We know that most dogs are not vicious creatures by nature. A majority of pups earn the highest degree of praise daily by hearing their master say six beautiful words to a dog’s ear, “Who’s a good boy? You are!” These creatures are man’s best friend, but this past week in Oklahoma City an alternative reality became a scary fate for one woman. On Thursday, an 82-year-old woman was walking her dog when both were mauled to death by a wandering pit bull and another large dog. The owners of the pit and large dog were out of town when the pair escape. One of the dogs was shot by police as they tried to save the elderly woman.
This kind of story is few and far between, but on our side of things, we know the damage large animals can cause. One of the funniest claims I’ve ever been called to included a vet. I received a panicked phone call one morning that they had been boarding a Great Dane and he had gotten out. I agreed to go with her to the office to see if there was any damage. When we pulled up, not only were there no more blinds (or curtains,) but you could see stuffing everywhere along with holes in the walls. No worries, the Great Dane was fine and waiting in the window, tail wagging, waiting for his new friends. The policy paid out nearly $15,000 in damages. While that claim is a liability of operating a vet business, the same can be true of just owning a dog. Many states have laws that make a dog owner legally liable for any injury, whether it be body or property, that the dog causes. Oklahoma is one of those states. To be found liable, Oklahoma’s laws state that the injured person couldn’t have provoked the dog and that the injured person(s) had to have been in a place that he or she had a lawful right to be. In the case of the elderly woman who was killed, there is a good chance that the owners could be found liable. With emergency medical bills and the aftermath of funeral costs (not to mention pain and suffering) this could be quite substantial. The largest dog liability claim that’s ever paid out happened when a 33-year-old lacrosse coach was mauled by a 140-pound Presa Canario. Both dog owners were convicted of involuntary manslaughter and one of 2nd degree murder. It paid out $1.5 million.
If you’re a homeowner and have a dog, it’s important to make sure your liability limits are adequate. Dog bites are the most common liability claim for a homeowner or rental insurer. They made up 1/3 of all claims and paid out over half a billion dollars last year alone. Although Lassie is great, it’s still good to make sure you’re protected. It’s crucial to make sure that pets or your pet’s specific breed aren’t excluded on your policy. Some companies will not provide any coverage for any pets, while some will not provide coverage for certain breeds. The list of excluded breeds is growing, but the 14 most common are
- pit bulls
- Stafford Terriers
- German Shepard’s
- Presa Canarios
- Chow Chows
- Cane Corsos
- Great Danes
- Alaskan Malamutes
- and most recently Huskies
It’s important to understand that with the right training, dogs are some of the best blessings on this earth. It’s when training or a positive environment isn’t implemented that most of the horror stories occur. An accident doesn’t have to be an attack though. Insurance can cover you even if your teddy bear puppy gets between grandma’s legs just wanting attention and causes her to fall and that’s the point.
If you have questions regarding, ECI is always here. Call us for an Oklahoma City home insurance quote.