Texas Legislator Introduces Dangerous Dog Bill

Law would allow felony charges to be filed against owners of dogs involved in attacks.

Posted: February 15, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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Texas state Rep. Dan Gattis has introduced legislation that would mean tougher penalties for the owners of dogs who cause serious injury or death.

Gattis’ bill, which was presented to the Texas Legislature on Feb. 12, would allow authorities to charge owners of dogs involved in deadly attacks with second-degree felonies, which carry potential penalties of two to 20 years in prison.

Current law allows dog owners to be charged only if the animal had previously been deemed dangerous by authorities.

The legislation, House Bill 1355, is commonly referred to as “Lillian’s Law” in honor of a 76-year-old woman who was killed in 2005 by six dogs that got out of a neighbor’s backyard.

In February 2006 a grand jury indicted the dogs’ owner for criminally negligent homicide.

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth has also filed a version of “Lillian’s Law” to hold dog owners accountable, but his version does not call for penalties as lengthy as those outlined in Gattis’ bill.

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Sandra   Ft Worth, TX

8/21/2008 2:56:03 AM

My grandson was killed by two pitt bulls on May 18, 2008 in Breckenridge, TX and then my daugher and her dog were attacked by two pitt bulls in Humble, TX about a month later. I feel as though the owners of these dogs should be held responsible for the actions of their pets and that Texas needs stiffer laws for the owners of these types of dogs. There needs to be a state wide law requiring people that desire to have these types of dogs to maintain a $100,000 of insurance per pet and there has to be some type of training mandatory for the pet owners as well as registuring them with the state as a dangerous dog breed. What's the difference in someone owning a gun without a license and accidently shooting someone and someone owning a dangerous dog without a license?

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Penny Holcomb   Cedar Park, TX

4/18/2008 4:26:36 AM

I believe that BSL is a result of negligent dog owners. Any breed is capable of biting with circumstances and a dog owner must socialize, train, and most of all love their dog. As far as singling out one specific breed as bad dogs is naive and stupid. There have been tests done on breeds and the Pit Bull actually passed with an 75% and the Rottwieler with an 82%. The Bearded Collie had the lowest score of 52%. So why ban Pits and Rotties? I do believe that owners or potential owners of large breed dogs such as the rottie should do their homework on the breed and do right by the dog and train it. I think if a person's dog attacks, then the owner should be held responsible. If a dog attacks and kills or seriously injures a person or another dog they should have the dog put down and hold the owner responsible. I love all breeds and feel that there are no bad dogs just irresponsible owners and breeders out there. Its the humans causing the dogs to be dangerous. So yes, I feel owners should be held responsible for their dog's actions.

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Susan   Richardson, TX

4/1/2007 7:24:39 PM

State Representative Gattis' bill is overboard and unsound. Commenting on his bill Gattis said, "many times the victims are children and the elderly. What is especially infuriating is that these tragedies could have been prevented had the irresponsible owners secured their dogs. Their actions are no different from someone who leaves a loaded gun on a street and then walks away."


A loaded gun is not a living, breathing thing. A dog is. Most of the time it is not the dog that is the problem, but the irresponsible "Back yard" breeders and cruel training facilities that turn a breed line into an unpredictable animal. A friend has a golden retriever trained at a well known Dallas area facility that advertises as being "The best thing you can do for your dog." Far from it. This facility turned a beautiful, well-spirited dog into a fearful, anxious animal as a result of its training methods. Why don't you support legislation that goes after the back yard breeder that inbreeds mothers to sons, littermates and other close line relations until the line is no longer stable. These people make a few hundred bucks off of each pup, creating the problem you are trying to quash.


Furthermore representative Gattis says it is children who are often the victims of these attacks. It is also the parents and families of many unchaperoned children who let their children approach and taunt, tease and irritate even the most calm of breeds to the point of an
attack.

Focus your efforts on the root of the problem - which goes beyond just the owner of a dog. It goes to the level of breeder responsibility, to the care of the trainer methodology, and sometimes even to the behavior of the victim him/herself. This legislation won't end the problems I have outlined, as its scope is too narrow to do proper
good.

Susan
Richardson, TX

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Susan   McPherson, KS

2/15/2007 3:52:25 PM

my belief is punish the deed not the breed. Alot of our dog problems come from irresponiable owners. As a responsible owner of one of the bully breeds,I am sick and tired of the breed being blamed. Maybe if dog owners would be held accountable for their dog's actions there would be fewer people bitten or killed! I also believe the punishment should fit the crime.

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