Square One Warns That Dog Bite Incidents Are on the Rise – and Dog Owners Should Be Prepared

Lawsuits against dog owners may be rare, but there’s evidence they’re becoming more frequent.
According to a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics, dog-related emergency room visits to one children’s hospital spiked nearly 300% following the enactment of stay-at-home orders in March 2020. A recent study from the United Kingdom found a similar increase.
There are several factors that may contribute to this, including more time spent at home with dogs and higher stress in dogs due to increased household activity. However, it’s also true that more homes have dogs now compared to 2019. More than one-third of Canadian households now have dogs, and pet industry sales increased by 5 percent in 2020.
Dog bite lawsuits can drag on for years, costing tens of thousands of dollars—even when no physical injury occurred. For that reason, dog owners should note the importance of having insurance coverage that includes dog-related liability.
“Not everyone is aware that, in Canada, many home insurance policies will cover the cost of defending you in the event that someone alleges they were injured by your pet,” says Stefan Tirschler, Product + Underwriting Manager at Square One Insurance Services. “This is critical coverage for any dog owner because defending against such a lawsuit without insurance can be frightening and costly—even if your dog was innocent of causing any harm.”
Whether they cover dogs or not, many home insurance providers in Canada inquire about dogs during the quote process, often asking if certain breeds are present in the home. This is not because those breeds are inherently more dangerous. Certain dog breeds do, however, feature more frequently in lawsuits than others.
There are several reasons for this. Some dogs are simply larger than others, and so can more easily injure a human if they do attack. As well, public perception of certain breeds may lead someone to feel more threatened by some dogs than others, and launch a lawsuit when they otherwise may not have.
Thanks to this higher frequency of lawsuits for certain breeds, home insurance providers are increasingly likely to ask about dogs in the home—because they may charge a higher premium in exchange for the dog liability coverage, for example.
It’s important for dog owners new and old to be aware of the risks associated with dog aggression, and how best to care for their dog.
“It is vital that anyone adopting or purchasing a dog is aware that dogs of any breed can bite given a certain set of circumstances,” says Animal Behaviour & Welfare Specialist Dr. Rebecca Ledger. “Focusing on a dog’s breed risks that owners may let their guard down, and overlook more relevant factors that are necessary to prevent their dog from biting.
“In the vast majority of dog bite cases, the dog is responding to a provocation. Most often, dogs bite because they are scared for their wellbeing and bite to protect themselves, or when trying to protect a resource that he/she values, such as territory or food.
“The propensity for a dog to bite during these situations depends on many factors, including but not limited to its genetics, the type of experiences the dog had as a puppy and as an adult, the level and type of training it has had, its age and also its physical health.”
To learn more about dogs and home insurance coverage, including tips from Dr. Ledger for managing aggression and caring for dogs, visit www.squareone.ca/dogs.
Contact: Aneel Mattu
Marketing Manager
1.866.331.6933 ext 127
Source: Square One Insurance Services