Among companion animals, dogs are unmatched in their devotion and friendship to us; that being said, owning a dog is not a privilege—it is a responsibility. Dog owners should train and socialize their dogs in order to protect people from harm. Owners are liable for injuries that their dog inflicts upon others, especially if they choose to neglect the necessary precautions that come with dog ownership. In addition to proper care and training, here are some steps to take if you’re a dog owner: – Let an experienced professional dog trainer treat aggressive dogs. – Never let a dog run loose. – Keep your dog’s vaccinations current. – Keep your dog out of strangers’ paths. – Purchase homeowner’s insurance, which covers most dog bite injuries. The New York Times reported on May 22 that dog bite claims account for more than a third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims paid out. This proportion has remained constant over the last decade, hovering at around 15,000 claims annually according to the Insurance Information Institute. “If your dog bites somebody, you are liable,” said Robert Hartwig III, the president of the institute. The institute, along with other organizations like the United States Postal Service, is publicizing dog bite statistics to highlight National Dog Bite Prevention Week. To prevent dog bites, experts offer these tips: – Learn about suitable dog breeds from professionals. – Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it, and use caution when bringing a dog into a home with an infant. – Have your dog spayed or neutered. – Seek professional advice if your dog develops aggressive behavior. – Discourage children from bothering a dog when it is eating or sleeping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than half of the 4.7 million American bitten by dogs annually are children. – Never approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined, and avoid eye contact with a dog that appears threatening. – Don’t run past a dog. – If you are knocked down by a dog, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands. If you or a member of your family has been bitten by a dog, contact us immediately for a free appraisal.