California - Leading the Country in Dog Bites

California is the home to more dogs and people than any other state. Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that this state took the lead in dog bite insurance payouts for 2011. 527 dog bite claims were filed, resulting in $20.3 million in insurance settlements going to the victims.

Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. More than half of those victims are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The second group at risk for dog bites after children ages 5 to 9 are seniors, and third are postal workers. Postal workers account for approximately 5,600 dog bites over each of the past two years, said Los Angeles spokesman Richard Maher. Medical expenses from dog attacks cost the United States Postal Service just over $1 million in 2011.

Help Your Children Protect Themselves

The ASPCA predicts half of all U.S. children will be bitten by a dog prior to the age of 12. The majority of those bites will be from a family dog or the dog of a neighbor or friend. The ASPCA recommends the following tips to help a child avoid dog bites. Of course, the tips apply to adults as well.

Never stare into a dog's eyes.
Never tease a dog.
Do not approach a chained dog.
Do not touch an off-leash dog.
Do not run or scream if approached by a loose dog.
If a loose dog comes close, stand very still and be very quiet. Or firmly say “No”.
Do not approach or pet a dog while it is eating or touch a dog that is sleeping.
Always ask a dog's owner for permission to pet it. If permission is granted, let the dog sniff your closed hand before you start touching it.

More information on preventing dog bites can be found on the ASPCA's website.

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