Any person who owns a dog is potentially liable for damages if their dog bites another person. Your homeowners liability or business owners liability insurance will defend you from lawsuits attributable to dog bites in some cases.
If you have a dog that has already bitten or injured another person or animal, your insurance company may exclude coverage for subsequent incidents. I’ve even seen insurers cancel or refuse to renew policyholders with dangerous dogs.
This follows the old “First-Bite Rule.” That means that if your dog has never caused injury before, you as the owner are not deemed to be the owner of a dangerous dog. However, after the first bite, you can’t say that anymore.
But what if you don’t own a dog? You must know the common sense issues about dogs and how they behave. That is crucial whether you own a dog or not.
So let me share with you six danger signs that should warn you that a dog attack may be about to occur. If you commit these to memory, you will have a better chance of protecting yourself and your children.
1. A new dog in the house. New adult dogs can be dangerous for the first 60 days or so. In the same manner, a person who is new to a household where a dog lives is in danger of attack for about the first 60 days. Statistics show that 20% of fatal dog attacks involved a new person or a new dog in the same household for two months or less. (new husband, new wife, new step-kids, new girlfriend/boyfriend, new baby)
2. Gender of the dog. Un-neutered male dogs are the most dangerous of all. But any male dog is far more dangerous than a female dog.
3. Breed. The Pit Bull, Chow, Akita and Rottweiler breeds are the most dangerous. Pitt Bulls have the most fatal attacks of any breed.
4. The Pack. The more dogs in the pack, the greater the danger of attack. Dogs that are normally calm and docile can become violent when they are in a pack. The pack mentality is strong in dogs. Statistics show that 39% of the dog attacks in 2008 were by multiple dogs.
5. Dog is his own yard, with no owner present. Dogs are protective and territorial. Don’t go in his yard. Warn your children of the danger of going into a yard where a dog…or multiple dogs…are alone.
6. Dog on a tether or chain. Chaining up a dog is cruelty, and over time, it changes the dog’s personality. Chained dogs committed 9% of fatal attacks in 2008.
Any one of these factors alone is a danger signal. The more factors that exist at the same time, the higher the danger of a dog attack. All of the factors should be avoided at all costs.