Bronx is 9 weeks old, in obedience training, neutered, and an “inside dog.” If he is taken outside, he is always on a lead. Rescued from a horrific abuse situation, a raggedy bag of bones barely alive. Yet this 12 pound puppy is preventing his owners from obtaining homeowners insurance from Tennessee insurance companies.
A Nashville representative from Erie Insurance explains, because of “the number of claims involving pit bulls,” they will no longer insure a home where this breed resides. “They are considered a vicious breed.” The Insurance Information Institute reported in 2014 there were 8,460 claims filed in “other states” for dog bites (The only individual states listed with specific information are the “Top Ten” to include California, #1 for number of dog bite claims) but the breakdown of breeds is unavailable. “Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners who own certain breeds of dogs categorized as dangerous, such as pit bulls.” Yet, “the trend in higher costs per claim is attributable … also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, the elderly, etc., which can result in injuries that impact the potential severity of the losses.” Bless The Bullies, a nonprofit pit bull rescue and education organization, does note “insurance company restrictions … do not only apply to pit bulls.” The dog breeds listed on this “blacklist’ includes Great Danes.
There is no such animal as a “pit bull.” The name is a “catch all” deriving from the ancient practice of dogs bred to bait large animals (outlawed in the 1800s). The HSUS lists “pit bulls” as the most abused dog in the United States. The ASPCA’s position on pit bulls includes the observation: “the vast majority of pit bull type dogs … are the result of random breeding … it is important to evaluate and treat each dog, no matter its breed, as an individual … dogs of many breeds can be … trained to develop aggressive traits.” A must-read study for animal lovers and researchers on “Breed Differences in Canine Aggression” reveals Chihuahuas and Dachshunds scored higher than average for aggression directed toward both humans and dogs; yet there are no insurance company restrictions on these two breeds.
Despite the research in insurance claims involving dogs, dog aggression and abuse studies, and the available education, home insurance companies like Erie Insurance refuses to insure homes where a pit bull resides. Meanwhile, little Bronx plays happily in his adoptive home, worrying a rubber bone. He has no idea he can cause so many problems. He only knows he is loved.