Dogs take bite out of homeowners insurance

'The deed, not the breed'
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Larry Cunningham, assistant dean at St. John's University School of Law in New York, has studied breed discrimination since being denied homeowners insurance coverage in 2003. He says the CDC's 2001 nonfatal dog bite survey provided homeowners insurance companies with what they perceived as hard data to proactively limit their dog-bite risk by breed, despite the CDC's caveat against using its findings in this way.

Cunningham says that the only way to determine if one breed is more likely to bite than another is to count the number of bites per breed, then divide that by the total number of dogs in that breed within the general population.

"Without an accurate count for either, you run the risk of stigmatizing an entire breed as overly dangerous based on the breed's absolute number of bites instead of examining the breed's number of bites relative to its overall population," he says.

The American Kennel Club in New York insists no good can come from "bad dog" lists. "We feel very strongly that it's the deed, not the breed," says AKC spokeswoman Lisa Peterson. "There is no evidence that a dog would be inherently dangerous based on its breed. Every dog is an individual."




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