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As Annual TV Shark Frenzy Begins, SAIF Warns Pets More Dangerous

Starting this weekend on cable TV, “Shark Week” will likely captivate -and terrify- audiences. But an Oregon company says forget JAWS in the ocean…PAWS in the workplace is a greater menace.

Workers compensation insurance company SAIF says since 2014, dogs and cats have been culprit in over 1,900 claims (or roughly 400 claims a year). Compare that to 29 shark attacks recorded in Oregon since 1900, with only one fatal.

Judi Croft is Safety Services Supervisor with SAIF.  She says businesses and facilities have become more pet-friendly through the years, increasing contact between people and animals.

“Just because an animal appears to be furry and fluffy, doesn’t mean that it’s friendly," Croft warns.  "And sometimes the owner doesn’t even know how the animal’s going to react.”

A cat or dog may be territorial or conditioned to only interact with its owner, and therefore might bite or claw strangers. Even if not aggressive, reports of people tripping or stumbling over animals are also common.

"We love pets and are not advocating for businesses to change their pet-friendly policies," says Becky Griswold, Senior Safety Management Consultant at SAIF. 

"But we do want to educate employees on how to safely interact with pets in the course of their day."

WEB EXTRA: See SAIF's awareness campaign video on animal safety in the workplace.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.