During Pet First Aid Awareness Month - we also wanted to reach out to Pet owners and remind them of a responsibility: Dog Bites. Dogs can bite humans - either out of fear, pain, or a sense of protecting their loved ones.

The Risks of Dog Ownership: Dog Bite Liability

The Reality Check dog biteHere’s the plain hard truth. You are responsible for your dog, and you will pay for any trouble your dog may get into. Period. We can talk about different kinds of pet insurance or what different regions require for various breeds of dogs (especially ones labeled as dangerous). Some regions ban dogs labeled as dangerous; some do not. We can also look at how states and provinces across North America have written legislation to protect people from dog bites and attacks. We can even look at when the dog owner may not be entirely responsible for what has occurred in a few exceptional (really exceptional) instances. Regardless, the bottom line plays the same. You are responsible for your pet. If your animal bites, you can be taken to court and held liable for costs and damages. And those costs can quickly add up to many thousands of dollars, possibly hundreds of thousands and, in extreme circumstances, even millions. You are responsible for your pet. Pay the small price it costs to protect your pet and give yourself peace of mind. Insure yourself against the one time your dog might startle and bite, be afraid and bite, be provoked and bite, become protective and bite, get injured and bite . . . but you get the picture. The trivial cost of pet insurance is worth saving you from a thousand scenarios where your dog could bite, and the pain you will experience as the owner responsible for the harm done. Buy Pet Insurance This point is a no-brainer. If you can afford to own a dog, you can afford to buy insurance. For as little as a few dollars each month, most homeowner and renter’s policies will protect you should the worst happen. After all, if you’re willing to insure things like vehicles, jewelry, expensive gear and sports equipment, isn’t your pet also worth the few bucks it costs to insure against a bite? Unless you’d rather lawyer up and pay many more thousands of dollars to a personal injury lawyer to represent you and Fido in court. So here’s the low down on insurance basics to protect you and your K-9 friend. Read the Fine Print Know what kind of insurance you have and what situations are covered. Ask your current insurance agent whether your dog is protected if it should bite someone. Then read the policy yourself. There may be plenty of conditions to your homeowner’s policy. Is your breed covered? Is it protected only on the property? What about damage your dog could do inside your vehicle? What if the animal bites when it’s in an off-leash park, or if it just gets away from you? What Else You Need to Know You need to know all the circumstances where your animal is—and is not—protected. And all insurance policies require you to follow the local laws and legislation. So know yours. Is there a dog owner’s act? Read it. You may be required to post signs on your property if you have a specific breed, or it may even be banned. Some insurance agencies no longer even provide dog insurance at all. In these cases, look in to the possibility of independent dog insurance. Independent Dog Insurance Policies Today you can buy insurance just for your animal. This option can be especially useful if your homeowner or renter’s policy excludes animal coverage. Be sure you know whether you are purchasing a health care policy, which is quite different from an insurance policy for dog bites. Policies vary significantly, but they are becoming more common and affordable. How Much Insurance The answer to this question may be tricky. As an owner, you want to give your dog the protection it deserves. If the standard coverage seems to be less than you want for your dog, you can often purchase umbrella or excess coverage. Sometimes that may protect your animal for millions of dollars. And the annual fee for excess protection is not unreasonable. Again, your insurance agent is the best one to answer your questions, and it’s a sure way to find out whether you have enough coverage for your pet. Other Considerations Keep your pet safe and error on the side of caution. Put signs on your property, especially if your animal runs free behind the gate. Keep your animal under control and on leash when you leave your property. Use muzzles and crates in situations where your pet may become anxious or fearful. That includes gatherings of family and friends. Never assume your animal won’t bite. It might. So protect your dog and keep it safe. A few steps of caution and a few dollars of protection can save you a world of trouble.
Some more Pet First Safety reading: