Fall is fast approaching. Can’t you hear the sound of leaves crunching beneath you feet, as you make your way home after a long day at work? You pour yourself a cup of cocoa, snuggle up in your favorite comfy chair, and before you know it you hear the familiar jingle of your cat’s collar as she jumps up to join you in your relaxation. The sound of her soft purrs begins to drown out the sounds of your busy day, and your mind finally begins to relax.

Or maybe…

You make it home after your hectic day at the office, climb out of the car, and drag yourself into the house. As you walk in the door you are greeted by your 10 year son, 8 year old daughter, and your golden retriever. They beg you to go outside, and you have the privilege of ending your day playing ball with “the gang.”

Pets grow into our families, and become a part of them. They are a source of joy for all of us. But if we are not careful, they can also become a source of strife. The news is heavy with people who have raised aggressive dogs for their own personal gain. What happens when these animals have fulfilled their use? They end up in animal shelters, where families are looking to adopt a new member of the family. There are certain breeds that can be more dangerous than others; Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, English Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, and St. Bernard’s can all have aggressive tendencies. But more important than the breed is who owned the dog before and what was the dog’s purpose? These are questions that can’t always be answered at a human society or animal shelter. However, it is very important to understand the dog’s temperament before you commit to claiming it as part of your family. Watch the dog play with other people and dogs. Ask the workers who feed and walk it on a daily basis. Does it shy in a corner, or cuddle up to your feet looking for attention?

It is also important to protect your family and neighbors in the event your pet has a change in temperament. By securing liability insurance you can protect yourself from the unthinkable. As pet owners we are responsible for the actions of our pet. If your dog was to bite someone, destroy property, or knock over a biker, you will be held liable for the damage of property and health. It could only happen once, it could just be an accident, but the bottom line is that it could happen, and are you going to be prepared when it does? Statistics from the New York Times and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that, “each year, roughly 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs and about 800,000, half of them children, seek medical attention.” If you own pets, or are thinking of getting a pet, we highly recommend you talk with your local insurance agent to make sure your insurance company is aware you have a dog, and that you have the coverage you need in the event that your source of joy becomes your source of strife.