Dog Bites and Attacks: Not Always Man’s Best Friend


Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend”.  Apparently, the expression has its origins from an 1870 trial in Missouri, Burden v. Hornsby.   Lawyer and senator, George Vest represented a man whose dog, Old Drum, had been shot by a neighbor for allegedly killing the neighbor’s sheep.  In his closing arguments, while eulogizing Old Drum, Vest suggested the idea that a dog is man’s best friend.*   But unfortunately, that is not always true.  In fact, the number of dog bites and dog attacks is increasing.   Read on for the surprising statistics and how to prevent dog bites and attacks.

In 2023, there were more than 19,000 dog bites or dog attacks.  That number is an increase of over 8% from 2022 and a more than 110% increase from 10 years ago.  On average, insurance companies pay $58,000 for a dog bite or dog attack case for a whopping total of more than $1.2 billion last year alone.   Tragically, children are the most likely victim in a dog bite or attack.  Delivery drivers are next and workers who come to your home such as a plumber or electrician are third.

Dogs bite for a variety of reasons.  They feel threatened and so they bite to protect themselves or their territory.  They are trying to protect something such as their food, their puppies, etc.   Dogs may bark if they are not feeling well or are sore or injured.  Dogs may bite if they are startled while sleeping or relaxing.

If you are dog owner, here are some helpful tips on how to be a responsible dog owner:

  1. Restrain your dog properly. While out walking, use a leash; it is the law in Tennessee.  At home, secure your dog in a fence and provide appropriate signage and instructions for delivery people or others who come to your home. For instance, instruct drivers to drop packages outside the fence or at a certain door.   If new people are going to be in your home, put your dog in a closed room if you are concerned about your dog’s behavior.
  2. Spaying and neutering can reduce aggression in dogs.
  3. Dogs need to be taught proper socialization. If your dog shows signs of aggression, get help.  Talk to your vet about classes or seek assistance from a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist.
  4. Do not leave your dog in a room unattended with small children.
  5. Check your insurance policy or with your insurance agent to determine if you homeowners’ insurance covers dog bites and attacks.  Most homeowners’ insurance policies do provide coverage but some policies will exclude certain breeds, often referred to as bully breeds such as German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, etc.   If your insurance does not cover dog bites or attacks, consider purchasing supplemental dog insurance.  This insurance will protect anyone injured by your dog and help prevent your assets in the event the worst happens.

At the Day house, Lincoln Day (pictured above) is the bestest boy and most dogs are truly man’s best friend but responsible dog owners should take appropriate steps to ensure their best friend is not a nightmare for someone else.   And, of course, if you or someone you love has been injured by a dog, our award-winning lawyers are here to help.  Give us a call at:

Nashville: 615-669-3993 

Murfreesboro: 615-867-9900

Brentwood: 615-742-4880

Toll-Free: 866-812-8787 

*For more information on the trial involving Old Drum, go to:


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