COLQUITT CO., GA (WALB) - Dog bites, no matter how minor or severe, can lead to physical and emotional scars. And the money paid out for dog-related injury claims has increased.
"Most people think of their insurance, home insurance, or renter's insurance for storms or weather-related. But dogs are a big part of that," said Tim Thomas of State farm Insurance. "It's a real issue."
Last year, 114 claims were filed with State Farm in Georgia,. totaling $4.2 million paid. And with the warmer weather on the way, more dogs will be outside.
"Probably just as importantly, more people are outside this time of year. More people are outside doing more activities with the warm weather here. They're out doing lawn work," said Thomas.
That's exactly what 84-year-old Beth Ellison was doing when her neighbor's three dogs attacked her. 80% of her scalp was gone, and she had multiple injuries. Now her family is speaking out to make sure other families do not have to go through a similar tragedy.
"Be aware of your surroundings," said Elizabeth Ranew, Ellison's daughter. "You never know a dog. You think a dog may be friendly. My mother had seen these dogs for months and they had never bothered her, but that particular day they did."
Ellison is recovering now. Agents say while having insurance is a vital aspect to being a responsible dog owner, education about ways to reduce dog-related injuries is just as important.
"No amount of money can pay for what she's been through. The paint hat she's had to go through and the fact that she will never be the same person she was," Ranew said.
- To learn more about how you can prevent dog bites