LEWISVILLE, Texas — The rise and fall of the pandemic has been a stressful time for humans, but it may be a double whammy for your dogs.
According to experts at State Farm Insurance, agents saw a big bump in dog-bite and dog-related injury claims last March as the global pandemic began to take hold and day-to-day life started changing for you - and for Fido.
“The beginning of the pandemic lockdown, when all the sudden owners were coming home, they were spending time, 24 hours a day at home,” said State Farm representative and Dog Bite Prevention Coordinator Heather Paul.
Think about it: pets suddenly lost all of their private time, had to share their normally quiet space with humans on Zoom calls and children distance learning. You can imagine how that would lead to some animals acting up.
“Most dogs do not like change,” said Paul. “They were picking up on our stress and anxiety, they were also picking up on the increased activity in the homes.”
Lewisville insurance agent Nick Fincham said that led to some big claim numbers on the year.
“Last year there was $157 million that State Farm paid out in dog-bite injury claims,” said Fincham.
The topic is very close to Fincham’s heart as his dog Jordy accompanies him to work every day; his Lewisville office is filled with pictures of the pup and Jordy is ready near the front door to grab guests a bottle of water from the fridge when they come in.
Jordy being a pit bull mix, Fincham has always advocated for his dog-owning customers to train their dogs well, know their animals’ personalities and limits, and not simply discriminate based on breed. He said it’s not often he deals with a dog-bite claim, but he’s seen enough in his industry to know that there are rarely winners when they come up.
“It can get pretty devastating. No dog owner wants their pet - most, I should say - to injure somebody else,” he said.
Unfortunately, he and fellow agents are worried that dogs are in for a round 2 of sorts when it comes to the pandemic.
As restrictions lift and more people go back to their offices and schools, all of those pets at home will again see their worlds change and again could act out as a result. Paul also worries about the so-called "pandemic puppies" who are about to start going out into the world with their new owners for the first time.
“All of those dogs that were adopted and fostered because people were home, they were lonely, they had time - those dogs have not really had the chance to go out and meet other people or other dogs,” she said.
So Fincham and Paul urge dog owners to keep an extra close eye on their pets as the world opens back up, as their world changes again. They say know your animal, know their limits, and to everyone else, give the pups some space to adjust.