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The (unbelievable) cost of dog bites: By the numbers
Dog-bite claims bled $412 million from insurance companies last year, and some say vicious pooches have become a serious threat to public health
A dog bites a young girl on a street in central China: In the U.S., insurers paid out $412 million in dog bite claims in 2010.
A dog bites a young girl on a street in central China: In the U.S., insurers paid out $412 million in dog bite claims in 2010.
Reuters/Corbis
S

nap! According to State Farm insurance, the nation's largest personal insurer, dog bites have become a "serious public health problem." Last year, the company paid out $90 million in dog-bite claims, and the insurance industry as a whole paid out almost five times that much. Here, a stats-based guide to the problem:

$412 million
Amount insurers paid for dog-bite claims in 2010, according to the Insurance Information Institute

15,770
Number of dog-bite claims insurers received in 2010

16,586
Number of dog-bite claims in 2009

$24,480
Average cost per bite in 2009

$26,166
Average cost of a dog-bite claim in 2010. While the number of claims decreased, the price tag of each inched up due to rising health care and legal defense costs, according to a State Farm insurance spokesperson.

$38,356
Average amount paid out for dog-bite claims in Florida in 2010, the state with the highest cost-per-incident

369
Number of dog-bite claims in California in 2010. The Golden State led the pack for dog-bite claims, followed by Illinois with 317 claims, and Ohio with 215.

33
Number of deaths caused by dog bites in 2010, according to State Farm. Twenty were young children.

60
Percent of dog-bite victims under 12 years old

1
Number of states where State Farm refuses insurance based on dog breed. According to Ohio law, the pit bull is a "vicious dog," and State Farm does not cover them.

1,552
Number of pit bull attacks that caused bodily harm from 1982 to 2010, according to an Animal People study. Pit bulls were implicated in more attacks causing bodily harm, maimings, and death than any other breed. Rounding out the study's list of the five most dangerous breeds were the Rottweiler, Husky, wolf hybrid, and Bull mastiff.

65
Percent of fatal dog attacks for which pit bulls were responsible in 2008, according to a recent study. "These breeds should be regulated in the same way in which other dangerous species, such as leopards, are regulated," say the study's authors.

Sources: Property Casualty 360, Chicago Tribune, Pet Product News, DogsBite.org

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