Arizona State University to pay $2.8 million to dog owners who sued

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AUSTIN — Arizona State’s Board of Regents voted Monday to award a $2 million settlement to settle dog owners’ lawsuits against the university, including one of the state’s top veterinarians.

The board approved the settlement, which was approved by the Arizona Senate and House, as well as the Senate’s companion bill that would have required universities to implement a code of conduct for veterinarians and dog trainers.

State Farm Insurance paid $1.832 million in settlements over the last decade for dog-related claims, according to the association of state-operated insurance companies.

The state’s highest court upheld a 2009 settlement by a California dog trainer who alleged she was fired after the trainer failed to provide necessary training to a dog that attacked her.

Arizona has more than 20,000 dog-friendly schools, hospitals and animal-care facilities.

The association of school and hospital officials says the agreement is the largest in the state and a significant achievement in the effort to address dog bite-related issues.

The dog-bite-related cases that triggered the lawsuit were the subject of a separate settlement with State Farm in February 2016.

The lawsuit was filed by dog-control advocates, the Dog Owners’ Alliance, the Humane Society of the United States and several other organizations.

The dogs were dogs owned by the University of Arizona Animal Center, according for-profit animal-welfare groups.

StateFarm said it plans to offer $10,000 in incentives to encourage universities to improve the quality of their dog-safety programs.

“Our goal is to help our students and their families by rewarding institutions of higher learning that are making positive contributions to the welfare of our country’s most vulnerable animals,” said Dan Mollan, State Farm’s vice president of regulatory and compliance.

“It’s a significant and long-term commitment that will make a difference in our community, our state and our nation’s future.”

The settlement, expected to be announced in coming weeks, also requires universities to train dog handlers on canine behavioral issues and to post safety warnings on the front of all signs indicating that a dog has bitten or attacked.

Arizona was ranked first in dog bite deaths last year.

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