Ohio No. 3 for dog bite claims, insurer says

Published: Friday, May 16, 2014 @ 3:28 PM
Updated: Friday, May 16, 2014 @ 3:33 PM

2013 DOG BITES: BY THE NUMBERS

216: Butler County, plus the cities of Middletown reporting 88 and Hamilton reporting 124

207: Warren County

739: Montgomery County/Dayton

205: Clark County

Source: Individual counties, cities

TOP 5 STATES FOR DOG BITE INSURANCE CLAIMS

1. California: 449 claims; $14.7 million paid

2. Illinois: 309 claims; $8.9 million paid

3. Ohio: 221 claims; $4.2 million paid

4. Texas: 207 claims; $4 million paid.

5. Pennsylvania, 180 claims; $5.8 million paid.

Source: State Farm Insurance

Ohio ranks third in the nation in dog-bite insurance claims, according to Bloomington, Ill.-based insurer State Farm. State Farm paid $4.2 million for 221 dog-bite claims in 2013, according to a report released by the insurer Wednesday.

Experts say many of these attacks are preventable through education about pet ownership and responsibility. Each year, about 4.5 million people, half are children, are bitten by dogs, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After California and New York, Ohio ranks third with 948 claims reported statewide and costing $17.9 million.

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The U.S. Postal Service also recently released its top-30 list of where postal carriers were attacked. Last year, 5,581 dogs attacked postal carriers nationwide, which is down from the 5,879 attacks reported or 298 fewer than was reported in 2012. The postal service listed 62 cities across the nation as a number of cities had the same number of attacks.

In Ohio, Cleveland ranked third with 58 attacks; Columbus ranked ninth with 39 attacks; Cincinnati tied with two other cities with a ranking of 16 with 26 attacks; Dayton tied with five other cities and had a ranking of 28 with its 13 attacks; and Youngstown was in a five-way tie with a ranking of 29 for the 12 attacks.

In Butler County, Deputy Kurt Merbs, who supervises the Dog Warden’s office, said his officers have been busy in 2014.

“I think we’ve seen more dog bites at this point in a year than we’ve had over the past two years,” he said.

In 2013, there were about 75 dog bites reported in the county, Merbs said. Since Jan.1, he said there have been 51 dog bites reported. He said most of the dog bites were reported in Hamilton and Middletown, but said he can’t understand why the numbers have increased.

“The warmer weather brings out more dog bites,” Merbs said. “It also brings out more dogs at large.”

He also said the no chaining ordinance in Middletown may also be a reason for the increases there.

Warren County Dog Warden Nathan Harper agreed with Merbs that there are an increased number of dog bite reports as the weather warms up and that there are more incidents reported in the cities because there are more dogs there.

Harper said his office has seen a steady number of incidents reported.

“I don’t know of any one thing why there has been an increase,” Harper said.

Montgomery County Dog Warden Mark Kumpf speculated that the higher claim amounts may be due to rising health care costs.

Kumpf also noted that the Dayton area has dropped 18 spots in the postal service’s annual survey. In addition, his agency will hold training sessions for utility workers, government employees and postal carriers on avoiding a dog bite. Kumpf also said they do programs for students from grade school through high school in conjunction with Dayton Children Hospital.

“We hope to reduce the number of dog bite incidents through education,” he said.