KANSAS CITY, Mo. - We love our dogs. But the reality is a pet can be a liability if it ever bites a friend, a child or a neighbor.
State Farm Insurance reported Wednesday that the payout for claims last year involving bites added up to $489 million. That's down slightly from $490 million the year before.
The average expense tied to a typical attack went up a percent to almost $30,000. A residential insurance policy will typically cover liability from dog bites, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Experts say the best way to reduce the risk of dogs biting someone is to properly socialize them.
Groups like Spay and Neuter Kansas City also recommend neutering male dogs to help reduce aggressive behavior.
"Neutering does reduce aggression in male dogs," said Michelle Rivera, the executive director of SPKC. "Most importantly, socializing that dog and having it around other dogs, people ... (teaches) them how to behave."
To reduce aggressive behavior, State Farm recommends using a leash on your dog while in public, start socializing the dog early in the puppy stage and increase the supervision of your dog when it's around children.
Top 10 States for State Farm Dog Bite Claims in 2012
1. California, 451 claims = $17.1 million
2. Illinois, 337 claims = $9.0 million
3. Texas, 236 claims = $4.3 million
4. Ohio, 235 claims = $5.0 million
5. Pennsylvania, 165 claims = $4.5 million
6. Michigan, 151 claims = $4.6 million
7. Indiana, 148 claims = $2.7 million
8. Florida, 123 claims = $7.1 million
9. Georgia, 121 claims = $3.3 million
10. New York, 116 claims = $6.4 million
Missouri came in at 14th with 80 claims. Kansas ranks 31st with 28 claims. National Dog Bite Prevention Week begins Sunday, May 19.