A study released by the Insurance Information Institute last week says claims for dog bites increased by 2.2 percent nationwide in 2017.
The value of the claims significantly jumped, reaching more than $686 million for the 18,522 claims made during the year.
In Washington specifically, the number of dog bites claimed also rose from 2016 to 2017. According to a release from the Northwest Insurance Council, home insurers in Washington paid more than $9 million to settle 313 claims.
In 2017, the total value of claims increased to $13.7 million from 337 reports. The average cost per claim reached more than $40,000, the 2017 study says.
Washington ranks 20th in the nation for number of claims. California had the most in 2017, with the 2,228 claims costing nearly $90.4 million.
Alaska (50th) had the least claims among the states last year with 34, while Washington D.C. (51st) reported 28.
The national average cost for one dog-bite claim also reportedly increased by nearly $4,000 between 2016 and 2017.
"For so many of us, our dogs are family, and millions of times each day, people and dogs interact happily, without any negative consequences,” NW Insurance Council president Kenton Brine said in the release.
“And most of the time, dog bites can be prevented through education and responsible dog ownership.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association, which holds National Dog Bite Prevention Week from April 8-14, says more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually in the U.S., and about 20 percent of those bites require medical attention.
Children account for at least half of the reported bites, AMVA says, while senior citizens are the second most common group.
The NW Insurance Council offers these tips to help reduce dog bites statewide:
▪ Know the state and local laws for specific breeds, and whether they can be covered by insurance.
▪ Studies have suggested that dogs that are spayed or neutered are less likely to bite.
▪ Leash dogs in public, and socialize dogs with other animals and people to help the dog feel more comfortable.
▪ Supervise children around dogs, and discourage them from disturbing dogs that are eating or sleeping.
▪ Ask permission from other owners before approaching their dogs.
▪ Do not approach dogs that appear threatening.