Hundreds of dog bites reported in pandemic | Local News
BOSTON – Insurers have paid claims for hundreds of dog bites in Massachusetts during the pandemic, according to new data from the state.
At least 430 insurance claims have been filed by people whose dogs were involved in biting incidents last year, the state’s Insurance Division reported.
Publication of the data is required under a 2018 law strengthening state animal welfare requirements.
Ironically, friendly family Labradors have been implicated in the majority of bite cases that have named a specific breed, or 52 reported claims.
They were followed by German Shepherds, who were involved in 50 biting claims. Pit bulls were also among the top dogs listed in bites last year, with 37 complaints reported.
Rottweilers, often viewed as an aggressive breed by insurers, were only listed in four of the reported bite cases. Doberman’s pincers were only involved in three.
The report also examines the circumstances of each case, including details such as whether an animal has been involved in previous biting incidents, has been spayed or neutered, or had undergone behavioral training.
Nationally, insurers have reported an increase in dog bite claims during the pandemic, with more people staying at home with their pets.
Property insurers paid more than $ 854 million in dog bite liability claims last year, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
The average cost per claim rose 12.3% to $ 50,425, from $ 44,760 in 2019, the group said in a report.
There were 46 fatal dog mutilations last year, the majority of which involved pit bulls, according to DogsBite.org, a national group of dog bite victims.
The fatal encounters included several “pack attacks” involving four or more dogs, the group noted in a recent report.
Animal protection groups stress that the data published by insurers is not exhaustive and can lead to misperceptions about certain breeds.
Laura Hagan, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said some insurers would not cover property owners for dog bites if their tenants had certain breeds, such as pit bulls or German Shepherds.
“There is a misconception that you can identify a dog’s behavior based on breed, which just isn’t true,” she said. “It has to do with the dog’s environment and the circumstances in which he lives.”
Hagan said social groups lobbied for a ban on such policies under the 2018 law, but it was removed from the bill before lawmakers approved it.
“These policies are not effective and are not based on good data,” she said. “All he does is stop dogs from living in good homes.”
Christian M. Wade covers the Massachusetts Statehouse for newspapers and the websites of the North of Boston Media Group. Email him at [email protected]