A $90,000 Dog Walk

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Dog bites are infrequent, but can be costly claims for professional pet sitters Did you know that 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? This accounts for more than 90 percent of all animal bites. And contrary to popular belief, the bite victims aren’t all postal workers. As a professional pet sitter, would your business be able to afford to take a client’s dog on a $90,000 walk in the park? Insurance and bonding are two expenses that no one wants to think about, pay for or use, but are both essential to every pet-sitting business. Given today’s litigious society, you should not go unprotected. The reality is that accidents can and do happen everyday. Professional pet sitters have very unique liability exposures that are often overlooked. From a liability standpoint, professional pet sitters are responsible for both the pets and property in their care, as well as any property damage or bodily injury that could potentially happen to a third party. David Pearsall, director of sales and marketing for Business Insurers of the Carolinas (BIC), the company that underwrites the majority of bonding and liability insurance policies for members of Pet Sitters International, said that dog bites are not the most frequent insurance claim he receives, but are often very costly. “We typically see anywhere between five and 15 dog-bite claims annually,” Pearsall said. “But all though we don’t see as many of these claims, they do have a higher payout than more traditional care, custody and control claims like injuries to pets and property damage.” Pearsall shared a few examples of dog-bite claims that BIC has received: 1. A dog bit a small child on the face at a park. Total paid $90,000. 2. Jogger bit on hand and stomach while running by a pet sitter walking a dog. Total paid $46,368. 3. While an insured pet sitter was walking several dogs on a sidewalk, one of the dogs bit a jogger. Total paid $15,379. 4. Dog ran wrong way and was grabbed by a stranger to return to pet sitter. Stranger was bit on the face, requiring stitches. Total paid $5,591. 5. A dog in a pet sitter’s care bit another dog, which required medical attention. Total paid $902. Pearsall said that most dog-bite claims fall into the range of $2,500 to $30,000 and typically occur in parks or public places. “Most dog bites occur while the pet sitter is walking or playing with their clients’ dogs,” Pearsall said. Joggers, bicyclists, small children and strangers trying to break up fights between dogs are also common dog-bite victims.” Pearsall’s findings match the national data on dog bite victims. Medicinenet.com, an online, healthcare media publishing company, recently reported that children between the ages of five and nine are more likely to be bitten than any other age group and are more likely to need medical attention.

If you or your clients have small children, please be sure to share these dog bite prevention safety tips from the CDC with them.

* Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.

* Do not approach a dog with quick motions or from above. Allow time for the dog to acknowledge your presence.

* Remain still when approached by an unfamiliar dog.

* If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still.

* Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.

* Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.

* Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.

* Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

* If bitten, immediately tell an adult.

For more information on dog bite prevention, please visit the CDC Web site.

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