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How Dogs (and Cats) Can Threaten Homeowner’s Financial Assets


Your furry friend Fido or Fiffy can really cause you some serious financial damage if he bites someone. It happens more often than you might think; a significant number of emergency room visits are due to attacks by pets.


Scientists are concerned because increasingly these bites are passing on infections like MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), Fusobacterium, Capnocytophaga, Pasteurella, and Streptococcus bacteria from the animal's mouth.


These animal bites threaten children the most as they are the most likely to get bitten by dogs, but women and the elderly are the most likely to be bitten by a cat. While those under age 20 of both genders are the most likely to get bitten, the highest risk is for boys aged 5 to 9 as they lack judgment on an animal’s aggressive or defensive behavior. And they are lower to the ground, creating a greater chance that they will be bitten in the neck, head, hands or forearms and bites in these locations have a greater chance of death from infection.


Most of these incidents happen on dog owner’s property and involve an unrestrained dog and a while a neutered dog is less likely to bite nearly 20 percent involve a non-neutered dog.


So what should you do to protect your visiting friends, family and neighbors from your pooch?


First, take responsibility to teach you dog not to bite. Every dog is a natural biter and you have to train it not to be a biter. Do not allow aggressive behavior from the dog toward you or anyone else. The dog training series, “The Dog Whisperer” is highly recommended and very entertaining. Cesar Millan can take any dog and train it to be a loving, safe pet. It is a regular program on TV.


Second, take extra precautions when children under 12 are present on your property or in the neighborhood. Help educate children on how to behave around your dog and do not leave young children unsupervised with your dog. Be even more cautious if your dog is not used to being around small children. Many dogs are naturally protective of children; our prior dog, Sophie, was used to our junior high age children and their friends but not small children. Relatives came with small kids and when the child screamed as it was being picked up by the father, Sophie, barked and flew out of her assigned area near the door to get between the girl and her father. Lastly, if your dog is not neutered, neutering does help lessen aggressive behavior.


Third, unavoidable incidents can and do happen, so make sure you have adequate liability insurance. Any homeowner with a dog would be wise to have a Personal Excess Liability Policy or Umbrella which adds 1 million – 10 million of liability on top of your home and each of your cars and normally only costs about $200 per year for 1 million; adequate for many homeowner’s. Keep in mind that insurance companies each have a list of the breeds that statistically do the most biting: usually on the list are American Staffordshire Terrier, Chow, Doberman, German Shepard, Husky, Malamute, Saint Bernard, Pit Bull, and Rottweiler.


Fourth, in the event of a dog, cat or horse bite, be sure to immediately wash the wound with a spray of saline water, or iodine, or antiseptic and seek medical attention if would is beyond slight or you are not completely sure it has been well cleansed. Most homeowner’s policies pay for up to $5,000 with no deductible, for any medical attention needed to guests of the property, without their being any liability. This helps to minimize the possibility of you being sued.


Statistics from – Sun. Jun 21, 2009

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