Avoid dog attacks this Halloween! For kids and adults, Halloween is one of the top holidays to celebrate. Along with parties, you get to dress up, eat candy, and kick off the holiday season. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous, and not for the reasons most people think.
There are plenty of tales about the dangers of poisoned candy, but much less about other dangers like sharp props, loose-fitting costumes a child can trip over, candles within pumpkins that could lead to a fire, and even pets. As kids and parents go door-to-door, they may encounter animals inside the home that are not safe or those in yards that are loose.
Statistics on Dog Attacks
Each year, an estimated 4.5 million dog attacks are reported, and 1 out of 5 bites become infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, those most at risk are children. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest among children between five and nine years of age. Additionally, more than half of the dog bite injuries reported occur in private homes. Dog bites also frequently occur among dogs that victims have been around before.
In Arizona, dog attacks were most common among children and teens under the age of 14. The majority of dog attacks were reported in Maricopa County. More than 34,000 dog bites led to emergency room visits between 2008 and 2012, based on the most recent data available.
The majority of the Arizona dog attacks were bites to the hands, knees and legs, and forearms. Wounds to the hips and thighs accounted for approximately 3.74% of injuries while cheek and lip wounds accounted for about 11% of injuries.
Insurance Payouts for Dog Attacks is Increasing
While the number of dog attacks remains steady, payouts from insurance are skyrocketing. Payouts for dog bites accounted for $530 million in homeowner’s insurance liability claims in 2015. The average cost per claim has grown by more than 67% between 2003 and 2014 – mainly due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments, and jury awards.
In 2014, more than 16,500 claims were paid out with the average cost per claim reaching $32,000.
Halloween Tips for Trick-or-Treaters
Safety should always be top of mind during any holiday. There are a few precautions parents can take to ensure they are safe from dogs and other animals.
- Teach your child to not run away from a dog that approaches them
- Carry a flashlight to watch for any dangers on the roads and when approaching homes
- Consider carrying a safety device, such as pepper spray, in case its needed
- Do not let children trick-or-treat unsupervised
- Teach your trick-or-treaters to never walk into someone’s home, no matter how inviting they are
- Be mindful of any “Beware of Dog” signs when approaching a home
If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, stop, stay still and be calm. Avoid making loud noises or direct eye contact with the dog. You can also slowly back away, just remember to not run from a dog.
Halloween Tips for Dog Owners
If you’re a dog owner, it doesn’t mean you have to keep kids away. Get in the Halloween spirit while keeping trick-or-treaters safe.
- Keep your dog indoors or safely on a leash if you’re outside
- Always keep pets away from the front door for when you give out candy
- If you want your pets to greet visitors, keep them on a leash
- Place your dog in a quiet room if your dog tends to be anxious
- Give your dog toys or treats to keep them occupied
- Try to keep curtains and blinds closed, so the dog does not see people coming
- Try to watch and anticipate trick-or-treaters, so they don’t ring the doorbell or knock
- Consider placing a bowl of treats outside so kids can grab and go
If you don’t already have one, be sure to have a “Beware of Dog” sign so that guests know there is a dog on premises.
Arizona Laws Against Dog Attacks
If you are bitten by a dog, the owner is held liable according to Arizona laws. However, liability may also be placed on any person who is responsible for the dog at the time. Therefore, if you’re pet sitting or a guest in someone else’s home, you could be held responsible if the animal gets out or bites someone.
Arizona laws stipulate that the dog owner is responsible if the victim was on public or private property. A pet owner may claim that the victim intentionally provoked the attack, but that could be their only defense.
If you are bitten by a dog, Arizona law gives you one year from the date of the injury to file a claim. However, it’s highly recommended that you file a dog bite claim as soon as possible.
Keep your kids and pets safe this Halloween. If you’ve been injured due to a dog attack, give us a call today.