Is SL going to the dogs?

FILLERS

BY JOHN CULLEN

Dogs are said to be man’s best friends. Until they aren’t. There have been several attacks by dogs on residents of Storm Lake in recent weeks, as chronicled in the pages of The Storm Lake Times.

In one case, a dog attacked a six-year-old boy who required a trip to the ER and 40 staples in his head. The city manager banished the dog from the city. On appeal by the dog’s owner, the city council allowed the dog to stay in town.

In another case, a pack of three dogs attacked a woman walking near Buena Vista University, After she was rescued by a passing student, police took her to the hospital for treatment for extensive wounds to her legs and feet.

What the city does to the dogs may be the least of the owners’ worries. Taking care of the victims can be very costly financially for the owners. You could easily lose your home and life savings without proper insurance. And bankruptcy likely won’t shield you if your dog has bitten before.

Local insurance agents and lawyers tell me that most homeowner liability insurance will cover a dog’s first bite, but nothing for subsequent attacks. Some insurance policies, particularly for renters, provide no insurance at all for their pets’ misdeeds. Other policies may cover dogs but exclude aggressive breeds. You can try to buy special insurance for aggressive breeds — or risk having no insurance at all. And while your insurance may cover dog bites on your property, you may not be covered if the bite occurs off your property.

Dog bites are the most common claim against homeowner liability insurance, and the average claim is nearly $30,000, although the tab can easily run to hundreds of thousands of dollars if the attacks are severe. In cases of serious injury or death, it could cost the homeowner not only a financial loss, but a criminal charge as well.

Loose dogs are a constant problem in towns everywhere. About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Storm Lake Police respond to about 50 animal complaints per month.

Dogs are great companions when they know who is boss and behave themselves, says Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer.” He says that the human must be the pack leader, not the dog. The best solution is to get a dog that’s friendly, train it properly, treat it right so it has no reason to get mean, and never let it run loose.

Right, Peach the Newshound?

THE NATION may be going to hell, but my tomatoes are coming around just fine.

We harvested the first three of this summer’s crop on Monday. There are few things better tasting than a tomato right off the plant.

I started out with four plants but lost one to some nibbling critter, a rabbit perhaps. We seem to have more rabbits than ever this summer. Instead of going after people, why don’t these dogs go after the rabbits?

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