Dog-gone it!

State Farm® dog bite claims top $100 million for 2013 and over half a billion dollars since 2009

Aurora, Ontario. May 14, 2014 – About 5 million people in Canada and the United States are victims of dog bites or attacks each year. Although dogs are considered a member of the family, many owners think that their dog would never bite. Unfortunately any dog can bite at any time, regardless of the breed.

The Canada Safety Council estimates that there are 460,000 dog bite incidents per year and The Humane Society of Canada says someone suffers a dog bite every minute in this country. In 2013, close to 600 Canada Post and over 5,500 U.S Postal Service employees were bitten, chased, lunged at or threatened by dogs.

To help educate the public about this serious issue, State Farm and Victoria Stilwell, internationally renowned dog trainer, author and star of Animal Planet's It's Me or the Dog, have joined forces to teach people how to be responsible pet owners and reduce the number of dog bites and attacks.

"I am delighted to team up with State Farm as we have a mutual goal to raise awareness about the dog bite epidemic, while stressing the importance of pet owner responsibility", says Stilwell. "Through my work as a dog trainer, educator and bite investigation advisor, I see all sides of the dog bite issue, but it is my role as a mother that drives me to continue educating and empowering all children with the right knowledge to keep them K-9 safe and smart."

Dog Bites Cost Millions

In 2013, State Farm paid $104 million as a result of 3,700 dog bite claims. In Canada, Ontario led the way with $940,000 from 31 claims, down from a record of $2.4 million and 33 claims in 2012. In the U.S. California was far out in front with $14.7 million paid from 449 claims, followed by Illinois at $8.8 million from 309 claims, and Ohio with $4.2 million from 221 claims.

Over the past five years, State Farm has paid $510 million from over 18,400 claims resulting from incidents involving dogs in Canada and the United States. Sadly many of these incidents could have been prevented.

Tips and Statistics

Consider these statistics:

  • The Canadian Veterinary Journal estimates 1 to 2 deaths per year on average are attributed to dog attacks in Canada
  • The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the United States paid nearly $483 million in dog bite claims
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics states that more than half of all dog bite victims are children; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year
  • The American Humane Association™ reports that unsupervised newborns are 370 times more likely than an adult to be killed by a dog
  • According to the Center for Disease Control, dog bites were the 11th leading cause of nonfatal injury to children ages 1-4, 9th for ages 5-9 and 10th for ages 10-14 from 2003-2012

State Farm urges caution around all dogs, including family pets. Remember, a responsible dog owner should:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet. Children are often bitten by a dog in their own household
  • Make sure your pet is socialized as a young puppy so it feels at ease around people and other animals
  • Never put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased
  • Walk and exercise your dog regularly to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog
  • Regular veterinary visits are essential to regulating the health of your dog. A sick or injured dog is more likely to bite
  • Be alert. If someone approaches you and your dog while out on a walk, caution them to wait before petting the dog, giving your pet time to be comfortable with the stranger

A dog's tendency to bite depends on factors like heredity, obedience training, socialization, health, and the victim's behavior. There are good dogs and bad dogs within every breed, just as there can be responsible and irresponsible owners of each breed. That's why State Farm does not refuse insurance based on the breed of dog a customer owns, unless that breed is prohibited by provincial or municipal law.

Additional Resources

About State Farm

State Farm has been serving Canadians since 1938. State Farm is a Fortune 100 company and is the leading Property and Casualty insurer in North America with more than 80 million policyholders. State Farm provides insurance and financial services including mutual funds, life insurance, vehicle loans, critical illness, disability, home, and auto insurance to our customers in Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick. For more information, please visit, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or see us on YouTube.