-14 from 2003-2012.
  • Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid over $483 million in dog bite claims.
  • American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery reports that according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 26,935 reconstructive procedures were performed in 2013 to repair injuries caused by dog bites.
  • U.S. Postal Service reports that 5,581 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2013. Children, elderly, and postal carriers are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
  • American Humane Association reports that 66% of bites among children occur to the head and neck.

State Farm urges caution around all dogs, including family pets. Prevent the Bite provides posters and safety information to teach children how to correctly approach a dog. The American Humane Association offers a free online booklet called Pet Meets Baby that includes a forward by Victoria and provides families with valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a dog.

Remember, a responsible dog owner should:

  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet. Children are often bitten by a dog in their own household.
  • Ask permission before touching or playing with a dog.
  • Remember that any dog can be dangerous and any dog can bite.

About State Farm
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts – more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 44 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit www.statefarm.com or in Canada www.statefarm.ca.

About Victoria Stilwell
Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer, TV personality, author and public speaker best known as the star of the international hit TV series Greatest American Dog and It's Me or the Dog, through which she reaches audiences in over 80 countries. The torchbearer for force-free positive reinforcement dog training methods, Stilwell is the Editor-in-Chief of Positively.com and is the CEO of both Victoria Stilwell, Inc. and Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training (VSPDT): the world’s premier global network of positive reinforcement dog trainers. A co-founder of the National Dog Bite Prevention Task Force, Stilwell is also committed to helping the cause of animal rescue and rehabilitation, working closely with organizations around the world to increase awareness about puppy mills, dogfighting, animal abuse, pet overpopulation, dog bite prevention, breed-specific legislation and other animal-related issues. Appearing frequently in the global media, Stilwell is widely recognized as a leader in the field of animal behavior. She serves as a National Ambassador for the American Humane Association and is on the Advisory Boards of DogTV, Dognition, RedRover and Canine Assistants. She is also the CEO of the Victoria Stilwell Foundation, providing animal behavior expertise and funding to smaller rescue shelters and positive training-based canine assistance organizations.

Contacts:

Van Zeiler
Victoria Stilwell Enterprises, LLC
(646) 234-3090
van.zeiler@positively.com

Holly Anderson
State Farm
Public Affairs
(309) 735-7745
holly.anderson.m3mj@statefarm.com