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Dog bite insurance claims skyrocketed at start of pandemic

Dog bite insurance claims were at an all-time high at the start of the lockdowns. Now, experts worry as more people go back to work, it could lead to more dog bites.

SAN DIEGO — This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and State Farm insurance has released disturbing new statistics on a dramatic increase in dog bites in 2020, especially in California.

Anxiety has been at an all time high for many this past year due to the lockdowns and some pets can feel that uneasiness. When people are stressed out at home, dogs can act out  with barking, destroying and biting.

"Just alone in 2020, California was the number one dog biting stat through State Farm. We have over 400 bites and $26 million worth of claims paid out," said Kristin Francy, a San Diego State Farm agent.

According to State Farm, nationwide that statistic was more than 3,100 bites and more than $157 million in pay outs. The highest number of bites was recorded in March, the start of the lockdowns.

"Anxiety is a little up between kids, work, zoom that whole quarantine life. And the dogs are feeling that same anxiety and affect as well," said Francy.

Also, many people adopted dogs during the pandemic, which means new pets may experience anxiety as their humans leave to go back to work and other activities.

"Slowly ween yourself away, don't just be gone one day after being home 24/7 for a year," said Francy.

Additionally, with dog parks closed during most of the lockdown, puppies were not able to develop social skills.

"A lot of times dog bites the other dog. The owners tries to get involved to help the situation then they end up getting bit themselves in the interim," said Francy.

Some insurance carriers will put restrictions on certain dog breeds, so it is important to check with your insurance agent before getting a dog.

Experts fear another change could lead to more dog bites. Here is a chart from the San Diego Humane Society on how to prevent getting bit and some of the tips include, when meeting a new dog, watch, ask, invite then touch. And don't pet a dog that is sleeping, tied up, scared, behind something, eating or chewing a toy.

Credit: San Diego Humane Society
Credit: San Diego Humane Society

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