Texas among highest in dog bites in country

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Monday is the start of National Dog Bite Prevention Week and State Farm insurance is taking steps to reduce the number of dog bites.

A study by the company shows Texas as one of the top states to file dog bite claims in 2017.

United Regional has already seen 49 dog bite cases in 2018.The Wichita Falls Animal Services Center said this is a problem in the city that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Every year the Wichita Falls Animal Services Center averages 350 to 400 dog bite reports each year. In 2017 United Regional saw 224 cases alone.

The cause varies from breaking up a dogfight.

"Your own personal dogs get into a fight for whatever reason, you reach down not thinking because it's just human nature to break them apart, and then put your hands right there by the dog's mouth," Animal Services Administrator, Katrena Mitchell said.

To kids playing with them too hard.

"They are touching their feet, their tail, pulling on their ears, riding on them, or they get their face right down in the dogs face," she said. "Kids don't understand body language."

It's not just a Wichita Falls problem, but a statewide problem.

The State Farm study found Texas saw 175 claims totaling $6 million in injury claims and $132 million in claims nationwide.

Agent Mike Morris said they're partnering up with the U.S. Postal Service and the Veterinary Society to teach kids about the risks.

"Really it's about education," Morris said. "And one of the things we're doing is going into the schools to be able to educate kids because 50 percent of the dog bites are on a child."

Morris said if you have a dog, it's a good idea to consider adding it to your homeowner's policy.

"What we're trying to ensure you is to protect the assets that you've worked so hard to earn and have," he said. "And if you're sued, we want to make sure we have the proper limits in order to pay out on your behalf. We're not insuring the dog. We don't discriminate against the type of breed of dog that you have. So if a dog does bite someone, that's when it becomes a liability case."

In the meantime, Mitchell encourages people to stay calm if they see an unfamiliar dog, slowly back away, and to consider their options if they have a dog.

"You want to set your dog up to be successful and not be in a situation where it may lead to a dog bite," she said.

Mitchell wants to remind people that all dogs have the capability to bite, regardless of what you might think of the dog. She urges people to just use caution.

Mitchell said her biggest concern every time there is a dog bit is rabies. She said it's important to take the proper precautions to make sure you don't get it if you are bitten.

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