Dogs take bite out of homeowners insurance

Bad dogs or bad rap?
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According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are 77.5 million owned dogs in the U.S. One out of every three households, or 39 percent, includes at least one dog.

Unfortunately, those 77.5 million canines bite an estimated 4.7 million Americans each year, sending 800,000 to the emergency room, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So-called "bad dog" lists that grew out of CDC dog bite studies from 1979 to the mid-1990s typically include the pit bull, Rottweiler, German shepherd, Siberian husky, Doberman pinscher, chow chow, Great Dane, Saint Bernard and Akita.

Despite the fact that the CDC's studies were not intended to address dog-bite risk by breed, these larger breeds signaled danger to some homeowners insurance companies.

CDC spokeswoman Gail Hayes calls that a misinterpretation of the data. "Because we do not know how many of a particular breed exists, there is no way for us to then determine which breed may or may not bite more," she says. "You have to have that particular denominator to be able to determine that."

Dog advocates claim these "bad dogs" are getting a bad rap.




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