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Do Dogs Like Hugs? Knowing the Correct Answer May Prevent a Dog Bite

State Farm® and Victoria Stilwell Educate Children about Being K9 Safe and Smart

Bloomington, IL (May 13, 2015) — When Hunter Keane was seven years old, he was bitten on the nose by a family dog. Now fourteen years old, Hunter and his family understand it wasn't the dog's fault; it was theirs. Like many people, they thought the way to show affection to a dog was the same way as showing love to people – by hugging and kissing them. Even though the bite didn't break the skin, that day taught Hunter and his parents several valuable lessons but one stuck out the most.

Most dogs don't like to be hugged.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week®, led by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), is May 17-23, 2015. State Farm and other members of the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition have joined forces to educate adults and children about ways to reduce dog-related injuries. While an overwhelming majority of interactions with dogs don't result in injury, most dog bites to children could be prevented.

In 2014, State Farm paid nearly $115 million as a result of 3,500 dog-related injury claims. Over the past five years, the insurer has paid $528 million for claims resulting from accidents involving a dog. State Farm does not ask policyholders what breed of dog is owned when writing homeowner or renters insurance. The insurer is partnering with internationally renowned dog trainer Victoria Stilwell to focus on educating individuals about responsible dog ownership and safely interacting with dogs.

"I am delighted to team up with State Farm as we have a mutual goal to raise awareness about reducing dog-related injuries, while stressing the importance of pet owner responsibility", says Stilwell. "Through my work as a dog trainer, educator and bite investigation advisor, I see all sides of the dog bite issue, but it is my role as a mother that drives me to continue educating and empowering all children with the right knowledge to keep them K-9 safe and smart."

State Farm: Top 15 States for Dog-Related Injury Claims in 2014 (Amount Paid)

State Amount Paid for Dog-Related Injury Claims Number of Dog-Related Injury Claims
1. California $16,185,647 445
2. Illinois $10,882,001 315
3. New York $8,094,161 148
4. New Jersey $6,396,678 107
5. Ohio $5,282,374 239
6. Michigan $5,057,719 133
7. Florida &4,353,692 99
8. Pennsylvania $4,344,524 172
9. Georgia $3,819,138 116
10. Minnesota $3,694,483 105
11. Washington $3,395,823 62
12. Maryland $3,076,938 62
13. Indiana $2,994,838 140
14. Louisiana $2,840,785 57
15. Texas $2,817,175 169

Source: State Farm - Homeowner, Renter, Farm & Ranch, and Commercial property claims

Children make up more than 50% of all dog-related injury victims. To better understand the level of knowledge about dog behavior among children, the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition created a quiz focused on children age 5-9. The quiz was distributed by State Farm and Prevent The Bite to schools and community organizations last month with the results indicating that the need for education about safely interacting with dogs is significant.

  • 710 children answered the dog safety quiz
  • No child answered all twelve questions correctly
  • 34% of the children indicated they had been bitten by a dog at least once
  • 50% of the children who took the Spanish translated quiz indicated they had been bitten
  • Only 33% of children correctly answered the question "does an angry dog ever wag his tail?" (the correct answer is YES)
  • Only 27% of children correctly answered the question "is a dog that is afraid as dangerous as a dog that is angry?" (the correct answer is YES)
  • Only 24% of children correctly answered the question "do dogs like to be hugged and kissed?" (the correct answer is NO)

State Farm and members of the National Dog Bite Prevention Coalition are hosting a media conference at the National Press Club on Thursday, May 14 beginning at 9:30 AM ET. In addition to releasing the full results of the dog safety quiz, the press conference will feature young children from Maryland and Washington D.C. sharing their personal experiences with dogs. Victoria, Kathy and Kelly Voigt from Prevent The Bite, and 2013 American Humane Association Hero Dog of the Year, Elle the Pit Bull and her owner Leah Brewer will teach the kids how to correctly approach a dog.

Insurance is an important aspect to being a responsible dog owner. When renting a property make sure to have rental insurance because most landlords do not provide coverage should there be a dog bite incident. If you are a homeowner, talk to your insurance agent about what is covered under a standard homeowner policy related to dogs.

Join State Farm, www.statefarm.com®; Insurance Information Institute, iii.org; U.S. Postal Service, usps.com; American Humane Association, americanhumane.org; American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, microsurg.org; American Veterinary Medical Association, avma.org; American Academy of Pediatrics, www.aap.org; and Prevent The Bite, preventthebite.org, to drive home the message that dog-related injuries can be prevented by educating children about safely interacting with dogs and reinforcing responsible dog ownership with adults.

State Farm Contacts

About State Farm®

The mission of State Farm is to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto, home and individual life insurance in the United States. Its 18,000 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve more than 82 million policies and accounts – nearly 80 million auto, home, life, health and commercial policies, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 41 on the 2015 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.

About Victoria Stilwell

Victoria Stilwell is a world-renowned dog trainer, TV personality, author, and public speaker best known as the star of the international hit TV series Greatest American Dog and It's Me or the Dog, through which she reaches audiences in over 100 countries. The torchbearer for force-free positive reinforcement dog training methods, Stilwell is the Editor-in-Chief of Positively.com and is the CEO of both Victoria Stilwell, Inc. and Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Training (VSPDT): the world's premier global network of positive reinforcement dog trainers. A co-founder of the National Dog Bite Prevention Task Force, Stilwell is also committed to helping the cause of animal rescue and rehabilitation, working closely with organizations around the world to increase awareness about puppy mills, dogfighting, animal abuse, pet overpopulation, dog bite prevention, breed-specific legislation and other animal-related issues. Appearing frequently in the global media, Stilwell is widely recognized as a leader in the field of animal behavior. She serves as a National Ambassador for the American Humane Association and is on the Advisory Boards of DogTV, Dognition, RedRover, and Canine Assistants. She is also the CEO of the Victoria Stilwell Foundation, providing animal behavior expertise and funding to smaller rescue shelters and positive training-based canine assistance organizations.